Third President of the United States of America (Shadwell, Virginia, 1743 - Monticello, Virginia, 1826). Thomas Jefferson belonged to the aristocracy of large landowners in the South, position which had been completed by lawyer. His intellectual concerns approached by liberal ideas, making him leave the religion and philosophy of the lights.
He began to participate in the politics of Virginia from 1769, advocating religious tolerance and equal public education. When escalated the conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen North American colonies, Jefferson defended rights, publishing an essay by radical cutting (brief review of the rights of British America, 1774).
During the following war of independence, Thomas Jefferson was elected delegate from Virginia in the continental Convention in Philadelphia (1775), where distinguished himself as an orator and as an author of political statements. He wrote the draft of the Declaration of independence (1776), which reflected the ideas of Locke; it justified the rebellion for the transgressions of the rey Jorge III against the rights recognised to citizens by the unwritten Constitution of Great Britain; his defense of democracy, of equality, of the right of peoples to dispose of themselves and of the natural right of men "to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' have marked the further history of the United States.
Another fundamental document of what was inspiring was the Northwest Ordinance (1787): it was regulated the way to expansion of the thirteen original colonies into large territories by colonize in the West, establishing them Governors appointed by Congress until they reach sufficient demographic entity to be admitted as States of the Union.
Thomas Jefferson was Governor of Virginia in 1779-81. Then it was Congressman, unsuccessfully defending the abolition of slavery. Ambassador of United States in Paris (1785-89) he took his experience to advise the first Government emerged from the French Revolution (1789). He was later appointed first Secretary of State (Foreign Minister) United States (1790-93) by Washington.
Since that time he faced Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton, outlining the first American bipartisan system: Hamilton, leader of the «centralist federalists» or simply «federalists» (ideological history of the Republican Party), intended to strengthen the power of the federal Government in the service of the expansion of the Union and of the hegemony of capitalists from the North; Jefferson, leader of the «Republican federalists» or simply «Republicans» (forerunners of the Democratic Party), defended the autonomy of the States, especially to protect the interests of the South, and a democratic model of independent smallholders.
In 1796, Thomas Jefferson lost the presidential elections against the federalist John Adams, who, under a constitutional provision then repealed, became Vice President as second most voted candidate (1797-1801). Finally, he won the election in 1800 and 1804, so was President from 1801 to 1809.
Highlights of his two terms was the consolidation of a division of functions between the constitutional powers, whereby the federal Government would be responsible for Defense and foreign policy, leaving States a broad internal political autonomy; This led to practice their philosophical beliefs about the need to limit the power to safeguard freedom.
Jefferson also favoured the future expansion of the United States, to acquire the vast territory of Louisiana (1803) to France and enhance exploration West of Lewis and Clark (1804-06). Following the example of Washington, did not go to a third re-election (in 1808 the also Republican Madison), he retired to cultivate multiple intellectual hobbies (1809) and founded the University of Virginia (1819).