National Thomas Jefferson Day is observed annually on April 13. This day honors the birth of the third President of The United States, Thomas Jefferson, who was born April 13, 1743.
Most known as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a stalwart of democracy. While not much an orator, his pen cut quite a swath of ink through correspondence, documents, journals and manuscripts.
Those who write, tend to read. Jefferson was no different. He had a vast library of 6,500 books.
Jefferson was not only a lawyer but a scientist of agriculture, paleontology, and astronomy. Immensely curious, he kept detailed records of the weather and eventually established weather observers across his home state of Virginia.
Jefferson served as minister to France, Secretary of State in President Washington’s Cabinet and ran for President for the first time in 1796 only to be elected Vice President to his opponent, John Adams due to a flaw in the Constitution.
Four years later the same fault in the document caused a tie within the same party between Aaron Burr and Jefferson with Jefferson assuming the Presidency.
By Presidential Proclamation 2276 on March 21, 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed April 13 as a day to celebrate the birth of Thomas Jefferson. Then again on April 11, 2007, Presidential Proclamation 8124 by President George W. Bush commemorated the same day at Thomas Jefferson Day.
- Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
- A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia.
- When President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
- He was a wine aficionado. After residing in France, Jefferson brought his love of French wine to America. He is recognized as one of the great wine experts of early America and even kept two vineyards at Monticello.
- He was a founding foodie. In addition to wine, French food inspired Jefferson’s palate, from the cooking within his home to his presidential dinner parties. Some of America’s most beloved foods, like ice cream, mac ‘n’ cheese and french fries were popularized after his interests permeated to the rest of the country.
- A science buff. Jefferson was a science enthusiast. Thomas Jefferson kept a record and drawings of all the plants and animals in Virginia.
- He loved to write letters. Jefferson wrote an estimated 19,000 letters in his lifetime. He even made copies of them as he wrote using a polygraph machine.