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Thomas Jefferson is a American leader and political philosopher author of the Declarationof Independence and the third president of the United States 1801-1809Jefferson was among the most brilliant American exponents of the Enlightenment the movement of18th-century thought that emphasized the possibilities of human reason A Virginia aristocrat he hadthe time and resources to educate himself in history literature law architecture science andphilosophy as diplomat and friend of French and British intellectuals he had direct access tomotivation and the opportunity to apply Enlightenment political philosophy to the task of nation-During his 20s Jefferson read voraciously in Enlightenment philosophy 17th-century Englishhistory political theory and law Drawing on this learning he drafted in1774a Summary View ofthe Rights of British America as instructions for Virginias delegates to the First ContinentalCongress which met to consider the colonies grievances against Great Britain Virginia leadersinstead adopted a more legalistic set of instructions and Summary View was publishedanonymously as a pamphlet As Jeffersons authorship became widely known however he movedsuddenly into the front rank of American political theoristsIn the pamphlet Jefferson argued that the original settlers of the colonies came as individualsrather than as agents of the British government The colonial governments they formed thereforeembodied the natural right of expatriates from one country to select the terms of their subjection anew ruler Colonial legislatures and the British Parliament he asserted shared power and both wereresponsible for protecting the liberties and rights of the peopleThe Declaration of Independence drafted principally by Jefferson in late June 1776 for thesecond Continental Congress drew the implications of this historical view to their logical conclusionproclaiming that the tyrannical acts of the British government gave the colonists the right to dissolve the political bands that had connected them with the mother countryJefferson was born on April 13 1773 at Shadwell in Ambermale County Virginia Hisfather was a plantation owner and his mother belonged to the Randolph family which wasprominent in colonial Virginia From his father and from his
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