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Thomas Jefferson Jefferson was born at Shadwell his fathers home in Albemarle county Va on April 13 1743 His father Peter Jefferson a man of legendary strength was a successful planter and surveyor who gained minor title to fame as an explorer and mapmaker His prominence in his own locality is attested by the fact that he served as a burgess and as county lieutenant Jefferson later held the same offices Through his mother Jane Randolph a member of one of the most famous Virginia families Thomas was related to many of the most prominent people in Virginia Besides being well born Thomas Jefferson was well educated In small private schools notably that of James Maury he was thoroughly grounded in the classics He attended the College of William and Mary--completing the course in 1762--where Dr William Small taught him mathematics and introduced him to science He associated intimately with the liberal-minded Lt Gov Francis Fauquier and read law 1762-1767 with George Wythe the greatest law teacher of his generation in Virginia Jefferson became unusually good at law He was admitted to the bar in 1767 and practiced until 1774 when the courts were closed by the American Revolution He was a successful lawyer though professional income was only a supplement He had inherited a considerable landed estate from his father and doubled it by a happy marriage on Jan 1 1772 to Martha Wayles Skelton However his father-in-laws estate imposed a burdensome debt on Jefferson He began building Monticello before his marriage but his mansion was not completed in its present form until a generation later Jeffersons lifelong emphasis on local government grew directly from his own experience He served as magistrate and as county lieutenant of Albemarle county Elected to the House of Burgesses when he was 25 he served there from 1769 to 1774 showing himself to be an effective committeeman and skillful draftsman though not an able speaker
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