Thomas Jefferson Timeline 1743-1826

Thomas Jefferson

Born – 2nd April 1743
Died – 4th July 1826
Father – Peter Jefferson (1708 – 1757)
Mother – Jane Randolph (1720 – 1776)
Spouse – m. 1772 – Martha Wayles Skelton (1748 – 1782)
Children – Martha (Patsy) (1772 – 1836), Jane (1774 – 1775), unnamed son (1777), Mary (Polly) (1778 – 1804), Lucy Elizabeth (1780 – 1781), Lucy Elizabeth (1782 – 1783)
President of the United States – 1801 – 1809
PredecessorJohn Adams 1797 – 1801
Successor – James Madison 1809 – 1817


1743 (2nd April OS)
Thomas Jefferson was born to Peter Jefferson, a plantation owner and Jane nee Randolph at Shadwell, Virginia. He was the couple’s third child, his two elder sisters Jane and Mary had been born in 1740 and 1741 respectively. Jefferson was born before the Gregorian calendar was adopted and the old style (OS) date has been used for his birth.
1744 (during)
Thomas’s sister, Elizabeth was born to Peter and Jane Jefferson. She was mentally retarded.
1745 (during)
The family moved to Tuckahoe Plantation, Virginia, which Peter Jefferson had inherited from William Randolph, a family friend and Jane’s cousin. Peter Jefferson was also given custody of William Randolph’s children
1746 (during)
Thomas’s sister, Martha was born to Peter and Jane Jefferson.
1748 (during)
Thomas’s brother, Peter Field was born to Peter and Jane Jefferson. He died very young.
1748 (Autumn)
Thomas began his education at the local English school.
1750 (during)
Thomas’s brother, Peter was born to Peter and Jane Jefferson. He died very young.
1752 (during)
Thomas’s sister, Lucy was born to Peter and Jane Jefferson.
1752 (during)
The Jefferson family moved back to Shadwell.
1752 (Autumn)
Thomas transferred to the Latin school which was run by Reverend William Douglas. Here he learnt to speak French, Latin and some Greek.
1755 (during)
Thomas’s twin siblings, Anna and Randolph were born to Peter and Jane Jefferson.
1757 (17th August)
Thomas’s father died. His will shared his property between Thomas and his brother Randolph. Thomas’s inheritance included a 265 metre (868 foot) mountain.
1758 (early)
Thomas transferred to a school which was run by Reverend James Maury.
1760 (March)
Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg, Virginia. He studied mathematics, philosophy and metaphysics. He was an avid reader and read a wide range of subjects.
1760 (25th October)
King George II died and was succeeded by his grandson, George III.
1762 (April)
Thomas began studying law under George Wythe. At the same time he worked as a law clerk under Wythe.
1765 (July)
Jefferson’s sister, Martha married Dabney Carr, one of Thomas’s close friends.
1765 (October)
Thomas’s sister, Jane, died.
1767 (Autumn)
Jefferson was accepted to the bar and was allowed to practice as a lawyer.
1768 (during)
Work began building a property at the top of the mountain Jefferson had inherited from his father. The mountain and the property were named Monticello.
1770 (during)
Jefferson moved into the partly completed Monticello.
1769 (during)
Jefferson served as a representative for Albemarle County at the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1772 (1st January)
Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin, Martha Wayles Skelton, who had been widowed in 1768.
1772 (27th September)
A daughter, Martha, known as Patsy, was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson.
1773 (during)
Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles died. The Jeffersons inherited his land, estate and slaves. The estate was heavily in debt and as the new owner, Thomas became liable for these debts. This caused him financial problems but they were eventually settled.
1773 (10th May)
Tea Act
This act was introduced by the British to help the British East India Company by only allowing the colonies to import tea from the British East India Company. All colonies except Massachusetts refused to allow ships to dock. In Massachusetts the governor allowed the ships to dock in Boston.
1773 (16th December)
Boston Tea Party
This was a protest against the import of British East India Company tea. Demonstrators boarded British ships and threw chests of tea into Boston Harbour.
1774 (during)
Thomas’s sister, Elizabeth, died.
1774 (3rd April)
A daughter, Jane Randolph, was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson.
1774 (Summer)
Intolerable Acts
This was a series of measures taken by the British government to punish Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party. The Acts included the withdrawing of the right to self-governance and the right of the British army to house troops in private property.
1774 (5th September)
First Continental Congress
Although each colony elected representatives to their own local governing body, the colonists had no representation in the British government. They complained that there should be no taxation without representation. The British government’s response that as a colony they were ‘represented virtually’, was not well received. The colonists decided to call a meeting of delegates from the British colonies. They met at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The delegates discussed a response to the Intolerable Acts and decided to boycott British trade. Jefferson wrote a ‘Summary View of the Rights of British America’ as a set of guidelines for the delegates sent from Virginia.
1775 (19th April)
American War of Independence – Battles of Lexington and Concord
These battles generally mark the beginning of the American War of Independence.
1775 (15th June)
Second Continental Congress
Jefferson was voted as a Virginia delegate for the second continental congress. Delegates voted to assemble a Continental Army which would be commanded by George Washington.
1775 (6th July)
Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms
The Second Continental Congress agreed this resolution, written by Thomas Jefferson, which explained why the Colonies had felt the need to take up arms against the British.
1775 (September)
Thomas’s daughter, Jane Randolph, died.
1775 (26th September)
Thomas Jefferson was appointed commander of the Albemarle County Militia.
1776 (10th February)
Thomas’s mother, died at Shadwell, Virginia.
1776 (11th June)
Committee of Five
A group of five men were selected to draft a Declaration of Independence from Britain. The five men were: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingstone and Robert Sherman.
1776 (2nd July)
Congress voted in favour of independence.
1776 (4th July)
Declaration of Independence
Largely written by Thomas Jefferson, this declaration proclaimed the independence of the Thirteen Colonies from Britain. It includes the infamous statement ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It was circulated to the troops and people of the Colonies.
1776 (late)
Jefferson became a member of the House of Delegates of Virginia. There he found a kindred spirit in James Madison and they often worked together.
1777 (28th May)
A son was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson. He only lived for 17 days.
1777 (14th June)
The first stars and stripes American flag was produced.
1778 (during)
Jefferson was asked to revise the laws of Virginia.
1778 (1st August)
A daughter, Mary (Polly), was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson.
1779 (during)
Jefferson was elected Governor of Virginia.
1780 (during)
Jefferson was re-elected Governor of Virginia.
1780 (3rd November)
A daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson.
1781 (19th January)
Raid on Richmond
The British took Richmond, Virginia and burnt the city. Governor Thomas Jefferson, who had offices in the city, managed to escape.
1781 (April)
Jefferson’s daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, died.
1781 (28th September)
Siege of Yorktown
American and French forces placed Cornwallis under siege at Yorktown.
1781 (19th October)
Siege of Yorktown
The British had received no reinforcements and an attempt to break out of Yorktown across the river had failed. Cornwallis decided that he had no choice but to surrender.
1782 (during)
An enquiry into Jefferson’s conduct during the British invasion of Virginia was held. The investigation concluded that he had no charge to answer and had acted honourably. However, he was not re-elected as governor.
1782 (8th May)
A daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, was born to Thomas and Martha Jefferson. She died before her second birthday.
1782 (6th September)
Jefferson’s wife, Martha, died.
1782 (30th November)
Peace Agreement
Terms for a peace between America and Britain agreed independence for the colonies. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and Henry Laurens were appointed to negotiate the peace treaty.
1783 (during)
Jefferson was appointed chair of a number of committees.
1783 (19th April)
The Continental Congress ratified the Peace Agreement.
1783 (3rd September)
Peace of Paris/ Treaty of Paris
This treaty was signed by representatives of King George III and the United States.
1784 (July)
Jefferson sailed to France where he was to join John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to negotiate alliances and trade deals with the countries of Europe. He took his 12 year old daughter, Martha (known as Patsy) with him.
1785 (during)
Jefferson published ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’. A thorough survey on the resources and geography of the state of Virginia. The book includes Jefferson’s own opinions on a variety of topics.
1786 (during)
Jefferson met Maria Cosway in Paris. They had a brief affair but remained friends for life.
1787 (during)
Jefferson summoned his daughter, Mary (Polly), to Paris. She was accompanied on the journey by one of the Monticello slaves, Sally Hemings.
1787 (during)
Jefferson began a relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings.
1789 (4th February)
The first presidential elections of the United States were held.
1789 (6th April)
The votes had been counted and George Washington was elected the first President of the United States and John Adams became Vice President.
1789 (14th July)
French Revolution
Jefferson was still in France when the French Revolution began with the Storming of the Bastille. Jefferson was sympathetic to the cause of the revolutionaries.
1789 (late September)
Jefferson and his daughters returned to the United States.
1790 (22nd March)
Thomas Jefferson took office as Secretary of State. He held the position for 4 years. During that period he frequently found himself in conflict with Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
1791 (25th February)
Washington’s government approved the establishment of the First Bank of the United States, suggested by Alexander Hamilton founder of the Federalist Party. However Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Jeffersonian Republicans did not support the idea.
1791 (31st October)
The first edition of the National Gazette, a Domocratic-Republican newspaper founded on the suggestion of Jefferson and James Madison, was published.
1792 (November)
The hostilities between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson continued. Washington had intended to step down as president after one term in office but, worried that the conflict between Hamilton and Jefferson would affect the Republic, decided to stand for a second term.
1793 (13th February)
George Washington was unanimously elected as President for a second term. John Adams was vice president for a second term.
1793 (December)
The feud between Hamilton and Jefferson continued and Thomas Jefferson resigned from the government.
1794 (19th November)
Jay Treaty
This was a peace and trade treaty between the United States and Great Britain. The treaty upset many Americans and annoyed France. It also led to greater division between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans, who strongly opposed greater ties with Britain.
1796 (7th December)
Thomas Jefferson representing the Democratic-Republican Party, was beaten by John Adams in the election for President of the United States. Adams appointed Jefferson Vice President.
1797 (4th March)
Thomas Jefferson took office as Vice President.
1797 (Summer)
In a bid to avoid war, commissioners were sent to France to try to negotiate a trade treaty between France and the United States. At the same time President Adams called for an increase in military provision to be ready to counter any threat from the French.
1798 (4th March)
John Adams received news that the commissioners in France had failed to secure terms due to the French requesting monetary sums before negotiations could begin.
1798 (May)
Quasi War
An American ship was captured by a French privateer just outside New York harbour. This led to a series of tit-for-tat attacks. Military reserves were increased in anticipation of a French landing.
1798 (June)
Alien and Sedition Acts
These acts imposed conditions on immigrants who wished to become American citizens. The Acts gave the President the power to deport immigrants who posed a threat to the security of the United States.
1799 (15th November)
Commissioners were sent to France to negotiate peace.
1799 (14th December)
Washington woke up with a sore throat and breathing difficulties. He ordered blood-letting to try to improve his condition. It did not work and he died later that night.
1800 (30th September)
Convention of 1800
This meeting between representatives of Napoleon‘s France and the United States declared an end to hostilities between the countries.
1800 (3rd December)
Thomas Jefferson representing the Democratic-Republican Party, was elected President of the United States, beating John Adams. He chose Aaron Burr as Vice President.
1801 (27th February)
Thomas Jefferson published ‘A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States’.
1801 (4th March)
Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as the 3rd President of the United States. He appointed his friend Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary.
1801 (Spring)
Jefferson immediately set about improving the finances of the United States. He reduced the numbers of the army and navy and got tough with pirates that were raiding American trade ships. He also abolished the unpopular tax on whisky.
1802 (16th March)
Thomas Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act which included the foundation of a Military Academy at West Point.
1802 (during)
James Monroe and Robert Livingstone were sent to France to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans and surrounding land.
1803 (18th January)
Thomas Jefferson approved an expedition by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the lands west of the Mississippi river.
1803 (April)
Louisiana Purchase Act
Terms were agreed with Napoleon of France for the purchase of the state of Louisiana.
1803 (31st August)
Lewis and Clark began their expedition to explore land west of the Mississippi.
1804 (during)
Jefferson sought approval for a scheme to purchase Florida from Spain. Although Congress agreed, John Randolph criticised the funding stating that he felt the money would be spent to further the ambitions of Napoleon. Negotiations for the purchase failed and the purchase would be shelved for 15 years.
1804 (17th April)
Thomas’s daughter, Mary, died.
1804 (5th December)
Thomas Jefferson representing the Democratic-Republican Party, was re-elected President of the United States. He chose George Clinton as Vice President.
1806 (March)
John Randolph accused Jefferson of becoming too much of a Federalist. This led to a split in the Republican party and took support away from Jefferson.
1806 (23rd September)
Lewis and Clark returned to St Louis. During their expedition they had collected a vast amount of data relating to the land west of the Mississippi.
1807 (2nd March)
Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
This act made it illegal to import slaves into the United States.
1807 (22nd December)
Embargo Act
This act placed an embargo on all foreign ships. It was hoped that the act would stop the French and British harassing American ships. In practice the act had little effect and gave Jefferson’s opponents further opportunity for criticism.
1808 (7th December)
Jefferson had decided to retire at the end of his second term as president. In the election his friend and fellow Republican, James Madison, became the fourth President of the United States.
1811 (during)
Thomas’s sisters, Mary, Lucy and Martha, died.
1812 (1st January)
After receiving a New Year’s message from John Adams, Jefferson and Adams began a communication that lasted the rest of their lives.
1812 (2nd December)
James Madison was re-elected President of the United States.
1815 (during)
Thomas’s brother Randolph died.
1816 (4th December)
James Monroe became the fifth President of the United States.
1819 (during)
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. He served as rector of the University until his death.
1820 (1st December)
James Monroe was re-elected President of the United States.
1824 (1st December)
John Adam’s son, John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the United States.
1826 (4th July)
Thomas Jefferson died at his home, Monticello, in Virginia. John Adams died a few hours later on the same day.


Published Apr 21, 2020 @ 3:35 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826. Last accessed [date]

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