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He owned and profited from several plantations which were worked by slaves throughout all of his adult life.There is evidence that after his wife Martha died in 1782, Jefferson fathered children with Martha’s half-sister Sally Hemings, who was his slave. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson's public achievements, including his primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence, advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia, and his oversight of the Louisiana Purchase.Jefferson improved his French and Greek and his skill at the violin. He read the law under Professor George Wythe's tutelage to obtain his law license, while working as a law clerk in Wythe's office.

With Madison, he anonymously wrote the controversial Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798–1799, which sought to embolden states' rights in opposition to the national government by nullifying the Alien and Sedition Acts.Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, at age 16 and studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under Professor William Small.Small introduced him to the British Empiricists including John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton.He was a proven architect in the classical tradition.Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy earned him the presidency of the American Philosophical Society.