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Men and Women of Faith: Thomas Jefferson

Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale_1800cropped

Our own native Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, was a Founding Father of the United States and was the primary draftsman of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the nation's first secretary of state and the second vice president. As the third president of the United States, Jefferson stabilized the U.S. economy and defeated pirates from North Africa during the Barbary War. He was responsible for doubling the size of the United States by successfully brokering the Louisiana Purchase. He also founded the University of Virginia. Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at the Shadwell plantation located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jefferson was born into one of the most prominent families of Virginia's planter elite. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was a member of the proud Randolph clan, a family claiming descent from English and Scottish royalty.

His father, Peter Jefferson, was a successful farmer as well as a skilled surveyor and cartographer who produced the first accurate map of the Province of Virginia. The young Jefferson was the third born of 10 siblings.

The beginning of Jefferson's professional life coincided with great changes in Great Britain's 13 colonies in America.

The conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763 left Great Britain in dire financial straits; to raise revenue, the Crown levied a host of new taxes on its American colonies. In particular, the Stamp Act of 1765, imposing a tax on printed and paper goods, outraged the colonists, giving rise to the American revolutionary slogan, "No taxation without representation."

Eight years later, on December 16, 1773, colonists protesting a British tea tax dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor in what is known as the Boston Tea Party. In April 1775, American militiamen clashed with British soldiers at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles in what developed into the Revolutionary War.

Jefferson was one of the earliest and most fervent supporters of the cause of American Independence from Great Britain. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1768 and joined its radical bloc, led by Patrick Henry and George Washington.

In 1774, Jefferson penned his first major political work, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which established his reputation as one of the most eloquent advocates of the American cause. Being a man of such incredible accomplishments, we find his sole credit for success in prayer and God. A famous prayer once quoted by Jefferson himself reads perfectly applicable to the cry we express today for our nation.

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.

Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.

In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

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