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Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, which motivated American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation.
Jefferson was primarily of English ancestry, born and educated in Virginia.
He graduated from the College of William & Mary and briefly practiced law, at times defending slaves seeking their freedom.
As President, Jefferson pursued the nation's shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies.
He also organized the Louisiana Purchase, almost doubling the country's territory.
During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration, drafted the law for religious freedom as a Virginia legislator, and served as a wartime governor (1779–1781).
He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the nation's first Secretary of State in 1790–1793 under President George Washington.