The United States is currently on its 45th president. Not every single president has a national celebration of their birthday. The ones that do have done many things are remembered for, making it a must to celebrate them.

One of the past presidents that has a nationally observed birthday is Thomas Jefferson. He was the nation’s third president.

Who Was Thomas Jefferson?

Thomas Jefferson was president from 1801 to 1809. Before becoming president,  Jefferson served as the first-ever secretary of state. He held this office from 1789 to 1794. He had a hand in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Just before becoming president he served as the second vice president, with John Adams as president (who would die just two hours after Jefferson). He held that position from 1797 to 1801. Aside from the positions he held, former President Jefferson also:

  • Procured the Louisiana Purchase.
  • Founded the University of Virginia.
  • Helped bring the separation of church and state to fruition.
  • Was a member of the Virginia Bar Association.
  • Practiced law.
  • Had a hand in giving slave masters control over the emancipation of their slaves, instead of the royal government.
  • Appointed Lewis and Clark for their expedition.

Not only did President Jefferson work toward slavery reform, but he also did what he could to help the Native Americans. An honorable man that worked hard to help others.

As just another person, Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. He was one of ten children, the third to be born. When he was just a baby his family took over a plantation, which he then took over at the age of 21.

When did Thomas Jefferson Die?

Born in  Virginia when it wasn’t yet a state and was still under British rule, Jefferson died in that state July 4, 1826. However, Virginia was part of the United States when he passed. Virginia officially became a state in 1788.

It’s said that Jefferson struggled with debt most of his life. That debt stayed with him to death, though he did hold a fund raiser to sell off belongings so he could leave something to his heirs when he passed. This was after his health had already begun to deteriorate.

He suffered from a urinary disorder, intestinal health problems, and rheumatism. The day before he died, he skipped a celebration of the independence brought by the Declaration he had taken part in drafting. He had come down with a fever suddenly.

He was 83 when he passed away. He died on the Declaration of Independence 50th anniversary.

Why Do We Celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday?

Jefferson was an accomplished man. Even though he was a man with $100,000 in debt, he did much for the country.

If not for President Jefferson’s work on the Declaration of Independence, the states under British rule would not have broken free. While someone else may have dealt with the issue down the road, the US could be a much different place than it is now without the ingenuity of a man like Jefferson.

While some people still complain of presidential birthdays popping up on the calendar, maybe because not all of them aren’t given this type of notoriety, Jefferson’s Birthday is an established one in the Presidential Proclamation 2276. This was done at the hands of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938.

His birthday would again find its way into another proclamation in 2007. This one the Presidential Proclamation 8124, from George W. Bush, which commemorated his Birthday.

Even if you’re not attending a celebration on Jefferson’s birthday, they are happening. Some people hold parades and ceremonies in his honor. And why not? He was a man of many achievements.

Here are some ways you can celebrate:

  • Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation, Monticello.
  • Read the Declaration of Independence.
  • Light some sparklers.
  • Write a paper on President Jefferson. Focus it on his work to reform slavery or help the Native Americans.
  • Visit his grave site, which is located at Monticello.
  • Make a birthday cake.
  • Attend a presidential parade.
  • Visit a presidential museum in your own town.
  • Purchase a US flag to display in your yard.

Many of these same things can be done in classrooms to celebrate this accomplished past president. It gives teachers a great opportunity to go over the Declaration of Independence and what it meant to the US at the time it was written, and what it still means today.

Whatever you do, at least take a few minutes out of your day to give thanks. Each president sacrifices a lot to do what they do in office. The early presidents, like Jefferson, did a lot to make this country a great place. Give them the respect and remembrance they deserve.