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Fun Facts About Thomas Jefferson

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

Now that we are back on our lovely Grounds here at UVA, walking around the white washed columns and ancient brick is a constant reminder of the beautiful history and architecture that surrounds us every day. Thanks to our founder, Thomas Jefferson, aka TJ the Innovator, we are blessed to go to not only such an attractive school, but also one with a rich background of history, culture, and focus on education for all. Here are some quirky facts you might enjoy about our good ‘ole founder TJ to make you smile and appreciate even more of his vivacious personality…


1. He owned the bones of a mastodon, which was an ancient creature from 40 million years ago. He laid out the bones in proper order of course in the East Room of the White House when he was president in order to remind himself of the deeper history to the world and his passion for archeology.

2. True to UVA ideals, he LOVED vanilla ice cream. He wrote in a letter during his travels abroad in France to a friend in the U.S. about this new cool sensational treat in which he brought over the recipe to whip at for his pleasure. His original recipe is now found in the Library of Congress! Study break anyone?


3. He was quoted saying to his good old buddy, John Adams, that “I cannot live without books” after paying off his debts through 6,473 personal books of his purchased by the new Library of Congress for $23,950! And I thought Alderman had everything I needed…


4. He wooed his future wife, Martha Wyles Skeleton, by serenading her with his voice armed with his violin. He grew up playing violin and was natural for him to align two of his greatest loves of his life together…Martha and music! Take note, friends. Jefferson knew what he was doing in order to win Martha’s heart. If we can learn anything from him, it’s that music is the key to the lover’s locked heart.

5. He was born in Virginia (Go Virginia, mother-state of such a great president!) on April 13, 1743. He passed away on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1826. What a way to go my friends, on a date that was so historically significant and that he personally helped shape in an unforgettable way. He lived a total of 83 years. His death, historians believe, was due to dehydration and dysentery. Stay hydrated my friends! Drink lots of water, especially during this new fall season. Let’s pursue academics in the name of Jefferson with large bottles of Poland Springs so we end up surpassing him in age…and maybe intellect too!


6. He wrote to Benjamin Rush on August 17, 1811 in his handy pen and quill, “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk, & restorative cordial.” Let’s all take Jefferson’s advice to heart when creating friendships and relationships at UVA. For he with his wisdom proclaimed, “wherever I have been, it has been my good fortune to meet with or to make ardent and affectionate friends.” 


7. In addition to his passion for music, he grew up riding horses and taking solitary adventures to escape his academic tutor. As a young man, he obviously  preferred the great thrill of the outdoors and the buoyant freedom that his horse provided. His equestrian love spanned the rest of his life, and certainly was a valuable transportation device! Even TJ needed study breaks!


8. During his tour of Paris, his youthful joy did not keep up with his body (he was 43 at this point) as he jumped over a fence…only to stumble in the end and break his right wrist. Of course, nothing stopped TJ, so he learned to write with his left hand instead being right and left-handed for the rest of his life. Talk about adaptation!


I hope you have a greater and more robust appreciation for TJ, as I now do!


Here are some sites (that I used to help me write this article) that you can check out for more great facts!





Meg is a student at Haverford College and plays field hockey for the college. She is an interested writer.