Read THOMAS JEFFERSON of Lives of the Presidents Told in Words of One Syllable , free online book, by Jean S. Remy, on

When Thomas Jefferson was a boy his home was so near the Indians’ camp and he saw so much of them that I am sure all boys will like to read of him. His father, Peter Jefferson, took his bride, Jane Randolph, to a house on a wild tract of land of over 1,000 acres, way out in Virginia, right in the midst of great woods. He was a big, strong man, and this strength was very useful to him in making his new home, for he had to chop down huge trees and then cut them up into the logs of which the little log cabin was built. He took with him into this wild new land only a few slaves, but with their help his farm soon grew large, and he became a rich man. The Indians were great friends of his, and always sure of a warm welcome in his home.

Still, the Indians were not always at peace with the white men, who had come to make their homes so near them, and folks had to be on the watch for fear the red men would rob and kill them. Peter Jefferson was made Colonel of the men who kept the Indians back in the woods, and away from the little town that was fast growing up near his home.

Now, this great, strong man was fond of books, and it was with his father that little Thomas began to study. He was also taught to ride, to swim and to shoot; and as he was fond of music he spent long hours in learning to play on the violin, or “fiddle as it was then called. The Indians near his home liked him, and he used to play tunes for the little, brown Indian boys to dance by.

He was only nine years old when he went to boarding school with a Mr. Douglass, and here he began to study Latin, Greek and French. He was so near home that he did not stay away long at a time; and indeed, this home was such a happy one, so full of life and fun, that he did not want to be away from it long at one time.

But this happy time did not last long, for Thomas was but fourteen years old when his brave father was shot in a fight with the Indians. This boy was now at the head of as big a place as the father of George Washington had left to him, and though he kept on with his books he had the care of this great farm to think of and plan for. He was a bright, wellread boy; and was but sixteen when he took a place at William and Mary Collège. Here, his love for books and music kept him from the wild life led by some of the young men there, and made friends for him among the great men, whose homes were in Williamstown.

He met a great lawyer, George Wythe, and began the study of law with him when, at the end of two years, he left collège. In five years he began the practise of law in his old home in Virginia. In two years, so bright and quick was he, and of such a strong, clear mind, that he had 198 cases, held a high place in his State, and was a rich man.

In 1770, while he and his mother were away from home, the old house burned down. When news of this came to Jefferson, his first thought was for his books, and he said to the slave who had told him: “Did you save any of my books?” “No, master,” said the slave, “but we did save your fiddle. You see even when he was a great and busy man he still loved his fiddle; but the loss of all his law books was very hard for a busy lawyer, and it took him a long while to get the new books that he must have.

The Home of Thomas Jefferson.]

He had begun to build a very large new house at Monticello, and so in the little end of this he now went to live. Two years later, to this home, which was to become known all over the world, he brought his bride, Mrs. Martha Skelton, a young and very rich widow. They were married on New Year’s Day, 1772, and came to their home in such a hard snowstorm that the horses could not drag the coach through the big drifts, so these two young folks left the warm coach, and rode the tired horses up to the door of their new home. Jefferson and his wife gave great care to Monticello, and it was known far and near for its great beauty and for its choice and rare fruits and flowers.

But Jefferson was much from home. In 1762 he was sent to Congress, and here he at once stood at the head of the band of wise and great men who were then there. His mind was so clear and bright that in all the grave things that came up he knew at once just what to do, he had the trust of all men.

He was a great help in writing the Declaration of Independence; in fact, it may well be said that he wrote it. Soon after this great act he left Congress and turned his mind to the laws of his own State; he made them safe and just for all men, both rich and poor. In 1779 he was made governor of Virginia; and now his work was hard; not only must he find a way to keep the Indians from the houses of the white men but the British came down to the south and laid his fair home in ruins. Not for long years did Monticello grow in beauty once more. But through all the dark years of war Jefferson did his work well; he forced back the Indian foes, and gave help and aid to his State while the War for Independence went on. When the war was at an end, this strong, just man, with his clear, wise brain, was just the one to stand up for our rights in the lands across the sea, so he was sent to France at the time Adams was in England. While here he had a bill passed by which England said she would look on our land as free; and this was a big point for us to gain.

When Jefferson came home he was made Secretary of State, and in this high office did much good work; it was he who first gave us our own coins to use in place of the English coins, which, up to that time had been in use here. Now, Alexander Hamilton was in charge of the work of making the coin, and a great feud came up between him and Jefferson as to how this should be done. Men, of course, took sides in this strife, and so two bands sprang up which were known as Republicans and Federalists; today these two bands are known as Republicans and Democrats. Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr in July, 1804.

In 1801, Jefferson was made Prèsident; and while he was in the chair this land grew strong and great.

Our first steamboat was built by Robert Fulton while Jefferson was Prèsident; and it did not look at all like the great boats of today; it was a heavy, clumsy boat, which went by sails as well as steam.

Robert Fulton’s first Steamboat.]

Jefferson tried hard to put an end to the slavetrade, which he felt was a great wrong; he thought, too, that folks should have the right to serve God in their own way; and he held that only men who could read and write should vote.

He was a great and a wise man; books were his dear friends; and so one of the hardest things he had to do, after he went home to Monticello, when he left the White House, was to sell all his books to Congress in order to get money to live on. To his own home hosts of friends and strangers came to see the great man, just as they had when he was in Washington. But he sold his books so cheap that the money did not help him much; and, at last, it seemed as if he must sell his dear old home. But now the people for whom he had done so much helped him, and a big fund was raised, so that he could keep his home and live there in comfort until his death.

He lived to be a very old man, and even when he was so weak he could not rise from his bed, his great, strong brain was still clear. You know that he died on the 4th of July, 1826, just a few hours before the death of his old friend, John Adams.

Next to the name of George Washington, there is no name among the great men of our land, of which the people are so proud, as that of Thomas Jefferson.