Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval Historical Center homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060



Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Va., 13 April 1743 and graduated from William and Mary College in 1762. He was admitted to the bar 5 years later. In 1769 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses where he soon became a leader of the patriot faction and helped form the Virginia Committee of Correspondence. He maintained that the colonies were not subject to Parliament but were bound to England only by allegiance to the Crown.


Jefferson was sent to the Continental Congress in June 1775, and a year later he was entrusted with writing the Declaration of Independence. He returned to the Virginia legislature in October 1776 where he labored to reform the new state on democratic principles. He succeeded Patrick Henry as governor in 1779 and held that office until 1781.


Jefferson succeeded Franklin as Minister to France in 1785 and, after his return in 1789, became the Nation's first Secretary of State.' Growing differences with Alexander Hamilton prompted him to resign from Washington's cabinet 31 December 1793, and he subsequently led growing opposition to the Federalist party. From 1797 to 1801 he was Vice President and he defeated John Adams in the presidential election of 1800. Upon entering the White House, Jefferson introduced a more democratic tone to public life, and his two terms as Chief Executive were marked by careful administration and rare frugality. Highlights of his presidency included the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Navy's victory over the Barbary pirates. Their valiant and skillful fighting in the struggle with the North African corsairs gave American seamen some of their most colorful and cherished memories while strengthening the new nation's position as a power worthy of respect.


In retirement Jefferson exerted great political and intellectual influence as he worked to establish the University of Virginia. His brilliant career was brought to a fitting close when he died 4 July 1826, the 50th anniversary of his immortal Declaration of Independence.


Perhaps Jefferson's place in American history was best measured by President Kennedy while entertaining the Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere. "... I think," the President told his distinguished guests, "this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."




(Brig: t. 509; l. 117'H"; cpl. 160; a. 16 42-pdr. car., 4 long 24-pdrs.)


The second Jefferson was build at Sackett's Harbor, N.Y., for service in Commodore Isaac Chauncey's fleet on Lake Ontario and launched 7 April 1814. She was manned by a crew from sloop of war Erie which had been laid up at Baltimore because of the British blockade of Chesapeake Bay. Comdr. Charles G. Ridgely was her captain.


Most of the guns for the new American ships had not reached Sackett's Harbor by 19 May when the British fleet arrived off the American base and began a strict blockade. Jefferson finally sailed with Chauncey's fleet 31 July and arrived off Niagara 5 August. With Sylph and Oneida she blockaded several English vessels inside the river while Chauncey with the rest of the fleet sailed on to Kingston to challenge the main English squadron. After remaining on blockade duty off Niagara for over a month, Jefferson sailed for Kingston to rejoin Chauncey. During the passage a severe storm arose 12 September and, before abating 3 days later, almost swamped the brig. Ten of her guns were thrown overboard in the struggle to save the ship.


Jefferson rejoined her fleet 17 September and operated with it during the remainder of the navigation season attempting to draw Sir James Yeo's ships into a decisive contest. Toward the end of November she was laid up for the winter. Peace obviated Jefferson's planned return to commission in the spring. She apparently remained in ordinary until sold 30 April 1825.