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[Detail] Thomas Jefferson

Chronological Thinking: Constructing a Timeline of Jefferson’s Accomplishments

Thomas Jefferson, no date, Design for Mould Board Plow

Thomas Jefferson, no date, Design for Mould Board Plow. What important benefits to the nation resulted from Jefferson’s interest in agriculture?

In September 1800, Jefferson wrote, “A Memorandum of Services to My Country,” in which he pondered, “I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better for my having lived at all?” In the memorandum, Jefferson included a rough timeline of some of the contributions he deemed important. These ranged from writing the Declaration of Independence to importing olive plants from France and rice from Africa, both for planting in Southern states.

  • What services performed for his country did Jefferson note in his memorandum?
  • What does the memo reveal about Jefferson’s values and beliefs?

Develop a more complete timeline of Jefferson’s services to his country. You may use The Thomas Jefferson Papers Timeline: 1743-1827 as one source, but you should also consider information you have gathered from examining documents in the collection. Be selective; that is, do not include everything Jefferson did in his lifetime. Instead, choose no more than 10 to 15 services, picking them based on your own values and beliefs about what was most important in making the United States “better.”

Chronological Thinking: Identifying Cause-and-Effect Relationships on Timelines

Study the two timelines that accompany the collection: the Virginia Records Timeline, 1553-1743 and the Thomas Jefferson Papers Timeline, 1743-1827. As you study the timelines, pay special attention to the relationships between different events listed on the timelines.

  • What cause-and-effect relationships are revealed in these timelines?
  • Look for an event for which multiple causes are shown. Look for an event for which multiple effects are shown.
  • Write a paragraph explaining how timelines can be useful in understanding cause-and-effect relationships.