Jefferson supports the separation of church and state and is the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
Jefferson's revolutionary view on individual religious freedom and protection from government authority have generated much interest with modern scholars. He is the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the co-founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years.
Born into a prominent family, In 1752, Jefferson began attending a local school run by a Scottish Presbyterian minister. At the age of nine, Jefferson began studying Latin, Greek, and French; he learned to ride horses, and began to appreciate the study of nature. In 1757, when he was 14 years old, his father died. While boarding with Maury's family, he studied history, science and the classics.
At age 16, Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, and first met the law professor George Wythe, who became his influential mentor. For two years he studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under Professor William Small, who introduced the enthusiastic Jefferson to the writings of the British Empiricists, including John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton. He also improved his French, Greek, and violin. A diligent student, Jefferson displayed an avid curiosity in all fields and graduated in 1762 with highest honors.
He read law while working as a law clerk for Wythe. They also read a wide variety of English classics and political works. Jefferson was admitted to the Virginia bar five years later in 1767.