Since his death, Founding Father and third U.S. president Thomas Jefferson has been an iconic American figure depicted in many forms. Jefferson has often been portrayed by Hollywood, and has been depicted in a wide range of forms including alternative timelines, animation, documentary, small cameos, and fictionalized interpretations.


Since 1869, Jefferson appears on the United States two-dollar bill.[1] In January 1938, the United States Mint announced an open competition for a new design for the American nickel, to replace the Buffalo nickel, to feature early Jefferson on the obverse, and Jefferson's home, Monticello on the reverse.[2] Jefferson has since appeared on these coins, deemed the Jefferson nickel.

US $2 bill features Thomas Jefferson's portrait.[3]
The Jefferson nickel obverse as struck from 1938 to 2004. Coins from pre-1966 lack the designer's initials.
The Jefferson nickel reverse, as struck from 1938 to 2003, features Monticello, Jefferson's home.

Postage stamps

Main article: Presidents of the United States on U.S. postage stamps § Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
Issue of 1856

Jefferson's likeness over the years has been finely depicted on the face of the various postage issues that honored him. The first issue to depict Jefferson was issued in 1856, nine years after the Post Office issued its first two stamps of Washington and Franklin in 1847. Almost as popular and famous as George Washington, Jefferson appears comparatively less often on U.S. postage issues, and unlike Washington and Franklin, appears on just two commemorative issues, one in 1904, the other on the AMERIPEX presidential issue of 1986. His remaining depictions are confined to regular issues.[4]

On August 19, 1861, while the American Civil War was wreaking havoc across Virginia and elsewhere, the Post Office issued a 5-cent buff (yellow-brown) colored stamp that honored Thomas Jefferson. The engraving used to produce the image was modeled after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart. The engraver for this issue was William Marshall, who also engraved Washington's image for several issues of this period.[5] This Jefferson issue occurs in several distinct shades of brown. This image was again reprinted on February 3, 1863 in a dark brown color.[6] Also in 1861, Jefferson became the first U.S. president to appear on a Confederate stamp: a 10¢ value in blue, reissued in 1862 with its color changed to rose-pink.


Jefferson is second from the left on Gutzon Borglum's sculpture Shrine of Democracy, commonly known as Mount Rushmore

Statues of Thomas Jefferson can be found in the United States and in other countries.

Jefferson is one of the four presidential portrait sculptures carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota from 1927 to 1941. It was designed and supervised by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who called his work the Shrine of Democracy.

Film, drama, and fiction

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States is an 1853 novel by United States author and playwright William Wells Brown about Clotel and her sister, fictional slave daughters of Thomas Jefferson. Brown, who escaped from slavery in 1834 at the age of 20, published the book in London. He was staying after a lecture tour to evade possible recapture due to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Set in the early nineteenth century, it is considered the first novel published by an African American,[7][8] and is set in the United States. Three additional versions were published through 1867.

The novel explores slavery's destructive effects on African-American families, the difficult lives of American mulattoes or mixed-race people, and the "degraded and immoral condition of the relation of master and slave in the United States of America".[9] Featuring an enslaved mixed-race woman named Currer and her daughters Althesa and Clotel, fathered by Thomas Jefferson, it is considered a tragic mulatto story. The women's relatively comfortable lives end after Jefferson's death. They confront many hardships, with the women taking heroic action to preserve their families.

See also


  1. ^ "$2 Note". U.S. Currency Education Program. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  2. ^ Bowers, Q. David (2007). A Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels. Atlanta, Ga.: Whitman Publishing. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-0-7948-2008-4.
  3. ^ Piles, Mary (22 February 2022). "The Infamous Two-Dollar Bill". CNB St. Louis Bank. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  4. ^ Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps: Commemorative Index.
  5. ^ "1847USA".
  6. ^ Jones, William A. (2010). Kloetzel, James E. (ed.). Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers. Scott Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-89487-446-8.
  7. ^ duCille, Ann. "Where in the World Is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History", American Literary History 12.3 (Autumn, 2000). 443–462. JSTOR.
  8. ^ Gabler-Hover, Janet. "'Clotel'," American History Through Literature, 1820–1870. New York: Charles Scribners & Sons, 2005. 248–253.
  9. ^ Brown, William Wells. Clotel; or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States. 1853. Ed. Robert Levine. Boston: Bedford, 2000. P. 82.
  10. ^ Korkis, Jim. "Jim Korkis on Disney's "Ben and Me"". Cartoon Research. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  11. ^ von Tunzelmann, Alex (4 February 2010). "Jefferson in Paris: a founding father tale that's no slave to the truth". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2022.
  12. ^ Ward, Geoffrey C. (2001). "Ken Burns interview". PBS. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  13. ^ Trinkle, Dennis A.; Merriman, Scott A. (2002). The U.S. History Highway: A Guide to Internet Resources. M.E. Sharpe. p. 76. ISBN 9780765609076.
  14. ^ theneedledrop (April 3, 2016), TND Podcast #44 ft. Daveed Diggs, archived from the original on 2021-11-17, retrieved April 3, 2016