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Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had been elected the second Vice President of the United States, serving under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. He was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.