William Short and Adoption

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Portrait of William by Rembrandt Peale 1806


Short was the adopted son (or possibly protégé) of President Thomas Jefferson. He was born into a well-to-do planter family in Virginia. He helped found the US academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, served his father as secretary in France and as later as chargé d'affaires; and was US diplomat to Russia, Spain and the Netherlands until 1810. He was also a member of the Virginia Council of State. After retiring from the diplomatic service he became a very wealthy landowner.


Shackelford, George Green. Jefferson's Adoptive Son: The Life of William Short, 1759-1848. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993) Dictionary of American Biography