Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States, appears on the 2-cent Liberty, which was issued on September 15, 1954, at San Francisco, California. The postcard rate was two cents from its debut through July 31, 1958, and the stamp saw heavy use for that reason.
The likeness of Jefferson was taken from a portrait by Gilbert Stuart which hangs at the Bowdoin College Museum of Fine Arts in Brunswick, Maine.
On October 22, 1954, the stamp was issued in coils for use in vending machines. It had the most remarkable on-sale life of any United States stamp, being removed from sale at the Philatelic Agency on January 31, 1984. Consequently, it is not unusual to see the 2-cent coil used frequently on mail through the 1980s.
Jefferson was president from 1801 through 1809. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. In addition to his political career, Jefferson was also an agriculturalist, horticulturist, architect, archaeologist, mathematician, surveyor, paleontologist, author, lawyer, inventor, violinist, and the founder of the University of Virginia.