Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801-1809). He was an influential Founding Father, and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy. Jefferson envisioned America as a great "Empire of Liberty" that would promote republicanism. At the beginning of the American Revolution, Jefferson served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia. He then served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779-1781), barely escaping capture by the British in 1781. Just after the war ended, from mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris, initially as a commissioner to help negotiate commercial treaties. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France. He was the first United States Secretary of State (1790-1793). During the administration of President George Washington, Jefferson advised against a national bank and the Jay Treaty.