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Full text of "The Life And Selected Writings Of Thomas Jefferson"

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No. 234 



MODERN XL IBRARY BOOKS 

THE BEST OF THE WORLD'S BEST BOOKS 



THE LIFE 
AND SELECTED 
WRITINGS OF 
THOMAS JEFFERSON 

Edited by 

ADRIENNE KOCH and 

WILLIAM PEDEN 

For a long time the editors of the Mod- 
ern Library have sought a volume of 
Jefferson's works which would be both 
comprehensive in terms of his prolific 
literary output and representative of 
his contribution to liberal thought. 
Within the scope of this book of al- 
most 800 pages are to be found the 
Autobiography, which includes the 
original and revised versions of the 
Declaration of Independence; the com- 
plete Anas; the Travel Journals; the 
Essay on Anglo-Saxon; Biographical 
Sketches of Famous Men; Notes on 
Virginia; and a generous collection of 
Letters. 



THE MODERN LIBRARY 
OF THE WORLD'S BEST BOOKS 



THE LIFE AND 

SELECTED WRITINGS 

OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 



The publishers will be pleased to send, upon request, an 
illustrated folder setting forth the purpose and scope oj 
THE MODERN LIBRARY, and lifting each volume 
in the series. Every reader of books will find titles he has 
been looking for, handsomely printed, in unabridged 
editions, and at an unusually low price. 



^^^ 




Directions in Jefferson's hcniduritingjor his tombsJone, with inslruttions for 
the epitaph bearing testimony to the three achievements "moil to be remembered" 



The Life and 
Selefted Writings of 

TH OMAS 
JEFFERSON 



'Edited, and with an Introduction by 
Adrienne Koch & William Peden 




THE MODERN LIBRARY NEW TORK 



Copyright, 1944, by Random House. Ine. 




is THE PUBLISHER OF 
THE MODERN LIBRARY 

BENNETT A. CERF DONALD S. KLOPFER ROBERT K. HAAS 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
By II. Wolff 



^PREFACE 



THIS selection from the writings of Thomas Jefferson id 
planned to be a comprehensive presentation of his thought. 
The greatest amount of space has been allotted to his letters, 
in the belief that they are of primary importance in revealing 
the man and his intellect. Jefferson's two original full-length 
works, the Notes on Virginia and the Autobiography, are given 
virtually complete. Along with his best-known public papers, 
selections from his minor writings are also included. Together, 
all these serve to depict the man who more aptly than any of 
his countrymen might be called the American Leonardo. 

Despite its limitations, the Memorial Edition (Andrew A. 
Lipscomb and Albert Ellery Bergh, sds., The Writings of 
Thomas Jeffcrscm, 20 vols., The Thomas Jefferson Memorial 
Association, Washington, D. C., 1905) has been used as the 
basis of the text. The Ford Edition, though better edited, does 
not offer the quantity and variety of the Memorial Edition. 
Whenever the Memorial Edition is not the source, we have 
cited the editor or author, or the manuscript collection from 
which an item is taken. 

We wish to thank the staffs of the Alderman Library of the 
University of Virginia and of the Library of Ccpgress for thei> 
generous co-operation. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION *? 

/ ^UTOBIOGRAPHT 3 

Including The Declaration of Independence 

// TH8 *ANAS 117 

/// TRAVEL JOURNALS 135 

IV eSSAT ON <JNGLO-SAXON 157 

V BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF FAMOUS MSN 173 

VI ^OTSS ON VIRGINIA 187 

VII TUB LIC TAP8RS 293 

. A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774 293 

An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1779 311 

Report of Government for the Western Territories, 1784 313 

Opinion of Secretary of State, July 15, 1790 316 

Opinion of Secretary of State, March 18, 1792 316 

Opinion of Secretary of State, April 28, 1793 317 

Opinion of Secretary of State, December 16, 1793 319 

Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 321 

First Annual Message, December 8, 1801 325 

Reply to Danbury Baptist Association, January i, 1803 332 

Indian Address, January 7, 1802 333 

Second Annual Message, December 15, 1802 334 

Third Annual Message, October 17, 1803 334 

Fourth Annual Message, November 8, 1804 338 

Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805 339 
To the General Assembly of North Carolina, January 10, 

1808 345 

To the Society of Tammany, February 29, 1808 346 

Eighth Annual Message, November 8, 1808 347 

vii 



VIII : LSffeRS 351 

To: John Harvie, Jan. 14, 1760 351 

John Page, Dec. 25, 1762 351 

John Page, July 15, 1763 355 

John Page, Oct. 7, 1763 356 

Robert Skipwith, Aug. 3, 1771 357 

Dr. William Small, May 7, 1775 358 

John Randolph, Esq., Nov. 29, 1775 359 

Francis Eppes, July 15, 1776 361 

John Fabroni, June 8, 1778 363 

Col. James Monroe, May 20, 1782 364 

Francois Jean, Chevalier de Chastellux, Nov. 26, 1782 365 

Martha Jefferson, Dec. 22, 1783 366 

Col. Monroe, June 17, 1785 366 

Dr. Price, Aug. 7, 1785 367 

The Count de Vergennes, Aug. 15, 1785 369 

Mrs. Trist, Aug. 18, 1785 371 

Peter Carr, Aug. 19, 1785 373 

John Jay, Aug. 23, 1785 377 

Baron Geismer, Sept. 6, 1785 37Q 

James Madison, Sept. 20, 1785 380 

Mr. Bellini, Sept. 30, 1785 382 

Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785 384 

J. Bannister, Jr., Oct. 15, 1785 38-- 

Rev. James Madison, Oct. 28, 1785 388 

A. Stuart, Esq., Jan. 25, 1786 390 

James Madison, Feb. 8, 1786 392 

John Page, May 4, 1786 392 

Mr. Wythe, Aug. 13, 1786 304 

Mrs. Cosway, Oct. 12, 1786 395 

James Madison, Dec. 16, 1786 407 

John Jay, Jan. 9, 1787 409 

Monsieur de Creve-Coeur, Jan. 15, 1787 409 

Col. Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787 411 

James Madison, Jan. 30, 1787 412 

Madame la Comtesse de Tesse, March 20, 1787 414 

Martha Jefferson, March 28, 1787 416 

Martha Jefferson, April 7, 1787 419 

The Marquis de Lafayette, April n, 1787 420 

viii 



CONTENTS 

To: James Madison, June 20, 1787 422 

T. M. Randolph, Jr., July 6, 1787 . 424 

Edward Carrington, Aug. 4, 1787 427 

Col. Monroe, Aug. 5, 1787 428 

Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787 429 

John Adams, Aug. 30, 1787 434 

John Adams, Nov. 13, 1787 435 

Col. Smith, Nov. 13, 1787 436 

James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787 436 

E. Carrington, Dec. 21, 1787 441 

Mr. A. Donald, Feb. 7, 1788 442 

The Count de Moustier, May 17, 1788 443 

William Carmichael, May 27, 1788 445 

Col. Carrington, May 27, 1788 446 

Mr. Izard, July 17, 1788 448 

E. Rutledge, July 18, 1788 448 

Mr. Cutting, July 24, 1788 449 

James Madison, July 31, 1788 450 

James Madison, Nov. 18, 1788 452 

Dr. Price, Jan. 8, 1789 453 

John Jay, Jan. n, 1789 457 

Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789 459 

James Madison, March 15, 1789 462 

Col. Humphreys, March 18, 1789 464 

Dr. Willard, March 24, 1789 467 

General Washington, May 10, 1789 468 

Monsieur de St. Etienne, June 3, 1789 469 

John Jay, June 24, 1789 471 

John Jay, June 29, 1789 476 

Thomas Paine, July n, 1789 478 

John Jay, July 19, 1789 481 

James Madison, Sept. 6, 1789 488 
William Hunter, Esq., Mayor of Alexandria, 

March n, 1790 493 

The Marquis de Lafayette, April 2, 1790 494 

Maria Jefferson, April n, 1790 495 

Mr. Thomas Mann Randolph, May 30, 1790 496 

John Garland Jefferson, June n, 1790 497 

Maria Jefferson, June 13, 1790 500 

Count de Moustier, Dec. 13, 1790 501 

ix 



CONTENTS 

To: Martha Jefferson Randolph, Dec. 23, 1790 501 

Mr. Hazard, Feb. 18, 1791 502 

Major L'Enfant, April 10, 1791 502 

Thomas Mann Randolph, June 5, 1791 504 

T. M. Randolph, July 3, 1791 504 

John Adams, July 17, 1791 506 

William Short, July 28, 1791 507 

Benjamin Banneker, Aug. 30, 1791 508 

Martha Jefferson Randolph, Jan. 15, 1792 509 

The President of the United States, May 23, 1792 510 

Thomas Paine, June IQ, 1792 516 

The President of the United States, Sept. 9, 1792 517 

William Short, Jan. 3, 1793 521 

James Madison, June 9, 1793 522 

The President of the United States, July 31, 1793 525 

Eli Whitney, Nov. 16, 1793 526 

John Adams, April 25, 17 94 527 

Tench Coxe, May i, 1794 528 

James Madison, Dec. 28, 1794 529 

Monsieur D'lvernois, Feb. 6, 1795 530 

M. de Meusnier, April 29, 1795 533 

Mann Page, Aug. 30, 1795 534 

George Wythe, Jan. 16, 1796 535 

Philip Mazzei, April 24, 1796 537 

John Adams, Dec. 28, 1796 538 

James Madison, Jan. i, 1797 539 

Elbridge Gerry, May 13, 1797 540 

Edward Rutlcdge, June 24, 1797 544 

Elbridge Gerry, Jan. 26, 1799 544 

Edmund Pcndleton, Jan. 29, 1799 547 

Maria Jefferson Eppcs, Feb. 7, 1799 548 

Edmund Randolph, Aug. 18, 1799 549 

Dr. Joseph Priestley, Jan. 18, 1800 552 

Dr. Joseph Priestley, Jan. 27, 1800 554 

Dr. William Bache, Feb. 2, 1800 556 

Samuel Adams, Feb. 26, 1800 556 

Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800 557 

Martha Jefferson Randolph, Jan. 26, 1801 558 

T. M. Randolph, Feb. 19, 1801 559 

John Dickinson, March 6, 1801 560 



CONTENTS 

Tc: Dr. Joseph Priestley, March 21, 1801 561 

Samuel Adams, March 29, 1801 563 

Robert R. Livingston, Sept. 9, 1801 564 
The Secretary of the Treasury 

(Albert Gallatin), April i, 1802 566 

Dr. Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803 566 

General Horatio Gates, July n, 1803 571 

Monsieur Cabanis, July 12, 1803 572 

Wilson C. Nicholas, Sept. 7, 1803 572 

Jean Baptiste Say, Feb. i, 1804 574 

Judge John Tyler, June 28, 1804 576 

C. F. C. de Volney, Feb. 8, 1805 577 

The Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, Jan. 10, 1806 578 

The Reverend G. C. Jenncr, May 14, 1806 580 

John Norvell, June n, 1807 581 

Governor James Sullivan, June 19, 1807 582 

Dr. Casper Wistar, June 21, 1807 583 

Monsieur de Nemours, July 14, 1807 585 

Charles Pinckney, March 30, 1808 586 

The Prince Regent of Portugal, May 5, 1808 587 

Monsieur Lastcyrie, July 15, 1808 588 

Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Nov. 24, 1808 589 

Thomas Leiper, Jan. 21, 1809 593 

John Hollins, Feb. 19, 1809 594 
M. Henri Grcgoire, Jfiveque et Senateur a Paris, 

Feb. 25, 1809 594 

Monsieur DuPont dc Nemours, March 2, 1809 595 
The Inhabitants of Albemarle County, in Virginia, 

April 3, 1809 596 

John Wyche, May 19, 1809 597 

Dr. B. S. Barton, Sept. 21, 1809 598 

Rev. Samuel Knox, Feb. 12, 1810 599 

General Thaddeus Kosciusko, Feb. 26, 1810 600 

Governor John Langdon, March 5, 1810 603 

Governor John Tyler, May 26, 1810 604 

Colonel William Duane, Aug. 12, 1810 605 

J. B. Colvin, Sept. 20, 1810 606 

Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jan. 16, 1811 607 

Colonel William Duane, March 28, 1811 613 

Dr. Benjamin Rush, Aug. 17, 1811 614 

xi 



CONTENTS 

To: John Adams, Jan. 21, 1812 615 

F. A. Van der Kemp, March 22, 1812 618 

James Maury, April 25, 1812 619 

John Melish, Jan. 13, 1813 620 

Colonel William Duane, Jan. 22, 1813 625 

Colonel William Duane, April 4, 1813 626 

John Adams, May 27, 1813 626 

John Adams, June 27, 1813 627 

Dr. Samuel Brown, July 14, 1813 628 

Isaac McPherson, Aug. 13, 1813 629 

John Adams, Oct. 13, 1813 631 

John Adams, Oct. 28, 1813 632 

Dr. Thomas Cooper, Jan. 16, 1814 634 

Monsieur N. G. Dufief, April 19, 1814 635 

Thomas Law, June 13, 1814 636 

John Adams, July 5, 1814 640 

Edward Coles, Aug. 25, 1814 641 

Peter Carr, Sept. 7, 1814 642 

Dr. Thomas Cooper, Sept. 10, 1814 649 

Samuel H. Smith, Esq., Sept. 21, 1814 650 

William Short, Esq., Nov. 28, 1814 652 

The Marquis de Lafayette, Feb. 14, 1815 654 

James Maury, June 15, 1815 655 

Albert Gallatin, October 16, 1815 656 

Colonel Charles Yancey, Jan. 6, 1816 657 

Charles Thomson, Jan. 9, 1816 659 

Joseph C. Cabell, Feb. 2, 1816 660 

Joseph Milligan, April 6,1816 662 

John Adams, April 8, 1816 667 

John Taylor, May 28, 1816 668 

Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816 673 

John Adams, Aug. i, 1816 676 

Abigail Adams, Jan. 11,1817 677 

Charles Thomson, Jan. 29, 1817 679 

Joseph Delaplaine, April 12, 1817 679 

Von Humboldt, June 13, 1817 681 

Monsieur Barbe de Marbois, June 14, 1817 681 

George Ticknor, Nov. 25, 1817 683 

John Trumbull, Jan. 8, 1818 683 

Count Dugnani, Feb. 14, 1818 684 

xii 



CONTSNTS 

To: Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, March 3, 1818 685 

Nathaniel Burwell, Esq., March 14, 1818 687 

John Adams, Nov. 13, 1818 690 

Dr. Vine Utley, March 21, 1819 690 

Mr. Laporte, June 4, 1819 692 

William Short, Oct. 31, 1819 693 

Dr. Thomas Cooper, March 13, 1820 697 

John Holmes, April 22, 1820 698 

William Short, Aug. 4, 1820 699 

John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820 700 

William Roscoe, Dec. 27, 1820 702 

John Adams, Sept. 12, 1821 702 

James Smith, Dec. 8, 1822 703 

Robert Walsh, April 5, 1823 704 

John Adams, April n, 1823 705 

General Samuel Smith, May 3, 1823 707 
The President of the United States 

(James Monroe), Oct. 24, 1823 708 

Monsieur A. Coray, Oct. 31, 1823 711 

The Marquis de Lafayette, Nov. 4, 1823 712 
Mr. David Harding, President of the Jefferson Debating 

Society of Hingham, April 20, 1824 713 

Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824 714 

Henry Lee, August 10, 1824 714 

Charles Sigourney, Aug. 15, 1824 715 

John Adams, Jan. 8, 1825 716 

Thomas Jefferson Smith, Feb. 21, 1825 717 

Henry Lee, May 8, 1825 719 

Ellen W. Coolidge, August 27, 1825 720 

Dr. James Mease, Sept. 26, 1825 722 

George Washington Lewis, Oct. 25, 1825 722 

James Madison, Feb. 17, 1826 726 

Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 729 



Xlll 



INTRODUCTION 

by zAdrienne I^och and 
William Teden 



r I ^HE writings of Thomas Jefferson are today more mean- 
JL ingful than ever before in America's history. No better 
record of the social principles which are the heart of the 
American democratic "experiment" exists than these letters and 
documents. Those who are eager to know the varied and subtle 
character of the man will find in them another, not inconsider- 
able, reward. No leader in the period of the American Enlight- 
enment was as articulate, as wise, as conscious of the implica- 
tions and consequences of free society as he. To Jefferson, 
therefore, we must go for fresh contacts with the commanding 
personalities and events of those days, and for the fullest ex- 
pression of government through consent, through reason, 
through law, and through energetic and progressive change. 
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13 (April 2, Old Style), 
1743, at Shadwell, the most important of the tobacco planta- 
tions owned by his father Peter Jefferson, in the Virginia up- 
country. A vigorous and intelligent man, although uneducated, 
Peter Jefferson became a successful surveyor, prosperous land- 
owner, and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 
Albemarle County. His wife Jane Randolph, a member of one 
of the most distinguished Virginia families, could trace her 
pedigree far back in English and Scottish annals. Concerning 
this, Jefferson, late in life, laconically remarked, "To which 
let every one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses." 

Perhaps the young Jefferson might not have made such a 
statement. Certainly as a child he enjoyed to the full the 



xv 



THOMAS ySFFSRSON 

numerous advantages accompanying his family's substantial 
position: the books, the horses, the good life of the "Big 
Houses" at Tuckahoe and Shadwell. And when Peter Jefferson 
died he left his fourteen-year-old son not only valuable lands 
and propertythe base and measure of Virginia wealth at that 
time but sound and loving advice. Denied a formal education 
himself, he was careful to direct that his son be given complete 
classical training. Years later, Thomas Jefferson often referred 
to the effect the classical moralists, philosophers, poets, and 
dramatists had had upon him. Quite honestly he could say, in 
1800, "I thank on my knees, Him who directed my early 
education, for having put into my possession this rich source 
of delight; and I would not exchange it for anything which I 
could then have acquired. . . ." No matter how scientific and 
progressive Jefferson became in his outlook, the moral and 
political wisdom of Greece and Rome continued to give depth 
and flavor to his thought. 

As his father had stipulated, Thomas studied at Reverend 
Mr. Maury's school, just a few miles from Shadwell. After two 
years' coaching by this "correct classical scholar," in the spring 
of 1760 he left his native Albemarle to attend William and 
Mary College. 

During these early years in Williamsburg, colonial capital of 
Virginia, Jefferson gives every evidence of enjoying to the full 
the parties, the music, the dancing, the flirtations, the versify- 
ing, the punch-drinkingin short, the good society of the 
sparkling young Virginians who were his friends. Fond of 
cotillions, the theatre, and races, he is far from unhappy in 
these frivolous surroundings. No Beau Brummel, the tall 
gangling redhead possessed humor, warmth, and intelligence 
which won him many close friends. Apparently more successful 
in gaining the boon companionship of friends like John Page 
than in capturing the hearts of the Williamsburg belles, he 
occasionally luxuriates in the despondent mood of a romantic 
failure. Jefferson's letters devoted to this theme, sometimes gay, 
sometimes gloomy, but always dashed off in the extreme and 

xvi 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

impetuous language of youth, are a good corrective to the 
serious picture painted of him by keepers of the public faith. 

But indications of discipline and earnestness are present as 
solidly as rocks in a swirl of water. Jefferson's passion for 
rationalization, as well as his pose of stoic detachment, is well 
illustrated in his "love affair" with Rebecca Burwell. In the 
midst of a dance in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern, 
later the scene of momentous political stratagems, Jefferson 
blurted a stumbling marriage proposal to his "Belinda." Sub- 
jecting even this action to his habit of deliberation, shortly 
thereafter he confessed to Page careful plans for his travel and 
further education abroad. Meanwhile "Belinda," one surmises y 
must patiently await his return, schooling herself in the duties 
necessary for a Virginia housewife and manager. Jefferson 
alone was surprised, and even he did not claim to be morally 
injured, when the spirited girl announced her engagement to 
a less phlegmatic and more immediate suitor. 

Jefferson had already matured intellectually more than the 
average diligent student. He became a favorite of the social 
and intellectual leaders of Williamsburg, including Dr. William 
Small, his learned professor of mathematics and moral philoso- 
phy, George Wythe, foremost legal mind in Virginia, and Gov- 
ernor Fauquier, finished gentleman and patron of the arts. 
Respected for his abundant intellectual curiosity and his 
modest but sympathetic nature, Jefferson was a welcome fourth 
at the dinner parties in the Governor's Palace where the group 
engaged in spirited discussions of ideas, politics, literature, and 
music. Jefferson was a good conversationalist not in the sense 
of being a self-conscious perfectionist, but rather because of 
his almost organic interest in ideas, and his tireless curiosity 
about human nature, history, and science. His letters suggest 
the kind of talk he was capable of: courteous, deferential, 
mild; completely honest and sincere; steeped in the flavor of 
philosophy yet integrated with specific data drawn from his 
own experience and wide reading. 

After graduating from William and Mary in the spring of 

xvii 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

1762, Jefferson studied law five years under George Wythe. 
His attitude toward the law is in itself a good index to his 
sense of values. Knowledge of the law, an essential prerequisite 
to an understanding of governmental procedure, he respected. 
He recognized the fact that good government depended upon 
law as the stabilizer of national will. Realizing the termino- 
logical hair-splitting of lawyers as a group and aware of the 
crushing weight of precedent in law, he regarded it merely as 
an instrument of the people's service and protection rather 
than as their master. It was fitting, then, that he become a 
successful practicing lawyer, but even more fitting that he 
should forsake the single practice of law as a career. 

Jefferson was just turning thirty when he began his political 
career in earnest. In January of 1772 he had married the much- 
courted and girlish widow, Martha Wayles Skelton. With her, 
he had established residence in his still incompleted Monti- 
cello, not far from his old home Shadwell, which had been 
destroyed by fire in 1770. By the time of his marriage, he 
already possessed some political experience. As law student 
in Williamsburg, he had been impressed by Patrick Henry's 
"splendid display" of oratory in the Virginia House of Burgess 
debates concerning the Anti-Stamp Act Resolutions of 1765. 
He had been a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses 
from 1769, where his first action was an unsuccessful bill al- 
lowing owners to free their slaves. 

The impending crisis in British-Colonial relations, however, 
soon overshadowed routine affairs of legislature. In 1772 pub- 
lic indignation against George the Third's political and eco- 
nomic tyranny had culminated in the burning of the British 
revenue cutter Gaspee. When the Crown threatened to trans- 
port to England the "traitors" suspected of the deed, a small 
group of Virginia patriots, including Jefferson and Patrick 
Henry, decided that colonial committees of correspondence 
were needed as protection against further British encroach- 
ments. 

Inevitably, inter-colonial bonds were cemented by such ac~ 

xviii 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

tions. In 1774, for example, the first of the "Intolerable Acts'* 
closed the port of Boston until Massachusetts should pay for 
the Boston Tea Party of the preceding year. When this news 
reached Wiliiamsburg, Jefferson and other younger members 
of the Virginia Assembly, now in control of formulating Vir- 
ginia policy, ordained a day of fasting and prayer to demon- 
strate their sympathy with Massachusetts. Thereupon, Vir- 
ginia's Royal Governor Dunmore once again dissolved the 
Assembly. Meeting, as usual, in the Apollo Room of the 
Raleigh Tavern, the members then planned to call together an 
inter-colonial congress. 

The machinery for this dynamic national action having been 
set up, Jefferson began writing resolutions which were more 
radical and better written than those from other counties and 
colonies. He rehearsed some arguments against British tyranny 
in his " Resolves for Albemarle County. 7 ' This was soon fol- 
lowed by Jefferson's impassioned tract on natural rights and 
limited privileges, "A Summary View of the Rights of British 
America." Read at the Virginia convention in Wiliiamsburg 
(August, 1774), these resolutions were considered too revolu- 
tionary and not adopted. They were printed, however, and 
widely circulated. Thenceforth, important writing assignments 
almost automatically were entrusted to Jefferson. 

When Jefferson arrived in Philadelphia in June, 1775, as a 
Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress, he al- 
ready possessed, as John Adams remarked, "a reputation for 
literature, science, and a happy talent of composition." It was 
inevitable that the Congress make full use of this happy talent, 
and almost immediately Jefferson's pen was enlisted in the 
cause of independence. When he returned to the Congress the 
following year, he was appointed to the live-man committee, 
including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, which was 
charged with the most momentous assignment ever given in 
the history of America: the drafting of a formal declaration of 
independence from Great Britain. On Jefferson alone was 
placed the responsibility of preparing the draft. The confidence 

xij 



THOMAS JSFF&RSON 

placed in him as a man to make and weigh judgments, to 
reason cogently in legal, historical, and political affairs, and to 
write with feeling and technical mastery was strikingly justi- 
fied. The document, after heated debate, was finally approved 
by Congress on July 4, 1776. Cut and occasionally altered by 
Adams, or Franklin, or the Congress itself, the Declaration is 
almost completely Jefferson's, and is undoubtedly the triumph 
and culmination of his early career. Jefferson was not unaware 
of the importance of this document. It, along with his " Statute 
of Virginia for Religious Freedom," and his work in founding 
the University of Virginia, is one of the three things he wished 
remembered in his epitaph. 

By the age of thirty-three, his reputation as a master of the 
art of government by committee was great. Had he chosen 
political leadership it is logical to believe he could have at- 
tained it. Instead, he made the choice which shows instantly 
the kind of man he was and would always prefer to be. His 
absence had been missed at home by his wife who was in poor 
health. His estate needed his management. He preferred to 
return to Mrs. Jefferson and Monticello, and to give his public 
service to Virginia. 

Three years of hard work and little glory followed this 
choice. Returning to the Virginia House of Delegates in Oc- 
tober, 1776, Jefferson at once set to work on a carefully planned 
reform of the laws of Virginia, a reform aimed, in effect, at 
the realization of the "inalienable rights" of man embodied 
in the Declaration of Independence. 

He lost no time in successfully introducing a bill to re- 
organize the courts of justice, and another, still more impor- 
tant, to abolish primogeniture and entails, thereby terminating 
an antiquated patrician pattern of society. Then, along with 
George Wythe and Edmund Pendleton, he devoted his energies 
to a thorough revision of the laws of Virginia. This revision was 
completed in 1779; the majority of its bills, however, were 
not enacted until 1785 or later. Herein, Jefferson made the 
most of his opportunity to modernize and to prune from the 

xx 



THOMAS JBFFBRSON 

body of the law some of its flagrant redundancies. Further, 
he surveyed the whole field of education, and proposed a 
systematic plan of statewide education. And, as his crowning 
effort, he attempted to write religious toleration into the laws 
of Virginia by separating Church and State; when the "Bill 
for Establishing Religious Freedom" was finally passed in 
1785, he considered it a major contribution to American so- 
ciety. 

In addition to leading this social revolution in Virginia, 
Jefferson found time to enjoy the companionship of his wife 
and children, to study nature and delight in its wonders, to 
cultivate his lands and manage his private affairs, to ride and 
read and write vigorous letters to his many friends and ac- 
quaintances. It was not long, however, before public life again 
claimed him. 

In June of 1779, Jefferson was elected Governor of Virginia 
He commenced his career as a public executive sanguine, con 
fident of his abilities, assured of the respect and almost tin 
affection of his commonwealth. Any other years, however 
would have been less fraught with pitfalls for the head of <* 
state. Jefferson took up his duties at a time when the British 
were raiding Virginia; in control of the sea, they could send 
forth plundering parties to capture food and ammunition, and 
destroy property. Indian warfare on Virginia's western border 
was a perpetual source of worry and unrest. The treasury funds 
were at their lowest ebb in Virginia's history. General Wash- 
ington needed support from Virginia in the north. Men and 
supplies were required to support the new nation on battle- 
fields in the Carolinas. By 1781 the Governor found himself in 
the plight of watching, with hands almost tied, the British 
sweep through his state, burning and ravaging as they ad- 
vanced. Jefferson petitioned General Washington to dispatch 
troops to meet the threat of Cornwallis's invasion, but Wash- 
ington, hard pressed in the north and short of men, could do 
nothing. Consequently the burden of Virginia's defense fell 
upon an untrained and insufficient militia. Jefferson himself 

xxi 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

narrowly escaped capture at the hands of troops dispatched 
by Colonel Tarleton. The legislators, at considerable loss of 
face, were forced to flee their new capital city of Richmond. 
Jefferson, as head of the state, was inevitably singled out for 
criticism and abuse. 

No evidence has ever shown that Jefferson failed in his 
attempts to provide a suitable defense for Virginia. Later ma- 
terial indeed, including his letters to Generals Washington 
and Greene, shows him to have been an extraordinarily consci- 
entious Governor, diligent, zealous, careful of the welfare of 
his fellow-citizens. Perhaps a dictator was wanted. This Jef- 
ferson would not and could not be. The crisis over and his 
second term at an end, he influenced his friends to support a 
military governor and announced his retirement. 

Washington's complete approval of Jefferson's actions as 
Governor is in marked contrast to the heated charges of 
dereliction of duty made by certain members of the legislature. 
When the war fever subsided, the same legislature shame- 
facedly passed a resolution officially clearing Jefferson of all 
Such charges. These experiences would have been cruel for 
any public figure; for Jefferson, with his whole-souled attitude 
toward public service and his extreme sensitivity to hostility 
of any kind, his last months as Governor had been crushing 
ones. Nevertheless, politically and intellectually he was a 
tougher man from that point onward; he had developed a 
realism which was to stand him in good stead in later years. 

Home at Monticello, Jefferson buried himself in writing. In 
June of 1781 he Had injured his wrist and was unable to ride 
for some time. During this period of enforced idleness, he 
wrote careful replies to a series of questions about Virginia 
put him by the Marquis de Marbois, Secretary of the French 
Legation at Philadelphia. The careful observations Jefferson 
had been making for years about the surrounding country, its 
climate, its natural beauties, its fauna and flora, minerals, 
waterways, agriculture, and its government somehow added up 
to an impressive total. The manuscript was later the Notes on 

xxii 



1'HOMAS JSFFSRSON 

Virginia. This remarkable book, as rich in its minute analysis 
of the details of external nature as in its clarification of moral, 
political, and social issues, was read by savants and scientists 
of two continents for years to come. 

The intellectual exhilaration and comfort Jefferson derived 
from these months of writing was soon submerged by the 
greatest personal tragedy he had ever borne. His wife, ill since 
the birth of their last daughter in May, 1782, died early in 
September of the same year. Jefferson kept to his room for 
three weeks thereafter, pacing, in the words of his daughter 
Martha, "almost incessantly night and day, only lying down 
occasionally, when nature was completely exhausted." A man 
of extreme reserve, he rarely mentioned his wife in his letters. 
Yet it was well known among his intimates that he never for- 
got this woman he had lived with and loved for ten years. 
Many, many, years later, when Lafayette lost his own wife, 
he wrote to Jefferson as the one man wlio could best under- 
stand the peculiar depth of sorrow he was then enduring. 

In the months following Mrs. Jefferson's death, Monticello 
lost much of its normal charm for the lonely refugee from 
politics. Previously he had steadily declined numerous ap- 
pointments. But the day came when he was in a mood to 
accept an offer from Congress to go to Europe to negotiate 
peace. His mission, however, was cancelled when it was learned 
that preliminary negotiations had already been engineered. 
Shortly thereafter (in June, 1783), the General Assembly of 
Virginia elected Jefferson a delegate to the Confederation Con- 
gress where he again headed important committees and drafted 
many reports and official papers. Here, he criticized the pro- 
posed currency system and provided, in his "Notes on the 
Establishment of a Money Unit," a sound coinage system to 
take its place. He drew up a draft for temporary government 
of the Western Territory (the original of his better-known 
"Ordinance of the Northwestern Territory"), stressing the im- 
portance of equality between the original and the new states, 
and attempting to exclude slavery from all the territories. He 

xxiii 



THOMAS 

advocated the necessity of more favorable international com- 
mercial relations, and compiled, in April and May of 1784, 
instructions for ministers negotiating commercial treaties with 
European nations. 

Finally, on May 7, 1784, Jefferson was appointed Minister 
Plenipotentiary of the United States to assist Benjamin Frank- 
lin and John Adams, both of whom had preceded him to 
Europe to arrange commercial agreements. Thus, through the 
medium of commerce, Jefferson entered the European stage 
where diplomacy and society, arts and sciences, revolution and 
love were to provide him the richest years of his life. 

In one sense, Jefferson was experienced and highly civilised 
before he set out for Paris. In another, his real understanding 
of men and ideas matured in Europe. That complex pattern 
of habits which had characterized Jefferson up to this time 
his curiosity, his patient observation, his learning, his atten- 
tion to the manners, the personalities and the needs of the 
people around him was crystallized during his five-year resi- 
dence abroad. He listened attentively to foreign philosophers, 
to foreign writers, to foreign politicians and statesmen of all 
creeds, doctrines, and dogmas. He bought books, many of 
them, wandering by the hour among the second-hand book- 
stalls on the Quai, " hand-picking" his volumes, gathering the 
treasures of classical learning, of humanism and the Renais- 
sance, of the advanced, rational European age in which he 
was then so active. He met the leaders of French society. He 
became a favored habituti of the most intellectual and powerful 
salons in Paris. In 1785, on Franklin's departure for America, 
Jefferson was made Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of 
France. He was regarded favorably as a symbol of rational, 
republican America, Virginia-gentleman style not, as he had 
so gracefully commented, "replacing" Franklin, but "succeed- 
ing" him admirably. 

Lafayette proved to be an invaluable friend. He coached 
Jefferson in the intricacies of European royal politics; his 
friends and acquaintances were made accessible to the Ameri- 

xxiv 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

can Minister when he needed information or contacts. Jeffer- 
son, in his turn, advised the impetuous nobleman and patriot. 
His experience as a fighter for a free democratic republic was 
inestimably valued by Lafayette, who consulted Jefferson more 
and more as the forces of revolution began to make themselves 
felt throughout France. He brought his numerous political 
friends to listen to the talk of Jefferson and the men gathered 
at his table. Jefferson at this time believed that, through dis- 
cussion of the people's needs and the King's privileges, com- 
promise was possible. He thought that a limited monarchy, 
capable of solving the pressing national problems, could be 
achieved without bloodshed. He proposed that a charter of 
rights be offered by the King to the people, and went so far 
as to write a draft of the charter which he sent to Lafayette. 

That Jefferson should speak his mind concerning matters 
of fundamental political principle was inevitable. Occasionally, 
disturbed at his violation of that neutrality which tends to 
make ciphers of visiting diplomats, he withdrew into the shell 
of his reserve, and maintained the proprieties, keeping silent 
even when he knew what was happening and knew what was 
needed to direct or avert it. One meeting, at Lafayette's re- 
quest, took place at Jefferson's residence, where eight leading 
members of the "Patriot" (Reform) Party spent several hours 
projecting a constitution in behalf of the Assembly. Jefferson 
later justified his conduct by explaining that he had sat by in 
complete silence while their "chaste eloquence" reigned. The 
next morning he called on Count Montmorin, the Foreign 
Minister, to explain why his house had been pressed into such 
service, and to offer apologies. Montmorin, who already knew 
what had taken place, strongly urged Jefferson's assistance in 
all such future meetings, knowing, he said, that Jefferson 
would throw his weight only on the side of "wholesome and 
practicable reformation." 

These were happy, as well as politically stirring and intel- 
lectually stimulating, years for Jefferson. Martha, his oldetf 
daughter, had accompanied her father from the beginning; a 

xxv 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

year and a half later, little Mary arrived in Paris to reside 
under the watchful eye of her adoring papa. And in the sum- 
mer of 1786 he met Maria Cosway, one of the most beautiful 
and gifted women in the French or British capitals. The wife 
of a fashionable English painter, charming, talented, warmly 
feminine, Maria Cosway affected Jefferson as no other woman 
ever would again. When the Cosways left Paris in the fall of 
1786, Jefferson was desolate and wrote her the longest letter 
of his life, the impassioned "Dialogue between the Head and 
the Heart," in which his restraint makes the head win, but 
so unconvincingly that both writer and lady must have been 
wretched with the logic of the argument. On his subsequent 
trips through Southern France and Italy, and later, Jefferson 
wrote to her again, more intimately than before. That Maria 
Cosway returned his affection is unquestionable. While Jeffer- 
on, in succeeding years, urges Maria to come to Paris with- 
out the great following of friends and admirers who manage 
to steal her from him, she reproaches him for not writing 
enough, for not coming to London to visit for a long time, for 
not, in truth, allowing his heart to triumph over his head. 

Enjoying the fulness of his life in Paris, only the most 
urgent duties could have persuaded Jefferson to leave the Conti- 
nent. He wished his daughters to grow up in the world in 
which they would have to marry and live; he believed it was 
necessary to renew personal contact, for a short time, with his 
own people and government. For these reasons, he thought it 
best to return to America. Just before leaving he wrote a 
brief farewell note to Maria Cosway in London, more affec- 
tionate than usual and full of references to a speedy return. 
It was late in October of 1789 when he sailed for America 
from Cowes. He never went back. 

Almost unconsciously, little by little, his European experi- 
ences had increased the range and power of Jefferson's politi- 
cal understanding. Although he was the first to insist on loyalty 
to America and things American, his view of history and 
government was so broad that he had no respect for the cul- 

xxvi 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

tural isolationists whose ignorance of European affairs was 
being converted into a fetichistic patriotism. He returned, bring- 
ing to his countrymen a knowledge of comparative statecraft 
almost unparalleled at that time. He had grown wise in the 
ways of the commercial and financial world through his role 
as promoter of American commerce abroad, and by his efforts 
to pull American credit out of the slump into which it had 
fallen in the banking houses and bourses of Europe. He had 
traveled through France, Italy, Holland, Germany; he had 
visited England; and every place he went he was not only the 
American diplomat, but the student of the useful sciences. He 
showed tireless interest in local methods and improvements, 
jotting down notes on variations in making wine and cheese, 
planting and harvesting crops, and raising livestock. His keen 
eye had missed no single detail of wages for workers, the kind 
and quantity of food they normally consumed, the degree to 
which they were satisfied or oppressed by their economic op- 
portunities. He sent home information on the culture of rice 
and capers, of figs and olive trees, and forwarded to America, 
the actual seeds of a variety of grasses not native to America, 
olive plants, and Italian rice. Nor did he ever miss a nightin- 
gale's song, or fail to record the color of the soil and sky. 

Returning to America, Jefferson had not only grown in- 
wardly: it seemed to be universal opinion that he had achieved 
an outstanding success as American Ambassador to France. 
Even the critical Edinburgh Review admitted that "The skill 
and knowledge with which he argued the different questions 
of national interest that arose during his residence will not 
suffer even in comparison with Franklin's diplomatic talents." 

American problems proved to be more demanding and just 
as compelling as those of republican France. The Constitu- 
tion, which had been adopted during Jefferson's absence and 
about which he had written critical letters from Paris, was now 
being launched in earnest. No sooner had Jefferson's ship 
docked at Norfolk than he saw in a newspaper that President 
Washington, busy forming his first Cabinet, wished him as 

xxvii 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

Secretary of State. A few days later, in November, he re- 
ceived Washington's letter confirming the news. Jefferson's 
reply was reluctant, stating his desire to return to France, and 
his hesitation at undertaking an office at once so important 
and so confining. The President's courteous but firmly re- 
peated invitation was the next step. A little personal pressure 
from Madison followed, and the deed was done. There were 
only a few months left to spend at Monticello, reminiscing 
about his friends in France, taking leave of them by letter, 
and preparing himself for the American political world, vibrant 
with personalities and issues, which he was to enter. 

Jefferson was shocked, after arriving in New York in March 
of 1790, to contrast the political temper and sentiment of 
French revolutionary patriots with old-guard American loyal- 
ists who were the leaders of New York society. The prelimi- 
nary battle for democratic reliance on the sense and reponsi- 
bility of a the people" had not been won in these quarters. 
Jefferson found them hankering after the very system whose 
corruption and decline he had witnessed in Europe a system 
of aristocratic privilege, headed by a King in deed if not in 
name. These anti-democrats, with their fawning admiration for 
the British scheme of government, constituted, Jefferson be- 
lieved, a mountainous obstacle in the path of progress. Earlier, 
Jefferson had objected vigorously to party membership, stat- 
ing, "If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not 
go there at all." Despite this attitude, his .general support of 
the Constitution, and his belief in its usefulness in binding 
together the people and their local governments, had brought 
him closer to the Federalists than to the anti-Federalists. Now 
that the Constitution, supplemented by the Bill of Rights, 
was the unquestioned charter of the democratic system in the 
United States, there were no existing political parties. In- 
evitably, however, as conflicts born of clashing political beliefs 
arose, political parties developed. 

Alexander Hamilton, Washington's brilliant and ambitious 
Secretary of the Treasury, had proved himself a man to be 

xxviii 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

reckoned with even before Jefferson commenced his official 
duties as Secretary of State. His plan for funding at par the 
national debt already passed, Hamilton was busy sponsoring 
his Assumption Bill which he represented to Jefferson as the 
only practical method of securing the credit of the United 
States, particularly abroad. Jefferson, knowing that sharpers 
and speculators had been buying up the "worthless" paper 
money from innocent citizens in anticipation of some such 
national measure, was distrustful of this plan in which the 
States' debts were to be taken over by the national government. 
But Hamilton, shrewdly understanding Jefferson's desire to 
locate the capital city in the South, won Jefferson's support 
of the Assumption Bill in exchange for northern support of 
a national capital on the Potomac after a ten-year period in 
Philadelphia. When Hamilton followed his successful Assump- 
tion Bill with chartering the Bank of the United States, and 
then passing the Excise Bills, Jefferson realized how adroitly 
he had been duped. The "general principles" which he felt 
were at issue between Hamilton and himself were fundamen- 
tally and irrevocably opposed. All of Hamilton's acts, Jeffer- 
son thought, were dominated by one controlling purpose: to 
establish government by and for a privileged few. Actually 
Hamilton wanted more than this. He wanted, and vigorously 
fought for, a king, titles, rule by a central executive and 
aristocratic aides rather than by representatives of the people. 
Jefferson repeatedly thought of retiring from the vexations 
of a cabinet post in which he was constantly pitted against the 
most power-hungry man in the capital. The bitter political 
contest was no longer a matter confined to the comparative 
quiet of cabinet meetings. Conducted publicly largely through 
the medium of two partisan newspapers John Fenno's United 
States Gazette, the mouthpiece of the Hamiltonians, and 
Philip Freneau's belligerently Jeffersonian National Gazette 
the issues became, in the heat of conflict, exaggerated or dis- 
torted. Groups forming around Madison and Jefferson began 
to think of themselves as democratic Republicans. Those who 

xxix 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

sympathized with Hamilton's ideas of centralization of power 
and approved of his taxation policy, his encouragement of 
commerce, and his banking and credit schemes, became the 
nucleus of the new Federalist Party. 

Only Washington's repeated requests that he remain in 
office, and the disturbing developments in French-American 
relations known to the world as the "Affair of Citizen Genet" 
kept Jefferson from returning to Monticello. Citizen Genet 
had arrived in America in April, 1793, with a revolutionary 
conception of the role which a French minister abroad could 
play. His newly established republic was badly in need of 
funds to finance the war which had broken out, in February 
of 1793, between France and Great Britain. Genet was de- 
termined to get these funds, and to stir up trouble for Great 
Britain. Jefferson, as Secretary of State, found himself in a 
difficult position. He believed sincerely that France deserved 
the loyalty and co-operation of the States. The American 
people, too, were so enthusiastic in their desire to support 
Republican France that war with England was imminent. 
Jefferson had to argue with Hamilton and his pro-English sup- 
porters that our treaties with France were still valid, and made 
it state policy to honor our debts to France. On the other 
hand, he was faced with the problem of moderating the mount- 
ing excitement of the American people and rebuking the in- 
creasingly undisciplined Genet who had ignored Washington's 
declaration of neutrality (April 22, 1793). When Genet found 
that the American advance on the debt to France was to be 
less than he had expected, he spoke of going over President 
Washington's head and of carrying the issue directly to the 
people. Jefferson, despite his sympathy with the French cause, 
was heartily disgusted with the French minister "hot headed, 
all imagination, passionate, disrespectful"; in August, his re- 
quest that Genet be recalled was acceded to, although Genet 
remained in this country as a private citizen. 

Jefferson could now see his way to retirement. He had per- 
formed well the difficult task of negotiating his country's for- 

XXX 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

eign affairs. The President was loathe to see him depart. Even 
John Marshall, relaxing momentarily his customary antago- 
nism toward Jefferson, admitted that "this gentleman withdrew 
from political station at a moment when he stood particularly 
high in the esteem of his own countrymen." More important 
to Jefferson, back at Monticello by the middle of January of 
1794, were the rewards of being once more a private citizen, 
a free man able to read, to write, to hear music, to talk at 
leisure with his friends and family, and to express opinions 
without entering into the daily battle of the capital. He re- 
joiced in the thought that he had said farewell forever to 
public life. He felt tired. In his own opinion he was, at fifty, 
already an old man. 

After the first months of his retirement Jefferson recovered 
his customary energy. He supervised the farming of his estates, 
and designed a plow which revolutionized agriculture; he 
started a nailery in one of his workshops; he tended his library 
like a garden; he changed the architectural plans for Monti- 
cello, and supervised the construction; he entertained his 
neighbors and men of good will from all Europe, including a 
radical French republican and a liberal French ex-nobleman. 
And inevitably, despite his once firm desire not to meddle 
with contemporary political problems, he began to write letters 
of policy to old friends like Madison letters about avoiding 
war with Britain, and on the growing power of the "Anglican, 
monarchical, aristocratical party," the Federalists, who, he 
felt, were perverting republican principles of government. 

After three rather active years of "retirement," Jefferson 
felt refreshed and encouraged. He evinced renewed interest in 
politics. When, therefore, the Republican Party drafted him 
in 1796 to run for President (doing so in face of his express 
wish that Madison be the party candidate), he dubiously ac- 
cepted. Jefferson seemed genuinely moved by his Party's pref- 
erence, yet hesitant to undertake a task of such magnitude. 
He wrote his objections, however, not as a weary Odysseus bu f 
as one mindful of having been one. 

xxxi 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

So Jefferson ran for President, not against Hamilton, as he 
might have thought, but against John Adams. The contest was 
close, with Jefferson finally trailing his Federalist opponent 
by three votes, which, under the prevailing system, meant 
being elected Vice President. Jefferson was quite happy to 
serve under the older Adams, with whom he had worked ami- 
cably in Europe and who, he felt, might be induced to abandon 
some of his Federalist persuasions and serve as an effective 
barrier against Hamilton. Of all the political positions which 
Jefferson might have held, that of Vice President seems to have 
been, at this time, most attractive to him. In March of 1797, 
Jefferson again returned to Philadelphia, where he could wit- 
ness the ensuing political drama and have a hand in legislative 
affairs, without the wearing passions and responsibilities so 
certain to be the President's. 

Jefferson soon realized that the pronounced Hamiltonian 
tendencies of Adams' cabinet made political compromise im- 
possible. Subsequent events confirmed his impressions. Foreign 
affairs still constituted the crucible of political conviction for 
the American people; Anglophiles fought Francophiles until 
Jefferson sternly recommended a "divorce from both nations." 
He strove to make the Republicans consciously a peace party. 
Although the Jay treaty had for the time averted the threat 
of war with Britain, the decrees of the French Directory 
against neutral commerce had caused American war sentiment 
to flare up against France. Jefferson, closely scrutinizing events 
in Europe, was dismayed by the news that the American peace 
mission Gerry, Pinckney, and Marshall had been flagrantly 
insulted by Talleyrand's brokers, the men subsequently desig- 
nated U X. Y. Z." The country at lar.^e was aroused by the 
attempt to obtain a bribe from the American envoys, and a 
united Federalist-Republican chorus of revenge burst upon the 
Administration. 

The next move was as ill-fated as it was unexpected. The 
Administration turned upon its political opponents, using the 

xxxii 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

popular hysteria of the war fever of 1798 for its own purposes. 
In rapid succession it passed the Alien Act, to deport foreign 
radicals and liberals, propagandists and agitators, and the 
Sedition Act, to curb the "licentiousness" of the. press. The 
Sedition Act in practice was particularly formidable, empower- 
ing the Administration so to fine, imprison, and legally prose- 
cute any opposition writer that the Republicans were virtually 
muzzled in the remaining years of Adams's administration. 

Such was the setting for Jefferson's famous Kentucky Reso- 
lution. The Kentucky Resolution, along with Madison's Vir- 
ginia Resolution, declared the illegality of the Alien and 
Sedition Laws because of their violation of the Constitution, 
and were skillfully devised to check the partisan encroachment 
of the Chief Executive. Just as Jefferson feared a large standing 
army, and held its presence in France responsible for the 
emergence of the dictator Bonaparte, so he saw in these Fed- 
eralist measures, which were eating away the basic guarantees 
of individual liberty, the re-introduction of despotism. Techni- 
cally, the issue had to be stated in terms of basic constitutional 
law, States' Rights, and limited powers of the Chief Executive. 
Therefore, Jefferson tried to make the existing states serve as 
barriers against an Administration which was assuming the 
character of an Inquisition Jefferson called it a "witch-hunt." 
Devised primarily as expedients in this particular situation, 
the underlying principle of the Resolutions is as firm as any 
article in Jefferson's political creed: that of ensuring freedom of 
person, of thought and action, of property, to the free citizens 
of America. 

The Republicans were quick to take advantage of the split 
ensuing in Federalist ranks when President Adams, having 
listened to suggestions of peace reliably attributed to a chas- 
tened Talleyrand, opened negotiations with France. Prior to 
the presidential election, Adams dismissed his Hamiltonian 
Secretaries of War and State; Hamilton lost his temper, wrote 
a pamphlet attacking Adams, and tried to manipulate his 

xxxiii 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

erstwhile chief out of the Federalist candidacy, but failea. 
Clearly, it was the Republican's day, with Jefferson running 
for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President. 

The electoral vote, in marked contrast to the popular vote, 
resulted in a tie between Jefferson and Burr. The last desperate 
device of the Federalists, whose campaign against Jefferson 
had scraped the muddiest bottom of political trickery and 
libel known at that time, was the Machiavellian ruse of using 
this deadlock as a lever to extract concessions from Jefferson 
before he assumed office. Should Jefferson refuse to bargain, 
they threatened that Burr would be made President in the 
re-vote. Jefferson stood firm, made no promises, and waited 
without noticeable loss of composure through the really dan- 
gerous week of balloting when rumors throughout the capital 
whispered of a bill to cede the Administration to the Federal- 
ists. He at last triumphed when the Federalists gave way be- 
fore his obvious merits and the people's obvious choice. 

Mindful of Adams and Marshall's unseemly effort to sew up 
the incoming administration by packing American courts with 
Federal judgeships, lawyers, and clerks; recalling the feverish 
days when fundamental American rights had been revoked in 
the very home of the "great experiment"; remembering the 
defiant, fantastic schemes for South American exploitation 
projected by Hamilton; still smarting from the slander, the 
unclean epithets picturing him as infidel, atheist, and apostle 
of the "race-track and the cock-pit," Jefferson wrote his In- 
augural Address. In the light of such events, Jefferson's feeling 
that the triumph of the people and of the Republican Party 
was a revolution comparable to that of 1776 is understandable. 
America, he felt, had been plunged into terrifying depths of 
political intrigue and corruption, yet had managed to recover. 
The Inaugural Address of March 4, 1801, in accents of un- 
feigned piety, rejoiced that the democratic experiment had been 
given a new lease on life. 

As President, Jefferson's first project was to eradicate the 
intolerance which had recently infected America, and to do 

xxxiv 



THOMAS J8FP8RSON 

it quickly before it became a permanent part of the national 
heritage. Sounding the keynote of his administration with the 
words "We are all Republicans we are all Federalists," and 
taking advantage of the lack of affection many of the Feder- 
alists now entertained for their party leaders, Jefferson offered 
them ungrudging union with the Republicans. For the most 
part, they accepted. Much of the rancor and party strife of 
the preceding decade was obliterated during Jefferson's first 
months as President. His policy of general reconciliation and 
reform and his success in freeing the victims of the Alien and 
Sedition laws were generally supported by a favorable Con- 
gress. He was aided greatly in his Presidential duties by a 
sympathetic and capable Cabinet headed by the ever-reliable 
Madison as Secretary of State, and including the Swiss eco- 
nomic expert Albert Gallatin who, as Secretary of the Treasury, 
saw eye to eye with Jefferson on questions of reduced taxation, 
government frugality, and a minimum public debt. Although 
his simple manners as President in the newly established capi' 
tal city of Washington irked and bewildered some people who 
thought his very avoidance of ceremony ostentatious, Jeffer- 
son's popularity as a public figure was greater during his first 
term as President than at any other time in his entire career. 
Even the depredations of the Barbary pirates had been swiftly 
crushed and Jefferson could remark to a friend that things 
were noiseless, "unattractive of notice" a sure sign that so- 
ciety was happy. 

Such noiselessness and happiness were soon disturbed, how- 
ever, by the menacing news that Spain by the secret treaty 
of San Ildefonso (1800) had transferred to France its rights 
over the mouth of the Mississippi, the port of New Orleans, 
and the great stretch of land constituting the province of 
Louisiana. Western farmers and merchants depended upon the 
outlet of New Orleans for their shipping; Jefferson, even dur- 
ing his career as Secretary of State, had been aware of the 
strategic importance of Louisiana. Louisiana in the strong 
hands of the French rather than the weak hands of Spain 

xxxv 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

placed an almost insurmountable obstacle in the path of Ameri- 
can growth and prosperity. It was essential that America 
acquire the Louisiana territory either through peaceful nego- 
tiation or by war. When the French dictator Napoleon, fearing 
the renewal of war with Great Britain, suddenly offered to 
sell for $15,000,000 not only the port of New Orleans but the 
entire fabulous slice of land from the Mississippi to the Rock- 
ies, Jefferson was confronted with perhaps the most momentous 
problem of his career. 

For years Jefferson had been the guardian of democratic 
rights for the individual, small local units, and the states. He 
had taken his stand on the "strict construction" interpretation 
of the Constitution. Now he was faced with a decision in which 
quick and unauthorized executive action would guarantee 
doubling America's territory and increasing the chance of 
maintaining the self-government and independence for which 
American blood had already been spilled. Was he to take 
Napoleon's offer and violate a cherished principle, or should 
he wait upon a Constitutional amendment authorizing such an 
act and possibly lose the very territory so vital to national 
existence and well-being? In very genuine distress, he wrote 
to his friends Thomas Paine, John Breckenridge, and Wilson 
Gary Nicholas, soliciting their opinions. Eventually, of course, 
after tremendous moral strain, Jefferson authorized the pur- 
chase, the treaty being signed on May 2, 1803. Although he 
was reluctant to do so, he was fortified largely by the consid- 
eration that his dictatorial use of power was in this case the 
lesser evil. 

The subtleties of principle underlying this purchase were 
of small concern to Americans in general. The financial big- 
wigs of New York and New England still feared and opposed 
him; nor had reactionary and orthodox churchmen completely 
abandoned their habit of tongue-lashing the "Atheist." But 
without question Jefferson's first term closed in a blaze of 
glory when the people, united in their national good fortune, 

xxxvi 



St* JSFl BRSON 

almost unanimously sent their President back for a second 
term. 

Busy as he had been during these momentous years, Jeffer- 
son had found time to follow his favorite intellectual pursuits. 
He had not only aided in establishing a National Library, but 
had made many valuable additions to his own private collec- 
tion. He had pondered the morality of early Christianity with 
liberal thinkers like Priestley and Rush. He had found time to 
enlarge his extensive collection of primitive Indian vocabu- 
laries. His interest in science and agriculture had remained 
as keen as ever. In short, these were rich and productive years, 
marred solely by the death of Maria (Jefferson) Eppes, his 
younger daughter, a blow comparable only to the loss suffered 
years before upon the death of his wife. 

As his second term began, Jefferson was plunged into diffi- 
culties against which his ingenuity or wisdom could make little 
headway. The national and international strife which char- 
acterized his second administration is in marked contrast to 
the comparative tranquility of the earlier years of the century. 

The exact boundaries of the territory retroceded from Spain 
to France, and thereafter sold to America, had never been ac- 
curately established. Jefferson's knowledge of American maps 
and geography together with research in his valuable collection 
of Americana at Monticello, convinced him that the land of 
Western Florida was included in the Louisiana Purchase. He 
was avowedly eager to possess not only Western Florida but 
Eastern Florida and Texas as well, as all were essential to a 
solid American coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. He directed 
negotiations for this purpose through his envoys in Spain and 
through the Spanish Minister in Washington. In 1805, when 
a state of war existed between England and Spain, he con- 
sidered a "provisional alliance" between America and her old 
enemy England, as a possible means of achieving the expansion 
of America. Still later, he tried to purchase the territory. 
Although frustrated in all these attempts, his policy bore fruit 

xxxvii 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

in later years when all the disputed territory finally came into 
the possession of the United States. 

The problems of rounding out America's natural boundaries 
were minor, however, compared with the deluge of European 
interference with our shipping. Powerful British mercantile 
Interests had long been worried by America's emergence as a 
maritime power. In April, 1806,, England culminated her blows 
against American shipping in a blockade of the Continental 
coast. In November of the same year, Napoleon retaliated with 
decrees blockading Britain. The practical effect of such block- 
ades on a neutral country like America was severe impairment 
of its European import and export trade, amounting virtually 
to ultimate economic annihilation. 

Further, as seizure of American ships by the belligerents 
mounted and as impressment of seamen on American vessels 
grew more frequent, American prestige was seriously threat- 
ened. Jefferson had proclaimed that "peace was his passion/' 
and there is every reason to believe that it was. He also had 
judgment to back his passion, in this case, since America 
could gain nothing at this time by war with powerful England 
or France. For these reasons, Jefferson judged it essential to 
fight a delaying action. The Non-Intercourse Act of 1806 and 
the much discussed Embargo terminating all foreign commerce 
of the United States (1807) were measures promulgated in 
this spirit. Jefferson described the Embargo as "the last card 
we have to play short of war"; and he was determined that it 
be played. Although it meant tying up our trade and shipping 
until either England or France yielded on the question of the 
rights of neutral nations to the freedom of the seas, Jefferson 
saw no equally practical and honorable alternative. It is note- 
worthy, too, that however much his Embargo was criticized, 
no workable suggestions were proposed to replace it. 

To make still heavier the load of his second term, the do- 
mestic front was racked with defections and desertions. Im- 
patient John Randolph of Roanoke had been outraged by 
Jefferson's conciliatory methods of dealing with the Federalists. 

xxxviii 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

Rejecting Jefferson's policy involving territorial controversies 
with Spain, he led a small but troublesome faction of anti- 
Administration Republicans in the House of Representatives. 

Much more sensational was the Burr conspiracy to lead a 
revolution in the Western States, and, after welding them into 
an empire with Mexico, to become their resplendent dictator. 
John Marshall, presiding over the Circuit Court, used the en- 
suing treason trial as an opportunity for political warfare 
against his old enemy Jefferson who, for his part, had betrayed 
his strong desire for Burr's conviction. The country had not 
yet forgotten Burr's duel with Hamilton, and never before 
was a legal case followed by the American public with such 
intensity. Despite the strength of public opinion against Burr, 
and many evidences of guilt adduced, he was acquitted by the 
jury. 

As Jefferson's second term drew to a close, the peaceful 
instrument he had devised to stave off bloodshed was subjected 
to unrelenting attack. The Embargo had not been able to effect 
a repeal of the British or French decrees. At home all that big 
New England shippers and merchants, together with Southern 
and Western planters and farmers, could see was the stagnation 
of their export trade before their very eyes. Jefferson himself 
faced this prospect, and, as a matter of fact, stood to lose as 
much financially by the Embargo as other landowners did. 
Ever since the British attack upon the Chesapeake, Jefferson 
had believed that war was the only honorable solution for 
America. He had also been deeply depressed by John Quincy 
Adams' news of violent New England opposition to the Em- 
bargo which threatened to culminate in secession. In addition, 
since it had proved impossible to enforce the Embargo, par- 
ticularly in New York and New England, Jefferson was thor- 
oughly disappointed in the ineffectual measure. Not wishing, 
however, to set a definite policy for the incoming President to 
follow, he left the final disposition of the Embargo to the 
Congress. The Embargo was repealed and replaced with the 
weaker Non-Intercourse with Great Britain and France Act, 

xxxix 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

a result more of confusion and Republican timidity than a 
serious step toward the solution of a critical problem. When 
his Presidential term expired on March 3, 1809, and he was 
free at last to turn over the reins of government to his trusted 
successor Madison, Jefferson was surfeited with "politics." The 
"hated occupation" had absorbed some forty years, and no 
fields ever looked greener than those which led away from 
power to the peace and freedom of private life. 

Jefferson's real nobility of mind and spirit deepened when 
he finally returned to Monticello. He was sixty-s^x when he 
was at last permitted to live in that intimate, less troubled 
world where, as he had so often said, his deepest satisfactions 
were centered. There are men whose political ambitions and 
prejudices are their chief sources of vital enjoyment. For 
them, the end of a political career is like the end of life itself. 
Not so Jefferson, who regarded the realm of knowledge, friend- 
ship, and love as ideal and the only one for which he would 
willingly suffer. 

Jefferson's old age is a remarkable proof of the observation 
made by his daughter Martha that her father had never for- 
saken a friend or a principle. Jefferson kept alive his acquaint- 
ance with friends of Revolutionary days; he wrote to the men 
and women he had known in France; he continued his spirited 
contacts with distinguished thinkers and scientists, American 
and European. He wrote, as always, to Madison and Monroe, 
to Lafayette and Kosciusko. With Joseph Priestley, Thomas 
Cooper, Benjamin Waterhouse, and William Short he ex- 
changed searching philosophic opinions. He and John Adams, 
their earlier political differences reconciled, wrote many letters 
provocative, stimulating, probing the mystery of what the 
human mind had solved in their day, and what it had thus far 
failed to solve. Jefferson frequently complained about the time 
consumed in maintaining his ever-increasing correspondence 
but he could not resist an intellectual challenge or turn down 
an appeal for his opinion, advice, or help, and continued to dis- 
cuss with frankness, thoroughness, and a brilliant clarity such 

xl 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

diverse subjects as anthropology and political theory, religion 
and zoology. 

There was so much at Monticello to absorb his time and 
engage his affections that the days never seemed -long enough. 
Over the years his family had gained many new members: by 
1811 he was a great-grandfather. Much of the same love and 
affection he had lavished on his two daughters flourished anew 
for his grandchildren who, in turn, revered him and cherished 
his memory for their lifetimes. His estates were in need of 
personal overseeing. Almost until his death Jefferson went on 
daily rides over his many acres. Monticello, not yet quite per- 
fect in his eyes, always needed a little altering here or some 
additional building there. Guests, some of them friends whom 
Jefferson was delighted to entertain, others mere acquaintances 
or friends of acquaintances, made their claim upon his time. 
Occasionally he was forced to flee to Poplar Forest, his estate 
near Lynchburg, where he could read much in the blessed 
quiet of his brick cottage, and work on some project which 
then engrossed him. 

In a large sense, Jefferson's major concern during these last 
years was education and educational philosophy. Personally^ 
Jefferson considered knowledge not only a means to an end, 
but an end in itself, enjoyed for its own sake. Socially, he felt, 
it was the key to virtue as it was to happiness. It was the 
basic necessity for self-government. Free government could 
exist only by its grace and through its habitual action. Jeffer- 
son had safeguarded men's liberties in earlier days on the 
well-founded belief that only in an environment where men 
are free from religious dictation, political tyranny, and per- 
sonal oppression, could the mind be free to advance knowledge 
and foster the arts and sciences. Political experience had 
served only to reinforce this belief, and to show more clearly 
the pitfalls existing where fear and prejudice thrive. Educa- 
tional facilities, general and specialized, equally open to all 
whose aptitudes rendered them fit, became crucial require- 
ments for a flourishing and well-organized society. It was with 

xli 



THOMAS jet PERSON 

some sense of urgency, therefore, that Jefferson reopened his 
campaign for a system of general education in Virginia, his 
"bantling of forty years' growth and nursing/' the apex of 
which was to be a State University for Virginia. Jefferson 
was convinced that this single institution could be the greatest 
achievement in a lifetime dedicated to the belief that truth 
makes men free. 

The "little academical village" which was born of Jefferson's 
anxious motherhood, fatherhood, and midwifery was not only 
the first great University of the South, but the first American 
University to be free of official church connection. The Uni- 
versity of Virginia was Jefferson's daily concern during his last 
seven years. He sent abroad a special emissary to select the 
most distinguished faculty available. He chose the books for 
the college library, drew up the curriculum, designed the build- 
ings, and supervised their construction. Even the ordering of 
the bell which was to ring out upon the Charlottesville air 
could not be left to a casual and possible unconscientious hand! 

How characteristic was this constant busy-ness! The Uni- 
versity, unquestionably first in his interests and duties, finally 
opened in 1825 the winter before Jefferson's death. Despite 
this preoccupation, however, Jefferson continued to pursue a 
multitude of other tasks. In his eightieth vear, for example, 
he wrote with singular energy on politics, sending President 
Monroe long expositions later known to the world in Monroe's 
version as the Monroe Doctrine. 

Amidst these interests there was one intrusion on his time 
and thought which caused Jefferson endless mortifications. His 
finances, often strained before and in recent years growing 
more shaky and unreliable with every adverse national financial 
upheaval, at last collapsed. Jefferson had frequently advanced 
money to friends who fancied themselves more hard-pressed 
than he, and occasionally had been forced to make good on 
their notes when they found it impossible to do so. He had 
spent money lavishly on his libraries and the arts, on Monti- 
cello, on his quests, on his children's education. He had under- 

xlii 



THOMAS JSfFSRSON 

taken so many projects for the advancement of a neighbor or 
friend, a worthy paper, book, or cause, that, carefully as he 
kept his accounts, his expenses still ran high. His passion for 
architecture, it has been remarked, cost him a small fortune. 
His unwillingness to overwork his overseers, hired people, and 
slaves was another notorious drain on his pocketbook. At the 
final stage of his financial distress, Jefferson petitioned the 
Virginia legislature to grant him permission to dispose of 
Monticello and its farms by lottery. The almost immediate 
response of private citizens, in New York, Philadelphia, and 
Baltimore, on hearing this news was to subscribe a sum of over 
$16,000 to aid the leader who had devoted his industry arid 
resourcefulness to all America for half a century. The sting 
of being thus "helped" was almost dissolved in Jefferson's 
recognition that the subscription had been spontaneous, the 
citizens' "pure and unsolicited offering of love." 

So there was hardly time to waste even in the last years, 
months, and days of his long and good life. Less than two 
weeks before he died, Jefferson sat down at his much-used 
writing desk to reply to an invitation to attend the celebration 
of the fiftieth anniversary of American independence. He was 
conscious of the significance of the coming ceremony as was 
no one else in America. His life had been rich and deep, 
astonishing in its complexity, rewarding to his family, his 
friends, his countrymen, and, in a very real sense, to the civi- 
lized European world. Not politics, but the image of that moraJ 
freedom and peace which had animated democracy for the 
Greeks, Republicanism for the Romans, the Eternal City for 
the Middle Ages, Scientific Utopia for the tyrant-ridden Ren- 
aissance, and modern representative democracy for eighteenth- 
century America and France this was still, as it had always 
been, his cherished ideal. 

He therefore wrote, expressing his real disappointment that 
he was old and ill and would be unable to celebrate the day 
on which the choice was made which had revolutionized a 
world. Ten days before the Fourth of July, 1826, ten day? 

xliii 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

before he died, Jefferson wrote of America's day with that 
moving honesty characteristic of the many letters which help 
form the record of his life: 

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts 
sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing 
men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and super- 
stition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the 
blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have 
substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of 
reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, 
to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science 
has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the 
mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, 
nor a favored few, booted and spurred, ready to ride them legiti- 
mately, by the Grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. 
For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our 
recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them. 

War, disillusionment, corruption, betrayal, inequality have 
since found old outlets and new formulas. As Jefferson foresaw, 
the favored few, booted and spurred, have ridden far and ridden 
hard and will ride again. The "blessings and security of self- 
government' 7 are not easily won. But in America, North and 
South, in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia, those who love the 
ideas for which jetferson struggled may some day perfect the 
? ^hich can best promote their realization. 



xltv 



INTRODUCTION 



THOMAS JEFFERSON'S Autobiography, which he began at 
the advanced age of seventy -seven, was composed for his "more 
ready reference'' and for the information of his family. This 
work furnishes an honest, revealing, and usually interesting ac- 
count of Jefferson's career and the epoch-making times in 
which he lived, from his birth until March, 1790, when he be- 
came George Washington's Secretary of State. Compiled from 
notes and memoranda taken in some cases almost half a cen- 
tury earlier, reminiscences, letters, and similar sources of in- 
formation, the Autobiography contains occasional inconsist- 
encies or misstatements of fact. For example, in 1787 Jefferson 
said that John Adams had been elected Vice President of the 
United States while in Europe. Actually, Adams had returned 
to America before his election. Despite such limitations, the 
Autobiography contributes to the understanding of a great 
American and one of the most significant periods of Ameri- 
can history. 

With the exception of minor deletions of footnotes or illus- 
trative material, the Autobiography is printed in its entirety. 



THE ^AUTOBIOGRAPHY 
OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 



January 6, 1821 

A? the age of 77, I begin to make some memoranda, and 
state some recollections of dates and facts concerning 
myself, for my own more ready reference, and for the informa- 
tion of my family. 

The tradition in my father's family was, that their ancestor 
came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain 
of Snowdon, the highest in Great Britain. I noted once a case 
from Wales, in the law reports, where a person of our name was 
either plaintiff or defendant; and one of the same name was 
secretary to the Virginia Company. These are the only instances 
in which I have met with the name in that country. I have 
found it in our early records; but the first particular informa- 
tion I have of any ancestor was of my grandfather, who lived 
at the place in Chesterfield called Ozborne's, and owned the 
lands afterwards the glebe of the parish. He had three sons; 
Thomas who died young, Field who settled on the waters of 
Roanoke and left numerous descendants, and Peter, my fa- 
ther, who settled on the lands I still own, called Shadwell, ad- 
joining my present residence. He was born February 29, 
1707-8, and intermarried 1739, with Jane Randolph, of the 
age of 19, daughter of Isham Randolph, one of the seven sons 
of that name and family, settled at Dungeoness in Goochland. 
They trace their pedigree far back in England and Scotland, to 
which let every one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses. 

My father's education had been quite neglected; but being 
of a strong mind, sound judgment, and eager after information. 



OF 

he read much and improved himself, insomuch that he was 
chosen, with Joshua Fry, Professor of Mathematics in William 
and Mary college, to continue the boundary line between Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina, which had been begun by Colonel 
Byrd; and was afterwards employed with the same Mr. Fry, to 
make the first map of Virginia which had ever been made, that 
of Captain Smith being merely a conjectural sketch. They pos- 
sessed excellent materials for so much of the country as is 
below the Blue Ridge; little being then known beyond that 
ridge. He was the third or fourth settler, about the year 
1737, of the part of the country in which I live. He died, Au- 
gust 1 7th, 1757, leaving my mother a widow, who lived till 
1776, with six daughters and two sons, myself the elder. To 
my younger brother he left his estate on James River, called 
Snowdon, after the supposed birth-place of the family: to my* 
Belf, the lands on which I was born and live. 

He placed me at the English school at five years of age; and 
at the Latin at nine, where I continued until his death. My 
teacher, Mr. Douglas, a clergyman from Scotland, with the 
rudiments of the Latin and Greek languages, taught me the 
French; and on the death of my father, I went to the Reverend 
Mr. Maury, a correct classical scholar, with whom I continued 
two years; and then, to wit, in the spring of 1760, went to Wil- 
liam and Mary college, where I continued two years. It was my 
great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destinies of my 
We, that Dr. William Small of Scotland, was then Professor 
of Mathematics, a man profound in most of the useful branches 
of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and 
gentlemanly manners, and an enlarged and liberal mind. He, 
most happily for me, became soon attached to me, and made 
me his daily companion when not engaged in the school; and 
from his conversation 1 got my first views of the expansion of 
science, and of the system of things in which we are placed. 
Fortunately, the philosophical chair became vacant soon after 
my arrival at college, and he was appointed to fill it per in- 
terim: and he was the first who ever gave, in that college, regu- 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

lar lectures in Ethics, Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. He returned 
to Europe in 1762, having previously filled up the measure of 
his goodness to me, by procuring for me, from his most inti- 
mate friend, George Wythe, a reception as a student of law, 
under his direction, and introduced me to the acquaintance and 
familiar table of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who had 
ever filled that office. With him, and at his table, Dr. Small and 
Mr. Wythe, his amid omnium horarum, 1 and myself, formed 
a partie quarce, and to the habitual conversations on these 
occasions I owed much instruction. Mr. Wythe continued to be 
my faithful and beloved mentor m youth, and my most affec- 
tionate friend through life. In 1767, he led me into the prac- 
tice of the law at the bar of the General court, at which I con- 
tinued until the Revolution shut up the courts of justice. 

In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice 
of the county in which I live, and so continued until it was 
closed by the Revolution. I made one effort in that body for the 
permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: 
and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could 
expect success. Our minds were circumscribed within narrow 
limits, by an habitual belief that it was our duty to be subor- 
dinate to the mother country in all matters of government, to 
direct all our labors in subservience to her interests, and even 
to observe a bigoted intolerance for all religions but hers. The 
difficulties with our representatives were of habit and despair, 
not of reflection and conviction. Experience soon proved that 
they could bring their minds to rights, on the first summons 
of their attention. But the King's Council, which acted as an- 
other house of legislature, held their places at will, and were in 
most humble obedience to that will : the Governor too, who had 
a negative on our laws, held by the same tenure, and with still 
greater devotedness to it: and, last of all, the Royal negative 
Uosed the last door to every hope of amelioration. 

On the ist of January, 1772, I was married to Martha Skel- 
ton, widow of Bathurst Skelton, and daughter of John Wayles l 

i. Friends of all the hours. 



OF 

then twenty-three years old. Mr. Wayles was a lawyer of much 
practice, to which he was introduced more by his great indus- 
try, punctuality, and practical readiness, than by eminence in 
the science of his profession. He was a most agreeable com- 
panion, full of pleasantry and good humor, and welcomed in 
every society. He acquired a handsome fortune, and died in 
May, 1773, leaving three daughters: the portion which came 
on that event to Mrs. Jefferson, after the debts should be paid, 
which were very considerable, was about equal to my own 
patrimony, and consequently doubled the fease of our circum- 
stances. 

When the famous Resolutions of 1765, against the Stamp- 
act, were proposed, I was yet a student of law in Williamsburg. 
I attended the debate, however, at the door of the lobby of the 
House of Burgesses, and heard the splendid display of Mr. 
Henry's talents as a popular orator. They were great indeed; 
such as I have never heard from any other man. He appeared 
to me to speak as Homer wrote. Mr. Johnson, a lawyer, and 
member from the Northern Neck, seconded the resolutions, and 
by him the learning and the logic of the case were chiefly main- 
tained. My recollections of these transactions may be seen on 
page 60 of the life of Patrick Henry, by Wirt, to whom I fur- 
nished them. 

In May, 1769, a meeting of the General Assembly was 
called by the Governor, Lord Botetourt. I had then become a 
member; and to that meeting became known the joint resolu- 
tions and address of the Lords and Commons, of 1768-9, on 
the proceedings in Massachusetts. Counter-resolutions, and an 
address to the King by the House of Burgesses, were agreed to 
with little opposition, and a spirit manifestly displayed itself 
of considering the cause of Massachusetts as a common one. 
The Governor dissolved us: but we met the next day in the 
Apollo [public room] of the Raleigh tavern, formed ourselves 
into a voluntary convention, drew up articles of association 
against the use of any merchandise imported from Great Brit- 
ain, sigped and recommended them to the people, repaired to 

6 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

our several counties, and were re-elected without any other ex- 
ception than of the very few who had declined assent to our 
proceedings. 

Nothing of particular excitement occurring for a consider- 
able time, our countrymen seemed to fall into a state of insen- 
sibility to our situation; the duty on tea, not yet repealed, and 
the declaratory act of a right in the British Parliament to bind 
us by their laws in all cases whatsoever, still suspended over 
us. But a court of inquiry held in Rhode Island in 1762, with 
a power to send persons to England to be tried for offences com- 
mitted here, was considered, at our session of the spring of 
1773, as demanding attention. Not thinking our old and lead- 
ing members up to the point of forwardness and zeal which 
the times required, Mr. Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Francis 
L. Lee, Mr. Carr and myself agreed to meet in the evening, in 
a private room of the Raleigh, to consult on the state of things. 
There may have been a member or two more whom I do not 
recollect. We were all sensible that the most urgent of all meas- 
ures was that of coming to an understanding with all the other 
colonies, to consider the British claims as a common cause to 
all, and to produce a unity of action: and, for this purpose, 
that a committee of correspondence in each colony would be 
the best instrument of intercommunication: and that their 
first measure would probably be, to propose a meeting of dep- 
uties from every colony, at some central place, who should be 
charged with the direction of the measures which should be 
taken by all. We, therefore, drew up the resolutions which may 
be seen in Wirt, page 87. The consulting members proposed 
to me to move them, but I urged that it should be done by Mr. 
Carr, my friend and brother-in-law, then a new member, to 
whom I wished an opportunity should be given of making 
known to the house his great worth and talents. It was so 
agreed; he moved them, they were agreed to nem. con.* and 
a committee of correspondence appointed, of whom Peyton 
Randolph, the speaker, was chairman. The Governor (then 
i. unanimously. 



OF 

Lord Dunmore) dissolved us, but the committee met the next 
iay, prepared a circular letter to the speakers of the other 
:olonies, inclosing to each a copy of the resolutions, and left 
it in charge with their chairman to forward them by expresses. 
The origination of these committees of correspondence be- 
tween the colonies has been since claimed for Massachusetts, 
and Marshall has given into this error, 1 although the very note 
)f his appendix to which he refers, shows that their establish- 
ment was confined to their own towns. This matter will be 
seen clearly stated in a letter of Samuel Adams Wells to me 
af April 2nd, 1819, and my answer of May i2th. I was cor- 
rected by the letter of Mr. Wells in the information I had given 
Mr. Wirt, as stated in his note, page 87, that the messenger 
Df Massachusetts and Virginia crossed each other on the way, 
bearing similar propositions; for Mr. Wells shows that Massa- 
chusetts did not adopt the measure, but on the receipt of our 
proposition, delivered at their next session. Their message, 
therefore, which passed ours, must have related to something 
else, for I well remember Peyton Randolph's informing me of 
the crossing of our messengers. 

The next event which excited our sympathies for Massacmi- 
setts, was the Boston port bill, by which that port was to be 
shut up on the ist of June, 1774. This arrived while we were 
in session in the spring of that year. The lead in the House, on 
these subjects, being no longer left to the old members, Mr. 
Henry, R. H. Lee, Fr. L. Lee, three or four other members, 
whom I do not recollect, and myself, agreeing that we must 
boldly take an unequivocal stand in the line with Massachu- 
setts, determined to meet and consult on the proper measure^, 
in the council-chamber, for the benefit of the library in that 
room. We were under conviction of the necessity of arousing 
our people from the lethargy into which they had fallen, as to 
passing events; and thought that the appointment of a day of 
general fasting and prayer would be most likely to call up and 
alarm their attention. No example of such a solemnity had 

i. Jefferson is referring to John Marshall's Life of Washington. 

8 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

existed since the days of our distresses in the war of '55, since 
which a new generation had grown up. With the help, there- 
fore, of Rushworth, whom we rummaged over for the revolu- 
tionary precedents and forms of the Puritans of that day, pre- 
served by him, we cooked up a resolution, somewhat moderniz- 
ing their phrases, for appointing the ist day of June, on which 
the portbill was to commence, for a day of fasting, humiliation, 
and prayer, to implore Heaven to avert from us the evils of 
civil war, to inspire us with firmness in support of our rights, 
and to turn the hearts of the King and Parliament to modera- 
tion and justice. To give greater emphasis to our proposition, 
we agreed to wait the next morning on Mr. Nicholas, whose 
grave and religious character was more in unison with the tone 
of our resolution, and to solicit him to move it. We accordingly 
went to him in the morning. He moved it the same day; the 
ist of June was proposed; and it passed without opposition. 
The Governor dissolved us, as usual. We retired to the Apollo, 
as before, agreed to an association, and instructed the com- 
mittee of correspondence to propose to the corresponding com- 
mittees of the other colonies, to appoint deputies to meet in 
Congress at such place, annually, as should be convenient, to 
direct, from time to time, the measures required by the gen- 
eral interest: and we declared that an attack on any one col- 
ony, should be considered as an attack on the whole. This was 
in May. We furthered recommended to the several counties to 
elect deputies to meet at Williamsburg, the ist of August en* 
suing, to consider the state of the colony, and particularly to 
appoint delegates to a general Congress, should that measure 
be acceded to by the committees of correspondence generally. 
It was acceded to; Philadelphia was appointed for the place, 
and the 5th of September for the time of meeting. We returned 
home, and in our several counties invited the clergy to meet 
assemblies of the people on the ist of June, to perform the 
ceremonies of the day, and to address to them discourses suited 
to the occasion. The people met generally, with anxiety and 
alarm in their countenances, and the effect of the day, through 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

the whole colony, was like a shock of electricity, arousing every 
man, and placing him erect and solidly on his centre. They 
chose, universally, delegates for the convention. Being elected 
one for my own county, I prepared a draught of instructions 
to be given to the delegates whom we should send to the Con- 
gress, which I meant to propose at our meeting. In this I took 
the ground that, from the beginning, I had thought the only 
one orthodox or tenable, which was, that the relation between 
Great Britain and these colonies was exactly the same as thai 
of England and Scotland, after the accession of James, and 
until the union, and the same as her present relations with 
Hanover, having the same executive chief, but no other neces- 
sary political connection; and that our emigration from Eng- 
land to this country gave her no more rights over us, than the 
emigrations of the Danes and Saxons gave to the present au- 
thorities of the mother country, over England. In this doctrine, 
however, I had never been able to get any one to agree with me 
but Mr. Wythe. He concurred in it from the first dawn of the 
question, What was the political relation between us and Eng- 
land? Our other patriots, Randolph, the Lees, Nicholas, Pen- 
dleton, stopped at the half-way house of John Dickinson, who 
admitted that England has a right to regulate our commerce, 
and to lay duties on it for the purposes of regulation, but not 
of raising revenue. But for this ground there was no founda- 
tion in compact, in any acknowledged principles of colonization, 
nor in reason: expatriation being a natural right, and acted on 
as such, by all nations, in all ages. I set out for Williamsburg 
some days before that appointed for our meeting, but was taken 
ill of a dysentery on the road, and was unable to proceed. I sent 
on, therefore, to Williamsburg, two copies of my draught, the 
one under cover to Peyton Randolph, who I knew would be in 
the chair of the convention, the other to Patrick Henry. 
Whether Mr. Henry disapproved the ground taken, or was too 
lazy to read it (for he was the laziest man in reading I ever 
knew) I never learned: but he communicated it to nobody. 
Peyton Randolph informed the convention he had received such 

10 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

a paper from a member, prevented by sickness from offerir 
it in his place, and he laid it on the table for perusal. It w; 
read generally by the members, approved by many, thou 
thought too bold for the present state of things; but th( 
printed it in pamphlet form, under the title of "A Summai 
View of the Rights of British America." It found its way 
England, was taken up by the opposition, interpolated a litt 
by Mr. Burke so as to make it answer opposition purpose 
and in that form ran rapidly through several editions. This ii 
formation I had from Parson Hurt, who happened at the tin 
to be in London, whither he had gone to receive clerical o 
ders; and I was informed afterwards by Peyton Randolph, th; 
it had procured me the honor of having my name inserted 
a long list of proscriptions, enrolled in a bill of attainder con 
menced in one of the Houses of Parliament, but suppressed 
embryo by the hasty step of events, which warned them to 1 
a little cautious. Montague, agent of the House of Burgesses 
England, made extracts from the bill, copied the names, ar 
sent them to Peyton Randolph. The names, I think, were aboi 
twenty, which he repeated to me, but I recollect those only i 
Hancock, the two Adamses, Peyton Randolph himself ar 
myself. The convention met on the ist of August, renewed the 
association, appointed delegates to the Congress, gave them i 
structions very temperately and properly expressed, both as 
style and matter ; and they repaired to Philadelphia at the tin 
appointed. The splendid proceedings of that Congress, at the 
first session, belong to general history, are known to evei 
one, and need not therefore be noted here. They terminate 
their session on the 26th of October, to meet again on the 101 
of May ensuing. The convention, at their ensuing session i 
March, '75, approved of the proceedings of Congress, thanke 
their delegates, and reappointed the same persons to repr 
sent the colony at the meeting to be held in May: and for 
seeing the probability that Peyton Randolph, their presiden 
and speaker also of the House of Burgesses, might be called o 
they added me, in that event, to the delegation. 

ii 



OF 

Mr. Randolph was, according to expectation, obliged to 
leave the chair of Congress, to attend the General Assembly 
summoned by Lord Dunmore, to meet on the ist day of June, 
1775. Lord North's conciliatory propositions, as they were 
called, had been received by the Governor, and furnished the 
subject for which this assembly was convened. Mr. Randolph 
accordingly attended, and the tenor of these propositions being 
generally known, as having been addressed to all the governors, 
he was anxious that the answer of our Assembly, likely to be 
the first, should harmonize with what he knew to be the senti- 
ments and wishes of the body he had recently left. He feared 
that Mr. Nicholas, whose mind was not yet up to the mark of 
the times, would undertake the answer, and therefore pressed 
me to prepare it. I did so, and, with his aid, carried it through 
the House, with long and doubtful scruples from Mr. Nicholas 
and James Mercer, and a dash of cold water on it here and 
there, enfeebling it somewhat, but finally with unanimity, or 
a vote approaching it. This being passed, I repaired imme- 
diately to Philadelphia, and conveyed to Congress the first 
notice they had of it. It was entirely approved there. I took my 
seat with them on the 2ist of June. On the 24th, a committee 
which had been appointed to prepare a declaration of the causes 
of taking up arms, brought in their report (drawn I believe by 
J. Rutledge) which, not being liked, the House recommitted 
it, on the 26th, and added Mr. Dickinson and myself to the 
committee. On the rising of the House, the committee having 
not yet met, I happened to find myself near Governor W. Liv- 
ingston, and proposed to him to draw the paper. He excused 
himself and proposed that I should draw it. On my pressing 
him with urgency, "We are as yet but new acquaintances, sir," 
said he; "why are you so earnest for my doing it?" "Because," 
said I, "I have been informed that you drew the Address to the 
people of Great Britain, a production, certainly, of the finest 
pen in America." "On that," says he, "perhaps, sir, you may 
not have been correctly informed." I had received the informa- 
tion in Virginia from Colonel Harrison on his return from that 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

Congress. Lee, Livingston, and Jay had been the committee foi 
that draught. The first, prepared by Lee, had been disapproved 
and recommitted. The second was drawn by Jay, but being 
presented by Governor Livingston, had led Colonel Harrison 
into the error. The next morning, walking in the hall of Con- 
gress, many members being assembled, but the House not yet 
formed, I observed Mr. Jay speaking to R. H. Lee, and lead-, 
ing him by the button of his coat to me. "I understand, sir," 
said he to me, "that this gentleman informed you, that Gov- 
ernor Livingston drew the Address to the people of Great Brit- 
ain." I assured him, at once, that I had not received that in- 
formation from Mr. Lee, and that not a word had ever passed 
on the subject between Mr. Lee and myself; and after some 
explanations the subject was dropped. These gentlemen had had 
some sparrings in debate before, and continued ever very hos- 
tile to each other. 

I prepared a draught of the declaration committed to us. It 
was too strong for Mr. Dickinson. He still retained the hope af 
reconciliation with \he mother country, and was unwilling it 
should be lessened by offensive statements. He was so honest 
a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even 
by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore re- 
quested him to take the paper, and put it into a form he could 
approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and 
preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and half 
of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress, 
who accepted it. Congress gave a signal proof of their indul- 
gence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their great desire not to go too 
fast for any respectable part of our body, in permitting him to 
draw their second petition to the King according to his own 
ideas, and passing it with scarcely any amendment. The disgust 
against this humility was general; and Mr. Dickinson's delight 
at its passage was the only circumstance which reconciled them 
to it. The vote being passed, although further observation on 
it was out of order, he could not refrain from rising and ex- 
pressing his satisfaction, and concluded by saying, "There i* 

13 



dUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

but one word, Mr. President, in the paper which T disapprove, 
and that is the word Congress" ; on which Ben Harrison rose 
and said, "There is but one word in the paper, Mr. President, 
of which I approve, and that is the word Congress" 

On the 22d of July, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, R. H. Lee, 
and myself, were appointed a committee to consider and re- 
port on Lord North's conciliatory resolution. The answer of 
the Virginia Assembly on that subject having been approved, 
I was requested by the committee to prepare this report, which 
will account for the similiarity of feature in the two instruments. 

On the 1 5th of May, 1776, the convention of Virginia in- 
structed their delegates in Congress, to propose to that body to 
declare the colonies independent of Great Britain, and appoint 
a committee to prepare a declaration of rights and plan of 
government. 

In Congress, Friday, June 7, 1776. 

The delegates from Virginia moved, in obedience to instruc- 
tions from their constituents, that the Congress should declare 
that these United colonies are, and of right ought to be, free 
and independent states, that they are absolved from all alle- 
giance to the British crown, and that all political connection 
between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to 
be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately 
taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a 
Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely to- 
gether. 

The House being obliged to attend at that time to some other 
business, the proposition was referred to the next day, when 
the members were ordered to attend punctually at ten o'clock. 

Saturday, June 8. They proceeded to take it into considera- 
tion, and referred it to a committee of the whole, into which 
' they immediately resolved themselves, and passed that day and 
Monday, the loth, in debating on the subject. 

It was argued by Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, E. Rutledge, 
Dickinson, and others 

14 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

That, though they were friends to the measures themselves, 
and saw the impossibility that we should ever again be united 
with Great Britain, yet they were against adopting them 
at this time : 

That the conduct we had formerly observed was wise and 
proper now, of deferring to take any capital step till the voice 
of the people drove us into it: 

That they were our power, and without them our declara- 
tions could not be carried into effect: 

That the people of the middle colonies (Maryland, Dela- 
ware, Pennsylvania, the Jerseys and New York) were not yet 
ripe for bidding adieu to British connection, but that they 
were fast ripening, and, in a short time, would join in the 
general voice of America: 

That the resolution, entered into by this House on the i$th 
of May, for suppressing the exercise of all powers derived from 
the crown, had shown, by the ferment into which it had thrown 
these middle colonies, that they had not yet accommodated 
their minds to separation from the mother country: 

That some of them had expressly forbidden their delegates 
to consent to such a declaration, and others had given no in- 
structions, and consequently no powers to give such consent: 

That if the delegates of any particular colony had no power 
to declare such colony independent, certain they were, the 
others could not declare it for them; the colonies being as yet 
perfectly independent of each other: 

That the assembly of Pennsylvania was now sitting above 
stairs, their convention would sit within a few days, the con- 
vention of New York was now sitting, and those of the Jer- 
seys and Delaware counties would meet on the Monday fol- 
lowing, and it was probable these bodies would take up the 
question of Independence, and would declare to their delegates 
the voice of their state: 

That if such a declaration should now be agreed to, these 
delegates must retire, and possibly their colonies might secede 
from the Union: 



JiUI'OBlOGRAPHr OF 

That such a secession would weaken us more than could be 
compensated by any foreign alliance: 

That in the event of such a division, foreign powers would 
either refuse to join themselves to our fortunes, or, having us 
so much in their power as that desperate declaration would 
place us, they would insist on terms proportionably more hard 
and prejudicial: 

That we had little reason to expect an alliance with those 
to whom alone, as yet, we had cast our eyes: 

That France and Spain had reason to be jealous of that rising 
power, which would one day certainly strip them of all their 
American possessions: 

That it was more likely they should form a connection with 
the British court, who, if they should find themselves unable 
otherwise to extricate themselves from their difficulties, would 
agree to a partition of our territories, restoring Canada to 
France, and the Floridas to Spain, to accomplish for them- 
selves a recovery of these colonies: 

That it would not be long before we should receive certain 
information of the disposition of the French court, from the 
agent whom we had sent to Paris for that purpose: 

That if this disposition should be favorable, by waiting the 
event of the present campaign, which we all hoped would be 
successful, we should have reason to expect an alliance on bet- 
ter terms: 

That this would in fact work no delay of any effectual aid 
from such ally, as, from the advance of the season and distance 
of our situation, it was impossible we could receive any assist- 
ance during this campaign: 

That it was prudent to fix among ourselves the terms on 
which we should form alliance, before we declared we would 
form one at all events: 

And that if these were agreed on, and our Declaration of 
Independence ready by the time our Ambassador should be pre- 
pared to sail, it would be as well as to go into that Declaration 
at this day. 

16 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

On the other side, it was urged by J. Adams, Lee, Wythe, 
and others, that no gentleman had argued against the policy or 
the right of separation from Britain, nor had supposed it pos- 
sible we should ever renew our connection; that they had only 
opposed its being now declared: 

That the question was not whether, by a Declaration of In- 
dependence, we should make ourselves what we are not; but 
whether we should declare a fact which already exists: 

That, as to the people or parliament of England, we had al- 
ways been independent of them, their restraints on our trade 
deriving efficacy from our acquiescence only, and not from 
any rights they possessed of imposing them, and that so far, 
our connection had been federal only, and was now dissolved 
by the commencement of hostilities: 

That, as to the King, we had been bound to him by alle- 
giance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his assent to 
the last act of Parliament, by which he declares us out of his 
protection, and by his levying war on us, a fact which had 
long ago proved us out of his protection; it being a certain 
position in law, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal; 
the one ceasing when the other is withdrawn: 

That James the Second never declared the people of Eng- 
land out of his protection, yet his actions proved it, and the 
Parliament declared it: 

No delegates then can be denied, or ever want, a power of 
declaring an existing truth: 

That the delegates from the Delaware counties having de- 
clared their constituents ready to join, there are only two col- 
onies, Pennsylvania and Maryland, whose delegates are abso- 
lutely tied up, and that these had, by their instructions, only 
reserved a right of confirming or rejecting the measure: 

That the instructions from Pennsylvania might be accounted 
for from the times in which they were drawn, near a twelve- 
month ago, since which the face of affairs has totally changed; 

That within that time, it had become apparent that Britain 
was determined to accept nothing less than a carte-blanche, and 

17 



OF 

that the King's answer to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Com- 
mon Council of London, which had come to hand four days 
ago, must have satisfied every one of this point: 

That the people wait for us to lead the way: 

That they are in favor of the measure, though the instruc- 
tions given by some of their representatives are not: 

That the voice of the representatives is not always consonant 
with the voice of the people, and that this is remarkably the 
case in these middle colonies: 

That the effect of the resolution of the i5th of May has 
proved this, which, raising the murmurs of some in the col- 
onies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, called forth the opposing 
voice of the freer part of the people, and proved them to be 
the majority even in these colonies: 

That the backwardness of these two colonies might be as- 
cribed, partly to the influence of proprietary power and con- 
nections, and partly, to their having not yet been attacked by 
the enemy: 

That these causes were not likely to be soon removed, as 
there seemed no probability that the enemy would make either 
of these the seat of this summer's war: 

That it would be vain to wait either weeks or months for 
perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that all men should 
ever become of one sentiment on any question: 

That the conduct of some colonies, from the beginning of 
this contest, had given reason to suspect it was their settled 
policy to keep in the rear of the confederacy, that their par- 
ticular prospect might be better, even in the worst event: 

That, therefore, it was necessary for those colonies who had 
thrown themselves forward and hazarded all from the begin- 
ning, to come forward now also, and put all again to their own 
hazard : 

That the history of the Dutch Revolution, of whom three 
states only confederated at first, proved that a secession of 
some colonies would not be so dangerous as some apprehended: 

That a Declaration of Independence alone could render it 

18 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

consistent with European delicacy, for European powers t(> 
treat with us, or even to receive an Ambassador from us: 

That till this, they would not receive our vessels into their 
ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of our courts of ad- 
miralty to be legitimate, in cases of capture of British vessels: 

That though France and Spain may be jealous of our rising 
power, they must think it will be much more formidable with 
the addition of Great Britain; and will therefore see it their 
interest to prevent a coalition; but should they refuse, we si all 
be but where we are; whereas without trying, we shall never 
know whether they will aid us or not: 

That the present campaign may be unsuccessful, and there- 
fore we had better propose an alliance while our affairs wear a 
hopeful aspect: 

That to wait the event of this campaign will certainly work 
delay, because, during the summer, France may assist us ef- 
fectually, by cutting off those supplies of provisions from Eng- 
land and Ireland, on which the enemy's armies here are to de- 
pend; or by setting in motion the great power they have col- 
lected in the West Indies, and calling our enemy to the defence 
of the possessions they have there: 

That it would be idle to lose time in settling the terms of 
alliance, till we had first determined v/e would enter into alli- 
ance: 

That it is necessary to lose no time in opening a trade for 
our people, who will want clothes, and will want money too, for 
the payment of taxes: 

And that the only misfortune is, that we did not enter into 
alliance with France six months sooner, as, besides opening her 
ports for the vent of our last year's produce, she might have 
marched an army into Germany, and prevented the petty 
princes there, from selling their unhappy subjects to subdue us. 

It appearing in the course of these debates, that the colonies 
of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, 
and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the 
parent stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, 



JIUrOBIOGRAPHT OF 

it was thought most prudent to wait a while for them, and to 
postpone the final decision to July ist; but, that this might 
occasion as little delay as possible, a committee was appointed 
to prepare a Declaration of Independence. The committee were 
John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Living- 
ston, and myself. Committees were also appointed, at the same 
time, to prepare a plan of confederation for the colonies, and 
to state the terms proper to be proposed for foreign alliance. 
The commiteee for drawing the Declaration of Independence, 
desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and being ap- 
proved by them, I reported it to the House on Friday, the 28th 
of June, when it was read, and ordered to lie on the table. On 
Monday, the ist of July, the House resolved itself into a com- 
mittee of the whole, and resumed the consideration of the 
original motion made by the delegates of Virginia, which, be- 
ing again debated through the day, was carried in the affirma- 
tive by the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachu- 
setts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North 
Carolina and Georgia. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted 
against it. Delaware had but two members present, and they 
were divided. The delegates from New York declared they were 
for it themselves, and were assured their constituents were for 
it; but that their instructions having been drawn near a twelve- 
month before, when reconciliation was still the general object, 
they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should im- 
pede that object. They, therefore, thought themselves not jus- 
tifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw 
from the question; which was given them. The committee rose 
and reported their resolution to the House. Mr. Edward Rut- 
ledge, of South Carolina, then requested the determination 
might be put off to the next day, as he believed his colleagues, 
though they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in it 
for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question, whether the 
House would agree to the resolution of the committee, was ac- 
cordingly postponed to the next day, when it was again moved, 
and South Carolina concurred in voting for it. In the mean- 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

time, a third member had come post from the Delaware 
ties, and turned the vote of that colony in favor of the resolu- 
tion. Members of a different sentiment attending that morn- 
ing from Pennsylvania also, her vote was changed, so that the 
whole twelve colonies who were authorized to vote at all, gave 
then voices for it; and, within a few days, the convention of 
New York approved of it, and thus supplied the void occa- 
sioned by the withdrawing of her delegates from the vote. 

Congress proceeded the same day to consider the Declara- 
tion of Independence, which had been reported and lain on 
the table the Friday preceding, and on Monday referred to a 
committee of the whole. The pusillanimous idea that we had 
friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the 
minds of many. For this reason, those passages which con- 
veyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest 
they should give them offence. The clause too, reprobating the 
enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in com- 
plaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never at- 
tempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the 
contrary, still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also, 
I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for though 
their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been 
pretty considerable carriers of them to others. The debates, 
having taken up the greater parts of the 2d, 3d, and 4th days 
of July, were, on the evening of the last, closed; the Declara- 
tion was reported by the committee, agreed to by the House, 
and signed by every member present, except Mr. Dickinson. 
As the sentiments of men are known not only by what they 
receive, but what they reject also, I will state the form of the 
Declaration as originally reported. The parts struck out by 
Congress shall be distinguished by a black line drawn under 
them; 1 and those inserted by them shall be placed in the mar- 
gin, or in a concurrent column.' 

1. The editors have substituted the device of italicizing and enclosing 
in brackets the parts struck out by Congress. 

2. These insertions are printed in capitals. 

21 



JUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GENERAL CONGRESS 

ASSEMBLED 

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary 
for one people to dissolve the political bands which have con- 
nected them with another, and to assume among the powers 
of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws 
of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to 
the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the 
causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are cre- 
ated equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with CER- 
TAIN [inherent and] inalienable rights; that among these are 
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these 
rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their 
just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever 
any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it 
is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to in- 
stitute new government, laying its foundation on such prin- 
ciples, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall 
seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, 
indeed, will dictate that governments long established should 
not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly 
all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to 
suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by 
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when 
a long train of abuses and usurpations, [begun at a distin- 
guished period and] pursuing invariably the same object, 
evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it 
is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government, 
and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has 
been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now 
the necessity which constrains them to ALTER [expunge] 
their former systems of government. The history of the present 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

king of Great Britain is a history of REPEATED [unremit- 
ting] injuries and usurpations, ALL HAVING [among which 
appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the 
rest, but all have] in direct object the establishment of an ab- 
solute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be sub- 
mitted to a candid world \jor the truth of which we pledge a 
faith yet unsullied by falsehood]. 

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and 
necessary for the public good. 

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate 
and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation 
till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he 
has utterly neglected to attend to them. 

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation 
of large districts of people, unless those people would relin- 
quish the right of representation in the legislature, a right in- 
estimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, 
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public 
records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance 
with his measures. 

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly [and con- 
tinually] for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the 
rights of the people. 

He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to 
cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, in- 
capable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large 
for their exercise, the state remaining, in the meantime, exposed 
to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions 
within. 

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; 
for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of for- 
eigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations 
hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of 
lands. 



OF 

He has OBSTRUCTED [suffered] the administration of 
justice BY [totally to cease in some of these states] refusing 
his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. 

He has made [our] judges dependent on his will alone for 
the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their 
salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of new offices, [by a self-assumed 
power] and sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our 
people and eat out their substance. 

He has kept among us in times of peace standing armies 
[and ships of war] without the consent of our legislatures. 

He has affected to render the military independent of, and 
superior to, the civil power. 

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction 
foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws, 
giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation for quai 
tering large bodies of armed troops among us; for protecting 
them by a mock trial from punishment for any murders which 
they should commit on the inhabitants of these states; for cut- 
ting off our trade with all parts of the world; for imposing 
taxes on us without our consent; for depriving us IN MANY 
CASES of the benefits of trial by jury; for transporting us be- 
yond seas to be tried for pretended offences; for abolishing the 
free system of English laws in a neighboring province, estab 
lishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its 
boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit in- 
strument for introducing the same absolute rule into these 
COLONIES [states] ; for taking away our charters, abolishing 
our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms 
of our governments; for suspending our own legislatures, and 
declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in 
all cases whatsoever. 

He has abdicated government here BY DECLARING US 
OUT OF HIS PROTECTION, AND WAGING WAR 
AGAINST US [withdrawing his governors, and declaring us 
out of his allegiance and protection]. 

24 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our 
towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mer- 
cenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny 
already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy 
SCARCELY PARALLELED IN THE MOST BARBAROUS 
AGES, AND TOTALLY unworthy the head of a civilized 
nation. 

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the 
high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the 
executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall them- 
selves by their hands. 

He has EXCITED DOMESTIC INSURRECTION 
AMONG US, AND HAS endeavored to bring on the inhabit- 
ants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose 
known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all 
ages, sexes and conditions [of existence]. 

[He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow citi- 
zens, with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our 
property, 

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, vio- 
lating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons 
of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and 
carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur 
miserable death in their transportation hither. This piratical 
warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare 
of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to 
keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he 
has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative 
attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And 
that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distin- 
guished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms 
among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has 
deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also 
obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed 
against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which 

25 



JUTOBIOGRAPfir OF 

he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.] 
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for 
/edress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have 
been answered only by repeated injuries. 

A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which 
may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a FREE people 
[who mean to be free. Future ages will scarcely believe that 
'he hardiness of one man adventured, within the short compass 
of twelve years only, to lay a foundation so broad and so un- 
disguised for tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in prin- 
ciples of freedom.] 

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British breth- 
ren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by 
their legislature to extend AN UNWARRANTABLE [a] juris- 
diction over US [these our states]. We have reminded them 
of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here, \no 
one of which could warrant so strange a pretension: that these 
were effected at the expense of our own blood and treasure, un- 
assisted by the wealth or the strength of Great Britain: that in 
Constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had 
adopted one common king, thereby laying a foundation for per- 
petual league and amity with them: but that submission to 
their parliament was no part of our constitution, nor ever in 
idea, if history may be credited: and,] we HAVE appealed to 
their native justice and magnanimity AND WE HAVE CON- 
TURED THEM BY [as well as to] the ties of our common 
kindred to disavow these usurpations which WOULD INEVI- 
TABLY [were likely to] interrupt our connection and corre- 
spondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and 
of consanguinity. WE MUST THEREFORE [and when occa- 
sions have been given *hcm, by the regular course of their laws, 
of removing from their c mncils the disturbers of our harmony. 
they have, by their free election, re-established them in power. 
At this very time too, they are permitting their chief magistrate 
to send over not only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch 
and foreign mercenaries to invade and destroy us. These facts 

26 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit 
bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. We must 
endeavor to forget our former love )or them, and hold them 
as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace 
friends. We might have a free and a great people together; but 
a communication of grandeur and of freedom, it seems, is be- 
low their dignity. Be it so, since they will have it. The road to 
happiness and to glory is open to us, too. We will tread it apart 
from them, and] acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our 
[eternal] separation AND HOLD THEM AS WE HOLD 
THE REST OF MANKIND, ENEMIES IN WAR, IN 
PEACE FRIENDS! 

1 We therefore the repre- 
sentatives of the United States 
of America in General Con- 
gress assembled, do in the 
name, and by the authority 
of the good people of these 
[states reject and renounce all 
allegiance and subjection to 
the kings of Great Britain and 
all others who may hereafter 
claim by, through or under 
them; we utterly dissolve all 
political connection which 
may heretofore have subsisted 
between us and the people or 
parliament of Great Britain: 
and finally we do assert and 
declare these colonies to be 
free and independent states,] 
and that as free and independ- 



ent states, they have full pow- 



We, therefore, the repre- 
sentatives of the United States 
of America in General Con- 
gress assembled, appealing to 
the supreme judge of the 
world for the rectitude of our 
intentions, do in the name, and 
by the authority of the good 
people of these colonies, sol- 
emnly publish and declare, 
that these united colonies are, 
and of right ought to be free 
and independent states; that 
they are absolved from all al- 
legiance to the British crown, 
and that all political connec- 
tion between them and the 
state of Great Britain is, and 
ought to be, totally dissolved; 
and that as free and independ- 
ent states, they have full power 



i. In this closing section, where additions and deletions have been 
lengthy, the editors follow Jefferson's device of printing his version in 
the left column, and the final adopted text in the right column. 

27 



OF 

er to levy war, conclude peace, to levy war, conclude peace, 
contract alliances, establish contract alliances, establish 
commerce, and to do all other commerce, and to do all other 
acts and things which inde- acts and things which inde- 
pendent states may of right do. pendent states may of right do. 

And for the support of And for the support of this 
this declaration, we mutually declaration, with a firm reli- 
pledge to each other our lives, ance on the protection of di- 
our fortunes, and our sacred vine providence, we mutually 
honor. pledge to each other our lives, 

our fortunes, and our sacred 
honor. 

The Declaration thus signed on the 4th, on paper, was en- 
grossed on parchment, and signed again on the 2d of August. 

[Some erroneous statements of the proceedings on the Dec- 
laration of Independence having got before the public in lat- 
ter times, Mr. Samuel A. Wells asked explanations of me, 
which are given in my letter to him of May 12, '19, before and 
now again referred to. I took notes in my place while these 
things were going on, and at their close wrote them out in 
form and with correctness, and from i to 7 of the two pre- 
ceding sheets, are the originals then written; as the two fol- 
lowing are of the earlier debates on the Confederation, which I 
took in like manner.] 1 

On Friday, July 12, the committee appointed to draw the 
articles of Confederation reported them, and, on the 22d, the 
House resolved themselves into a committee to take them into 
consideration. On the 3Oth and 3ist of that month, and ist of 
the ensuing, those articles were debated which determined the 
proportion, or quota, of money which each state should fur- 
nish to the common treasury, and the manner of voting in 
Congress. The first of these articles was expressed in the 
original draught in these words. "Art. XI. All charges of war 
and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common 
defence, or general welfare, and allowed by the United States 

i. In this case, the remarks in brackets are Jefferson's. 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which 
shall be supplied by the several colonies in proportion to the 
number of inhabitants of every age, sex, and quality, except 
Indians not paying taxes, in each colony, a true account of 
which, distinguishing the white inhabitants, shall be triennially 
taken and transmitted to the Assembly of the United States. ' 

Mr. Chase moved that the quotas should be fixed, not by the 
number of inhabitants of every condition, but by that of the 
"white inhabitants." He admitted that taxation should be al- 
ways in proportion to property, that this was, in theory, the 
true rule; but that, from a variety of difficulties, it was a 
rule which could never be adopted in practice. The value of 
the property in every State, could never be estimated justly 
and equally. Some other measure for the wealth of the State 
must therefore be devised, some standard referred to, which 
would be more simple. He considered the number of inhabitants 
as a tolerably good criterion of property, and that this might 
always be obtained. He therefore thought it the best mode 
which we could adopt, with one exception only: he observed 
that negroes are property, and as such, cannot be distinguished 
from the lands or personalities held in those States where there 
are few slaves; that the surplus of profit which a Northern 
farmer is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, &c., where- 
as a Southern farmer lays out the same surplus in slaves. 
There is no more reason, therefore, for taxing the Southern 
States on the farmer's head, and on his slave's head, than the 
Northern ones on their farmer's heads and the heads of their 
cattle; that the method proposed would, therefore, tax the 
Southern States according to their numbers and their wealth 
conjunctly, while the Northern would be taxed on numbers 
only: that negroes, in fact, should not be considered as mem- 
bers of the State, more than cattle, and that they have no more 
interest in it. 

Mr. John Adams observed, that the numbers of people were 
taken by this article, as an index of the wealth of the State, 
and not as subjects of taxation; that, as to this matter, it v/as of 

29 



OF 

no consequence by what name you called your people, whether 
by that of freemen or of slaves; that in some countries the 
laboring poor were called freemen, in others they were called 
slaves; but that the difference as to the state was imaginary 
only. What matters it whether a landlord, employing ten la- 
borers on his farm, gives them annually as much money as will 
buy them the necessaries of life, or gives them those neces- 
saries at short hand? The ten laborers add as much wealth an- 
nually to the State, increase its exports as much in the one 
^ase as the other. Certainly five hundred freemen produce no 
more profits, no greater surplus for the payment of taxes, than 
five hundred slaves. Therefore, the State in which are the 
laborers called freemen, should be taxed no more than that 
in which are those called slaves. Suppose, by an extraordinary 
operation of nature or of law, one-half the laborers of a State 
could in the course of one night be transformed into slaves; 
would the State be made the poorer or the less able to pay 
taxes? That the condition of the laboring poor in most coun- 
tries, that of the fishermen particularly of the Northern States, 
is as abject as that of slaves. It is the number of laborers which 
produces the surplus for taxation, and numbers, therefore, in- 
discriminately, are the fair index of wealth; that it is the use 
of the word "property" here, and its application to some of the 
people of the State, which produces the fallacy. How does the 
Southern farmer procure slaves? Either by importation or by 
purchase from his neighbor. If he imports a slave, he adds one 
to the number of laborers in his country, and proportionably 
to its profits and abilities to pay taxes; if he buys from his 
neighbor, it is only a transfer of a laborer from one farm to 
another, which does not change the annual produce of the State, 
and therefore, should not change its tax: that if a Northern 
farmer works ten laborers on his farm, he can, it is true, invest 
the surplus of ten men's labor in cattle; but so may the South- 
ern farmer, working ten slaves; that a State of one hundred 
thousand freemen can maintain no more cattle, than one of one 
hundred thousand slaves. Therefore, they have no more of that 

30 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

kind of property; that a slave may indeed, from the custom of 
speech, be more properly called the wealth of his master, than 
the free laborer might be called the wealth of his employer; but 
as to the State, both were equally its wealth, and should, there- 
fore, equally add to the quota of its tax. 

Mr. Harrison proposed, as a compromise, that two slaves 
should be counted as one freeman. He affirmed that slaves did 
not do as much work as freemen, and doubted if two effected 
more than one; that this was proved by the price of labor; 
the hire of a laborer in the Southern colonies being from 8 to 
12, while in the Northern it was generally 24. 

Mr. Wilson said, that if this amendrnenl should take place, 
the Southern colonies would have all the benefit of slaves, whilst 
the Northern ones would bear the burthen: trul slaves increase 
the profits of a State, which the Southern States mean to take 
to themselves; that they also increase the burthen cf defence, 
which would of course fall so much the heavier on the North- 
ern: that slaves occupy the places of freemen, and eat their 
food. Dismiss your slaves, and freemen will take their places. 
It is our duty to lay every discouragement on the importation 
of slaves; but this amendment would give the jus trium liber o- 
rum 1 to him who would import slaves: that other kinds of 
property were pretty equally distributed through all the col- 
onies: there were as many cattle, horses and sheep, in the 
North as the South, and South as the North ; but not so as to 
slaves: that experience has shown that those colonies have been 
always able to pay most, which have the most inhabitants, 
whether they be black or white; and the practice of the South- 
ern colonies has always been to make every farmer pay poll 
taxes upon all his laborers, whether black or white. He ac- 
knowledges, indeed, that freemen work the most; but they con- 
sume the most also. They do not produce a greater surplus for 
taxation. The slave is neither fed nor clothed so expensively as 
a freeman. Again, white women are exempted from labor gen- 
erally, but negro women are not. In this, then, the Southern 

i. Right of three freemen. 

3 1 



OF 

States have an advantage as the article now stands. It has some- 
times been said, that slavery is necessary, because the com- 
modites they raise would be too dear for market if cultivated 
by freemen; but now it is said that the labor of the slave is 
the dearest. 

Mr. Payne urged the original resolution of Congress, to pro- 
portion the quotas of the States to the number of souls. 

Dr. Witherspoon was of opinion, that the value of lands and 
houses was the best estimate of the wealth of a nation, and 
that it was practicable to obtain such a valuation. This is the 
Uue barometer of wealth. The one now proposed is imperfect 
in itself, and unequal between the States. It has been objected 
that negroes eat the food of freemen, and, therefore, should be 
taxed; horses also eat the food of freemen; therefore they also 
should be taxed. It has been said too, that in carrying slaves 
into the estimate of the taxes the State is to pay, we do no 
more than those States themselves do, who always take slaves 
into the estimate of the taxes the individual is to pay. But the 
cases are not parallel. In the Southern colonies slaves pervade 
the whole colony; but they do not pervade the whole conti- 
nent. That as to the original resolution of Congress, to propor- 
tion the quotas according to the souls, it was temporary only, 
and related to the moneys heretofore emitted: whereas we are 
now entering into a new compact, and therefore stand on origi- 
nal ground. 

August i. The question being put, the amendment proposed 
was rejected by the votes of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Penn- 
sylvania, against those of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North 
and South Carolina. Georgia was divided. 

The other article was in these words. "Art. XVII. In deter- 
mining questions, each colony shall have one vote." 

July 30, 31, August i. Present forty-one members. Mr. Chase 
observed this article was the most likely to divide us, of any one 
proposed in the draught then under consideration: that the 
larger colonies had threatened they would not confederate at 

32 



THOMAS ySFFBRSON 

all, if their weight in Congress should not be equal to the num- 
bers of people they added to the confederacy; while the smaller 
ones declared against a union, if they did not retain an equal 
vote for the protection of their rights. That it was of the utmost 
consequence to bring the parties together, as, should we sever 
from each other, either no foreign power will ally with us at all, 
or the different States will form different alliances, and thus 
increase the horrors of those scenes of civil war and bloodshed, 
which in such a state of separation and independence, would 
render us a miserable people. That our importance, our in- 
terests, our peace required that we should confederate, and 
that mutual sacrifices should be made to effect a compromise 
of this difficult question. He was of opinion, the smaller colonies 
would lose their rights, if they were not in some instances al- 
lowed an equal vote; and, therefore, that a discrimination should 
take place among the questions which would come before Con- 
gress. That the smaller States should be secured in all questions 
concerning life or liberty, and the greater ones, in all respecting 
property. He, therefore, proposed, that in votes relating to 
money, the voice of each colony should be proportioned to the 
number of its inhabitants. 

Dr. Franklin thought, that the votes should be so propor- 
tioned in all cases. He took notice that the Delaware counties 
had bound up their delegates to disagree to this article. He 
thought it a very extraordinary language to be held by any 
State, that they would not confederate with us, unless we would 
let them dispose of our money. Certainly, if we vote equally, 
we ought to pay equally; but the smaller States will hardly 
purchase the privilege at this price. That had he lived in a State 
where the representation, originally equal, had become unequal 
by time and accident, he might have submitted rather than 
disturb government; but that we should be very wrong to set 
out in this practice, when it is in our power to establish what 
is right. That at the time of the Union between England and 
Scotland, the latter had made the objection which the smaller 
States now do; but experience had proved that no unfairness 

33 



dUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

had ever been shown them: that their advocates had prognosti- 
cated that it would again happen, as in times of old, that the 
whale would swallow Jonas [sic], but he thought the prediction 
reversed in event, and that Jonas had swallowed the whale; 
for the Scotch had in fact got possession of the government, 
and gave laws to the English. He reprobated the original agree- 
ment of Congress to vote by colonies, and, therefore, was for 
their voting, in all cases, according to the number of taxables. 
Dr. Witherspoon opposed every alteration of the article. All 
men admit that a confederacy is necessary. Should the idea get 
abroad that there is likely to be no union among us, it will damp 
the minds of the people, diminish the glory of our struggle, and 
lessen its importance; because it will open to our view future 
prospects of war and dissension among ourselves. If an equal 
vote be refused, the smaller States will become vassals to the 
larger; and all experience has shown that the vassals and sub- 
jects of free States are the most enslaved. He instanced the 
Helots of Sparta, and the provinces of Rome. He observed that 
foreign powers, discovering this blemish, would make it a handle 
for disengaging the smaller States from so unequal a confeder- 
acy. That the colonies should in fact be considered as individ- 
uals; and that, as such, in all disputes, they should have an 
equal vote; that they are now collected as individuals making 
a bargain with each other, and, of course, had a right to vote as 
individuals. That in the East India Company they voted by per- 
sons, and not by their proportion of stock. That the Belgic con- 
federacy voted by provinces. That in questions of war the 
smaller States were as much interested as the larger, and, there- 
fore, should vote equally; and indeed, that the larger States 
were more likely to bring war on the confederacy, in proportion 
as their frontier was more extensive. He admitted that equality 
of representation was an excellent principle, but then it must be 
of things which are co-ordinate; that is, of things similar, and 
of the same nature: that nothing relating to individuals could 
ever come before Congress; nothing but what would respect 
colonies. He distinguished between an incorporating and a 

34 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

federal union. The union of England was an incorporating one; 
yet Scotland had suffered by that union; for that its inhabitants 
were drawn from it by the hopes of places and employments: 
nor was it an instance of equality of representation; because, 
while Scotland was allowed nearly a thirteenth of representa- 
tion they were to pay only one-fortieth of the land tax. He 
expressed his hopes, that in the present enlightened state of 
men's minds, we might expect a lasting confederacy, if it was 
founded on fair principles. 

John Adams advocated the voting in proportion to numbers. 
He said that we stand here as the representatives of the people: 
that in some States the people are many, in others they are few; 
that therefore, their vote here should be proportioned to the 
numbers from whom it comes. Reason, justice and equity never 
had weight enough on the face of the earth, to govern the 
councils of men. It is interest alone which does it, and it is 
interest alone which can be trusted: that therefore the interests 
within doors, should be the mathematical representatives of the 
interests without doors: that the individuality of the colonies 
is a mere sound. Does the individuality of a colony increase its 
wealth or numbers? If it does, pay equally. If it does not add 
weight in the scale of the confederacy, it cannot add to their 
rights, nor weigh in argument. A. has 50, B 500, C. 1000 in 
partnership. Is it just they should equally dispose of the 
moneys of the partnership? It has been said, we are independent 
individuals making a bargain together. The question is not 
what we are now, but what we ought to be when our bargain 
shall be made. The confederacy is to make us one individual 
only; it is to form us like separate parcels of metal, into one 
common mass. We shall no longer retain our separate individ- 
uality, but become a single individual as to all questions sub- 
mitted to the confederacy. Therefore, all those reasons, which 
prove the justice and expediency of equal representation in other 
assemblies, hold good here. It has been objected that a propor- 
tional vote will endanger the smaller States. We answer that an 
equal vote will endanger the larger. Virginia, Pennsylvania, and 

35 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

Massachusetts, are the three greater colonies. Consider their 
distance, their difference of produce, of interests, and of man- 
ners, and it is apparent they can never have an interest or in- 
clination to combine for the oppression of the smaller: that the 
smaller will naturally divide on all questions with the larger. 
Rhode Island, from its relation, similarity and intercourse, will 
generally pursue the same objects with Massachusetts; Jersey, 
Delaware, and Maryland, with Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Rush took notice, that the decay of the liberties of the 
Dutch republic proceeded from three causes, i. The perfect 
unanimity requisite on all occasions. 2. Their obligation to 
consult their constituents. 3. Their voting by provinces. This 
last destroyed the equality of representation, and the liberties 
of Great Britain also are sinking from the same defect. That a 
part of our rights is deposited in the hands of our legislatures. 
There, it was admitted, there should be an equality of repre- 
sentation. Another part of our rights is deposited in the hands 
of Congress : why is it not equally necessary there should be an 
equal representation there? Were it possible to collect the whole 
body of the people together, they would determine the questions 
submitted to them by their majority. Why should not the same 
majority decide when voting here, by their representatives? 
The larger colonies are so providentially divided in situation, 
as to render every fear of their combining visionary. Their 
interests are different, and their circumstances dissimilar. It is 
more probable they will become rivals, and leave it in the power 
of the smaller States to give preponderance to any scale they 
please. The voting by the number of free inhabitants, will have 
one excellent effect, that of inducing the colonies to discourage 
slavery, and to encourage the increase of their free inhabitants. 

Mr. Hopkins observed, there were four larger, four smaller, 
and four middle-sized colonies. That the four largest would con- 
tain more than half the inhabitants of the confederated States, 
and therefore, would govern the others as they should please. 
That history affords no instance of such a thing as equal repre- 
sentation. The Germanic body votes by States. The Helvetic 

36 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

body does the same; and so does the Belgic confederacy. That 
too little is known of the ancient confederations, to say what 
was their practice. 

Mr. Wilson thought, that taxation should be in- proportion to 
wealth, but that representation should accord with the number 
of freemen. That government is a collection or result of the 
wilk of all : that if any government could speak the will of all, 
it would be perfect; and that, so far as it departs from this, 
it becomes imperfect. It has been said that Congress is a repre- 
sentation of States, not of individuals. I say, that the objects of 
its care are all the individuals of the States. It is strange that 
annexing the name of "State" to ten thousand men, should 
give them an equal right with forty thousand. This must be the 
effect of magic, not of reason. As to those matters which are 
referred to Congress, we are not so many States; we are one 
large State. We lay aside our individuality, whenever we come 
here. The Germanic body is a burlesque on government; and 
their practice, on any point, is a sufficient authority and proof 
that it is wrong. The greatest imperfection in the constitution 
of the Belgic confederacy is their voting by provinces. The in- 
terest of the whole is constantly sacrificed to that of the small 
States. The history of the war in the reign of Queen Anne 
sufficiently proves this. It is asked, shall nine colonies put it 
into the power of four to govern them as they please? I invert 
the question, and ask, shall two millions of people put it in the 
power of one million to govern them as they please? It is pre- 
tended, too, that the smaller colonies will be in danger from the 
greater. Speak in honest language and say, the minority will 
be in danger from the majority. And is there an assembly on 
earth, where this danger may not be equally pretended? The 
truth is, that our proceedings will then be consentaneous with 
the interests of the majority, and so they ought to be. The 
probability is much greater, that the larger States will disagree, 
than that they will combine. I defy the wit of man to invent a 
possible case, or to suggest any one thing on earth, which shaU 
be for the interests of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachu- 



Of 

setts, and which will not also be for the interest of the other 
States. 

These articles, reported July 12, '76, were debated from day 
to day, and time to time, for two years, were ratified July 9, 
'78, by ten States, by New Jersey on the 26th of November of 
the same year, and by Delaware on the 23d of February follow- 
ing. Maryland alone held off two years more, acceding to them 
March i, '81, and thus closing the obligation. 

Our delegation had been renewed for the ensuing year, com- 
mencing August 1 1 ; but the new government was now organ- 
ized, a meeting of the legislature was to be held in October, and 
I had been elected a member by my county. 1 knew that our 
legislation, under the regal government, had many very vicious 
points which urgently required reformation, and I thought I 
could be of more use in forwarding that work. I therefore re- 
tired from my seat in Congress on the 2d of September, re- 
signed it, and took my place in the legislature of my State, on 
the 7th of October. 

On the nth, I moved for leave to bring in a bill for the 
establishment of courts of justice, the organization of which 
was of importance. I drew the bill; it was approved by the com- 
mittee, reported and passed, after going through its due course. 

On the 1 2th, I obtained leave to bring in a bill declaring 
tenants in tail to hold their lands in fee simple. In the earlier 
times of the colony, when lands were to be obtained for little or 
nothing, some provident individuals procured large grants; and; 
desirous of founding great families for themselves, settled them 
on their descendants in fee tail. The transmission of this prop- 
erty from generation to generation, in the same name, raised up 
a distinct set of families, who, being privileged by law in the 
perpetuation of their wealth, were thus formed into a Patrician 
order, distinguished by the splendor and luxury of their estab- 
lishments. From this order, too, the king habitually selected his 
counsellors of State; the hope of which distinction devoted the 
whole corps to the interests and will of the crown. To annul 
this privilege, and instead of an aristocracy of wealth, of more 

38 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

harm and danger, than benefit, to society, to make an opening 
for the aristocracy of virtue and talent, which nature has wisely 
provided for the direction of the interests of society, and scat- 
tered with equal hand through all its conditions, was deemed 
essential to a well-ordered republic. To effect it, no violence 
was necessary, no deprivation of natural right, but rather an 
enlargement of it by a repeal of the law. For this would author- 
ize the present holder to divide the property among his children 
equally, as his affections were divided; and would place them, 
by natural generation, on the level of their fellow citizens. But 
this repeal was strongly opposed by Mr. Pendleton, who was 
zealously attached to ancient establishments; and who, taken 
all in all, was the ablest man in debate I have ever met with. 
He had not indeed the poetical fancy of Mr. Henry, his sub- 
lime imagination, his lofty and overwhelming diction; but he 
was cool, smooth and persuasive; his language flowing, chaste 
and embellished; his conceptions quick, acute and full of re- 
source; never vanquished: for if he lost the main battle, he 
returned upon you, and regained so much of it as to make it a 
drawn one, by dexterous manoeuvres, skirmishes in detail, and 
the recovery of small advantages which, little singly, were 
important all together. You never knew when you were clear 
of him, but were harassed by his perseverance, until the patience 
was worn down of all who had less of it than himself. Add to 
this, that he was one of the most virtuous and benevolent of 
men, the kindest friend, the most amiable and pleasant of com- 
panions, which ensured a favorable reception to whatever came 
from him. Finding that the general principle of entails could 
not be maintained, he took his stand on an amendment which 
he proposed, instead of an absolute abolition, to permit the 
tenant in tail to convey in fee simple, if he chose it; and he was 
within a few votes of saving so much of the old law. But the 
bill passed finally for entire abolition. 

In that one of the bills for organizing our judiciary system, 
which proposed a court of Chancery, I had provided for a 
trial by jury of all matters of fact, in that as well as in the 

39 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY' OF 

courts of law. He defeated it by the introduction of four words 
only, "*/ either party choose." The consequence has been, that 
as no suitor will say to his judge, "Sir, I distrust you, give me 
a jury," juries are rarely, I might say, perhaps, never, seen in 
that court, but when called for by the Chancellor of his own 
accord. 

The first establishment in Virginia which became permanent, 
was made in 1607. I have found no mention of negroes in the 
colony until about 1650. The first brought here as slaves were 
by a Dutch ship ; after which the English commenced the trade, 
and continued it until the revolutionary war. That suspended, 
ipso jacto y their further importation for the present, and the 
business of the war pressing constantly on the legislature, this 
subject was not acted on finally until the year '78, when I 
brought in a bill to prevent their further importation. This 
passed without opposition, and stopped the increase of the evil 
by importation, leaving to future efforts its final eradication. 

The first settlers of this colony were Englishmen, loyal sub- 
jects to their king and church, and the grant to Sir Walter 
Raleigh contained an express proviso that their laws "should 
not be against the true Christian faith, now professed in the 
church of England." As soon as the state of the colony admitted, 
it was divided into parishes, in each of which was established a 
minister of the Anglican church, endowed with a fixed salary, 
in tobacco, a glebe house and land with the other necessary 
appendages. To meet these expenses, all the inhabitants of the 
parishes were assessed, whether they were or not, members of 
the established church. Towards Quakers who came here, they 
were most cruelly intolerant, driving them from the colony by 
the severest penalties. In process of time, however, other sec- 
tarisms were introduced, chiefly of the Presbyterian family; 
and the established clergy, secure for life in their glebes and 
salaries, adding to these, generally, the emoluments of a classi- 
cal school, found employment enough, in their farms and school- 
rooms, for the rest of the week, and devoted Sunday only to 
the edification of their flock, by service, and a sermon at their 

40 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

parish church. Their other pastoral functions were little attended 
to. Against this inactivity, the zeal and industry of sectarian 
preachers had an open and undisputed field; and by the time 
of the revolution, a majority of the inhabitants had become 
dissenters from the established church, but were still obliged to 
pay contributions to support the pastors of the minority. This 
unrighteous compulsion, to maintain teachers of what they 
deemed religious errors, was grievously felt during the regal 
government, and without a hope of relief. But the first republi- 
can legislature, which met in '76, was crowded with petitions 
to abolish this spiritual tyranny. These brought on the severest 
contests in which I have ever been engaged. Our great opponents 
were Mr. Pendleton and Robert Carter Nicholas; honest men, 
but zealous churchmen. The petitions were referred to the com- 
mittee of the whole house on the state of the country; and, 
after desperate contests in that committee, almost daily from 
the nth of October to the 5th of December, we prevailed so far 
only, as to repeal the laws which rendered criminal the mainte- 
nance of any religious opinions, the forbearance of repairing to 
church, or the exercise of any mode of worship; and further, to 
exempt dissenters from contributions to the support of the es- 
tablished church; and to suspend, only until the next session, 
levies on the members of that church for the salaries of their 
own incumbents. For although the majority of our citizens were 
dissenters, as has been observed, a majority of the legislature 
were churchmen. Among these, however, were some reasonable 
and liberal men, who enabled us, on some points, to obtain 
feeble majorities. But our opponents carried, in the general 
resolutions of the committee of November 79, a declaration 
that religious assemblies ought to be regulated, and that pro- 
vision ought to be made for continuing the succession of the 
clergy, and superintending their conduct. And, in the bill now 
passed, was inserted an express reservation of the question, 
Whether a general assessment should not be established by law, 
on every one, to the support of the pastor of his choice; or 
whether all should be left to voluntary contributions; and on 



<AU<rOBIOGRAPHT OF 

this question, debated at every session, from '76 to '79, (some 
of our dissenting allies, having now secured their particular ob- 
ject, going over to the advocates ot a general assessment,) we 
could only obtain a suspension from session to session until '79, 
when the question against a general assessment was finally 
carried, and the establishment of the Anglican church entirely 
put down. In justice to the two honest but zealous opponents 
who have been named, I must add, that although, from their 
natural temperaments, they were more disposed generally to 
acquiesce in things as they are, than to risk innovations, yet 
whenever the public will had once decided, none were more 
faithful or exact in their obedience to it. 

The seat of our government had originally been fixed in the 
peninsula of Jamestown, the first settlement of the colonists; 
and had been afterwards removed a few miles inland to Wil- 
liamsburg. But this was at a time when our settlements had not 
extended beyond the tide waters. Now they had crossed the 
Alleghany; and the centre of population was very far removed 
from what it had been. Yet Williamsburg was still the deposi- 
tory of our archives, the habitual residence of the Governor and 
many other of the public functionaries, the established place for 
the sessions of the legislature, and the magazine of our military 
stores; and its situation was so exposed that it might be taken 
at any time in war, and, at this time particularly, an enemy 
might in the night run up either of the rivers, between which it 
lies, land a force above, and take possession of the place, with- 
out the possibility of saving either persons or things. I had 
proposed its removal so early as October, '76; but it did not 
prevail until the session of May, '79. 

Early in the session of May, '79, I prepared, and obtained 
leave to bring in a bill, declaring who should be deemed citizens, 
asserting the natural right of expatriation, and prescribing the 
mode of exercising it. This, when I withdrew from the House, 
on the ist of June following, I left in the hands of George 
Mason, and it was passed on the 26th of that month. 

In giving this account of the laws of which I was myself the 

42 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

mover and draughtsman, I, by no means, mean to claim to my- 
self the merit of obtaining their passage. I had many occasional 
and strenuous coadjutors in debate, and one, most steadfast, 
able and zealous; who was himself a host. This was George 
Mason, a man of the first order of wisdom among those who 
acted on the theatre of the revolution, of expansive mind, pro- 
found judgment, cogent in argument, learned in the lore of our 
former constitution, and earnest for the republican change on 
democratic principles. His elocution was neither flowing nor 
smooth; but his language was strong, his manner most impres- 
sive, and strengthened by a dash of biting cynicism, when 
provocation made it seasonable. 

Mr. Wythe, while speaker in the two sessions of 1777, be- 
tween his return from Congress and his appointment to the 
Chancery, was an able and constant associate in whatever was 
before a committee of the whole. His pure integrity, judgment 
and reasoning powers, gave him great weight. . . . 

Mr. Madison came into the House in 1776, a new member 
and young; which circumstances, concurring with his extreme 
modesty, prevented his venturing himself in debate before his 
removal to the Council of State, in November, '77. From thence 
he went to Congress, then consisting of few members. Trained 
in these successive schools, he acquired a habit of self-posses- 
sion, which placed at ready command the rich resources of his 
luminous and discriminating mind, and of his extensive in- 
formation, and rendered him ihe first of every assembly after- 
wards, of which he became a member. Never wandering from 
his subject into vain declamation, but pursuing it closely, in 
language pure, classical and copious, soothing always the feel- 
ings of his adversaries by civilities and softness of expression, 
he rose to the eminent station which he held in the great Na- 
tional Convention of 1787; and in that of Virginia which fol- 
lowed, he sustained the new constitution in all its parts, bearing 
off the palm against the logic of George Mason, and the fervid 
declamation of Mr. Henry. With these consummate powers, 
were united a pure and spotless virtue, which no calumny has 

43 



JUjrOBlQGRAPHT OF 

ever attempted to sully. Of the powers and polish of his pen, 
and of the wisdom of his administration in the highest office of 
the nation, I need say nothing. They have spoken, and will 
forever speak for themselves. 

So far we were proceeding in the details of reformation only ; 
selecting points of legislation, prominent in character and prin- 
ciple, urgent, and indicative of the strength of the general pulse 
of reformation. When I left Congress, in '76, it was in the 
persuasion that our whole code must be reviewed, adapted to 
our republican form of government; and, now that we had no 
negatives of Councils, Governors, and Kings to restrain us from 
doing right, it should be corrected, in all its parts, with a single 
eye to reason, and the good of those for whose government it 
was framed. Early, therefore, in the session of '76, to which T 
returned, I moved and presented a bill for the revision of the 
laws, which was passed on the 24th of October; and on the 5th 
of November, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe, George Mason, 
Thomas L. Lee, and myself, were appointed a committee to exe- 
cute the work. We agreed to meet at Fredericksburg to settle 
the plan of operation, and to distribute the work. We met there 
accordingly, on the i3th of January, 1777. The first question 
was, whether we should propose to abolish the whole existing 
system of laws, and prepare a new and complete Institute, or 
preserve the general system, and only modify it to the present 
state of things. Mr. Pendleton, contrary to his usual disposition 
in favor of ancient things, was for the former proposition, in 
which he was joined by Mr. Lee. To this it was objected, that 
to abrogate our whole system would be a bold measure, and 
probably far beyond the views of the legislature; that they had 
been in the practice of revising, from time to time, the laws of 
the colony, omitting the expired, the repealed, and the obsolete, 
amending only those retained, and probably meant we should 
now do the same, only including the British statutes as well as 
our own: that to compose a new Institute, like those of Jus- 
tinian and Bracton, or that of Blackstone, which was the model 
proposed by Mr, Pendleton, would be an arduous undertaking, 

44 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

of vast research, of great consideration and judgment; and 
when reduced to a text, every word of that text, from the im- 
perfection of human language, and its incompetence to express 
distinctly every shade of idea, would become a subject of ques- 
tion and chicanery, until settled by repeated adjudications; and 
this would involve us for ages in litigation, and render property 
uncertain, until, like the statutes of old, every word had been 
tried and settled by numerous decisions, and by new volumes of 
reports and commentaries; and that no one of us, probably, 
would undertake such a work, which to be systematical, must 
be the work of one hand. This last was the opinion of Mr. 
Wythe, Mr. Mason, and myself. When we proceeded to the dis- 
tribution of the work, Mr. Mason excused himself, as, being 
no lawyer, he felt himself unqualified for the work, and he re- 
signed soon after. Mr. Lee excused himself on the same ground; 
and died, indeed, in a short time. The other two gentlemen, 
therefore, and myself divided the work among us. The common 
law and statutes to the 4 James I. (when our separate legisla- 
ture was established) were assigned to me; the British statutes, 
from that period to the present day, to Mr. Wythe; and the 
Virginia laws to Mr. Pendleton. As the law of Descents, and the 
criminal law fell of course within my portion, I wished the com- 
mittee to settle the leading principles of these, as a guide for 
me in framing them; and, with respect to the first, i proposed 
to abolish the law of primogeniture, and to make real estate 
descendible in parcenary to the next of kin, as personal property 
is, by the statute of distribution. Mr. Pendleton wished to pre- 
serve the right of primogeniture, but seeing at once that that 
could not prevail, he proposed we should adopt the Hebrew 
principle, and give a double portion to the elder son. I observed, 
that if the eldest son could eat twice as much, or do double 
work, it might be a natural evidence of his right to a double 
portion; but being on a par in his powers and wants, with his 
brothers and sisters, he should be on a par also in the partition 
of the patrimony; and such was the decision of the other mem- 
bers. 

45 



<AUrOBIOGRAPHT OF 

On the subject of the Criminal law, all were agreed, that the 
punishment of death should be abolished, except for treason 
and murder; and that, for other felonies, should be substituted 
hard labor in the public works, and in some cases, the Lex 
talionis.^ How this last revolting principle came to obtain our 
approbation, I do not remember. There remained, indeed, in 
our laws, a vestige of it in a single case of a slave; it was the 
English law, in the time of the Anglo-Saxons, copied probably 
from the Hebrew law of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a 
tooth," and it was the law of several ancient people; but the 
modern mind had left it far in the rear of its advances. These 
points, however, being settled, we repaired to our respective 
homes for the preparation of the work. 

In the execution of my part, I thought it material not to 
vary the diction of the ancient statutes Dy modernizing it, nor 
to give rise to new questions by new expressions. The text of 
these statutes had been so fully explained and defined, by 
numerous adjudications, as scarcely ever now to produce a 
question in our courts. I thought it would be useful, also, in all 
new draughts, to reform the style of the later British statutes, 
and of our own acts of Assembly; which, from their verbosity, 
their endless tautologies, their involutions of case within case, 
and parenthesis within parenthesis, and their multiplied efforts 
at certainty, by saids and ajorcsaids, by ors and by ands, to 
make them more plain, are really rendered more perplexed and 
incomprehensible, not only to common readers, but to the 
lawyers themselves. We were employed in this work from that 
time to February, 1779, when we met at Williamsburg, that is 
to say, Mr. Pendleton, Mr. Wythe and myself; and meeting 
day by day, we examined critically our several parts, sentence 
by sentence, scrutinizing and amending, until we had agreed on 
the whole. We then returned home, had fair copies made of our 
several parts, which were reported to the General Assembly, 
June 18, 1779, by Mr. Wythe and myself, Mr. Pendleton's 
residence being distant, and he having authorized us by letter 

i. The law of retaliation. 

46 



THOMAS 

to declare his approbation. We had, in this work, brought so 
much of the Common law as it was thought necessary to alter, 
all the British statutes from Magna Charta to the present day, 
and all the laws of Virginia, from the establishment of our 
legislature, in the 4th Jac. I. to the present time, which we 
thought should be retained, within the compass of one hundred 
.^nd twenty-six bills, making a printed folio of ninety pages 
only. Some bills were taken out, occasionally, from time to 
time, and passed; but the main body of the work was not 
entered on by the legislature until after the general peace, in 
1785, when, by the unwearied exertions of Mr. Madison, in 
opposition to the endless quibbles, chicaneries, perversions, 
vexations and delays of lawyers and demi-lawyers, most of the 
bills were passed by the legislature, with little alteration. 

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of 
which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had 
drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with 
opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was 
finally passed ; and a singular proposition proved that its pro- 
tection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the pre- 
amble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of 
the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, 
by inserting the word "Jesus Christ/' so that it should read, "a 
departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our 
religion; 1 ' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in 
proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its 
protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahome- 
tan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination. 

Beccaria, and other writers on crimes and punishments, had 
satisfied the reasonable world of the unrightfulness and ineffi- 
cacy of the punishment of crimes by death; and hard labor on 
roads, canals and other public works, had been suggested as a 
proper substitute. The Revisors had adopted these opinions; 
but the general idea of our country had not yet advanced to 
that point. The bill, therefore, for proportioning crimes and 
punishments, was lost in the House of Delegates by a majority 

47 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

<of a single vote. I learned afterwards, that the substitute of hard 
labor in public, was tried (I believe it was in Pennsylvania) 
without success. Exhibited as a public spectacle, with shaved 
heads and mean clothing, working on the high roads, produced 
in the criminals such a prostration of character, such an aban- 
donment of self-respect, as, instead of reforming, plunged them 
into the most desperate and hardened depravity of morals and 
character. To pursue the subject of this law. -I was written to 
in 1785 (being then in Paris) by directors appointed to superin- 
tend the building of a Capitol in Richmond, to advise them as 
to a plan, and to add to it one of a Prison. Thinking it a 
favorable opportunity of introducing into the State an example 
of architecture, in the classic style of antiquity, and the Maison 
Quarree of Nismes, an ancient Roman temple, being considered 
as the most perfect model existing of what may be called Cubic 
architecture, I applied to M. Clerissault, who had published 
drawings of the Antiquities of Nismes, to have me a model of 
the building made in stucco, only changing the order from 
Corinthian to Ionic, on account of the difficulty of the Corin- 
thian capitals. I yielded, with reluctance, to the taste of Cleris- 
sault, in his preference of the modern capital of Scamozzi to the 
more noble capital of antiquity. This was executed by the 
artist whom Choiseul Goumer had carried with him to Con- 
stantinople, and employed, while Ambassador there, in making 
those beautiful models of the remains of Grecian architecture 
which are to be seen at Paris. To adapt the exterior to our use, 
I drew a plan for the interior, with the apartments necessary for 
legislative, executive, and judiciary purposes; and accommo- 
dated in their size and distribution to the form and dimension?, 
of the building. These were forwarded to the Directors, in 1786, 
and were carried into execution, with some variations, not for 
the better, the most important of which, however, admit of 
future correction. With respect to the plan of a Prison, re- 
quested at the same time, I had heard of a benevolent society, 
in England, which had been indulged by the government, in an 
experiment of the effect of labor, in solitary confinement, on 

48 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

some of their criminals; which experiment had succeeded be- 
yond expectation. The same idea had been suggested in France, 
and an Architect of Lyons had proposed a plan of a well-con^ 
trived edifice, on the principle of solitary confinement. I pro- 
cured a copy, and as it was too large for our purposes, I drew 
one on a scale less extensive, but susceptible of additions as 
they should be wanting. This I sent to the Directors, instead of 
a plan of a common prison, in the hope that it would suggest the 
idea of labor in solitary confinement, instead of that on the 
public works, which we had adopted in our Revised Code. Its 
principle, accordingly, but not its exact form, was adopted by 
Latrobe in carrying the plan into execution, by the erection of 
what is now called the Penitentiary, built under his direction, 
In the meanwhile, the public opinion was ripening, by time, by 
reflection, and by the example of Pennsylvania, where labor on 
the highways had been tried, without approbation, from 1786 to 
'89, and had been followed by their Penitentiary system on the 
principle of confinement and labor, which was proceeding aus- 
piciously. In 1796, our legislature resumed the subject, and 
passed the law for amending the Penal laws of the common- 
wealth. They adopted solitary, instead of public, labor, estab- 
lished a gradation in the duration of the confinement, approxi- 
mated the style of the law more to the modern usage, and, 
instead of the settled distinctions of murder and manslaughter, 
preserved in my bill, they introduced the new terms of murder 
in the first and second degree. Whether these have produced 
more or fewer questions of definition, I am not sufficiently in- 
formed of our judiciary transactions to say. . . . 

The acts of Assembly concerning the College of William and 
Mary, were properly within Mr. Pendleton's portion of our 
work; but these related chiefly to its revenue, while its consti- 
tution, organization and scope of science, were derived from its 
charter. We thought that on this subject, a systematical plan of 
general education should be proposed, and I was requested to 
undertake it. I accordingly prepared three bills for the Revisal, 
proposing three distinct grades of education, reaching all 

49 



JIUrOBlOGRAPHT OF 

classes, ist. Elementary schools, for all children generally, rich 
and poor. 2d. Colleges, for a middle degree of instruction, cal- 
culated for the common purposes of life, and such as would be 
desirable for all who were in easy circumstances. And, 3d, an 
ultimate grade for teaching the sciences generally, and in their 
highest degree. The first bill proposed to lay off every county 
into Hundreds, or Wards, of a proper size and population for a 
school, in which reading, writing, and common arithmetic 
should be taught; and that the whole State should be divided 
into twenty-four districts, in each of which should be a school 
for classical learning, grammar, geography, and the higher 
branches of numerical arithmetic. The second bill proposed to 
amend the constitution of William and Mary college, to enlarge 
its sphere of science, and to make it in fact a University. The 
third was for the establishment of a library. These bills were 
not acted on until the same year, '96, and then only so much 
of the first as provided for elementary schools. The College of 
William and Mary was an establishment purely of the Church 
of England; the Visitors were required to be all of that 
Church; the Professors to subscribe its thirty-nine Articles; 
its Students to learn its Catechism; and one of its fundamental 
objects was declared to be, to raise up Ministers for that 
church. The religious jealousies, therefore, of all the dissenters, 
took alarm lest this might give an ascendancy to the Anglican 
sect, and refused acting on that bill. Its local eccentricity, too, 
and unhealthy autumnal climate, lessened the general inclina- 
tion towards it. And in the Elementary bill, they inserted a 
provision which completely defeated it; for they left it to the 
court of each county to determine for itself, when this act 
should be carried into execution, within their county. One pro- 
vision of the bill was, that the expenses of these schools should 
be borne by the inhabitants of the county, every one in pro- 
portion to his general tax rate. This would throw on wealth the 
education of the poor; and the justices, being generally of the 
more wealthy class, were unwilling to incur that burden, and 
I believe it was not suffered to commence in a single county. 

SO 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

I shall recur again to this subject, towards the close of my 
story, if I should have life and resolution enough to reach that 
term; for I am already tired of talking about myself. 

The bill on the subject of slaves, was a mere digest of the 
existing laws respecting them, without any intimation of a 
plan for a future and general emancipation. It was thought bet- 
ter that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way 
of amendment, whenever the bill should be brought on. The 
principles of the amendment, however, were agreed on, that 
is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and de- 
portation at a proper age. But it was found that the public 
mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it 
even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear 
and adopt it, or worse will follow. Nothing is more certainly 
written in the book of fate, than that these people are to be 
free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, can- 
not live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion have 
drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in 
our power to direct the process of emancipation and deporta- 
tion, peaceably, and in such slow degree, as that the evil will 
wear off insensibly, and their place be, part passuf filled up by 
free white laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself 
on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We 
should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation 
or deletion of the Moors. This precedent would fall far short of 
our case. 

I consider four of these bills, passed or reported, as forming 
a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of ancient 
or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government 
truly republican. The repeal of the laws of entail would pre- 
vent the accumulation and perpetuation of wealth, in select 
families, and preserve the soil of the country from being daily 
more and more absorbed in mortmain. The abolition of primo- 
geniture, and equal partition of inheritances, removed the 
feudal and unnatural distinctions which made one member of 

i. On an equal basis. 

51 



JUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

very family rich, and all the rest poor, substituting equal par- 
tition, the best of all Agrarian laws. The restoration of the 
rights of conscience relieved the people from taxation for the 
support of a religion not theirs; for the establishment was 
truly of the religion of the rich, the dissenting sects being en- 
tirely composed of the less wealthy people; and these, by the 
bill for a general education, would be qualified to understand 
their rights, to maintain them, and to exercise with intelli- 
gence their parts in self-government; and all this would be ef- 
fected, without the violation of a single natural right of any 
one individual citizen. To these, too, might be added, as a 
further security, the introduction of the trial by jury, into the 
Chancery courts, which have already ingulfed, and continue to 
ingulf, so great a proportion of the jurisdiction over our prop- 
erty. 

On the ist of June, 1779, I was appointed Governor of the 
Commonwealth, and retired from the legislature. Being elected, 
also, one of the Visitors of William and Mary college, a self- 
electing body, I effected, during my residence in Williamsburg 
that year, a change in the organization of that institution, by 
abolishing the Grammar school, and the two professorships of 
Divinity and Oriental languages, and substituting a professor- 
ship of Law and Police, one of Anatomy, Medicine and Chem- 
istry, and one of Modern languages; and the charter confining 
us to six professorships, we added the Law of Nature and Na- 
tions, and the Fine Arts to the duties of the Moral professor, 
and Natural History to those of the professor of Mathematics 
and Natural Philosophy. 

Being now, as it were, identified with the Commonwealth 
itself, to write my own history, during the two years of my 
administration, would be to write the public history of that 
portion of the revolution within this State. This has been done 
by others, and particularly by Mr. Girardin, who wrote his 
Continuation of Burke's History of Virginia, while at Milton, 
in this neighborhood, had free access to all my papers while 
composing it, and has given as faithful an account as 1 could 

52 



THOMAS J6FFSRSON 

myself. For this portion, therefore, of my own life, I refer al 
together to his history. From a belief that, under the pressure 
of the invasion under which we were then laboring, the public 
would have more confidence in a Military chief, and that the 
Military commander, being invested with the Civil power also, 
both might be wielded with more energy, promptitude and 
effect for the defence of the State, I resigned the administra- 
tion at the end of my second year, and General Nelson was 
appointed to succeed me. 

Soon after my leaving Congress, in September, '76, to wit, 
on the last day of that month, I had been appointed, with Dr. 
Franklin, to go to France, as a Commissioner, to negotiate 
treaties of alliance and commerce with that government. Silas 
Deane, then in France, acting as agent for procuring military 
stores, was joined with us in commission. But such was the 
state of my family that I could not leave it, nor could I ex- 
pose it to the dangers of the sea, and of capture by the British 
ships, then covering the ocean. I saw, too, that the laboring 
oar was really at home, where much was to be done, of the 
most permanent interest, in new modeling our governments 
and much to defend our fanes and fire-sides from the desola 
tions of an invading enemy, pressing on our country in every 
point. I declined, therefore, and Mr. Lee was appointed in my 
place. On the i5th of June, 1781, I had been appointed, with 
Mr. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Laurence, a Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary for negotiating peace, then expected to be 
effected through the mediation of the Empress of Russia. The 
same reasons obliged me still to decline; and the negotiation 
was in fact never entered on. But, in the autumn of the next 
year, 1782, Congress receiving assurances that a general peace 
would be concluded in the winter and spring, they renewed my 
appointment on the i3th of November of that year. I had, two 
months before that, lost the cherished companion of my life, 
in whose affections, unabated on both sides, I had lived the last 
ten years in unchequered happiness. 1 With the public interests, 

i. Jefferson is, of course, referring to the death of Mrs. Jefferson. 

53 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 

the state of my mind concurred in recommending the change 
of scene proposed; and I accepted the appointment, and left 
Monticello on the igth of December, 1782, for Philadelphia, 
where I arrived on the 27th. The Minister of France, Luzerne, 
offered me a passage in the Romulus frigate, which I accepted; 
but she was then lying a few miles below Baltimore, blocked up 
in the ice. I remained, therefore, a month in Philadelphia, look- 
ing over the papers in the office of State, in order to possess 
myself of the general state of our foreign relations, and then 
went to Baltimore, to await the liberation of the frigate from 
the ice. After waiting there nearly a month, we received in- 
formation that a Provisional treaty of peace had been signed 
by our Commissioners on the 3d of September, 1782, to become 
absolute, on the conclusion of peace between France and Great 
Britain. Considering my proceeding to Europe as now of no 
utility to the public, I returned immediately to Philadelphia, 
to take the orders of Congress, and was excused by them 
from further proceeding. I, therefore, returned home, where I 
arrived on the i$th of May, 1783. 

On the 6th of the following month, I was appointed by the 
legislature a delegate to Congress, the appointment to take 
place on the ist of November ensuing, when that of the existing 
delegation would expire. I, accordingly, left home on the i6th 
of October, arrived at Trenton, where Congress was sitting, on 
the 3rd day of November, and took my seat on the 4th, on 
which day Congress adjourned, to meet at Annapolis on the 2 6th. 

Congress had now become a very small body, and the mem- 
bers very remiss in their attendance on its duties, insomuch, 
that a majority of the States, necessary by the Confederation 
to constitute a House even for minor business, did not assemble 
until the i3th of December. 

They, as early as January 7, 1782, had turned their atten- 
tion to the moneys current in the several States, and had di- 
rected the Financier, Robert Morris, to report to them a table 
of rates, at which the foreign coins should be received at the 
treasury. That officer, or rather his assistant, Gouverneur Mor- 

54 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

ris, answered them on the i5th, in an able and elaborate state- 
ment of the denominations of money current in the several 
States, and of the comparative value of the foreign coins chietly 
in circulation with us. He went into the consideration of the 
necessity of establishing a standard of value with us, and of 
the adoption of a money Unit. He proposed for that Unit, such 
a fraction of pure silver as would be a common measure of the 
penny of every State, without leaving a fraction. This common 
divisor he found to be 1-1440 of a dollar, or 1-1600 of the 
crown sterling. The value of a dollar was, therefore, to be ex- 
pressed by 1,440 units, and of a crown by 1,600; each Unit 
rontaining a quarter of a grain of fine silver. Congress turn- 
ing again their attention to this subject the following year, the 
Financier, by a letter of April 30, 1783, further explained and 
urged the Unit he had proposed; but nothing more was done 
in it until the ensuing year, when it was again taken up, and 
referred to a committee, of which I was a member. The gen- 
eral views of the Financier were sound, and the principle was 
ingenious on which he proposed to found his Unit; but it was 
too minute for ordinary use, too laborious for computation, 
either by the head or in figures. The price of a loaf of bread, 
i -20 of a dollar, would be 72 units. 

A pound of butter, 1-5 of a dollar, 288 units. 

A horse or bullock, of eighty dollars value, would require a 
notation of six figures, to wit, 115,200, and the public debt, 
suppose of eighty millions, would require twelve figures, to wit, 
115,200,000,000 units. Such a system of money-arithmetic 
would be entirely unmanageable for the common purposes of 
society. I proposed, therefore, instead of this, to adopt the 
Dollar as our Unit of account and payment, and that its divi- 
sions and sub-divisions should be in the decimal ratio. I wrote 
some notes on the subject, which I submitted to the considera- 
tion of the Financier. I received his answer and adherence to 
his general system, only agreeing to take for his Unit one hun- 
dred of those he first proposed, so that a Dollar should be 14 
40-100, and a crown 16 units. I replied to this, and printed 

55 



OF 

my notes and reply on a flying sheet, which I put into the 
hands of the members of Congress for consideration, and the 
Committee agreed to report on my principle. This was adopted 
the ensuing year, and is tlie system which now prevails. I in- 
sert, here, the Notes and Reply, as showing the different views 
on which the adoption of our money system hung. 1 The divi- 
sions into dimes, cents, and mills is now so well understood, 
that it would be easy of introduction into the kindred branches 
of weights and measures. I use when I travel, an Odometer of 
Clark's invention, which divides the mile into cents, and I find 
every one comprehends a distance readily, when stated to him 
in miles and cents; so he would in feet and cents, pounds and 
cents, &c. 

The remissness of Congress, and their permanent session, be- 
gan to be a subject of uneasiness; and even some of the legis- 
latures had recommended to them intermissions, and periodical 
sessions. As the Confederation had made no provision for a vis- 
ible head of the government, during vacations of Congress, and 
such a one was necessary to superintend the executive business, 
to receive and communicate with foreign ministers and nations, 
and to assemble Congress on sudden and extraordinary emer- 
gencies, I proposed, early in April, the appointment of a com- 
mittee, to be called the "Committee of the States," to consist 
of a member from each State, who should remain in session 
during the recess of Congress: that the functions of Congress 
should be divided into executive and legislative, the latter to 
be reserved, and the former, by a general resolution, to be 
delegated to that Committee. This proposition was afterwards 
agreed to; a Committee appointed, who entered on duty on 
the subsequent adjournment of Congress, quarreled very soon, 
split into two parties, abandoned their post, and left the gov- 
ernment without any visible head, until the next meeting in 
Congress. We have since seen the same thing take place in 
the Directory of France; and I believe it will forever take 
place in any Executive consisting of a plurality. Our plan, best, 

i. The appendix is not included in this volume. 

56 



THOMAS JBFFSRSON 

I believe, combines wisdom and practicability, by providing a 
plurality of Counsellors, but a single Arbiter for ultimate deci- 
sion. I was in France when we heard of this schism, and sep- 
aration of our Committee, and, speaking with Dr. Franklin of 
this singular disposition of men to .quarrel, and divide into 
parties, he gave his sentiments, as usual, by way of Apologue. 
He mentioned the Eddystone lighthouse, in the British chan- 
nel, as being built on a rock, in the mid-channel, totally in- 
accessible in winter, from the boisterous character of that sea, 
in that season; that, therefore, for the two keepers employed 
to keep up the lights, all provision for the winter were neces- 
sarily carried to them in autumn, as they could never be visited 
again till the return of the milder season; that, on the first 
practicable day in the spring, a boat put off to them with fresh 
supplies. The boatman met at the door one of the keepers, 
and accosted him with a "How goes it, friend? Very well. How 
is your companion? I do not know. Don't know? Is not he 
here? I can't tell. Have not you seen him to-day? No. When 
did you see him? Not since last fall. You have killed him? Not 
I, indeed." They were about to lay hold of him, as having cer- 
tainly murdered his companion; but he desired them to go 
up stairs and examine for themselves. They went up, and there 
found the other keeper. They had quarrelled, it seems, soon 
after being left there, had divided into two parties, assigned 
the cares below to one, and those above to the other, and had 
never spoken to, or seen, one another since. 

But to return to our Congress at Annapolis. The definitive 
treaty of peace which had been signed at Paris on the 3d of 
September, 1783, and received here, could not be ratified witb- 
out a House of nine States. On the 23d of December, therefore, 
we addressed letters to the several Governors, stating the re- 
ceipt of the definitive treaty; that seven States only were in 
attendance, while nine were necessary to its ratification; and 
urging them to press on their delegates the necessity of their 
immediate attendance. And on the 26th, to save time, I moved 
that the Agent of Marine (Robert Morris) should be instructed 

57 



^UTOBICGRAPHT OF 

to have ready a vessel at this place, at New York, and at some 
Eastern port, to carry over the ratification of the treaty when 
agreed to. It met the general sense of the House, but was op- 
posed by Dr. Lee, on the ground of expense, which it would 
authorize the Agent to incur for us; and, he said, it would be 
better to ratify at once, and send on the ratification. Some 
members had before suggested, that seven States were com- 
petent to the ratification. My motion was therefore postponed, 
and another brought forward by Mr. Read, of South Carolina, 
for an immediate ratification. This was debated the 26th and 
27th. Read, Lee, Williamson and Jeremiah Chase, urged that 
ratification was a mere matter of form, that the treaty was con- 
clusive from the moment it was signed by the ministers; that, 
although the Confederation requires the assent of nine States 
to enter into a treaty, yet, that its conclusion could not be 
called entrance into it; that supposing nine States requisite, 
it would be in the power of five States to keep us always at 
war; that nine States had virtually authorized the ratification, 
having ratified the provisional treaty, and instructed their min- 
isters to agree to a definitive one in the same terms, and the 
present one was, in fact, substantially, and almost verbatim, 
the same; that there now remain but sixty-seven days for the 
ratification, for its passage across the Atlantic, and its ex- 
change; that there v;as no hope of our soon having nine States 
present; in fact, that this was the ultimate point of time to 
which we could venture to wait; that if the ratification was not 
in Paris by the time stipulated, the treaty would become void; 
that if ratified by seven States, it would go under our seal, with- 
out its being known to Great Britain that only seven had con- 
curred; that it was a question of which they had not right to 
take cognizance, and we were only answerable for it to our 
constituents; that it was like the ratification which Great Brit- 
ain had received from the Dutch, by the negotiations of Sir 
William Temple. 

On the contrary, it was argued by Monroe, Gerry, Howel, 
Ellery and myself, that by the modern usage of Europe, the 

58 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

ratification was considered as the act which gave validity to a 
treaty, until which, it was not obligatory. 1 That the commis- 
sion to the ministers reserved the ratification to Congress; that 
the treaty itself stipulated that it should be ratified; that it be- 
came a second question, who were competent to the ratifica- 
tion? That the Confederation expressly required nine States 
to enter into any treaty; that, by this, that instrument must 
have intended, that the assent of nine States should be neces- 
sary, as well to the completion as to the commencement of the 
treaty, its object having been to guard the rights of the Union 
in all those important cases where nine States are called for; 
that by the contrary construction, seven States, containing less 
than one-third of our whole citizens, might rivet on us a treaty, 
commenced indeed under commission and instructions from 
nine States, but formed by the minister in express contradic- 
tion to such instructions, and in direct sacrifice of the interests 
of so great a majority; that the definitive treaty was admitted 
not to be a verbal copy of the provisional one, and whether the 
departures from it were of substance, or not, was a question on 
which nine States alone were competent to decide; that the cir- 
cumstances of the ratification of the provisional articles by nine 
States, the instructions to our ministers to form a definitive one 
by them, and their actual agreement in substance, do not ren- 
der us competent to ratify in the present instance; if these cir- 
cumstances are in themselves a ratification, nothing further is 
requisite than to give attested copies of them, in exchange for 
the British ratification; if they are not, we remain where we 
were, without a ratification by nine States, and incompetent 
ourselves to ratify; that it was but four days since the seven 
States, now present, unanimously concurred in a resolution, to 
be forwarded to the Governors of the absent States, in which 
they stated as a cause for urging on their delegates, that nine 
States were necessary to ratify the treaty; that in the case of 
the Dutch ratification, Great Britain had courted it, and there- 
fore was glad to accept it as it was; that they knew our Consti- 
i. Jefferson's footnote omitted here. 

59 



OF 

tution, and would object to a ratification by seven; that, if that 
circumstance was kept back, it would be known hereafter, and 
would give them ground to deny the validity of a ratification, 
into which they should have been surprised and cheated, and it 
would be a dishonorable prostitution of our seal ; that there is 
a hope of nine States; that if the treaty would become null, if 
not ratified in time, it would not be saved by an imperfect rati- 
fication; but that, in fact, it would not be null, and would be 
placed on better ground, going in unexceptionable form, though 
a few days too late, and rested on the small importance of this 
drcumstance, and the physical impossibilities which had pre- 
vented a punctual compliance in point of time; that this would 
be approved by all nations, and by Great Britain herself, if not 
determined to renew the war, and if so determined, she would 
never want excuses, were this out of the way. Mr. Read gave 
notice, he should call for the yeas and nays; whereon those in 
opposition, prepared a resolution, expressing pointedly the rea- 
sons of their dissent from his motion. It appearing, however, 
that his proposition could not be carried, it was thought better 
to make no entry at all. Massachusetts alone would have been 
for it; Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia against it, 
Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina, would have been 
divided. 

Our body was little numerous, but very contentious. Day 
after day was wasted on the most unimportant questions. A 
member, one of those afflicted with the morbid rage of debate, 
of an ardent mind, prompt imagination, and copious flow of 
words, who heard with impatience any logic which was not his 
own, sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy 
debate, asked me how I could sit in silence, hearing so much 
false reasoning, which a word should refute? I observed to him, 
that to refute indeed was easy, but to silence was impossible; 
that in measures brought forward by myself, I took the labor- 
ing oar, as was incumbent on me; but that in general, I was 
willing to listen; that if every sound argument or objection 
was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it 

60 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

was enough ; if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omis- 
sion, without going into a repetition of what had been already 
said by others: that this v/as a waste and abuse of the time 
and patience of the House, which could not be justified. And I 
believe, that if the members of deliberate bodies were to ob- 
serve this course generally, they would do in a day, what takes 
them a week; and it is really more questionable, than may at 
first be thought, whether Bonaparte's dumb legislature, which 
said nothing, and did much, may not be preferable to one 
which talks much, and does nothing. I served with General 
Washington in the legislature of Virginia, before the revolu- 
tion, and. during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never 
heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any 
but the main point, which was to decide the question. They 
laid their shoulders to the great points, knowing that the little 
ones would follow of themselves. If the present Congress errs 
in too much talking, how can it be otherwise, in a body to 
which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose 
trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by 
the hour? That one hundred and fifty lawyers should do busi- 
ness together, ought not to be expected. But to return again to 
our subject. 

Those who thought seven States competent to the ratifica- 
tion, being very restless under the loss of their motion, I pro- 
posed, on the third of January, to meet them on middle 
ground, and therefore moved a resolution, which premised, that 
there were but seven States present, who were unanimous for 
the ratification, but that they differed in opinion on the ques- 
tion of competency; that those however in the negative were 
unwilling that any powers which it might be supposed they 
possessed, should remain unexercised for the restoration of 
peace, provided it could be done, saving their good faith, and 
without importing any opinion of Congress, that seven States 
were competent, and resolving that the treaty be ratified so far 
as they had power; that it should be transmitted to our minis- 
ters, with instructions to keep it uncommunicated ; to endeavor 

61 



<AUrOBIOGRAPHT OF 

to obtain three months longer for exchange of ratifications; 
that they should be informed, that so soon as nine States shall 
be present, a ratification by nine shall be sent them: if this 
should get to them before the ultimate point of time for ex- 
change, they were to use it, and not the other; if not, they 
were to offer the act of the seven States in exchange, inform- 
ing them the treaty had come to hand while Congress was not 
in session; that but seven States were as yet assembled, and 
these had unanimously concurred in the ratification. This was 
debated on the third and fourth; and on the fifth, a vessel be- 
ing to sail for England, from this port (Annapolis), the House 
directed the President to write to our ministers accordingly. 

January 14. Delegates from Connecticut having attended 
yesterday, and another from South Carolina coming in this 
day, the treaty was ratified without a dissenting voice; and 
three instruments of ratification were ordered to be made out, 
one of which was sent by Colonel Harmcr, another by Colonel 
Franks, and the third transmitted to the Agent of Marine, to 
be forwarded by any good opportunity. 

Congress soon took up the consideration of their foreign re- 
lations. They deemed it necessary to get their commerce placed 
with every nation, on a footing as favorable as that of other 
nations; and for this purpose, to propose to each a distinct 
treaty of commerce. This act too would amount to an acknowl- 
edgment, by each, of our independence, and of our reception 
into the fraternity of nations; which, although as possessing 
our station of right, and in fact we would not condescend to 
ask, we were not unwilling to furnish opportunties for receiving 
their friendly salutations and welcome. With France, the United 
Netherlands, and Sweden, we had already treaties of com- 
merce; but commissions were given for those countries also, 
should any amendments be thought necessary. The other States 
to which treaties were to be proposed, were England, Hamburg, 
Saxony, Prussia, Denmark, Russia, Austria, Venice, Rome, 
Naples, Tuscany, Sardinia, Genoa, Spain, Portugal, the Porte, 
Algiers, Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco. 

62 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

On the yth of May Congress resolved that a Minister Pleni- 
potentiary should be appointed, in addition to Mr. Adams and 
Dr. Franklin, for negotiating treaties of commerce with for- 
eign nations, and I was elected to that duty. I accordingly left 
Annapolis on the nth, took with me my eldest daughter, then 
at Philadelphia (the two others being too young for the voy- 
age), and proceeded to Boston, in quest of a passage. While 
passing through the different States, I made a point of inform- 
ing myself of the state of the commerce of each; went on to 
New Hampshire with the same view, and returned to Boston. 
Thence I sailed on the 5th of July, in the Ceres, a merchant 
ship of Mr. Nathenial Tracey, bound to Cowes. He was himself 
a passenger, and, after a pleasant voyage of nineteen days, from 
land to land, we arrived at Cowes on the 26th. 1 was detained 
there a few days by the indisposition of my daughter. On the 
3oth, we embarked for Havre, arrived there on the 3ist, left 
it on tLe 3d of August, and arrived at Paris on the 6th. I called 
immediately on Dr. Franklin, at Passy, communicated to him 
our charge, and we wrote to Mr. Adams, then at the Hague, to 
join us at Paris. 

Before I had left America, that is to say, in the year 1781, 
I had received a letter from M. de Marbois, of the French lega- 
tion in Philadelpnia, informing me, he had been instructed 
by his government to obtain such statistical accounts of the dif- 
ferent States of our Union, as might be useful for their infor- 
mation; and addressing to me a number of queries relative to 
the State of Virginia. I had always made it a practice, whenever 
an opportunity occurred of obtaining any information of our 
country, which might be of use to me in any station, public 
or private, to commit it to writing. These memoranda were on 
loose papers, bundled up without order, and difficult of recur- 
rence, when I had occasion for a particular one. I thought this 
a good occasion to embody their substance, which I did in the 
order of Mr. Marbois' queries, so as to answer his wish, and 
to arrange them for my own use. Some friends, to whom they 
were occasionally communicated, wished for copies; but their 

63 



AUfOBlOGRAPHT OF 

volume rendering this too laborious by hand, I proposed to get 
a few printed, for their gratification. I was asked such a price, 
however, as exceeded the importance of the object. On my ar- 
rival at Paris, I found it could be done for a fourth of what I 
had been asked here. I therefore corrected and enlarged them, 
and had two hundred copies printed, under the title of "Notes 
on Virginia/' I gave a very few copies to some particular 
friends in Europe, and sent the rest to my friends in America. 
A European copy, by the death of the owner, got into the 
hands of a bookseller, who engaged its translation, and when 
ready for the press, communicated his intentions and manu- 
script to me, suggesting that I should correct it, without ask- 
ing any other permission for the publication. I never had seen 
so wretched an attempt at translation. Interverted, abridged, 
mutilated, and often reversing the sense of the original, I 
found it a blotch of errors, from beginning to end. I corrected 
some of the most material, and, in that form, it was printed 
in French. A London bookseller, on seeing the translation, re- 
quested me to permit him to print the English original. I 
thought it best to do so, to let the world see that it was not 
really so bad as the French translation had made it appear. 
And this is the true history of that publication. 

Mr. Adams soon joined us at Paris, and our first employ- 
ment was to prepare a general form, to be proposed to such 
nations as were disposed to treat with us. During the negotia- 
tions for peace with the British Commissioner, David Hartley, 
our Commissioners had proposed, on the suggestion of Dr. 
Franklin, to insert an article, exempting from capture by the 
public or private armed ships, of either belligerent, when at 
war, all merchant vessels and their cargoes, employed merely 
in carrying on the commerce between nations. It was refused 
by England, and unwisely, in my opinion. For, in the case of a 
war with us, their superior commerce places infinitely more at 
hazard on the ocean, than ours; and, as hawks abound in pro- 
portion to game, so our privateers would swarm, in proportion 
to the wealth exposed to their prize, while theirs would be 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

few, for want of subjects of capture. We inserted this article 
in our form, with a provision against the molestation of fisher- 
men, husbandmen, citizens unarmed, and following their occu- 
pations in unfortified places, for the humane treatment of pris- 
oners of war, the abolition of contraband of war, which exposes 
merchant vessels to such vexatious and ruinous detentions and 
abuses; and for the principle of free bottoms, free goods. 

In conference with the Count de Vergennes, it was thought 
better to leave to legislative regulation, on both sides, such 
modifications of our commercial intercourse, as would volun 
tarily flow from amicable dispositions. Without urging, we 
sounded the ministers of the several European nations, at the 
court of Versailles, on their dispositions towards mutual com- 
merce, and the expediency of encouraging it by the protection 
of a treaty. Old Frederic, of Prussia, met us cordially, and 
without hesitation, and appointing the Baron de Thulemeyer, 
his minister at the Hague, to negotiate with us, we communi- 
cated to him our Projet, which, with little alteration by the 
King, was soon concluded. Denmark and Tuscany, entered 
also into negotiations with us. Other powers appearing indiffer- 
ent; we did not think it proper to press them. They seemed, 
in fact, to know little about us, but as rebels, who had been 
successful in throwing off the yoke of the mother country. They 
were ignorant of our commerce, which had been always monop- 
olized by England, and of the exchange of articles it might offer 
advantageously to both parties. They were inclined, therefore, 
to stand aloof, until they could see better what relations might 
be usefully instituted with us. The negotiations, therefore, be- 
gun with Denmark and Tuscany, we protracted designedly, 
until our powers had expired; and abstained from making new 
propositions to others having no colonies; because our com- 
merce being an exchange of raw for wrought materials, is a 
competent price for admission into the colonies of those pos- 
sessing them; but were we to give it, without price, to others, 
all would claim it, without price, on the ordinary ground of 
gentis amicissimae. 1 

i. t Most favored nation. 



OF 

Mr. Adams being appointed Minister Plenipotentiary of the 
United States, to London, left us in June, and in July, 1785, 
Dr. Franklin returned to America, and I was appointed his 
successor at Paris. In February, 1780, Mr. Adams wrote to me, 
pressingly, to join him in London immediately, as he thought 
he discovered there some symptoms of better disposition to- 
wards us. Colonel Smith, his secretary of legation, was the 
bearer of his urgencies for my immediate attendance. I, accord- 
ingly, left Paris on the ist of March, and, on my arrival in 
London, we agreed on a very summary form of t r .aty, propos- 
ing an exchange of citizenship for our citizens, our ships, and 
our productions generally, except as to office. On my presenta- 
tion, as usual, to the King and Queen, at their levees, it was 
impossible for anything to be more ungracious, than their no- 
tice of Mr. Adams and myself. I saw, at once, that the ulcera- 
tions of mind in that quarter, left nothing to be expected on 
the subject of my attendance; and, on the first conference 
with the Marquis of Caermarthen, the Minister for foreign 
affairs, the distance and disinclination which he betrayed in 
his conversation, the vagueness and evasions of his answers to 
us, confirmed me in the belief of their aversion to have any- 
thing to do with us. We delivered him, however, our Projet, 
Mr. Adams not despairing as much as I did, of its effect. We 
afterwards, by one or more notes, requested his appointment of 
an interview and conference, which, without directly declining, 
he evaded, by pretences of other pressing occupations for the 
moment. After staying there seven weeks, till within a few days 
of the expiration of our commission, I informed the minister, 
by note, that my duties at Paris required my return to that 
place, and that I should, with pleasure, be the bearer of any 
commands to his Ambassador there. He answered, that he had 
none, and, wishing me a pleasant journey, I left London the 
26th, and arrived at Paris the 3Oth of April. 

While in London, we entered into negotiations with the 
Chevalier Pinto, Ambassador of Portugal, at that place. The 
only article of difficulty between us was, a stipulation that our 

66 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

bread stuff should be received in Portugal, in the form of flour 
as well as of grain. He approved of it himself, but observed 
that several Nobles, of great influence at their court, were the 
owners of wind-mills in the neighborhood of Lisbon, which 
depended much for their profits on manufacturing our wheat, 
and that this stipulation would endanger the whole treaty. He 
signed it, however, and its fate was what he had candidly por- 
tended. 

My duties, at Paris, were confined to a few objects; the re- 
ceipt of our whale-oils, salted fish, and salted meats, on favor- 
able terms; the admission of our rice on equal terms with that 
of Piedmont, Egypt and the Levant; a mitigation of the mo- 
nopolies of our tobacco by the Farmers-general, and a free 
admission of our productions into their islands, were the prin- 
cipal commercial objects which required attention; and, on 
these occasions, I was powerfully aided by all the influence and 
the energies of the Marquis de La Fayette, who proved him- 
self equally zealous for the friendship and welfare of both 
nations; and, in justice, I must also say, that I found the gov- 
ernment entirely disposed to befriend us on all occasions, and 
to yield us every indulgence, not absolutely injurious to them- 
selves. The Count de Vergennes had the reputation, with the 
diplomatic corps, of being wary and slippery in his diplo- 
matic intercourse; and so he might be with those whom he 
knew to be slippery, and doublefaced themselves. As he saw 
that I had no indirect views, practised no subtleties, meddled 
in no intrigues, pursued no concealed objects, I found him as 
frank, as honorable, as easy of access to reason, as any man 
with whom I had ever done business; and I must say the same 
for his successor, Montmorin, one of the most honest and wor- 
thy of human beings. 

Our commerce, in the Mediterranean, was placed under early 
alarm, by the capture of two of our vessels and crews by the 
Barbary cruisers. I was very unwilling that we should acquiesce 
in the European humiliation, of paying a tribute to those law- 
less pirates, and endeavored to form an association of the pow- 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

ers subject to habitual depredations from them. I accordingly 
prepared, and proposed to their Ministers at Paris, for con- 
sultation with their governments, articles of a special confed- 
eration, in the following form: 

"Proposals for concerted operation among the powers at war 
with the piratical States of Barbary. 

1. "It is proposed, that the several powers at war with the 
piratical States of Barbary, or any two or more of them who 
shall be willing, shall enter into a convention to carry on their 
operations against those States, in concert, beginning with the 
Algerines. 

2. "This convention shall remain open to any other powers, 
who shall, at any future time, wish to accede to it; the parties 
reserving the right to prescribe the conditions of such acces- 
sion, according to the circumstances existing at the time it shall 
be proposed. 

3. "The object of the convention shall be, to compel the 
piratical States to perpetual peace, without price, and to guar- 
antee that peace to each other. 

4. "The operations for obtaining this peace shall be con- 
stant cruises on their coast, with a naval force now to be agreed 
on. It is not proposed that this force shall be so considerable 
as to be inconvenient to any party. It is believed that half a 
dozen frigates, with as many Tenders or Xebecs, one half of 
which shall be in cruise, while the other half is at rest, will 
suffice. 

5. "The force agreed to be necessary, shall be furnished by 
the parties, in certain quotas, now to be fixed; it being ex- 
pected, that each will be willing to contribute, in such propor- 
tion as circumstances may render reasonable. 

6. "As miscarriages often proceed from the want of har- 
mony among officers of different nations, the parties shall now 
consider and decide, whether it will not be better to contribute 
their quotas in money, to be employed in fitting out and keep- 
ing on duty, a single fleet of the force agreed on. 

7. "The difficulties and delays, too, which will attend the 

68 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

management of these operations, if conducted by the parties 
themselves separately, distant as their courts may be from one 
another, and incapable of meeting in consultation, suggest a 
question, whether it will not be better for them to give full 
powers, for that purpose, to their Ambassadors, or other Min- 
isters resident at some one court of Europe, who shall form a 
Committee, or Council, for carrying this convention into effect; 
wherein, the vote of each member shall be computed m pro- 
portion to the quota of his sovereign, and the majority so 
computed, shall prevail in all questions within the view of this 
convention. The court of Versailles is proposed, on account of 
its neighborhood to the Mediterranean, and because all those 
powers are represented there, who are likely to become parties 
to this convention. 

8. "To save to that Council the embarrassment of personal 
solicitations for office, and to assure the parties that their con- 
tributions will be applied solely to the object for which they 
are destined, there shall be no establishment of officers for the 
said Council, such as Commissioners, Secretaries, or any other 
kind, with either salaries or perquisites, nor any other lucra- 
tive appointments but such whose functions are to be exercised 
on board the said vessels. 

9. "Should war arise between any two of the parties to this 
convention, it shall not extend to this enterprise, nor interrupt 
it; but as to this they shall be reputed at peace. 

10. "When Algiers shall be reduced to peace, the other pi- 
ratical States, if they refuse to discontinue their piracies, shall 
become the objects of this convention, either successively or 
together, as shall seem best. 

11. "Where this convention would interfere with treaties ac- 
tually existing between any of the parties and the States of 
Barbary, the treaty shall prevail, and such party shall be al- 
lowed to withdraw from the operations against that State." 

Spain had just concluded a treaty with Algiers, at the ex- 
pense of three millions of dollars, and did not like to relin- 
quish the benefit of that, until the other party should fail in 

69 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

their observance of it. Portugal, Naples, the two Sicilies, Ven- 
ice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden, were favorably disposed to 
such an association; but their representatives at Paris ex- 
pressed apprehensions that France would interfere, and, either 
openly or secretly, support the Barbary powers; and they re- 
quired, that I should ascertain the dispositions of the Count de 
Vergennes on the subject. I had before taken occasion to in- 
form him of what we were proposing, and, therefore, did not 
think it proper to insinuate any doubt of the fair conduct of his 
government; but, stating our propositions, I mentioned the ap- 
prehensions entertained by us, that England would interfere 
in behalf of those piratical governments. "She dares not do it," 
said he. I pressed it no further. The other Agents were satis- 
fied with this indication of his sentiments, and nothing was 
now wanting to bring it into direct and formal consideration, 
but the assent of our government, and their authority to make 
the formal proposition. I communicated to them the favorable 
prospect of protecting our commerce from the Barbary depre- 
dations, and for such a continuance of time, as, by an exclusion 
of them from the sea, to change their habits and characters, 
from a predatory to an agricultural people: toward which, 
however, it was expected they would contribute a frigate, and 
its expenses, to be in constant cruise. But they were in no con- 
dition to make any such engagement. Their recommendatory 
powers for obtaining contributions, were so openly neglected 
by the several States, that they declined an engagement which 
they were conscious they could not fulfill with punctuality; 
and so it fell through. 

In 1786, while at Paris, I became acquainted with John Led- 
yard, of Connecticut, a man of genius, of some science, and of 
fearless courage and enterprise. He had accompanied Captain 
Cook in his voyage to the Pacific, had distinguished himself 
on several occasions by an unrivalled intrepidity, and published 
an account of that voyage, with details unfavorable to Cook's 
deportment towards the savages, and lessening our regrets at 
his fate. Ledyard had come to Paris, in the hope of forming a 

70 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

company to engage in the fur trade of the Western coast of 
America. He was disappointed in this, and, being out of busi- 
ness, and of a roaming, restless character, I suggested to him 
the enterprise of exploring the Western part of our continent, 
by passing through St. Petersburg to Kamschatka, and procur- 
ing a passage thence in some of the Russian vessels to Nootka 
Sound, whence he might make his way across the continent to 
the United States; and I undertook to have the permission of 
the Empress of Russia solicited. He eagerly embraced the prop- 
osition, and M. de Semoulin, the Russian Ambassador, and more 
particularly Baron Grimm, the special correspondent of the 
Empress, solicited her permission for him to pass through her 
dominions, to the Western coast of America. And here I must 
correct a material error, which I have committed in another 
place, to the prejudice of the Empress. In writing some notes 
of the life of Captain Lewis, prefixed to his "Expedition to the 
Pacific," I stated that the Empress gave the permission asked, 
and afterwards retracted it. This idea, after a lapse of twenty- 
six years, had so insinuated itself into my mind, that I com- 
mitted it to paper, without the least suspicion of error. Yet I 
find, on recurring to my letters of that date, that the Empress 
refused permission at once, considering the enterprise as en- 
tirely chimerical. But Ledyard would not relinquish it, per- 
suading himself that, by proceeding to St. Petersburg, he could 
satisfy the Empress of its practicability, and obtain her per- 
mission. He went accordingly, but she was absent on a visit tc 
some distant part of her dominions, and he pursued his course 
to within two hundred miles of Kamschatka, where he was 
overtaken by an arrest from the Empress, brought back to 
Poland, and there dismissed. I must therefore, in justice, acquit 
the Empress of ever having for a moment countenanced, ever* 
by the indulgence of an innocent passage through her terri- 
tories, this interesting enterprise. 

The pecuniary distresses of France produced this year g 
measure of which there had been no example for nearly two 
centuries, and the consequences of which, good and evil, are 



OF 

not yet calculable. For its remote causes, we must go a little 
back. 

Celebrated writers of France and England had already 
sketched good principles on the subject of government; yet the 
American Revolution seems first to have awakened the think- 
ing part of the French nation in general, from the sleep of 
despotism in which they were sunk. The officers too, who had 
been to America, were mostly young men, less shackled by 
habit and prejudice, and more ready to assent to the sugges- 
tions of common sense, and feeling of common rights, than 
others. They came back with new ideas and impressions. The 
press, notwithstanding its shackles, began to disseminate them ; 
conversation assumed new freedoms ; Politics became the theme 
of all societies, male and female, and a very extensive and zeal- 
ous party was formed, which acquired the appellation of the 
Patriotic party, who, sensible of the abusive government under 
which they lived, sighed for occasions of reforming it. This 
party comprehended all the honesty of the kingdom, sufficiently 
at leisure to think, the men of letters, the easy Bourgeois, the 
young nobility, partly from reflection, partly from mode; for 
these sentiments became matter of mode, and as such, united 
most of the young women to the party. Happily for the na- 
tion, it happened, at the same moment, that the dissipations of 
the Queen and court, the abuses of the pension-list, and dilapi- 
dations in the administration of every branch of the finances, 
had exhausted the treasures and credit of the nation, insomuch 
that its most necessary functions were paralyzed. To reform 
these abuses would have overset the Minister; to impose new 
taxes by the authority of the King, was known to be impos- 
sible, from the determined opposition of the Parliament to 
their enregistry. No resource remained then, but to appeal to 
the nation. He advised, therefore, the call of an Assembly of 
the most distinguished characters of the nation, in the hope 
that, by promises of various and valuable improvements in the 
organization and regimen of the government, they would be 
induced to authorize new taxes, to control the opposition of the 

72 



THOMAS ySFFSRSON 

Parliament, and to raise the annual revenue to the level of ex- 
penditures. An Assembly of Notables therefore, about one hun- 
dred and fifty in number, named by the King, convened on the 
22d of February. The Minister (Calonne) stated to them, that 
the annual excess of expenses beyond the revenue, when Louis 
XVI. carne to the throne, was thirty-seven millions of livres; 
that four hundred and forty millions had been borrowed to re- 
establish the navy; that the American war had cost them four- 
teen hundred and forty millions (two hundred and fifty-six 
millions of dollars), and that the interest of these sums, with 
other increased expenses, had added forty millions more to the 
annual deficit. (But a subsequent and more candid estimate 
made it fifty-six millions.) He proffered them a universal re- 
dress of grievances, laid open those grievances fully, pointed 
out sound remedies, and, covering his canvas with objects of 
this magnitude, the deficit dwindled to a little accessory, 
scarcely attracting attention. The persons chosen were the 
most able and independent characters in the kingdom, and 
their support, if it could be obtained, would be enough for 
him. They improved the occasion for redressing their griev- 
ances, and agreed that the public wants should be relieved; 
but went into an examination of the causes of them. It was 
supposed that Calonne was conscious that his accounts could 
not bear examination; and it was said, and believed, that he 
asked of the King, to send four members to the Bastile, of 
whom the Marquis de La Fayette was one, to banish twenty 
others, and two of his Ministers. The King found it shorter to 
banish him. His successor went on in full concert with the As- 
sembly. The result was an augmentation of the revenue, a 
promise of economies in its expenditure, of an annual settle- 
ment of the public accounts before a council, which the Comp- 
troller, having been heretofore obliged to settle only with the 
King in person, of course never settled at all; an acknowledg- 
ment that the King could not lay a new tax, a reformation of 
the Criminal laws, abolition of torture, suppression of corvees, 
reformation of the gabelles, removal of the interior Custom 

73 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

Houses, free commerce of grain, internal and external, and 
the establishment of Provincial Assemblies; which, altogether, 
constituted a great mass of improvement in the condition of 
the nation. The establishment of the Provincial Assemblies 
was, in itself, a fundamental improvement. They would be of 
the choice of the people, one-third renewed every year, in those 
provinces where there are no States, that is to say, over abouf 
three-fourths of the kingdom. They would be partly an Execu- 
tive themselves, and partly an Executive Council to the In- 
tendant, to whom the Executive power, in his province, had 
been heretofore entirely delegated. Chosen by the people, they 
would soften the execution of hard laws, and, having a right of 
representation to the King, they would censure bad laws, sug- 
gest good ones, expose abuses, and their representations, when 
united, would command respect. To the other advantages, 
might be added the precedent itself of calling the Assemblee 
des Notables, which would perhaps grow into habit. The hope 
was, that the improvements thus promised would be carried 
into effect; that they would be maintained during the present 
reign, and that that would be long enough for them to take 
some root in the constitution, so that they might come to be 
considered as a part of that, and be protected by time, and the 
attachment of the nation. 

The Count de Vergennes had died a few days before the 
meeting of the Assembly, and the Count de Montmorin had 
been named Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his place. Villedeuil 
succeeded Calonne, as Comptroller General, and Lomenie de 
Bryenne, Archbishop of Thoulouse, afterwards of Sens, and 
ultimately Cardinal Lomenie, was named Minister principal, 
with whom the other Ministers were to transact the business of 
their departments, heretofore done with the King in person; 
and the Duke de Nivernois, and M. de Malesherbes, were 
called to the Council. On the nomination of the Minister prin- 
cipal, the Marshals de Segur and de Castries retired from the 
departments of War and Marine, unwilling to act subordi- 
nately, or to share the blame of proceedings taken out of their 

74 



THOMAS ySFFSRSON 

direction. They were succeeded by the Count de Brienne, 
brother of the Prime Minister, and the Marquis de La Luzerne, 
brother to him who had been Minister in the United States. 

A dislocated wrist, unsuccessfully set, occasioned advice 
from my surgeon, to try the mineral waters of Aix, in Pro- 
vence, as a corroborant. I left Paris for that place therefore, 
on the 28th of February, and proceeded up the Seine, through 
Champagne and Burgundy, and down the Rhone through the 
Beaujolais by Lyons, Avignon, Nismes to Aix; where, finding 
on trial no benefit from the waters, I concluded to visit the 
rice country of Piedmont, to see if anything might be learned 
there, to benefit the rivalship of our Carolina rice with that, 
ind thence to make a tour of the seaport towns of France, 
along its Southern and Western coast, to inform myself, if any- 
thing could be done to favor our commerce with them. From 
Aix, therefore, I took my route by Marseilles, Toulon, Hieres, 
Nice, across the Col de Tende, by Coni, Turin, Vercelli, No- 
vara, Milan, Pavia, Novi, Genoa. Thence, returning along the 
coast of Savona, Noli, Albenga, Oneglia, Monaco, Nice, An- 
tibes, Frejus, Aix, Marseilles, Avignon, Nismes, Montpcllier, 
Frontignan, Cette, Agde, and along the canal of Languedoc, 
by Bezieres, Narbonne, Cascassonne, Castelnaudari, through 
the Souterrain of St. Feriol, and back by Castelnaudari, to 
Toulouse; thence to Montauban, and down the Garonne by 
Langon to Bordeaux. Thence to Rochefort, la Rochelle, Nantes, 
L'Orient; then back by Rennes to Nantes, and up the Loire 
by Angers, Tours, Ambolse, Blois to Orleans, thence direct tc 
Paris, where I arrived on the loth of June. Soon after my re- 
turn from this journey, to wit, about the latter part of July, 
I received my younger daughter, Maria, from Virginia, by the 
way of London, the youngest having died some time before. 

The treasonable perfidy of the Prince of Orange, Stadtholder 
and Captain General of the United Netherlands, in the war 
which England waged against them, for entering into a treaty 
of commerce with the United States, is known to all. As their 
Executive officer, charged with the conduct of the war, he con- 



^UTOJBIOGRAPHT OP 

trived to baffle all the measures of the States General, to dis- 
locate all their military plans and played false into the hands 
of England against his own country, on every possible occa- 
sion, confident in her protection, and in that of the King of 
Prussia, brother to his Princess. The States General, indig- 
nant at this patricidal conduct, applied to France for aid, ac- 
cording to the stipulations of the treaty concluded with her in 
'85. It was assured to them readily, and in cordial terms, in a 
letter from the Count de Vergennes, to the Marquis de Verac, 
Ambassador of France at the Hague, of which the following is 
an extract: 

Extract from the despatch of the Count de Vergennes ? 
to the Marquis de Verac, Ambassador from France, at the 
Hague, dated March i, 1786: 

"The King will give his aid, as far as may be in his power, 
towards the success of the affair, and will, on his part, invite 
the Patriots to communicate to him their views, their plans, 
and their discontents. You may assure them that the King 
lakes a real interest in themselves as well as their cause, and 
that they may rely upon his protection. On this they may place 
the greater dependence, as we do not conceal, that if the Stadt- 
holder resumes his former influence, the English System will 
soon prevail, and our alliance become a mere affair of the imagi- 
nation. The Patriots will readily feel, that this position would 
be incompatible both with the dignity and consideration of his 
Majesty. But in case the Chief of the Patriots should have to 
fear a division, they would have time sufficient to reclaim those 
whom the Anglomaniacs had misled, and to prepare matters in 
such a manner, that the question when again agitated, might 
be decided according to their wishes. In such a hypothetical 
case, the King authorizes you to act in concert with them, to 
pursue the direction which they may think proper to give you, 
and to employ every means to augment the number of the 
partisans of the good cause. It remains for me to speak of the 
personal security of the Patriots. You may assure them, that 
under every circumstance, the King will take them under his 

76 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

immediate protection, and you will make known wherever you 
may judge necessary, that his Majesty will regard as a personal 
offence every undertaking against their liberty. It is to be pre- 
sumed that this language, energetically maintained, may have 
some effect on the audacity of the Anglomaniacs, and that the 
Prince de Nassau will feel that he runs some risk in provoking 
the resentment of his Majesty." 1 

This letter was communicated by the Patriots to me, when 
at Amsterdam, in 1788, and a copy sent by me to Mr. Jay, in 
my letter to him of March 16, 1788. 

The object of the Patriots was, to establish a representa- 
tive and republican government. The majority of the States 
General were with them, but the majority of the populace of 
the towns was with the Prince of Orange ; and that populace was 
played off with great effect, by the triumvirate of ... Harris, 
the English Ambassador, afterwards Lord Malmesbury, the 
Prince of Orange, a stupid man, and the Princess as much a 
man as either of her colleagues, in audaciousness, in enterprise, 
and in the thirst of domination. By these, the mobs of the 
Hague were excited against the members of the States Gen- 
eral; their persons were insulted and endangered in the streets; 
the sanctuary of their houses was violated; and the Prince, 
whose function and duty it was to repress and punish these 
violations of order, took no steps for that purpose. The States 
General, for their own protection, were therefore obliged to 
place their militia under the command of a Committee. The 
Prince filled the courts of London and Berlin with complaints 
at this usurpation of his prerogatives, and, forgetting that he 
was but the first servant of a Republic, marched his regular 
troops against the city of Utrecht, where the States were in 
session. They were repulsed by the militia. His interests now 
became marshalled with those of the public enemy, and against 
his own country. The States, therefore, exercising their rights 
of sovereignty, deprived him of all his powers. The great Fred- 

i. Translation supplied by editors of Memorial Edition; in Jefferson'^ 
text this appears in French, 

77 



OF 

eric hari died in August, '86. He had never intended to break 
with France in support of the Prince of Orange. During the 
illness of which he died, he had, through the Duke of Bruns- 
wick, declared to the Marquis de La Fayette, who was then 
at Berlin, that he meant not to support the English interest in 
Holland: that he might assure the government of France, his 
only wish was, that some honorable place in the Constitution 
should be reserved for the Stadtholder and his children, and 
that he would take no part in the quarrel, unless an entire 
abolition of the Stadtholderate should be attempted. But his 
place was now occupied by Frederic William, his great nephew, 
a man of little understanding, much caprice, and very incon- 
siderate; and the Princess, his sister, although her husband 
was in arms against the legitimate authorities of the country, 
attempting to go to Amsterdam, for the purpose of exciting 
the mobs of that place, and being refused permission to pass a 
military post on the way, he put the Duke of Brunswick at the 
head of twenty thousand men, and made demonstrations of 
marching on Holland. The King of France hereupon declared, 
by his Charge des Affaires in Holland, that if the Prussian 
troops continued to menace Holland with an invasion, his Maj- 
esty, in quality of Ally, was determined to succor that prov- 
ince. In answer to this, Eden gave official information to Count 
Montmorin, that England must consider as at an end its con- 
vention with France relative to giving notice of its naval arma- 
ments, and that she was arming generally. War being now 
imminent, Eden, since Lord Aukland, questioned me on the 
effect of our treaty with France, in the case of a war, and what 
might be our dispositions. I told him frankly, and without hesi- 
tation, that our dispositions would be neutral, and that I 
thought it would be the interest of both these powers that we 
should be so; because, it would relieve both from all anxiety 
as to feeding their West India islands; that England, too, by 
suffering us to remain so, would avoid a heavy land war on 
our Continent, which might very much cripple her proceedings 
elsewhere; that our treaty, indeed, obliged us to receive into 

78 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

our ports the.armed vessels of France, with their prizes, and tG 
refuse admission to the prizes made on her by her enemies: that 
there was K clause, also, by which we guaranteed to France her 
American possessions, which might perhaps force us into tha 
war, if these were attacked. "Then it will be war," said he, "for 
they will assuredly be attacked." Liston, at Madrid, about the 
same time, made the same inquiries of Carmichael. The Gov- 
ernment of France then declared a determination to form a 
camp of observation at Givet, commenced arming her marine, 
and named the Bailli de Suffrein their Generalissimo on the 
Ocean. She secretly engaged, also, in negotiations with Rus- 
sia, Austria, and Spain, to form a quadruple alliance. The 
Duke of Brunswick having advanced to the confines of Hol- 
land, sent some of his officers to Givet, to reconnoitre the state 
of things there, and report them to him. He said afterwards, 
that "if there had been only a few tents at that place, he should 
not have advanced further, for that the King would not, merely 
for the interest of his sister, engage in a war with France." 
But, finding that there was not a single company there, he 
boldly entered the country, took their towns as fast as he pre- 
sented himself before them, and advanced on Utrecht. The 
States had appointed the Rhingrave of Salm their Commander- 
in-Chief; a Prince without talents, without courage, and with- 
out principle. He might have held out in Utrecht for a con- 
siderable time, but he surrendered the place without firing a 
gun, literally ran away and hid himself, so that for months it 
was not known what had become of him. Amsterdam was then 
attacked, and capitulated. In the meantime, the negotiations 
for the quadruple alliance were proceeding favorably; but the 
secrecy with which they were attempted to be conducted, was 
penetrated by Fraser, Charge d'Affaires of England at St. 
Petersburg, who instantly notified his court, and gave the alarm 
to Prussia. The King saw at once what would be his situation, 
between the jaws of France, Austria, and Russia. In great dis- 
may, he besought the court of London not to abandon him, sent 
Alvensleben to Paris to explain and soothe; and England, 

79 



tAUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

through the Duke of Dorset and Eden, renewed her confer- 
ences for accommodation. The Archbishop, who shuddered at 
the idea of war, and preferred a peaceful surrender of right 
to an armed vindication of it, received them with open arms, 
entered into cordial conferences, and a declaration, and count- 
er-declaration, were cooked up at Versailles, and sent to Lon- 
don for approbation. They were approved there, reached Paris 
at one o'clock of the 2;th, and were signed that night at Ver- 
sailles. It was said and believed at Paris, that M. de Mont- 
morin, literally "pleuroit comme un enfant," when obliged to 
sign this counter-declaration; so distressed was he by the dis- 
honor of sacrificing the Patriots, after assurances so solemn of 
protection, and absolute encouragement to proceed. The Prince 
of Orange was reinstated in all his powers, now become regal. 
A great emigration of the Patriots took place; all were deprived 
of office, many exiled, and their property confiscated. They 
were received in France, and subsisted, for some time, on her 
bounty. Thus fell Holland, by the treachery of her Chief, from 
her honorable independence, to become a province of England ; 
and so, also, her Stadtholder, from the high station of the first 
citizen of a free Republic, to be the servile Viceroy of a foreign 
Sovereign. And this was effected by a mere scene of bullying 
and demonstration; not one of the parties, France, England, or 
Prussia, having ever really meant to encounter actual war for 
the interest of the Prince of Orange. But it had all the effect of 
a real and decisive war, 

Our first essay, in America, to establish a federative govern- 
ment had fallen, on trial, very short of its object. During the 
war of Independence, while the pressure of an external enemy 
hooped us together, and their enterprises kept us necessarily on 
the alert, the spirit of the people, excited by danger, was a sup- 
plement to the Confederation, and urged them to zealous exer- 
tions, whether claimed by that instrument or not; but, when 
peace arid safety were restored, and every man became engaged 
in useful and profitable occupation, less attention was paid to 
the calls of Congress. The fundamental defect of the Confed- 

80 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

eration was, that Congress was not authorized to act immedi- 
ately on the people, and by its own officers. Their power was 
only requisitory, and these requisitions were addressed to the 
several Legislatures, to be by them carried into execution, with- 
out other coercion than the moral principle of duty. This al- 
lowed, in fact, a negative to every Legislature, on every meas- 
ure proposed by Congress; a negative so frequently exercised 
in practice, as to benumb the action of the Federal govern- 
ment, and to render it inefficient in its general objects, and 
more especially in pecuniary and foreign concerns. The want, 
too, of a separation of the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciar 
functions, worked disadvantageously in practice. Yet this statt 
of things afforded a happy augury of the future march of our 
Confederacy, when it was seen that the good sense and good 
dispositions of the people, as soon as they perceived the in- 
competence of their first compact, instead of leaving its correc- 
tion to insurrection and civil war, agreed, with one voice, to 
elect deputies to a general Convention, who should peaceably 
meet and agree on such a Constitution as "would ensure peace, 
justice, liberty, the common defence and general welfare." 

This Convention met at Philadelphia on the 25th of May, 
'87. It sat with closed doors, and kept all its proceedings 
secret, until its dissolution on the iyth of September, when the 
results of its labors were published all together. I received a 
copy, early in November, and read and contemplated its pro- 
visions with great satisfaction. As not a member of the Con- 
vention, however, nor probably a single citizen of the Union, 
had approved it in all its parts, so I, too, found articles which 
I thought objectionable. The absence of express declarations 
ensuring freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of 
the person under the uninterrupted protection of the Habea* 
corpus, and trial by jury in Civil as well as in Criminal 
cases, excited my jealousy; and the re-eligibility of the Presi 
dent for life, I quite disapproved. I expressed freely, in 
letters to my friends, and most particularly to Mr. Madison 
and General Washington, my approbations and objections, 

81 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

How the good should be secured and the ill brought to rights., 
was the difficulty. To refer it back to a new Convention might 
endanger the loss of the whole. My first idea was, that 
the nine States first acting, should accept it unconditionally, 
and thus secure what in it was good, and that the four 
last should accept on the previous condition, that certain 
amendments should be agreed to; but a better course was de- 
vised, of accepting the whole, and trusting that the good sense 
and honest intentions of our citizens, would make the altera- 
tions which should be deemed necessary. Accordingly, all ac- 
cepted, six without objection, and seven with recommendations 
of specified amendments. Those respecting the press, religion, 
and juries, with several others, of great value, were accord- 
ingly made; but the Habeas corpus was left to the discretion 
of Congress, and the amendment against the re-eligibility of 
the President was not proposed. My fears of that feature were 
founded on the importance of the office, on the fierce conten- 
tions it might excite among ourselves, if continuable for life, 
and the dangers of interference, either with money or arms, 
by foreign nations, to whom the choice of an American Presi- 
dent might become interesting. Examples of this abounded in 
history; in the case of the Roman Emperors, for instance; of 
the Popes, while of any significance; of the German Emperors; 
the Kings of Poland, and the Deys of Barbary. I had ob- 
served, too. in the feudal history, and in the recent instance, 
particularly, of the Stadtholder of Holland, how easily offices, 
or tenures for life, slide into inheritances. My wish, therefore, 
was, that the President should be elected for seven years, and 
be ineligible afterwards. This term I thought sufficient to en- 
able him, with the concurrence of the Legislature, to carry 
through and establish any system of improvement he should 
propose for the general good. But the practice adopted, I think, 
is better, allowing his continuance for eight years, with a lia- 
bility to be dropped at half way of the term, making that a 
period of probation. That his continuance should be restrained 
to seven years,, was the opinion of the Convention at an earlier 

82 



THOMAS 

stage of its session, when it voted that term, by a majority oi 
eight against two, and by a simple majority that he should be 
ineligible a second time. This opinion was confirmed by the 
House so late as July 26, referred to the Committee of detail, 
reported favorably by them, and changed to the present form 
by final vote, on the last day but one only of their session. Of 
this change, three States expressed their disapprobation; New 
York, by recommending an amendment, that the President 
should not be eligible a third time, and Virginia and North 
Carolina that he should not be capable of seiving more than 
eight, in any term of sixteen years; and though this amend- 
ment has not been made in form, yet practice seems to have 
established it. The example of four Presidents voluntarily re- 
tiring at the end of their eighth year, and the progress of pub- 
lic opinion, that the principle is salutary, have given it in prac- 
tice the force of precedent and usage; insomuch, that, should 
a President consent to be a candidate for a third election, 
I trust he would be rejected, on this demonstration of ambitious 
views. 

But there was another amendment, of which none of us 
thought at the time, and in the omission of which, lurks the 
germ that is to destroy this happy combination of National 
powers in the General government, for matters of National 
concern, and independent powers in the States, for what con- 
cerns the States severally. In England, it was a great point 
gained at the Revolution, that the commissions of the Judges, 
which had hitherto been during pleasure, should thenceforth 
be made during good behavior. A Judiciary, dependent on the 
will of the King, had proved itself the most oppressive of all 
tools, in the hands of that Magistrate. Nothing, then, could be 
more salutary, than a change there, to the tenure of good be- 
havior; and the question of good behavior, left to the vote of 
a simple majority in the two Houses of Parliament. Before the 
Revolution, we were all good English Whigs, cordiiil in their 
free principles, and in their jealousies of their Executive Magis- 
trate. These jealousies are very apparent, in all our state Consti- 

83 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

Uitions; and, in the General government in this instance, we 
have gone even beyond the English caution, by requiring a 
vote of two-thirds, in one of the Houses, for removing a Judge; 
a vote so impossible, where l any defence is made, before men 
of ordinary prejudices and passions, that our Judges are effectu- 
ally independent of the nation. But this ought not to be. I would 
not, indeed, make them dependent on the Executive authority, 
as they formerly were in England ; but I deem it indispensable 
to the continuance of this government, that they should be 
submitted to some practical and impartial control; and that 
this, to be imparted, must be compounded of a mixture of 
State and Federal authorities. It is not enough that honest men 
are appointed Judges. All know the influence of interest on the 
mind of man, and how unconsciously his judgment is warped 
by that influence. To this bias add that of the esprit de corps, 
of their peculiar maxim and creed, that "it is the office of a 
good Judge to enlarge his jurisdiction," and the absence of 
responsibility; and how can we expect impartial decision 
between the General government, of which they are themselves 
so eminent a part, and an individual State, from which they 
have nothing to hope or fear? We have seen, too, that contrary 
to all correct example, they are in the habit of going out of the 
question before them, to throw an anchor ahead, and grapple 
further hold for future advances of power. They are then, in 
fact, the corps of sappers and miners, steadily working to un- 
dermine the independent rights of the States, and to consoli- 
date all power in the hands of that government in which they 
have so important a freehold estate. But it is not by the consoli- 
dation, or concentration of powers, but by their distribution, 
that good government is effected. Were not this great country 
already divided into States, that division must be made, that 
each might do for itself what concerns itself directly, and what 
it can so much better do than a distant authority. Every State 

i. In the impeachment of Judge Pickering, of New Hampshire, a ha- 
bitual and maniac drunkard, no defence was made. Had there been, the 
party vote of more than one-third of the Senate would have acquitted 
him. [Jefferson's footnote.] 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

again is divided into counties, each to take care of what lies 
within its local bounds; each county again into townships or 
wards, to manage minuter details; and every ward into farms, 
to be governed each by its individual proprietor. Were we di- 
rected from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we 
should soon want bread. It is by this partition of cares, descend- 
ing in gradation from general to particular, that the mass of 
human affairs may be best managed, for the good and prosperity 
of all. I repeat, that I do not charge the Judges with wilful and 
ill-intentioned error; but honest error must be arrested, where 
its toleration leads to public ruin. As, for the safety of society, 
we commit honest maniacs to Bedlam, so judges should be 
withdrawn from their bench, whose erroneous biases are leading 
us to dissolution. It may, indeed, injure them in fame or in 
fortune; but it saves the Republic, which is the first and su- 
preme law. 

Among the debilities of the government of the Confedera^ 
tion, no one was more distinguished or more distressing, than 
the utter impossibility of obtaining, from the States, the moneys 
necessary for the payment of debts, or even for the ordinary 
expenses of the government. Some contributed a little, some 
less, and some nothing; and the last furnished at length an 
excuse for the first to do nothing also. Mr. Adams, while residing 
at the Hague, had a general authority to borrow what sums 
might be requisite, for ordinary and necessary expenses. In- 
terest on the public debt, and the maintenance of the diplo- 
matic establishment in Europe, had been habitually provided 
in this way. He was now elected Vice-President of the United 
States, was soon to return to America, and had referred our 
bankers to me for future counsel, on our affairs in their hands. 
But I had no powers, no instructions, no means, and no famili- 
arity with the subject. It had always been exclusively under his 
management, except as to occasional and partial deposits in 
the hands of Mr. Grand, banker in Paris, for special and local 
purposes. These last had been exhausted for some time, and I 
had fervently pressed the Treasury board to replenish this 

85 



JUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

particular deposit, as Mr. Grand now refused to make further 
advances. They answered candidly, that no funds could be ob- 
tained until the new government should get into action, and 
have time to make its arrangements. Mr. Adams had received 
his appointment to the court of London, while engaged at Paris, 
with Dr. Franklin and myself, in the negotiations under our 
joint commissions. He had repaired thence to London, without 
returning to the Hague, to take leave of that government. He 
thought it necessary, however, to do so now, before he should 
leave Europe, and accordingly went there. I learned his depar- 
ture from London, by a letter from Mrs. Adams, received on the 
very day on which he would arrive at the Hague. A consulta- 
tion with him, and some provision for the future, was indispen- 
sable, while we could yet avail ourselves of his powers; for when 
they would be gone, we should be without resource. I was daily 
dunned by a Company who had formerly made a small loan to 
the United States, the principal of which was now become due; 
and our bankers in Amsterdam, had notified me that the inter- 
est on our general debt would be expected in June; that if we 
failed to pay it, it would be deemed an act of bankruptcy, and 
would effectually destroy the credit of the United States, and 
all future prospect of obtaining money there; that the loan they 
had been authorized to open, of which a third only was filled, 
had now ceased to get forward, and rendered desperate that 
hope of resource. I saw that there was not a moment to lose, 
and set out for the Hague on the second morning after receiv- 
ing the information of Mr. Adams's journey. I went the direct 
road by Louvres, Senlis, Roye, Pont St. Maxence, Bois le due, 
Gournay, Peronne, Cambray, Bouchain, Valenciennes, Mons, 
Bruxelles, Malines, Antwerp, Mordick, and Rotterdam, to the 
Hague, where I happily found Mr. Adams. He concurred with 
me at once in opinion, that something must be done, and that 
we ought to risk ourselves on doing it without instructions, to 
save the credit of the United States. We foresaw, that before 
the new government could be adopted, assembled, establish its 
financial system, get the money into the Treasury, and place it 

86 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

in Europe, considerable time would elapse; that, therefore, we 
had better provide at once, for the years '88, '89, and '90, in 
order to place our government at its ease, and our credit in 
security, during that trying interval. We set out, therefore, by 
the way of Leyden, for Amsterdam, where we arrived on the 
loth. I had prepared an estimate, showing that 

Florins. 

There would be necessary for the year '88 531,937-10 

'89 53 8 >54o 

'9 473,540 



Total 1,544,017-10 

Florins. 

To meet this, the bankers had in hand . . . 79,268-2-8 
and the unsold bonds would yield . . . . 542,800 

622,068-2-8 

Leaving a deficit of 921,949-7-4 

We proposed then to borrow a million, yielding 920,000 

Which would leave a small deficiency of 1,949-7-4 

Mr. Adams accordingly executed 1000 bonds, for 1000 florins 
each, and deposited them in the hands of our bankers, with 
instructions, however, not to issue them until Congress should 
ratify the measure. This done, he returned to London, and I 
set out for Paris; and, as nothing urgent forbade it, I determined 
to return along the banks of the Rhine, to Strasburg, and thence 
strike off to Paris. I accordingly left Amsterdam on the 3oth of 
March, and proceeded by Utrecht, Nimeguen, Cleves, Duys- 
berg, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bonne, Coblentz, Nassau, Hocheim, 
Frankfort, and made an excursion to Hanau, thence to Ma- 
yence, and another excursion to Rudesheim, and Johansberg; 
then by Oppenheim, Worms, and Manheim, making an excur- 
sion to Heidelberg, then by Spire, Carlsruh, Rastadt and Kelh, 
to Strasburg, where I arrived April the i6th, and proceeded 
again on the i8th, by Phalsbourg, Fenestrange, Dieuze, Mo- 
yenvie, Nancy, Toul, Ligny, Bar-le-duc, St. Diziers, Vitry, 
Chalons sur Marne, Epernay, Chateau Thierri, Meaux, to Paris, 



JUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

Where I arrived on the 236 of April; and I had the satisfac- 
tion to reflect, that by this journey our credit was secured, 
the new government was placed at ease for two years to come, 
and that, as well as myself, relieved from the torment of inces- 
sant duns, whose just complaints could not be silenced by any 
means within our power. 

A Consular Convention had been agreed on in '84, between 
Dr. Franklin and the French government, containing several 
articles, so entirely inconsistent with the laws of the several 
States, and the general spirit of our citizens, that Congress 
withheld their ratification, and sent it back to me, with instruc- 
tions to get those articles expunged, or modified so as to render 
them compatible with our laws. The Minister unwillingly re- 
leased us from these concessions, which, indeed, authorized 
the exercise of powers very offensive in a free State. After much 
discussion, the Convention was reformed in a considerable 
degree, and was signed by the Count Montmorin and myself, on 
the 1 4th of November, '88; not, indeed, such as I would have 
wished, but such as could be obtained with good humor and 
friendship. 

On my return from Holland, I found Paris as I had left it, 
still in high fermentation. Had the Archbishop, on the close of 
the Assembly of Notables, immediately carried into opera- 
tion the measures contemplated, it was believed they would 
all have been registered by the Parliament; but he was slow, 
presented his edicts, one after another, and at considerable 
intervals, which gave time for the feelings excited by the pro- 
ceedings of the Notables to cool off, new claims to be advanced, 
and a pressure to arise for a fixed constitution, not subject to 
changes at the will of the King. Nor should we wonder at this 
pressure, when we consider the monstrous abuses of power 
under which this people were ground to powder; when we pass 
in review the weight of their taxes, and the inequality of their 
distribution; the oppressions of the tithes, the tailles, the 
corvees, the gabelles, the farms and the barriers; the shackles 
on commerce by monopolies; on industry by guilds and corpo- 

88 



THOMAS J8FF6RSON 

rations; on the freedom of conscience, of thought, and ol 
speech; on the freedom of the press by the Censure; and of the 
person by Lettres de Cachet; the cruelty of the Criminal code 
generally; the atrocities of the Rack; the venality of the 
Judges, and their partialities to the rich; the monopoly of 
Military honors by the Noblesse; the enormous expenses of the 
Queen, the Princes and the Court; the prodigalities of pensions; 
and the riches, luxury, indolence and immorality of the Clergy. 
Surely under such a mass of misrule and oppression, a people 
might justly press for a thorough reformation, and might even 
dismount their rough-shod riders, and leave them to walk on 
their own legs. The edicts, relative to the corvees and free circu- 
lation of grain, were first presented to the Parliament and regis- 
tered; but those for the impot territorial, and stamp tax, offered 
some time after, were refused by the Parliament, which proposed 
a call of the States General, as alone competent to their author- 
ization. Their refusal produced a Bed of justice, and their exile 
to Troyes. The Advocates, however, refusing to attend them, 
a suspension in the administration of justice took place. The 
Parliament held out for awhile, but the ennui of their exile and 
absence from Paris, began at length to be felt, and some dispo- 
sitions for compromise to appear. On their consent, therefore, 
to prolong some of the former taxes, they were recalled from 
exile, the King met them in session, November 19, '87, promised 
to call the States General in the year '92, and a majority ex- 
pressed their assent to register an edict for successive and 
annual loans from 1788 to '92; but a protest being entered by 
the Duke of Orleans, and this encouraging others in a disposi- 
tion to retract, the King ordered peremptorily the registry of 
the edict, and left the Assembly abruptly. The Parliament im- 
mediately protested, that the votes for the enregistry had not 
been legally taken, and that they gave no sanction to the loans 
proposed. This was enough to discredit and defeat them. Here- 
upon issued another edict, for the establishment of a cour 
pleniere, and the suspension of all the Parliaments in the king- 
dom. This being opposed, as might be expected, by reclama- 

89 



tAUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

tions from all the Parliaments and Provinces, the King gave 
way, and by an edict of July 5th, '88, renounced his cour 
pleniere, and promised the States General for the ist of May, 
of the ensuing year; and the Archbishop, finding the times 
beyond his faculties, accepted the promise of a Cardinal's hat, 
was removed [September '88 ] from the Ministry, and M. 
Necker was called to the department of finance. The innocent 
rejoicings of the people of Paris on this change provoked the 
interference of an officer of the city guards, whose order for 
their dispersion not being obeyed, he charged them with fixed 
bayonets, killed two or three, and wounded many. This dis- 
persed them for the moment, but they collected the next day 
in great numbers, burnt ten or twelve guard-houses, killed two 
or three of the guards, and lost six or eight more of their own 
number. The city was hereupon put under Martial law, and 
after awhile the tumult subsided. The effect of this change of 
ministers, and the promise of the States General at an early 
day, tranquillized the nation. But two great questions now oc- 
curred, i st. What proportion shall the number of deputies of 
the Tiers fitat bear to those of the Nobles and Clergy? Ano 
2d, shall they sit in the same or in distinct apartments? M. 
Necker, desirous of avoiding himself these knotty questions, 
proposed a second call of the same Notables, and that their 
advice should be asked on the subject. They met, November 9, 
'88; and, by five bureaux against one, they recommended the 
forms of the States General of 1614; wherein the Houses were 
separate, and voted by orders, not by persons. But the whole 
nation declaring at once against this, and that the Tiers Etat 
should be, in numbers, equal to both the other orders, and the 
Parliament deciding for the same proportion, it was determined 
so to be, by a declaration of December 27th, '88. A Report of 
M. Necker, to the King, of about the same date, contained 
other very important concessions, i. That the King could 
neither lay a new tax, nor prolong an old one. 2 . It expressed a 
readiness to agree on the periodical meeting of the States. 3. To 
consult on the necessary restriction on Lettres de Cachet; and 

90 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

4, How far the press might be made free. 5. It admits that the 
States are to appropriate the public money; and 6. That Minis- 
ters shall be responsible for public expenditures. And these 
concessions came from the very heart of the King. He had not 
a wish but for the good of the nation; and for that object, no 
personal sacrifice would ever have cost him a moment's regret; 
but his mind was weakness itself, his constitution timid, his 
judgment null, and without sufficient firmness even to stand 
by the faith of his word. His Queen, too, haughty and bearing 
no contradiction, had an absolute ascendency over him; and 
around her were rallied the King's brother d'Artois, the court 
generally, and the aristocratic part of his Ministers, particu- 
larly Breteuil, Broglio, Vauguyon, Foulon, Luzerne, men whose 
principles of government were those of the age of Louis XIV. 
Against this host, the good counsels of Necker, Montmorin, St. 
Priest, although in unison with the wishes of the King himself, 
were of little avail. The resolutions of the morning, formed 
under their advice, would be reversed in the evening, by the 
influence of the Queen and court. But the hand of heaven 
weighed heavily indeed on the machinations of this junto; 
producing collateral incidents, not arising out of the case, yet 
powerfully co-exciting the nation to force a regeneration of its 
government, and overwhelming with accumulated difficulties, 
this liberticide resistance. For, while laboring under the want of 
money for even ordinary purposes, in a government which 
required a million of livres a day, and driven to the last ditch 
by the universal call for liberty, there came on a winter of 
such severe cold, as was without example in the memory of 
man, or in the written records of history. The Mercury was at 
times 50 below the freezing point of Fahrenheit, and 22 
below that of Reaumur. All out-door labor was suspended, and 
the poor, without the wages of labor were, of course, without 
either bread or fuel. The government found its necessities 
aggravated by that of procuring immense quantities of fire- 
wood, and of keeping great fires at all the cross streets, around 
which the people gathered in crowds, to avoid perishing with 



OF 

cold. Bread, too, was to be bought, and distributed daily, 
gratis, until a relaxation of the season should enable the people 
to work; and the slender stock of bread stuff had for some time 
threatened famine, and had raised that article to an enormous 
price. So great, indeed, was the scarcity of bread, that, from the 
highest to the lowest citizen, the bakers were permitted to deal 
but a scanty allowance per head, even to those who paid for it; 
and, in cards of invitation to dine in the richest houses, the 
guest was notified to bring his own bread. To eke out the exis- 
tence of the people, every person who had the means, was 
called on for a weekly subscription, which the Cures collected, 
and employed in providing messes for the nourishment of the 
poor, and vied with each other in devising such economical 
compositions of food, as would subsist the greatest number 
with the smallest means. This want of bread had been foreseen 
for some time past, and M. de Montmorin had desired me to 
notify it in America, and that, in addition to the market price, 
a premium should be given on what should be brought from 
the United States. Notice was accordingly given, and produced 
considerable supplies. Subsequent information made the im- 
portations from America, during the months of March, April 
land May, into the Atlantic ports of France, amount to about 
twenty-one thousand barrels of flour, besides what went to 
other ports, and in other months; while our supplies to their 
West Indian islands relieved them also from that drain. This 
distress for bread continued till July. 

Hitherto no acts of popular violence had been produced by 
the struggle for political reformation. Little riots, on ordinary 
incidents, had taken place as at other times, in different parts 
of the kingdom, in which some lives, perhaps a dozen or 
twenty, had been lost; but in the month of April, a more seri- 
ous one occurred in Paris, unconnected, indeed, with the Revo- 
lutionary principle, but making part of the history of the day. 
The Fauxbourg St. Antoine is a quarter of the city inhabited 
entirely by the class of day laborers and journeymen in 
every line. A rumor was spread among them, that a great paper 

92 



THOMAS 

manufacturer, of the name of Reveillon, had proposed, on 
some occasion, that their wages should be lowered to fifteen 
sous a day. Inflamed at once into rage, and without inquiring 
into its truth, they flew to his house in vast numbers, destroyed 
everything in it, and in his magazines and work-shops, without 
secreting, however, a pin's worth to themselves, and were con- 
tinuing this work of devastation, when the regular troops were 
called in. Admonitions being disregarded, they were of neces- 
sity fired on, and a regular action ensued, in which about one 
hundred of them were killed, before the rest would disperse. 
There had rarely passed a year without such a riot, in some 
part or other of the Kingdom ; and this is distinguished only as 
contemporary with the Revolution, although not produced 
by it. 

The States General were opened on the 5th of May, '89, by 
speeches from the King, the Garde des Sceaux, Lamoignon, 
and M. Necker. The last was thought to trip too lightly over 
the constitutional reformations which were expected. His no- 
tices of them in this speech, were not as full as in his previous 
'Rapport au Roi.' This was observed, to his disadvantage; but 
much allowance should have been made for the situation in 
which he was placed, between his own counsels, and those of 
the ministers and party of the court. Overruled in his own 
opinions, compelled to deliver, and to gloss over those of his 
opponents, and even to keep their secrets, he could not come 
forward in his own attitude. 

The composition of the Assembly, although equivalent, on 
the whole, to what had been expected, was something different 
in its elements. It had been supposed, that a superior education 
would carry into the scale of the Commons a respectable por- 
tion of the Noblesse. It did so as to those of Paris, of its vicin- 
ity, and of the other considerable cities, whose greater inter- 
course with enlightened society had liberalized their minds, 
and prepared them to advance up to the measure of the times. 
But the Noblesse of the country, which constituted two-thirds 
of that body, were far in their rear. Residing constantly on 

93 



OF 

their patrimonial feuds, and familiarized, by daily habit, with 
Seigneurial powers and practices, they had not yet learned to 
suspect their inconsistence with reason and right. They were 
willing to submit to equality of taxation, but not to descend 
from their rank and prerogatives to be incorporated in session 
with the Tiers fitat. Among the Clergy, on the other hand, it 
had been apprehended that the higher orders of the Hierarchy, 
by their wealth and connections, would have carried the elec- 
tions generally; but it turned out, that in most cases, the lower 
clergy had obtained the popular majorities. These consisted of 
the Cur6s, sons of the peasantry, who had been employed to 
do all the drudgery of parochial services for ten, twenty, or 
thirty Louis ay ear; while their superiors were consuming their 
princely revenues in palaces of luxury and indolence. 

The objects for which this body was convened, being of the 
first order of importance, I felt it very interesting to understand 
the views of the parties of which it was composed, and espe- 
cially the ideas prevalent as to the organization contemplated 
for their government. I went, therefore, daily from Paris to 
Versailles, and attended their debates, generally till the hour of 
adjournment. Those of the Noblesse were impassioned and 
tempestuous. They had some able men on both sides, actuated 
by equal zeal. The debates of the Commons were temperate, 
rational, and inflexibly firm. As preliminary to all other busi- 
ness, the awful questions came on, shall the States sit in one, or 
in distinct apartments? And shall they vote by heads or 
houses? The opposition was soon found to consist of the Epis- 
copal order among the clergy, and two-thirds of the Noblesse; 
while the Tiers fitat were, to a man, united and determined. 
After various propositions of compromise had failed, the Com- 
mons undertook to cut the Gordian knot. The Abbe Sieyes, the 
most logical head of the nation, (author of the pamphlet 
"Qu'est ce que le Tiers fitat?" which had electrified that coun- 
try, as Paine's Common Sense did us,) after an impressive 
speech on the loth of June, moved that a last invitation should 
be sent to the Noblesse and Clergy, to attend in the hall of 

94 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

the States, collectively or individually, for the verification of 
powers, to which the Commons would proceed immediately, 
either in their presence or absence. This verification being fin- 
ished, a motion was made, on the i5th, that they snould con- 
stitute themselves a National Assembly; which was decided on 
the iyth, by a majority of four-fifths. During the debates on 
this question, about twenty of the Cures had joined them, and 
a proposition was made, in the chamber of the Clergy, that 
their whole body should join. This was rejected, at first, by a 
small majority only; but, being afterwards somewhat modi- 
fied, it was decided affirmatively, by a majority of eleven. 
While this was under debate, and unknown to the court, to 
wit, on the igth, a council was held in the afternoon, at Marly, 
wherein it was proposed that the King should interpose, by a 
declaration of his sentiments, in a seance royale. A form of 
declaration was proposed by Necker, which, while it censured, 
in general, the proceedings, both of the Nobles and Commons, 
announced the King's views, such as substantially to coincide 
with the Commons. It was agreed to in Council, the seance 
was fixed for the 22d, the meetings of the States were till then 
to be suspended, and everything, in the meantime, kept secret. 
The members, the next morning (the 2Oth) repairing to their 
house, as usual, found the doors shut and guarded, a proclama- 
tion posted up for a seance royale on the 22d, and a suspen- 
sion of their meetings in the meantime. Concluding that their 
dissolution was now to take place, they repaired to a building 
called the "Jeu de paume" (or Tennis court) and there bound 
themselves by oath to each other, never to separate, of their 
own accord, till they had settled a constitution for the nation, 
on a solid basis, and, if separated by force, that they would re- 
assemble in some other place. The next day they met in the 
church of St. Louis, and were joined by a majority of the 
clergy. The heads of the Aristocracy saw that all was lost with- 
out some bold exertion. The King was still at Marly. Nobody 
was permitted to approach him but their friends. He was as- 
sailed by falsehoods in all shapes. He was made to believe that 

95 



OF 

the Commons were about to absolve the army from their oath 
of fidelity to him, and to raise their pay. The court party were 
now all rage and desperation. They procured a committee to 
be held, consisting of the King and his Ministers, to which 
Monsieur and the Count d'Artois should be admitted. At this 
committee, the latter attacked M. Necker personally, ar- 
raigned his declaration, and proposed one which some of his 
prompters had put into his hands. M. Necker was brow-beaten 
and intimidated, and the King shaken. He determined that the 
two plans should be deliberated on the next day, and the seance 
royale put off a day longer. This encouraged a fiercer attack 
on M. Necker the next day. His draught of a declaration was 
entirely broken up, and that of the Count d'Artois inserted 
into it. Himself and Montmorin offered their resignation, which 
was refused; the Count d'Artois saying to M. Necker, "No, 
sir, you must be kept as the hostage; we hold you responsible 
for all the ill which shall happen. " This change of plan was 
immediately whispered without doors. The Noblesse were in 
triumph; the people in consternation. I was quite alarmed at 
this state of things. The soldiery had not yet indicated which 
side they should take, and that which they should support 
would be sure to prevail. I considered a successful reforma- 
tion of government in France, as insuring a general refor- 
mation through Europe, and the resurrection, to a new life, 
of their people, now ground to dust by the abuses of the 
governing powers. I was much acquainted with the leading 
patriots of the Assembly. Being from a country which had suc- 
cessfully passed through a similar reformation, they were dis- 
posed to my acquaintance, and had some confidence in me. I 
urged, most strenuously, an immediate compromise; to secure 
what the government was now ready to yield, and trust to fu- 
ture occasions for what might still be wanting. It was well un- 
derstood that the King would grant, at this time, i. Freedom 
of the person by Habeas corpus: 2. Freedom of conscience: 
3. Freedom of the press: 4. Trial by jury: 5. A representative 
Legislature: 6. Annual meetings: 7. The origination of laws: 

96 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

8. The exclusive right of taxation and appropriation: and 9. 
The responsibility of Ministers; and with the exercise of these 
powers they could obtain, in future, whatever might be further 
necessary to improve and preserve their constitution. They 
thought otherwise, however, and events have proved their la- 
mentable error. For, after thirty years of war, foreign and 
domestic, the loss of millions of lives, the prostration of private 
happiness, and the foreign subjugation of their own country 
for a time, they have obtained no more, nor even that securely. 
They were unconscious of (for who could foresee?) the melan- 
choly sequel of their well-meant perseverance; that their physi- 
cal force would be usurped by a first tyrant to trample on the 
independence, and even the existence, of other nations: that 
this would afford a fatal example for the atrocious conspiracy 
of Kings against their people; would generate their unholy 
and homicide alliance to make common cause among them- 
selves, and to crush, by the power of the whole, the efforts of 
any part to moderate their abuses and oppressions. 

When the King passed, the next day, through the lane 
formed from the Chateau to the "Hotel des Etats," there was 
a dead silence. He was about an hour in the House, delivering 
his speech and declaration. On his coming out, a feeble cry of 
"vive le Roi" was raised by some children, but the people re- 
mained silent and sullen. In the close of his speech, he had 
ordered that the members should follow him, and resume their 
deliberations the next day. The Noblesse followed him, and so 
did the Clergy, except about thirty, who, with the Tiers, re- 
mained in the room, and entered into deliberation. They pro- 
tested against what the King had done, adhered to all their 
former proceedings, and resolved the inviolability of their own 
persons. An officer came, to order them out of the room in the 
King's name. "Tell those who sent you/' said Mirabeau, "that 
we shall not move hence but at our own will, or the point of 
the bayonet." In the afternoon, the people, uneasy, began to 
assemble in great numbers in the courts, and vicinities of the 
palace. This produced alarm. The Queen sent for M. Necker. 

97 



OF 

He was conducted, amidst the shouts and acclamations of the 
multitude, who filled all the apartments of the palace. He was 
a few minutes only with the Queen, and what passed between 
them did not transpire. The King went out to ride. He passed 
through the crowd to his carriage, and into it, without being 
in the least noticed. As M. Necker followed him, universal ac- 
clamations were raised of "vive Monsieur Necker, vive le 
sauveur de la France opprimee." He was conducted back to 
his house with the same demonstrations of affection and anx- 
iety. About two hundred deputies of the Tiers, catching the 
enthusiasm of the moment, went to his house, and extorted 
from him a promise that he would not resign. On the 25th, 
forty-eight of the Nobles joined the Tiers, and among them 
the Duke of Orleans. There were then with them one hundred 
and sixty-four members of the Clergy, although the minority 
of that body still sat apart, and called themselves the Cham- 
ber of the Clergy. On the 26th, the Archbishop of Paris joined 
the Tiers, as did some others of the Clergy and of the No- 
blesse. 

These proceedings had thrown the people into violent fer- 
ment. It gained the soldiery, first of the French guards, extended 
to those of every other denomination, except the Swiss, and even 
to the body guards of the King. They began to quit their bar- 
racks, to assemble in squads, to declare they would defend 
the life of the King, but would not be the murderers of their 
fellow-citizens. They called themselves the soldiers oj the na- 
tion, and left now no doubt on which side they would be, in 
case of rupture. Similar accounts came in from the troops in 
other parts of the kingdom, giving good reason to believe they 
would side with their fathers and brothers, rather than with 
their officers. The operation of this medicine at Versailles was 
as sudden as it was powerful. The alarm there was so complete, 
that in the afternoon of the 27th, the King wrote, with his 
own hand, letters to the Presidents of the Clergy and Nobles, 
engaging them immediately to join the Tiers. These two bodies 
were debating, and hesitating, when notes from the Count 

98 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

d'Artois decided their compliance. They went in a body, and 
took their seats with the Tiers, and thus rendered the union of 
the orders in one chamber complete. 

The Assembly now entered on the business of their mission, 
and first proceeded to arrange the order in which they would 
take up the heads of their constitution, as follows: 

First, and as Preliminary to the whole, a general Declara- 
tion of the Rights of Man. Then, specifically, the Principles of 
the Monarchy; Rights of the Nation; Rights of the King; 
Rights of the Citizens; Organization and Rights of the Na- 
tional Assembly; Forms necessary for the enactment of Laws; 
Organization and Functions of the Provincial and Municipal 
Assemblies; Duties and Limits of the Judiciary power; Func- 
tions and Duties of the Military power. 

A Declaration of the Rights of Man, as the preliminary of 
their work, was accordingly prepared and proposed by the 
Marquis de La Fayette. 

But the quiet of their march was soon disturbed by infor- 
mation that troops, and particularly the foreign troops, were 
advancing on Paris from various quarters. The King had prob- 
ably been advised to this, on the pretext of preserving peace 
in Paris. But his advisers were believed to have other things in 
contemplation. The Marshal de Broglio was appointed to their 
command, a high-flying aristocrat, cool and capable of every- 
thing. Some of the French guards were soon arrested, under 
other pretexts, but really, on account of their dispositions in 
favor of the National cause. The people of Paris forced their 
prison, liberated them, and sent a deputation to the Assembly 
to solicit a pardon. The Assembly recommended peace and 
order to the people of Paris, the prisoners to the King, and 
asked from him the removal of the troops. His answer was 
negative and dry, saying they might remove themselves, if 
they pleased, to Noyons or Soissons. In the meantime, these 
troops, to the number of twenty or thirty thousand, had ar- 
rived, and were posted in, and between Paris and Versailles. 
The bridges and passes were guarded. At three o'clock in the 

99 



^fUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

afternoon of the nth of July, the Count de La Luzerne was 
sent to notify M. Necker of his dismission, and to enjoin him 
to retire instantly, without saying a word of it to anybody. 
He went home, dined, and proposed to his wife a visit to a 
friend, but went in fact to his country house at St. Ouen, and 
at midnight set out for Brussels. This was not known till the 
next day (the i2th,) when the whole Ministry was changed, 
except Villedeuil, of the domestic department, and Barenton 
Garde des Sceaux. The changes were as follows: 

The Baron de Breteuil, President of the Council of Finance; 
de la Galaisiere, Comptroller General, in the room of M. 
Necker; the Marshal de Broglio, Minister of War, and Foulon 
under him, in the room of Puy-Segur; the Duke de la Vau- 
guyon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, instead of the Count de 
Montmorin; de La Porte, Minister of Marine, in place of the 
Count de La Luzerne; St. Priest was also removed from the 
Council. Luzerne and Puy-Segur had been strongly of the Aris- 
tocratic party in the Council, but they were not considered 
equal to the work now to be done. The King was now com- 
pletely in the hands of men, the principal among whom had 
been noted, through their lives, for the Turkish despotism of 
their characters, and who were associated around the King, as 
proper instruments for what was to be executed. The .news of 
this change began to be known at Paris, about one or two 
o'clock. In the afternoon, a body of about one hundred Ger- 
man cavalry were advanced, and drawn up in the Place Louis 
XV., and about two hundred Swiss posted at a little distance 
in their rear. This drew people to the spot, who thus acci 
dentally found themselves in front of the troops, merely a' 
first as spectators; but, as their numbers increased, their in- 
dignation rose. They retired a few steps, and posted themselves 
on and behind large piles of stones, large and small, collected 
in that place for a bridge, which was to be built adjacent to it. 
In this position, happening to be in my carriage on a visit, I 
passed through the lane they had formed, without interruption. 
But the moment after I had passed, the people attacked the 

100 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

cavalry with stones. They charged, but the advantageous posi- 
tion of the people, and the showers of stones, obliged the horse 
to retire, and quit the field altogether, leaving one of their 
number on the ground, and the Swiss in the rear not moving 
to their aid. This was the signal for universal insurrection, 
and this body of cavalry, to avoid being massacred, retired 
towards Versailles. The people now armed themselves with 
such weapons as they could find in armorer's shops, and private 
houses, and with bludgeons; and were roaming all night, 
through all parts of the city, without any decided object. The 
next day (the i3th,) the Assembly pressed on the King to 
send away the troops, to permit the Bourgeoisie of Paris to 
arm for the preservation of order in the city, and offered to 
send a deputation from their body to tranquillize them; but 
their propositions were refused. A committee of magistrates and 
electors of the city were appointed by those bodies, to take 
upon them its government. The people, now openly joined by 
the French guards, forced the prison of St. Lazare, released all 
the prisoners, and took a great store of corn, which they car- 
ried to the corn-market. Here they got some arms, and the 
French guards began to form and train them. The city-com- 
mittee determined to raise forty-eight thousand Bourgeoise, 
or rather to restrain their numbers to forty-eight thousand. On 
the 1 4th, they sent one of their members (Monsieur de Corny) 
to the Hotel des Invalides, to ask arms for their Garde Bour- 
geoise. He was followed by, and he found there, a great collec- 
tion of people. The Governor of the Invalids came out, and 
represented the impossibility of his delivering arms, without 
the orders of those from whom he received them. De Corny 
advised the people then to retire, and retired himself; but the 
people took possession of the arms. It was remarkable, that not 
only the Invalids themselves made no opposition, but that a 
body of five thousand foreign troops, within four hundred 
yards, never stirred. M. de Corny, and five others, were then 
sent to ask arms of M. de Launay, Governor of the Bastile. 
They found a great collection of people already before the 

101 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

place, and they immediately planted a flag of truce, which was 
answered by a like flag hoisted on the parapet. The deputation 
prevailed on the people to fall back a little, advanced them- 
selves to make their demand of the Governor, and in that in- 
stant, a discharge from the Bastile killed four persons of those 
nearest to the deputies. The deputies retired. I happened to 
be at the house of M. de Corny, when he returned to it, and 
received from him a narrative of these transactions. On the 
retirement of the deputies, the people rushed forward, and 
almost in an instant, were in possession of a fortification of 
infinite strength, defended by one hundred men, which in other 
times had stood several regular sieges, and had never been 
taken. How they forced their entrance has never been ex- 
plained. They took all the arms, discharged the prisoners, and 
such of the garrison as were not killed in the first moment of 
fury; carried the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to the 
Place de Greve, (the place of public execution,) cut off their 
heads, and sent them through the city, in triumph, to the 
Palais royal. About the same instant, a treacherous corre- 
spondence having been discovered in M. de Flesselles, Prevot 
des Marchands, they seized him in the Hotel de Ville, where 
he was in the execution of his office, and cut off his head. These 
events, carried imperfectly to Versailles, were the subject of 
two successive deputations from the Assembly to the King, to 
both of which he gave dry and hard answers; for nobody had 
AS yet been permitted to inform him, truly and fully, of what 
had passed at Paris. But at night, the Duke de Liancourt 
forced his way into the King's bed chamber, and obliged him 
to hear a full and animated detail of the disasters of the day 
in Paris. He went to bed fearfully impressed. The decapitation 
of de Launay worked powerfully through the night on the 
whole Aristocratic party; insomuch, that in the morning, those 
of the greatest influence on the Count d'Artois, represented to 
him the absolute necessity that the King should give up every- 
thing to the Assembly. This according with the dispositions of 
the King, he went about eleven o'clock, accompanied only by 

T02 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

his brothers, to the Assembly, and there read to them a speech, 
in which he asked their interposition to re-establish order. Al- 
though couched in terms of some caution, yet the manner in 
which it was delivered, made it evident that it was meant as 
a surrender at discretion. He returned to the Chateau on foot, 
accompanied by the Assembly. They sent off a deputation to 
quiet Paris, at the head of which was the Marquis de La Fa- 
yette, who had, the same morning, been named Commandant 
en chef of the Milice Bourgeoise; and Monsieur Bailly, former 
President of the States General, was called for as Prevot des 
Marchands. The demolition of the Bastile was now ordered 
and begun. A body of the Swiss guards, of the regiment of 
Ventimille, and the city horse guards joined the people. The 
alarm at Versailles increased. The foreign troops were ordered 
off instantly. Every Minister resigned. The King confirmed 
Bailly as Prevot des Marchands, wrote to M. Necker, to re- 
call him, sent his letter open to the Assembly, to be forwarded 
by them, and invited them to go with him to Paris the next 
day, to satisfy the city of his dispositions; and that night, and 
the next morning, the Count d'Artois, and M. de Montesson, 
a deputy connected with him, Madame de Polignac, Madame 
de Quiche, and the Count de Vaudreuil, favorites of the Queen, 
the Abbe de Vermont her confessor, the Prince of Conde, and 
Duke of Bourbon fled. The King came to Paris, leaving the 
Queen in consternation for his return. Omitting the less im- 
portant figures of the procession, the King's carriage was in the 
centre; on each side of it, the Assembly, in two ranks a 
foot; at their head the Marquis de La Fayette, as Commander- 
in-chief, on horseback, and Bourgeois guards before and be- 
hind. About sixty thousand citizens, of all forms and condi- 
tions, armed with the conquest of the Bastile and Invalids, as 
far as they would go, the rest with pistols, swords, pikes, prun- 
ing-hooks, scythes, &c., lined all the streets through which the 
procession passed, and with the crowds of people in the streets, 
doors, and windows, saluted them everywhere with the cries of 
"vive la nation," but not a single "vive le Roi" was heard. 

103 



OF 

The King stopped at the Hotel de Ville. There M. Bailly pre- 
sented, and put into his hat, the popular cockade, and ad- 
dressed him. The King being unprepared, and unable to an- 
swer, Bailly went to him, gathered from him some scraps of 
sentences, and made out an answer, which he delivered to the 
audience, as from the King. On their return, the popular cries 
were "vive le Roi et la nation.' He was conducted by a garde 
Bourgeoise to his palace at Versailles, and thus concluded an 
"amende honorable/ 5 as no sovereign ever made, and no people 
ever received. 

And here, again, was lost another precious occasion of spar- 
ing to France the crimes and cruelties through which she has 
since passed, and to Europe, and finally America, the evils 
which flowed on them also from this mortal source. The King 
was now become a passive machine in the hands of the Na- 
tional Assembly, and had he been left to himself, he would 
have willingly acquiesced in whatever they should devise as 
best for the nation. A wise constitution would have been 
tormed, hereditary in his line, himself placed at its head / with 
powers so large as to enable him to do all the good of his sta- 
tion, and so limited, as to restrain him from its abuse. This he 
would have faithfully administered, and more than this, I do 
not believe, he ever wished. But he had a Queen of absolute 
sway over his weak mind and timid virtue, and of a character 
the reverse of his in all points. This angel, as gaudily painted 
in the rhapsodies of Burke, with some smartness of fancy, but 
no sound sense, was proud, disdainful of restraint, indignant 
at all obstacles to her will, eager in the pursuit of pleasure, 
and firm enough to hold to her desires, or perish in their wreck. 
Her inordinate gambling and dissipations, with those of the 
Count d'Artois, and others of her clique, had been a sensible 
item in the exhaustion of the treasury, which called into action 
the reforming hand of the nation; and her opposition to it, her 
inflexible perverseness, and dauntless spirit, led herself to the 
Guillotine, drew the King on with her, and plunged the world 
into crimes and calamities which will forever stain the pages of. 

104 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

modern history. I have ever believed, that had there been no 
Queen, there would have been no revolution. No force would 
have been provoked, nor exercised. The King would have gone 
hand in hand with the wisdom of his sounder counsellors, who, 
guided by the increased lights of the age, wished only, with the 
same pace, to advance the principles of their social constitu- 
tion. The deed which closed the mortal course of these sov- 
ereigns, I shall neither approve nor condemn. I am not pre- 
pared to say, that the first magistrate of a nation cannot 
commit treason against his country, or is unamenable to its 
punishment; nor yet, that where there is no written law, no 
regulated tribunal, there is not a law in our hearts, and a 
power in our hands, given for righteous employment in main- 
taining right, and redressing wrong. Of those who judged the 
King, many thought him wilfully criminal; many, that his 
existence would keep the nation in perpetual conflict with the 
horde of Kings who would war against a generation which 
might come home to themselves, and that it were better that 
one should die than all. I should not have voted with this poi v 
tion of the legislature. I should have shut up the Queen in a 
convent, putting harm out of her power and placed the King 
in his station, investing him with limited powers, which, I ver- 
ily believe, he would have honestly exercised, according to 
the measure of his understanding. In this way, no void would 
have been created, courting the usurpation of a military ad- 
venturer, nor occasion given for those enormities which de- 
moralized the nations of the world, and destroyed, and is yet 
to destroy, millions and millions of its inhabitants. There are 
three epochs in history, signalized by the total extinction of 
national morality. The first was of the successors of Alexander, 
not omitting himself: The next, the successors of the first 
Caesar: The third, our own age. This was begun by the parti- 
tion of Poland, followed by that of the treaty of Pilnitz; next 
the conflagration of Copenhagen; then the enormities of Bona- 
parte, partitioning the earth at his will, and devastating it 
with fire and sword; now the conspiracy of Kings, the suo 

105 



OF 

cessors of Bonaparte, blasphemously calling themselves the 
Holy Alliance, and treading in the footsteps of their incarcer- 
ated leader; not yet, indeed, usurping the government of other 
nations, avowedly and in detail, but controlling by their armies 
the forms in which they will permit them to be governed; and 
reserving, in peito, the order and extent of the usurpations 
further meditated. But I will return from a digression, antici- 
pated, too, in time, into which I have been led by reflection 
on the criminal passions which refused to the world a favor- 
able occasion of saving it from the afflictions it has since suf- 
fered. 

M. Necker had reached Basle before he was overtaken by 
the letter of the King, inviting him back to resume the office 
he had recently left. He returned immediately, and all the 
other Ministers having resigned, a new administration was 
named, to wit: St. Priest and Montmorin were restored; the 
Archbishop of Bordeaux was appointed Garde des Sceaux, La 
Tour du Pin, Minister of War; La Luzerne, Minister of Ma- 
rine. This last was believed to have been effected by the friend- 
ship of Montmorin; for although differing in politics, they con- 
tinued firm in friendship, and Luzerne, although not an able 
man, was thought an honest one. And the Prince of Bauvau 
was taken into the Council. 

Seven Princes of the blood Royal, six ex-Ministers, and many 
of the high Noblesse, having fled, and tne present Ministers, 
except Luzerne, being all of the popular party, all the func- 
tionaries of government moved, for the present, in perfect har- 
mony. 

In the evening of August the 4th, and on the motion of the 
Viscount de Noailles, brother in law of La Fayette, the As- 
sembly abolished all titles of rank, all the abusive privileges of 
feudalism, the tithes and casuals of the Clergy, all Provincial 
privileges, and, in fine, the Feudal regimen generally. To the 
suppression cf tithes, the Abbe Sieyes was vehemently op- 
posed; but his learned and logical arguments were unheeded, 
and his estimation lessened by a contrast of his egoism (for 

106 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

he was beneficed on them), with the generous abandonment 
of rights by the other members of the Assembly. Many days 
were employed in putting into the form of laws, the numerous 
demolitions of ancient abuses; which done, they proceeded to 
the preliminary work of a Declaration of Rights. There being 
much concord of sentiment on the elements of this instrument, 
it was liberally framed, and passed with a very general appro- 
bation. They then appointed a Committee for the "reduction 
of a projet" of a constitution, at the head of which was the 
Archbishop of Bordeaux. I received from him, as chairman of 
the Committee, a letter of July 2oth, requesting me to attend 
and assist at their deliberations; but I excused myself, on the 
obvious considerations, that my mission was to the King as 
Chief Magistrate of the nation, that my duties were limited to 
the concerns of my own country, and forbade me to inter- 
meddle with the internal transactions of that, in which I had 
been received under a specific character only. Their plan of a 
constitution was discussed in sections, and so reported from 
time to time, as agreed to by the Committee. The first re- 
spected the general frame of the government; and that this 
should be formed into three departments, Executive, Legisla- 
tive and Judiciary, was generally agreed. But when they pro- 
ceeded to subordinate developments, many and various shades 
of opinion came into conflict, and schism, strongly marked, 
broke the Patriots into fragments of very discordant principles. 
The first question, Whether there should be a King? met with 
no open opposition; and it was readily agreed, that the gov- 
ernment of France should be monarchical and hereditary. Shall 
the King have a negative on the laws? shall that negative be 
absolute, or suspensive only? Shall there be two Chambers of 
Legislation, or one only? If two, shall one of them be heredi- 
tary? or for life? or for a fixed term? and named by the King? 
or elected by the people? These questions found strong dif- 
ferences of opinion, and produced repulsive combinations 
among the Patriots. The Aristocracy was cemented by a com- 
mon principle, of preserving the ancient regime, or whatever 

107 



tAUTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

should be nearest to it. Making this their polar star, they 
moved in phalanx, gave preponderance on every question to 
the minorities of the Patriots, and always to those who advo- 
cated the least change. The features of the new constitution 
were thus assuming a fearful aspect, and great alarm was pro- 
duced among the honest Patriots by these dissensions in their 
ranks. In this uneasy state of things, I received one day a 
note from the Marquis de La Fayette, informing me that he 
should bring a party of six or eight friends to ask a dinner of 
me the next day. I assured him of their welcome. When they 
arrived, they were La Fayette himself, Duport, Barnave, Alex- 
ander la Meth, Blacon, Mounier, Maubourg, and Dagout. 
These were leading Patriots, of honest but differing opinions, 
sensible of the necessity of effecting a coalition by mutual 
Sacrifices, knowing each other, and not afraid, therefore, to 
unbosom themselves mutually. This last was a material prin- 
ciple in the selection. With this view, the Marquis had invited 
the conference, and had fixed the time and place inadvertently, 
as to the embarrassment under which it might place me. The 
cloth being removed, and wine set on the table, after the Ameri- 
can manner, the Marquis introduced the objects of the confer- 
ence, by summarily reminding them of the state of things in 
the Assembly, the course which the principles of the Constitu- 
tion were taking, and the inevitable result, unless checked by 
more concord among the Patriots themselves. He observed, 
that although he also had his opinion, he was ready to sacri- 
fice it to that of his brethren of the same cause; but that a 
common opinion must now be formed, or the Aristocracy would 
carry everything, and that, whatever they should now agree on, 
he, at the head of the National force, would maintain. The 
discussions began at the hour of four, and were continued till 
ten o'clock in the evening; during which time, I was a silent 
witness to a coolness and candor of argument, unusual in the 
conflicts of political opinion; to a logical reasoning, and chaste 
eloquence, disfigured by no gaudy tinsel of rhetoric or declama- 
tion, and truly worthy of being placed in parallel with the fin- 

108 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

est dialogues of antiquity, as handed to us by Xenophon, by 
Plato and Cicero. The result was, that the King should have 
a suspensive veto on the laws, that the legislature should be 
composed of a single body only, and that to be chosen by the 
people. This Concordate decided the fate of the constitution. 
The Patriots all rallied to the principles thus settled, carried 
every question agreeably to them, and reduced the Aristocracy 
to insignificance and impotence. But duties of exculpation were 
now incumbent on me. I waited on Count Montmorin the next 
morning, and explained to him, with truth and candor, how it 
had happened that my house had been made the scene of con- 
ferences of such a character. He told me, he already knew 
everything which had passed, that so far from taking umbrage 
at the use made of my house on that occasion, he earnestly 
wished I would habitually assist at such conferences, being 
sure I should be useful in moderating the warmer spirits, and 
promoting a wholesome and practicable reformation only. I 
told him, I knew too well the duties I owed to the King, to the 
nation, and to my own country, to take any part in councils 
concerning their internal government, and that I should per- 
severe, with care, in the character of a neutral and passive 
spectator, with wishes only, and very sincere ones, that those 
measures might prevail which would be for the greatest good 
of the nation. I have no doubts, indeed, that this conference 
was previously known and approved by this honest Minister, 
who was in confidence and communication with the Patriots, 
and wished for a reasonable reform of the Constitution. 

Here I discontinue my relation of the French Revolution. 
The minuteness with which I have so far given its details, is 
disproportioned to the general scale of my narrative. But I 
have thought it justified by the interest which the whole world 
must take in this Revolution. As yet, we are but in the first 
chapter of its history. The appeal to the rights of man, which 
had been made in the United States, was taken up by France, 
first of the European nations. From her, the spirit has spread 
over those of the South. The tyrants of the North have allied 

109 



JlUrOBIOGRAPHT OF 

indeed against it; but it is irresistible. Their opposition will 
only multiply its millions of human victims; their own satel- 
lites will catch it, and the condition of man through the civil- 
ized world, will be finally and greatly ameliorated. This is a 
wonderful instance of great events from small causes. So in- 
scrutable is the arrangement of causes and consequences in this 
world, that a two-penny duty on tea, unjustly imposed in a 
sequestered part of it, changes the condition of all its in- 
habitants. I have been more minute in relating the early trans- 
actions of this regeneration, because I was in circumstances 
peculiarly favorable for a knowledge of the truth. Possessing 
the confidence and intimacy of the leading Patriots, and more 
than all, of the Marquis Fayette, their head and Atlas, who had 
no secrets from me, I learned with correctness the views and 
proceedings of that party; while my intercourse with the diplo- 
matic missionaries of Europe at Paris, all of them with the 
court, and eager in prying into its councils and proceedings, 
gave me a knowledge of these also. My information was al- 
ways, and immediately committed to writing, in letters to Mr. 
Jay, and often to my friends, and a recurrence to these letters 
now insures me against errors of memory. 

These opportunities of information ceased at this period, 
with my retirement from this interesting scene of action. I had 
been more than a year soliciting leave to go home, with a view 
to place my daughters in the society and care of their friends, 
and to return for a short time to my station at Paris. But the 
metamorphosis through which our government was then pass- 
ing from its Chrysalid to its Organic form suspended its action 
in a great degree; and it was not till the last of August, that I 
received the permission I had asked. And here, I cannot leave 
this great and good country, without expressing my sense of 
its pre-eminence of character among the nations of the earth. 
A more benevolent people I have never known, nor greater 
warmth and devotedness in their select friendships. Their kind- 
ness and accommodation to strangers is unparalleled, and the 
hospitality of Paris is beyond anything I had conceived to 

no 



THOMAS 

be practicable in a large city. Their eminence, too, in science, 
the communicative dispositions of their scientific men, the 
politeness of the general manners, the ease and vivacity of their 
conversation, give a charm to their society, to be found no- 
where else. In a comparison of this, with other countries, we 
have the proof of primacy, which was given to Themistocles, 
after the battle of Salamis. Every general voted to himself the 
first reward of valor, and the second to Themistocles. So, ask 
the travelled inhabitant of any nation, in what country on 
earth would you rather live? Certainly, in my own, where 
are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest and sweetest 
affections and recollections of my life. Which would be your 
second choice? France. 

On the 26th of September I lefc Paris for Havre, where I was 
detained by contrary winds until the 8th of October. On that 
day, and the 9th, I crossed over to Cowes, where I had engaged 
the Clermont, Capt. Colley, to touch for me. She did so; but 
here again we were detained by contrary winds, until the 2 ad, 
wnen we embarked, and landed at Norfolk on the 23d of No- 
vember. On my way home, I passed some days at Eppington, 
in Chesterfield, the residence of my friend and connection, 
Mr. Eppes; and, while there, I received a letter from the 
President, General Washington, by express, covering an ap- 
pointment to be Secretary of State. I received it with real re- 
gret. My wish had been to return to Paris, where I had left 
my household establishment, as if there myself, and to see the 
end of the Revolution, which I then thought would be cer- 
tainly and happily closed in less than a year. I then meant to 
return home, to withdraw from political life, into which I had 
been impressed by the circumstances of the times, to sink into 
the bosom of my family and friends, and devote myself to 
studies more congenial to my mind. In my answer of Decem- 
ber 1 5th, I expressed these dispositions candidly to the Presi- 
dent, and my preference of a return to Paris; but assured 
him, that if it was believed I could be more useful in the ad- 
ministration of the government, I would sacrifice my own in- 

JTI 



^UTOBIOGRAPHT OF 

clinations without hesitation, and repair to that destination; 
this I left to his decision. I arrived at Monticello on the 23d 
of December, where I received a second letter from the Presi- 
dent, expressing his continued wish that I should take my sta- 
tion there, but leaving me still at liberty to continue in my 
former office, if I could not reconcile myself to that now pro- 
posed. This silenced my reluctance, and I accepted the new 
appointment. 

In the interval of my stay at home, my eldest daughter had 
been happily married to the eldest son of the Tuckahoe branch 
of Randolphs, a young gentleman of genius, science, and hon- 
orable mind, who afterwards filled a dignified station in the 
General Government, and the most dignified in his own State. 
I left Monticello on the first of March, 1790, for New York. 
At Philadelphia I called on the venerable and beloved Frank- 
lin. He was then on the bed of sickness from which he never 
rose. My recent return from a country in which he had left so 
many friends, and the perilous convulsions to which they had 
been exposed, revived all his anxieties to know what part they 
had taken, what had been their course, and what their fate. He 
went over all in succession, with a rapidity and animation al- 
most too much for his strength. When all his inquiries were 
satisfied, and a pause took place, I told him I had learned with 
much pleasure that, since his return to America, he had been 
occupied in preparing for the world the history of his own life. 
I cannot say much of that, said he; but I will give you a sam- 
ple of what I shall leave; and he directed his little grandson 
(William Bache) who was standing by the bedside, to hand 
him a paper from the table, to which he pointed. He did so; 
and the Doctor putting it into my hands, desired me to take 
it and read it at my leisure. It was about a quire of folio 
paper, written in a large and running hand, very like his own. 
I looked into it slightly, then shut it, and said I would accept 
his permission to read it, and would carefully return it. He 
aid. "no, keep it." Not certain of his meaning, I again looked 
into it, folded it for my pocket, and said again, I would certainly 

112 



THOMAS 

return it. "No/' said he, "keep it." I put it into my pocket, 
and shortly after took leave of him. He died on the iyth of the 
ensuing month of April; and as I understood that he had be- 
queathed all his papers to his grandson, William Temple Frank- 
lin, I immediately wrote to Mr. Franklin, to inform him I 
possessed this paper, which I should consider as his property, 
and would deliver to his order. He came on immediately to 
New York, called on me for it, and I delivered it to him. As 
he put it into his pocket, he said carelessly, he had either the 
original, or another copy of it, I do not recollect which. This 
last expression struck my attention forcibly, and for the first 
time suggested to me the thought that Dr. Franklin had meant 
it as a confidential deposit in my hands, and that I had done 
wrong in parting from it. I have not yet seen the collection he 
published of Dr. Franklin's works, and, therefore, know not if 
this is among them. I have been told it is not. It contained a 
narrative of the negotiations between Dr. Franklin and the 
British Ministry, when he was endeavoring to prevent the con- 
test of arms which followed. The negotiation was brought about 
by the intervention of Lord Howe and his sister, who, I be- 
lieve, was called Lady Howe, but I may misremember her 
title. Lord Howe seems to have been friendly to America, and 
exceedingly anxious to prevent a rupture. His intimacy with 
Dr. Franklin, and his position with the Ministry, induced him 
to undertake a mediation between them; in which his sister 
seemed to have been associated. They carried from one to the 
other, backwards and forwards, the several propositions and 
answers which passed, and seconded with their own interces- 
sions, the importance of mutual sacrifices, to preserve the peace 
and connection of the two countries. I remember that Lord 
North's answers were dry, unyielding, in the spirit of uncondi- 
tional submission, and betrayed an absolute indifference to the 
occurrence of a rupture; and he said to the mediators dis- 
tinctly, at last, that "a rebellion was not to be deprecated on 
the part of Great Britain; that the confiscations it would pro- 
duce would provide for many of their friends." This expression 



dUTOBIOGRAPHT 

was reported by the mediators to Dr. Franklin, and indicated 
so cool and calculated a purpose in the Ministry, as to render 
compromise hopeless, and the negotiation was discontinued. 
If this is not among the papers published, we ask, what has 
become of it? I delivered it with my own hands, into those of 
Temple Franklin. It certainly established views so atrocious 
in the British government, that its suppression would, to them, 
be worth a great price. But could the grandson of Dr. Frank- 
lin be, in such degree, an accomplice in the parricide of the 
memory of his immortal grandfather? The suspension for more 
than twenty years of the general publication, bequeathed and 
confided to him, produced, for awhile, hard suspicions against 
him; and if, at last, all are not published, a part of these sus- 
picions may remain with some. 

I arrived at New York on the 2ist of March, where Con- 
gress was in session. 



114 



THE 



INTRODUCTION 



JEFFERSON'S Anas, or Notes, amounts virtually to a contin- 
uation of the Autobiography from his second year as Secretary 
of State until his last year as President, 1791-1809. During 
these stormy years, which saw the growth and eventual decline 
of the Federalist Party, Jefferson was in the habit of making 
frequent memoranda concerning the struggles and intrigues be- 
tween the Federalists and the Republicans. These notes, writ- 
ten during the peak of the "passions of the times," were several 
years later revised by Jefferson, with the purpose of removing 
any data which might have been "incorrect, or doubtful, or 
merely personal or private." The following selections from the 
Anas consist of Jefferson's long explanatory note, dated Feb. 4. 
1818, and three or four isolated anecdotes which are character- 
istic of the tone and temper of the whole. 



THE ANAS 



IN these three volumes will be found copies of the official 
opinions given in writing by me to General Washington, 
while I was Secretary of State, with sometimes the documents 
belonging to the case. Some of these are the rough draughts, 
some press copies, some fair ones. In the earlier part of my act- 
ing in that office, I took no other note of the passing transac- 
tions; Dut after awhile, I saw the importance of doing it in aid 
of my memory. Very often, therefore, I made memorandums 
on loose scraps of paper, taken out of my pocket in the mo- 
ment, and laid by to be copied fair at leisure, which, however, 
they hardly ever were. These scraps, therefore, ragged, rubbed, 
and scribbled as they were, I had bound with the others by a 
binder who came into my cabinet, did it under my own eye, 
and without the opportunity of reading a single paper. At this 
day, after the lapse of twenty-five years, or more, from their 
dates, I have given to the whole a calm revisal, when the pas- 
sions of the time are passed away, and the reasons of the trans- 
actions act alone on the judgment. Some of the informations I 
had recorded, are now cut out from the rest, because I have 
seen that they were incorrect, or doubtful, or merely personal 
or private, with which we have nothing to do. I should per- 
haps have thought the rest not worth preserving, but for their 
testimony against the only history of that period, which pre- 
tends to have been compiled from authentic and unpublished 
documents. 

But a short review of facts . . . will show, that the contests 
of that day were contests of principle, between the advocates 
of republican, and those of kingly government, and that had 
not the former made the efforts they did, our government 
would have been, even at this early day, a very different thing 

117 



THS <ANAS OF 

from what the successful issue of those efforts have made it. 

The alliance between the States under the old Articles of 
Confederation, for the purpose of joint defence against the 
aggression of Great Britain, was found insufficient, as treaties 
of alliance generally are, to enforce compliance with their 
mutual stipulations; and these, once fulfilled, that bond was 
to expire of itself, and each State to become sovereign and in- 
dependent in all things. Yet it could not but occur to every 
one, that these separate independencies, like the petty States 
of Greece, would be eternally at war with each other, and would 
become at length the mere partisans and satellites of the lead- 
ing powers of Europe. All then must have looked forward to 
some further bond of union, which would insure eternal peace, 
and a political system of our own, independent of that of 
Europe. Whether all should be consolidated into a single gov- 
ernment, or each remain independent as to internal matters, 
and the whole form a single nation as to what was foreign only, 
and whether that national government should be a monarchy 
or republic, would of course divide opinions, according to the 
constitutions, the habits, and the circumstances of each in- 
dividual. Some officers of the army, as it has always been said 
and believed (and Steuben and Knox have ever been named 
as the leading agents), trained to monarchy by military hab- 
its, are understood to have proposed to General Washington to 
decide this great question by the army before its disbandment, 
and to assume himself the crown on the assurance of their 
support. The indignation with which he is said to have scouted 
this parricide proposition was equally worthy of his virtue and 
wisdom. 

The next effort was (on suggestion of the same individuals, 
in the moment of their separation), the establishment of an 
hereditary order under the name of the Cincinnati, ready pre- 
pared by that distinction to be ingrafted into the future frame 
of government, and placing General Washington still at their 
head. The General wrote to me on this subject, while I was in 
Congress at Annapolis, and an extract from my letter is in- 

118 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

serted in 5th Marshall's history, page 28. He afterwards called 
on me at that place on his way to a meeting of the society, 
and after a whole evening of consultation, he left that place 
fully determined to use all his endeavors for its total suppres- 
sion. But he found it so firmly riveted in the affections of the 
members, that, strengthened as they happened to be by an ad- 
ventitious occurrence of the moment, he could effect no more 
than the abolition of its hereditary principle. He called again 
on his return, and explained to me fully the opposition which 
had been made, the effect of the occurrence from France, and 
the difficulty with which its duration had been limited to the 
lives of the present members. Further details will be found 
among my papers, in his and my letters, and some in the En- 
cyclop6dle Methodique ct Dictionnaire ^Economic Politique, 
communicated by myself to M. Meusnier, its author, who had 
made the establishment of this society the ground, in that 
work, of a libel on our country. 

The want of some authority which should procure justice to 
the public creditors, and an observance of treaties with foreign 
nations, produced, some time after, the call of a convention of 
the States at Annapolis. Although, at this meeting, a difference 
of opinion was evident on the question of a republican or kingly 
government, yet, so general through the States was the senti- 
ment in favor of the former, that the friends of the latter con- 
fined themselves to a course of obstruction only, and delay, to 
everything proposed; they hoped, that nothing being done, and 
all things going from bad to worse, a kingly government might 
be usurped, and submitted to by the people, as better than 
anarchy and wars internal and external, the certain conse- 
quences of the present want of a general government. The ef- 
fect of their manoeuvres, with the defective attendance of 
Deputies from the States, resulted in the measure of calling 
a more general convention, to be held at Philadelphia. At this, 
the same party exhibited the same practices, and with the same 
views of preventing a government of concord, which they fore- 
saw would be republican, and of forcing through anarchy their 

119 



THS *ANAS OF 

way to monarchy. But the mass of that convention was too 
honest, too wise, and too steady, to be baffled and misled by 
their manoeuvres. 

One of these was a form of government proposed by Colonel 
Hamilton, which would have been in fact a compromise be- 
tween the two parties of royalism and republicanism. Accord- 
ing to this, the executive and one branch of the legislature 
were to be during good behavior, i. e. for life, and the gov- 
ernors of the States were to be named by these two permanent 
organs. This, however, was rejected; on which Hamilton left 
the convention, as desperate, and never returned again until 
near its final conclusion. These opinions and efforts, secret or 
avowed, of the advocates for monarchy, had begotten great 
jealousy through the States generally; and this jealousy it was 
which excited the strong opposition to the conventional con- 
stitution; a jealousy which yielded at last only to a general 
determination to establish certain amendments as barriers 
against a government either monarchical or consolidated. In 
what passed through the whole period of these conventions, I 
have gone on the information of those who were members of 
them, being absent myself on my mission to France. 

I returned from that mission in the first year of the new gov- 
ernment, having landed in Virginia in December, 1789, and 
proceeded to New York in March, 1790, to enter on the office 
of Secretary of State. Here, certainly, I found a state of things 
which, of all I had ever contemplated, I the least expected. I 
had left France in the first year of her revolution, in the fervor 
of natural rights, and zeal for reformation. My conscientious 
devotion to these rights could not be heightened, but it had 
been aroused and excited by daily exercise. The President re- 
ceived me cordially, and my colleages and the circle of prin- 
cipal citizens apparently with welcome. The courtesies of din- 
ner parties given me, as a stranger newly arrived among them, 
placed me at once in their familiar society. But I cannot de- 
scribe the wonder and mortification with which the table con- 
versations filled me. Politics were the chief topic, and a 

120 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

preference of kingly over republican government was evidently 
the favorite sentiment. An apostate I could not be, nor yet a 
hypocrite; and I found myself, for the most part, the only ad- 
vocate on the republican side of the question, unless among the 
guests there chanced to be some member of that party from 
the legislative Houses. Hamilton's financial system had then 
passed. It had two objects; ist, as a puzzle, to exclude popular 
understanding and inquiry; 2d, as a machine for the corrup- 
tion of the legislature; for he avowed the opinion, that man 
could be governed by one of two motives only, force or inter- 
est ; force, he observed, in this country was out of the question, 
and the interests, therefore, of the members must be laid hold 
of, to keep the legislative in unison with the executive. And 
with grief and shame it must be acknowledged that his machine 
was not without effect; that even in this, the birth of our gov- 
ernment, some members were found sordid enough to bend 
their duty to their interests, and to look after personal rather 
than public good. 

It is well known that during the war the greatest difficulty 
we encountered was the want of money or means to pay our 
soldiers who fought, or our farmers, manufacturers and mer- 
chants, who furnished the necessary supplies of food and cloth- 
ing for them. After the expedient of paper money had exhausted 
itself, certificates of debt were given to the individual cred- 
itors, with assurance of payment so soon as the United States 
should be able. But the distresses of these people often obliged 
them to part with these for the half, the fifth, and even a tenth 
of their value; and speculators had made a trade of cozening 
them from the holders by the most fraudulent practices, and 
persuasions that they would never be paid. In the bill for fund- 
ing and paying these, Hamilton made no difference between the 
original holders and the fraudulent purchasers of this paper. 
Great and just repugnance arose at putting these two classes 
of creditors on the same footing, and great exertions were used 
to pay the former the full value, and to the latter, the price 
only which they had paid, with interest. But this would have 

121 



rne <JNAS OF 

prevented the game .which was to be played, and for which the 
minds of greedy members were already tutored and prepared. 
When the trial of strength on these several efforts had indi- 
cated the form in which the bill would finally pass, this being 
known within doors sooner than without, and especially, than 
to those who were in distant parts of the Union, the base 
scramble began. Couriers and relay horses by land, and swift 
sailing pilot boats by sea, were flying in all directions. Ac- 
tive partners and agents were associated and employed in every 
State, town, and country neighborhood, and this paper was 
bought up at five shillings, and even as low as two shillings in 
the pound, before the holder knew that Congress had already 
provided for its redemption at par. Immense sums were thus 
filched from the poor and ignorant, and fortunes accumulated 
by those who had themselves been poor enough before. Men 
thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader, would follow of 
course the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become 
the zealous instruments of all his enterprises. 

This game was over, and another was on the carpet at the 
moment of my arrival; and to this I was most ignorantly and 
innocently made to hold the candle. This fiscal manoeuvre is 
well known by the name of the Assumption. Independently of 
the debts of Congress, the States had during the war con- 
tracted separate and heavy debts; and Massachusetts particu- 
larly, in an absurd attempt, absurdly conducted, on the British 
post of Penobscot: and the more debt Hamilton could rake 
up, the more plunder for his mercenaries. This money, whether 
wisely or foolishly spent, was pretended to have been spent 
for general purposes, and ought, therefore, to be paid from the 
general purse. But it was objected, that nobody knew what 
these debts were, what their amount, or what their proofs. No 
matter; we will guess them to be twenty millions. But of these 
twenty millions, we do not know how much should be reim- 
bursed to one State, or how much to another. No matter; we 
will guess. And so another scramble was set on foot among the 
several States, and some got much, some little, some nothing. 

122 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

But the main object was obtained, the phalanx of the Treas- 
ury was reinforced by additional recruits. This measure pro- 
duced the most bitter and angry contest ever known in Con- 
gress, before or since the Union of the States. I arrived in the 
midst of it. But a stranger to the ground, a stranger to the ac- 
tors on it, so long absent as to have lost all familiarity with 
the subject, and as yet unaware of its object, 1 took no con- 
cern in it. 

The great and trying question, however, was lost in the 
House of Representatives. So high were the feuds excited by 
this subject, that on its rejection business was suspended. Con- 
gress met and adjourned from day to day without doing any- 
thing, the parties being too much out of temper to do business 
together. The eastern members particularly, who, with Smith 
from South Carolina, were the principal gamblers in these 
scenes, threatened a secession and dissolution. Hamilton was 
in despair. As I was going to the President's one day, I met 
him in the street. He walked me backwards and forwards be- 
fore the President's door for half an hour. He painted pa- 
thetically the temper into which the legislature had been 
wrought; the disgust of those who were called the creditor 
States; the danger of the secession of their members, and the 
separation of the States. He observed that the members of the 
administration ought to act in concert; that though this ques- 
tion was not of my department, yet a common duty should 
make it a common concern; that the President was the centre 
on which all administrative questions ultimately rested, and 
that all of us should rally around him, and support, with joint 
efforts, measures approved by him; and that the question hav 
ing been lost by a small majority only, it was probable that 
an appeal from me to the judgment and discretion of some of 
my friends, might effect a change in the vote, and the machine 
of government, now suspended, might be again set into motion. 
I told him that I was really a stranger to the whole subject; 
that not having yet informed myself of the system of finances 
adopted, I knew not how far this was a necessary sequence; 

123 



rue ^NAS OF 

that undoubtedly, if its rejection endangered a dissolution of 
our Union at this incipient stage, I should deem that the most 
unfortunate of all consequences, to avert which all partial and 
temporary evils should be yielded. I proposed to him, however, 
to dine with me the next day, and I would invite another 
friend or two, bring them into conference together, and I 
thought it impossible that reasonable men, consulting together 
coolly, could fail, by some mutual sacrifices of opinion, to form 
a compromise which was to save the Union. 

The discussion took place. I could take no part in it but an 
exhortatory one, because I was a stranger to the circumstances 
which should govern it. But it was finally agreed, that what- 
ever importance had been attached to the rejection of this 
proposition, the preservation of the Union and of concord 
among the States was more important, and that therefore it 
would be better that the vote of rejection should be rescinded, 
to effect which, some members should change their votes. But 
it was observed that this pill would be peculiarly bitter to the 
southern States, and that some concomitant measure should be 
adopted, to sweeten it a little to them. There had before been 
propositions to fix the seat of government either at Philadel- 
phia, or at Georgetown on the Potomac; and it was thought 
that by giving it to Philadelphia for ten years, and to George- 
town permanently afterwards, this might, as an anodyne, calm 
in some degree the ferment which might be excited by the 
other measure alone. So two of the Potomac members (White 
and Lee, but White with a revulsion of stomach almost con- 
vulsive) agreed to change their votes, and Hamilton under- 
took to carry the other point. In doing this, the influence he 
had established over the eastern members, with the agency of 
Robert Morris with those of the middle States, effected his 
side of the engagement; and so the Assumption was passed, 
and twenty millions of stock divided among favored States, 
and thrown in as a pabulum to the stock- jobbing herd. This 
added to the number of votaries to the Treasury, and made its 
chief the master of every vote in the legislature, which might 

124 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

give to the government the direction suited to his political 
views. 

I know well, and so must be understood, that nothing like 
a majority in Congress had yielded to this corruption. Far from 
it. But a division, not very unequal, had already taken place 
in the honest part of that body, between the parties styled re- 
publican and federal. The latter being monarchists in prin- 
ciple, adhered to Hamilton of course, as their leader in that 
principle, and this mercenary phalanx added to them, insured 
him always a majority in both Houses; so that the whole ac- 
tion of legislature was now under the direction of the Treasury. 
Still the machine was not complete. The effect of the funding 
system, and of the Assumption, would be temporary; it would 
be lost with the loss of the individual members whom it has en- 
riched, and some engine of influence more permanent must be 
contrived, while these myrmidons were yet in place to carry it 
through all opposition. This engine was the Bank of the United 
States. All that history is known, so I shall say nothing about 
it. While the government remained at Philadelphia, a selec- 
tion of members of both Houses were constantly kept as di- 
rectors who, on every question interesting to that institution, 
or to the views of the federal head, voted at the will of that 
head; and, together with the stock-holding members, could al- 
ways make the federal vote that of the majority. By this com- 
bination, legislative expositions were given to the constitution, 
and all the administrative laws were shaped on the model of 
England, and so passed. And from this influence we were not 
relieved, until the removal from the precincts of the bank, to 
Washington. 

Here then was the real ground of the opposition which was 
made to the course of administration. Its object was to pre- 
serve the legislature pure and independent of the executive, 
to restrain the administration to republican forms and prin- 
ciples, and not permit the constitution to be construed into a 
monarchy, and to be warped, in practice, into all the principles 
and pollutions of their favorite English model. Nor was this 

125 



rue JNAS OF 

an opposition to General Washington. He was true to the re- 
publican charge confided to him; and has solemnly and re- 
peatedly protested to me, in our conversations, that he would 
lose the last drop of his blood in support of it; and he did this 
the oftener and with the more earnestness, because he knew 
my suspicions of Hamilton's designs against it, and wished to 
quiet them. For he was not aware of the drift, or of the effect 
of Hamilton's schemes. Unversed in financial projects and cal- 
culations and budgets, his approbation of them was bottomed 
on his confidence in the man. 

But Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy 
bottomed on corruption. In proof of this, I will relate an anec- 
dote, for the truth of which I attest the God who made me. 
Before the President set out on his southern tour in April, 
1791, he addressed a letter of the fourth of that month, from 
Mount Vernon, to the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War, 
desiring that if any serious and important cases should arise 
during his absence, they would consult and act on them. And 
he requested that the Vice President should also be consulted. 
This was the only occasion on which that officer was ever re- 
quested to take part in a cabinet question. Some occasion for 
consultation arising, I invited those gentlemen (and the Attor- 
ney General, as well as I remember) to dine with me, in order 
to confer on the subject. After the cloth was removed, and our 
question agreed and dismissed, conversation began on other 
matters, and by some circumstance, was led to the British con- 
stitution, on which Mr. Adams observed, "purge that constitu- 
tion of its corruption, and give to its popular branch equality 
of representation, and it would be the most perfect constitution 
ever devised by the wit of man." Hamilton paused and said, 
"purge it of its corruption, and give to its popular branch 
equality of representation, and it would become an impracti- 
cable government: as it stands at present, with all its supposed 
defects, it is the most perfect government which ever existed." 
And this was assuredly the exact line which separated the po- 
litical creeds of these two gentlemen. The one was for two 

126 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

hereditary branches and an honest elective one; the other, for 
an hereditary King, with a House of Lords and Commons cor- 
rupted to his will, and standing between him and the people. 

Hamilton was, indeed, a singular character. Of acute under- 
standing, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private 
transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in 
private life, yet so bewitched and perverted by the British 
example, as to be under thorough conviction that corruption 
was essential to the government of a nation. Mr. Adams had 
originally been a republican. The glare of royalty and nobility, 
during his mission to England, had made him believe their 
fascination a necessary ingredient in government; and Shay's 
[sic] rebellion, not sufficiently understood where he then was, 
seemed to prove that the absence of want and oppression, was 
not a sufficient guarantee of order. His book on the American 
constitutions having made known his political bias, he was 
taken up by the monarchical federalists in his absence, and on 
his return to the United States, he was by them made to be- 
lieve that the general disposition of our citizens was favorable 
to monarchy. He here wrote his "Davila," as a supplement to a 
former work, and his election to the Presidency confirmed him 
in his errors. Innumerable addresses too, artfully and indus- 
triously poured in upon him, deceived him into a confidence 
that he was on the pinnacle of popularity, when the gulf was 
yawning at his feet, which was to swallow up him and his de- 
ceivers. For when General Washington was withdrawn, these 
energumeni of royalism, kept in check hitherto by the dread 
of his honesty, his firmness, his patriotism, and the authority 
of his name, now mounted on the car of State and free from 
control, like Phaeton on that of the sun, drove headlong and 
wild, looking neither to right nor left, nor regarding anything 
but the objects they were driving at; until, displaying these 
fully, the eyes of the nation were opened, and a general dis- 
bandment of them from the public councils took place. 

Mr. Adams, I am sure, has been long since convinced of the 
treacheries with which he was surrounded during his adminis- 

127 



rne J[NAS OF 

tration. He has since thoroughly seen, that his constituents were 
devoted to republican government, and whether his judgment 
is re-settled on its ancient basis, or not, he is conformed as a 
good citizen to the will of the majority, and would now, I am 
persuaded, maintain its republican structure with the zeal and 
fidelity belonging to his character. For even an enemy has said, 
"he is always an honest man, and often a great one." But in 
the fervor of the fury and follies of those who made him their 
stalking horse, no man who did not witness it can form an 
idea of their unbridled madness, and the terrorism with which 
they surrounded themselves. The horrors of the French revolu- 
tion, then raging, aided them mainly, and using that as a raw 
head and bloody bones, they were enabled by their stratagems 
of X. Y. Z. in which this historian * was a leading mountebank, 
their tales of tub-plots, ocean massacres, bloody buoys, and 
pulpit lyings and slanderings, and maniacal ravings of their 
Gardeners, their Osgoods and parishes, to spread alarm into all 
but the firmest breasts. Their Attorney General had the im- 
pudence to say to a republican member, that deportation must 
be resorted to, of which, said he, "you republicans have set 
the example 7 '; thus daring to identify us with the murderous 
Jacobins of France. 

These transactions, now recollected but as dreams of the 
night, were then sad realities; and nothing rescued us from 
their liberticide effect, but the unyielding opposition of those 
firm spirits who sternly maintained their post in defiance of 
terror, until their fellow citizens could be aroused to their 
own danger, and rally and rescue the standard of the constitu- 
tion. This has been happily done. Federalism and monarchism 
have languished from that moment, until their treasonable com- 
binations with the enemies of their country during the late war, 
their plots of dismembering the Union, and their Hartford con- 
vention, have consigned them to the tomb of the dead; and I 
fondly hope, "we may now truly say, we are all republicans, 
all federalists," and that the motto of the standard to which 

i. I.e., Jeffeison. Deleted from Memorial Edition. 

128 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

our country will forever rally, will be, "federal union, and re- 
publican government"; and sure I am we may say, that we are 
indebted for the preservation of this point of ralliance, to that 
opposition of which so injurious an idea is so artfully insin- 
uated and excited in this history. 

Much of this relation is notorious to the world; and many 
intimate proofs of it will be found in these notes. From the 
moment where they end, of my retiring from the administra- 
tion, the federalists got unchecked hold of General Washing- 
ton. His memory was already sensibly impaired by age, the 
firm tone of mind for which he had been remarkable, was be- 
ginning to relax, its energy was abated, a listlessness of labor, 
a desire for tranquility had crept on him, and a willingness to 
let others act, and even think for him. Like the rest of man- 
kind, he was disgusted with atrocities of the French revolu- 
tion, and was not sufficiently aware of the difference between 
the rabble who were used as instruments of their perpetration, 
and the steady and rational character of the American people, 
in which he had not sufficient confidence. The opposition too 
of the republicans to the British treaty, and the zealous sup- 
port of the federalists in that unpopular but favorite measure 
of theirs, had made him all their own. Understanding, more- 
over, that I disapproved of that treaty, and copiously nour- 
ished with falsehoods by a malignant neighbor of mine, who 
ambitioned to be his correspondent, he had become alienated 
from myself personally, as from the republican body generally 
of his fellow-citizens; and he wrote the letters to Mr. Adams 
and Mr. Carroll, over which, in devotion to his imperishable 
fame, we must forever weep as monuments of mortal decay. 

February 4th, 1818. 

Conversation with President Washington 
February the fth, 1793 

.... as to a coalition with Mr. Hamilton, if by that was 
meant that either was to sacrifice his general system to the 

129 



TH8 ^NAS OF 

other, it was impossible. We had both, no doubt, formed our 
conclusions after the most mature consideration; and principles 
conscientiously adopted, could not be given up on either side. 
My wish was, to see both Houses of Congress cleansed of all 
persons interested in the bank or public stocks; and that a pure 
legislature being given us, I should always be ready to ac- 
quiesce under their determinations, even if contrary to my 
own opinions; for that I subscribe to the principle, that the will 
of the majority, honestly expressed, should give law. . . . 

February the i6th y 1793 

E. Randolph tells J. Madison and myself, a curious fact 
which he had from Lear. When the President went to New 
York, he resisted for three weeks the efforts to introduce levees. 
At length he yielded, and left it to Humphreys and some others 
to settle the forms. Accordingly, an ante-chamber and pres- 
ence room were provided, and when those who were to pay their 
court were assembled, the President set out, preceded by 
Humphreys. After passing through the ante-chamber, the door 
of the inner room was thrown open, and Humphreys entered 
first, calling out with a loud voice, "the President of the United 
States." The President was so much disconcerted with it, that 
he did not recover from it the whole time of the levee, and 
when the company was gone, he said to Humphreys, "Well, 
you have taken me in once, but by God you shall never take 
me in a second time." 

May the 2 3d, [1793] 

.... He [President Washington] adverted to a piece in 
Freneau's paper * of yesterday; he said he despised all their at- 
tacks on him personally, but that there never had been an 
act of the Government, not meaning in the executive line only, 
but in any line, which that paper had not abused. He had also 
marked the word republic thus, where it was applied to the 

j. Philip Freneau's anti-federalist paper, The National Gazette. 

130 



S J8FF8RSON 

French republic. . . . He was evidently sore and warm, and 
I took his intention to be, that I should interpose in some way 
with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating 
clerk to my office. But I will not do it. His paper has saved our 
Constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has 
been checked by no one means so powerfully as by that paper. 
It is well and universally known, that it has been that paper 
which has checked the career of the monocrats; and the Presi- 
dent, not sensible of the designs of the party, has not with his 
usual good sense and sang jroid, looked on the efforts and ef- 
fects of this free press, and seen that, though some bad things 
have passed through it to the public, yet the good have pre- 
ponderated immensely. 

January. the 24th, [1800] 

Mr. Smith, a merchant of Hamburg, gives me the following 
information: The St. Andrew's Club of New York (all of 
Scotch tories) gave a public dinner lately. Among other guests, 
Alexander Hamilton was one. After dinner, the first toast was, 
"The President of the United States/' It was drunk without 
any particular approbation. The next was, "George the Third." 
Hamilton started up on his feet, and insisted on a bumper and 
three cheers. The whole company accordingly rose and gave 
the cheers. . . . 



13* 



TRAVEL JO URNALS 



DURING his five-year residence in Paris as Minister to the 
Court of Louis XVI, Jefferson made only occasional trips from 
the capital: one to England in March and April of 1786, dur- 
ing which he was presented to the King, made a perfunctory 
visit to Shakespeare's grave, and had his portrait painted by 
Mather Brown; one to Southern France and Northern Italy 
in March, April, May, and June of the following year; and a 
third to Amsterdam and Strasburg in February, March, and 
April of 1788. A man with a keen eye for detail, and an in- 
finite capacity for taking pains, Jefferson was in the habit of 
making daily entries in a journal concerning the sights he had 
seen, the places he had visited, the people he had talked with, 
and the useful products and inventions he might borrow for 
America. Selections from the journal of his second trip, that 
to France and Italy, together with an interesting "traveler's 
guide" compiled for two fellow Americans, appear on the fol- 
towing pages. 



TRAVEL JOURNALS 



MEMORANDA taken on a Journey from Paris into the 
Southern Parts of France, and Northern of Italy, in the 
year 1787. 

CHAMPAGNE. March 3. Sens to Vermanton. The face of the 
country is in large hills, not too steep for the plough, somewhat 
resembling the Elk hill, and Beaver-dam hills of Virginia. The 
soil is generally a rich mulatto loam, with a mixture of coarse 
sand and some loose stone. The plains of the Yonne are of the 
same color. The plains are in corn, the hills in vineyard, but 
the wine not good. There are a few apple trees, but none of 
any other kind, and no inclosures. No cattle, sheep, or swine; 
fine mules. 

Few chateaux; no farm-houses, all the people being gathered 
in villages. Are they thus collected by that dogma of their re- 
ligion, which makes them believe, that to keep the Creator in, 
good humor with His own works, they must mumble a mass 
every day? Certain it is, that they are less happy and less 
virtuous in villages, than they would be insulated with their 
families on the grounds they cultivate. The people are illy 
clothed. Perhaps they have put on their worst clothes at this 
moment, as it is raining. But I observe women and children 
carrying heavy burdens, and laboring with the hoe. This is an 
unequivocal indication of extreme poverty. Men, in a civilized 
country, never expose their wives and children to labor above 
their force and sex, as long as their own labor can protect them 
from it. I see few beggars. Probably this is the effect of a 
police. 

BURGUNDY. March 4. Lucy le bois. Cussy les forges. Rouv- 
ray. Maison-neuve. Vitteaux. La Chaleure. Pont de Panis. 
Dijon. The hills are higher and more abrupt. The soil, a good 
red loam and sand, mixed with more or less grit, small stone, 



JOURNALS OF 

and sometimes rock. All in corn. Some forest wood here and 
there, broom, whins and holly, and a few inclosures of quick 
hedge. Now and then a flock of sheep. 

The people are well clothed, but it is Sunday. They have the 
appearance of being well fed. The Chateau de Sevigny, near 
Cussy les forges, is a charming situation. Between Maison- 
neuve and Vitteaux the road leads through an avenue of trees, 
eight American miles long, in a right line. It is impossible to 
paint the ennui of this avenue. . . . 

March 7 and 8. From la Bar ague to Chagny 

.... The corn lands here rent for about fifteen livres the 
arpent. They are now planting, pruning, and sticking their 
vines. When a new vineyard is made, they plant the vines in 
gutters about four feet apart. As the vines advance, they lay 
them down. They put out new shoots, and fill all the inter- 
mediate space, till all trace of order is lost. They have ultimately 
about one foot square to each vine. They begin to yield good 
profit at five or six years old, and last one hundred, or one 
hundred and fifty years. A vigneron at Voulenay carried me 
into his vineyard, which was of about ten arpents. He told me 
that some years it produced him sixty pieces of wine, and some, 
not more than three pieces. The latter is the most advantageous 
produce, because the wine is better in quality, and higher in 
price in proportion as less is made, and the expenses at the 
same time diminish in the same proportion. Whereas, when 
much is made, the expenses are increased, while the price and 
quality become less. In very plentiful years, they often give 
one half the wine for casks to contain the other half. The cask 
for two hundred and fifty bottles, costs six livres in scarce 
years, and ten in plentiful. The Feuillette is of one hundred 
and twenty-five bottles, the Piece of two hundred and fifty, 
and the Queue or Botte, of five hundred. An arpent rents at 
from twenty to sixty livres. A farmer of ten arpents has about 
three laborers engaged by the year. He pays four louis to a 
man, and half as much to a woman, and feeds them. He kills 
hog, and salts it, which is all the meat used in the family 

136 



THOMAS J8FF6RSON 

during the year. Their ordinary food is bread and vegetables. 
At Pommard and Voulenay, I observed them eating good wheat 
bread; at Meursault, rye. I asked the reason of this difference. 
They told me that the white wines fail in quality much oftener 
than the red, and remain on hand. The farmer, therefore, can- 
not afford to feed his laborers so well. At Meursault, only white 
wines are made, because there is too much stone for the red. 
On such slight circumstances depends the condition of man! 
The wines which have given such celebrity to Burgundy, grow 
only on the Cote, an extent of about five leagues long, and half 
a league wide. They begin at Chambertin, and go through 
Vougeau, Romanie, Veaune, Nuys, Beaune, Pommard, Voule- 
nay, Meursault, and end at Monrachet. Those of the two last 
are white, the others red. Chambertin, Vougeau and Veaune 
are strongest, and will bear transportation arid keeping. They 
sell, therefore, on the spot for twelve hundred livres the queue, 
which is forty-eight sous the bottle. Voulenay is the best of 
the other reds, equal in flavor to Chambertin, etc., but being 
lighter, will not keep, and therefore sells for not more than 
three hundred livres the queue, which is twelve sous the bottle. 
It ripens sooner than they do, and consequently is better for 
those who wish to broach at a year old. In like manner of 
the white wines, and for the same reason, Monrachet sells for 
twelve hundred livres the queue (forty-eight sous the bottle), 
and Meursault of the best quality, viz., the Goutte d'or, at only 
one hundred and fifty livres (six sous the bottle). It is re- 
markable, that the best of each kind, that is, of the red and 
white, is made at the extremities of the line, to wit, at Cham- 
bertin and Monrachet. It is pretended that the adjoining vine- 
yards produce the same qualities, but that belonging to obscure 
individuals, they have not obtained a name, and therefore sell 
as other wines. The aspect of the Cote is a little south of east. 
The western side is also covered with vines, and is apparently 
of the same soil, yet the wines are of the coarsest kinds. Such 4 
too, are those which are produced in the plains; but there tht 
soil is richer and less strong. Vougeau is the property of tho 

137 



TRAVSL JOURNALS OF 

monks of Citeaux, and produces about two hundred pieces. 
Monrachet contains about fifty arpents, and produces, one 
year with another, about one hundred and twenty pieces. It 
belongs to two proprietors only, Monsieur de Clarmont, who 
leases to some wine merchants, and the Marquis de Sarsnet, of 
Dijon, whose part is farmed to a Monsieur de la Tour, whose 
family for many generations have had the farm. The best wines 
are carried to Paris by land. The transportation costs thirty- 
six livres the piece. The more indifferent go by water. Bottles 
cost four and a half sous each. . . . 

BEAUJOLOIS. Maison blanche. St. George. Chateau de Laye- 
Epinaye. 

.... The wages of a laboring man here, are five louis; of 
a woman, one half. The women do not work with the hoe; 
they only weed the vines, the corn, etc., and spin. They speak 
a patois very difficult to understand. I passed some time at the 
Chateau de Laye-Epinaye. Monsieur de Laye has a seignory of 
about fifteen thousand arpents, in pasture, corn, vines, and 
wood. He has over this, as is usual, a certain jurisdiction, both 
criminal and civil. But this extends only to the first crude 
examination, which is before his judges. The subject is referred 
for final examination and decision, to the regular judicatures of 
the country. The Seigneur is keeper of the peace on his do- 
mains. He is therefore subject to the expenses of maintaining 
it. A criminal prosecuted to sentence and execution, costs M. 
de Laye about five thousand livres. This is so burdensome to 
the Seigneurs, that they are slack in criminal prosecutions. A 
good effect from a bad cause. Through all Champagne, Bur- 
gundy, and the Beaujolois, the husbandry seems good, except 
that they manure too little. This proceeds from the shortness 
of their leases. The people of Burgundy and Beaujolois are 
well clothed, and have the appearance of being well fed. But 
they experience all the oppressions which result from the 
nature of the general government, and from that of their 
particular tenures, and of the seignorial government to which 

138 



THOMAS J8FFBRSON 

they are subject. What a cruel reflection, that a rich country 
cannot long be a free one. M. de Laye has a Diana and Endy- 
mion, a very superior morsel of sculpture by Michael Angelo 
Slodtz, done in 1740. The wild gooseberry is in leaf; the wild 
pear and sweet briar in bud. 

Lyons. There are some feeble remains here, of an amphi- 
theatre of two hundred feet diameter, and of an aqueduct in 
brick. The Pont d'Ainay has nine arches of forty feet from 
centre to centre. The piers are of six feet. The almond is in 
bloom. 

.... Nice. The pine bur is used here for kindling fires. 
The people are in separate establishments. With respect to the 
orange, there seems to be no climate on this side of the Alps, 
sufficiently mild in itself to preserve it without shelter. At 
Olioules, they are between two high mountains; at Hieres, cov- 
ered on the north by a very high mountain; at Antibes and 
Nice, covered by mountains, and also within small high en- 
closures. Quere. To trace the true line from east to west, which 
forms the northern and natural limit of that fruit? Saw an 
elder tree (sambucus) near Nice, fifteen inches in diameter, 
and eight feet stem. The wine made in this neighborhood is 
good, though not of the first quality. There are one thousand 
mules, loaded with merchandise, which pass every week be- 
tween Nice and Turin, counting those coming as well as going. 

.... April i4th. Ciandola. Tende. 

.... Tende is a very inconsiderable village, in which they 
have not yet the luxury of glass windows; nor in any of the 
villages on this passage, have they yet the fashion of powder- 
ing the hair. Common stone and limestone are so abundant, 
that the apartments of every story are vaulted with stone, to 
save wood. 

April 1 5th. Limone. Coni. 

.... A great deal of golden willow all along the rivers, on 
the whole of this passage through the Alps. The southern parts 
of France, but still more the passage through the Alps, enable 



TRAV6L JOURNALS OF 

one to form a scale of the tenderer plants, arranging them 
according to their several powers of resisting cold. Ascending 
three different mountains, Braus, Brois, and Tende, they dis^ 
appear one after another; and descending on the other side, 
they show themselves again one after another. This is their 
order, from the tenderest to the hardiest. Caper, orange, palm, 
aloe, olive, pomegranate, walnut, fig, almond. But this must be 
understood of the plant; for as to the fruit, the order is some- 
what different. The caper, for example, is the tenderest plant, 
yet being so easily protected, it is the most certain in its fruit. 
The almond, the hardiest plant, loses its fruit the oftenest, on 
account of its forwardness. The palm hardier than the caper 
and the orange, never produces perfect fruit in these parts. 
Coni is a considerable town, and pretty well built. It is walled. 
.... April iQth. Settimo. Chivasco. Ciliano. S. Germano. 
Vercelli. The country continues plain and rich, the soil black. 
The culture, corn, pasture, maize, vines, mulberries, walnuts, 
some willow and poplar. The maize bears a very small propor- 
tion to the small grain. The earth is formed into ridges from 
three to four feet wide, and the maize sowed in the broadcast 
on the higher parts of the ridge, so as to cover a third or half of 
the whole surface. It is sowed late in May. This country is 
plentifully arid beautifully watered at present. Much of it is 
by torrents which are dry in summer. These torrents make a 
great deal of waste ground, covering it with sand and stones. 
These wastes are sometimes planted in trees, sometimes quite 
unemployed. They make hedges of willows, by setting the 
plants from one to three feet apart. When they are grown to 
the height of eight or ten feet, they bend them down, and 
interlace them one with another. I do not see any of these, 
however, which are become old. Probably, therefore, they soon 
die. The women here smite on the anvil, and work with the 
maul and spade. The people of this country are ill dressed in 
comparison with those of France, and there are more spots of 
uncultivated ground. The plough here is made with a single 
handle, which is a beam twelve feet long, six inches in diameter 

140 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

below, and tapered to about two inches at the upper end. They 
use goads for the oxen, not whips. The first swallows I have 
seen, are to-day. . . . 

April 2ist, 22d. Milan. Figs and pomegranates grow here 
unsheltered, as I am told. I saw none, and therefore suppose 
them rare. They had formerly olives; but a great cold in 
1 709 killed them, and they have not been replanted. Among a 
great many houses painted al fresco, the Casa Roma and Casa 
Candiani, by Appiani, and Casa Belgioiosa, by Martin, are 
superior. In the second is a small cabinet, the ceiling of which 
is in small hexagons, within which are cameos and heads 
painted alternately, no two the same. The salon of the Casa 
Belgioiosa is superior to anything I have ever seen. The mix- 
ture called Scaiola, of which they make their walls and floors, 
is so like the finest marble as to be scarcely distinguishable 
from it. The nights of the 2oth and 2ist instant the rice ponds 
froze half an inch thick. Drouths of two or three months are 
not uncommon here in summer. About five years ago, there 
was such a hail as to kill cats. The Count del Verme tells me 
of a pendulum odometer for the wheel of a carriage. Leases 
here are mostly for nine years. Wheat costs a louis d'or the 
one hundred and forty pounds. A laboring man receives sixty 
livres, and is fed and lodged. The trade of this country is 
principally rice, raw silk, and cheese. 

April 23d. Casino, five miles from Milan. I examined another 
rice-beater of six pestles. They are eight feet nine inches long. 
Their ends, instead of being a truncated cone, have nine teetb 
of iron, bound closely together. Each tooth is a double pyra- 
mid, joined at the base. When put together, they stand with the 
upper ends placed in contact, so as to form them into one 
great cone, and the lower ends diverging. The upper are sock- 
eted into the end of the pestle, and the lower, when a little 
blunted by use, are not unlike the jaw teeth of the mammoth, 
with their studs. They say here, that pestles armed with these 
teeth, clean the rice faster, and break it less. 

. . . . Rozzano. Parmesan cheese. It is supposed this was 



TRAVEL JOURNALS OF 

formerly made at Parma, and took its name thence, but none is 
made there now. It is made through all the country extending 
from Milan for one hundred and fifty miles. . . . 

The milk, . . . receives its due quantity of rennet, and is 
gently warmed, if the season requires it. In about four hours 
it becomes a slip. Then the whey begins to separate. A little of 
it is taken out. The curd is then thoroughly broken by a ma- 
chine like a chocolate mill. A quarter of an ounce of saffron is 
put to seven brenta of milk, to give color to the cheese. The 
kettle is then moved over the hearth, and heated by a quick 
lire till the curd is hard enough, being broken into small lumps 
by continued stirring. It is moved off the fire, most of the 
'whey taken out, the curd compressed into a globe by the hand, 
a linen cloth slipped under it, and it is drawn out in that. A 
loose hoop is then laid on a bench, and the curd, as wrapped 
in the linen, is put into the hoop; it is a little pressed by the 
.hand, the hoop drawn tight and made fast. A board two inches 
thick is laid on it, and a stone on that of about twenty pounds 
weight. In an hour, the whey is run off, and the cheese finished. 
They sprinkle a little salt on it every other day in summer, 
and every day in winter, for six weeks. Seven brentas of milk 
make a cheese of fifty pounds, which requires six months to 
ripen, and is then dried to forty-five pounds. It sells on the 
5pot for eighty-eight livres the one hundred pounds. There are 
now one hundred and fifty cheeses in this dairy. They are 
nineteen inches diameter, and six inches thick. They make a 
cheese a day in summer, and two in three days, or one in two 
days, in winter. 

.... April 26th. Genoa. Strawberries at Genoa. Scaffold 
poles for the upper parts of a wall, as for the third story, rest 
on the window sills of the story below. Slate is used here for 
paving, for steps, for stairs, (the rise as well as tread) and for 
fixed Venetian blinds. At the Palazzo Marcello Durazzo, 
benches with straight legs, and bottoms of cane. At the Palazzo 
del prencipe Lomellino, at Sestri, a phaeton with a canopy. At 
1 the former ; tables folding into one plane. At Nervi they have 

142 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

peas, strawberries, etc., all the year round. The gardens of the 
Count Durazzo at Nervi exhibit as rich a mixture of the uttte 
dulci, as I ever saw. All the environs in Genoa, are in olives, 
figs, oranges, mulberries, corn, and garden stuff. Aloes in many 
places, but they never flower. 

April 28th. Noli. The Apennine and Alps appear to me, to 
be one and the same continued ridge of mountains, separating 
everywhere the waters of the Adriatic Gulf from those of the 
Mediterranean. Where it forms an elbow, touching the Medi- 
terranean, as a smaller circle touches a larger, within which it 
is inscribed, in the manner of a tangent, the name changes from 
Alps to Apennine. It is the beginning of the Apennine which 
constitutes the State of Genoa, the mountains there generally 
falling down in barren naked precipices into the sea. . . . 
Noli, into which I was obliged to put, by a change of wind, 
is forty miles from Genoa. There are twelve hundred inhabit- 
ants in the village, and many separate houses round about. 
One of the precipices hanging over the sea is covered with 
aloes. But neither here, nor anywhere else I have been, could 
I procure satisfactory information that they ever flower. The 
current of testimony is to the contrary. Noli furnishes many 
fishermen. Paths penetrate up into the mountains in several 
directions, about three-fourths of a mile; but these are prac- 
ticable only for asses and mules. I saw no cattle nor sheep in 
the settlement. The wine they make, is white and indifferent. 
A curious cruet for oil and vinegar in one piece, I saw here. A 
bishop resides here, whose revenue is two thousand livres, 
equal to sixty-six guineas. I heard a nightingale here. 

April 2gth. Albenga. In walking along the shore from Lou- 
ano to this place, I saw no appearance of shells. The tops of 
the mountains are covered with snow, while there are olive 
trees, etc., on the lower parts. I do not remember to have seen 
assigned anywhere, the cause of the apparent color of the 
sea. Its water is generally clear and colorless, if taken up and 
viewed in a glass. That of the Mediterranean is remarkably so. 
Vet in the mass, it assumes, by refection, the color of the sky 

143 



TRAVSL JOURNALS OF 

or atmosphere, black, green, blue, according to the state of 
the weather. If any person wished to retire from his acquaint- 
ance, to live absolutely unknown, and yet in the midst of 
physical enjoyments, it should be in some of the little villages of 
this coast, where air, water and earth concur to offer what each 
has most precious. Here are nightingales, beccaficas, ortolans, 
pheasants, partridges, quails, a superb climate, and the power 
of changing it from summer to winter at any moment, by 
ascending the mountains. The earth furnishes wine, oil, figs, 
oranges, and every production of the garden, in every season. 
The sea yields lobsters, crabs, oysters, thunny, sardines, an- 
chovies, etc. 

May 15. Bezieres. Argilies. Le Saumal. 

.... The canal of Languedoc, along which I now travel, is 
six toises wide at bottom, and ten toises at the surface of the 
water, which is one toise deep. The barks which navigate it are 
seventy and eighty feet long, and seventeen or eighteen feet 
wide. They are drawn by one horse, and worked by two hands, 
one of which is generally a woman. The locks are mostly kept 
by women, but the necessary operations are much too laborious 
for them. The encroachments by the men, on the offices proper 
for the women, is a great derangement in the order of things. 
Men are shoemakers, tailors, upholsterers, stay-makers, 
mantua-makers, cooks, housekeepers, house-cleaners, bed- 
makers; they coiffe the ladies, and bring them to bed: the 
women, therefore, to live, are obliged to undertake the offices 
which they abandon. They become porters, carters, reapers, 
sailors, lock-keepers, smiters on the anvil, cultivators of the 
earth, etc. Can we wonder, if such of them as have a little 
beauty, prefer easier courses to get their livelihood, as long as 
that beauty lasts? Ladies who employ men in the offices which 
should be reserved for their sex, are they not bawds in effect? 
For every man whom they thus employ, some girl, whose place 
he has thus taken, is driven to whoredom. 

.... June 6th, yth, 8th. Nantes. Ancenis, Angers. Tours. 

.... Tours is at the one hundred and nineteenth mile- 

144 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

stone. Being desirous of inquiring here into a fact stated by 
Voltaire, in his Questions Encyclopediques, article Coquilles, 
relative to the growth of shells unconnected with animal bodies, 
at the Chateau of Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, near Tours, I 
called on Monsieur Gentil, premier secretaire de Flntendance, 
to whom the Intendant had written on my behalf, at the re- 
quest of the Marquis de Chastellux. I stated to him the fact as 
advanced by Voltaire, and found he was, of all men, the best to 
whom I could have addressed myself. He told me he had been 
in correspondence with Voltaire on that very subject, and was 
perfectly acquainted with Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, and the 
Faluniere where the fact is said to have taken place. It is at the 
Chateau de Grillemont, six leagues from Tours, on the road 
to Bordeaux, belong now to Monsieur d'Orcai. He says, that 
de la Sauvagiere was a man of truth, and might be relied on 
for whatever facts he stated as of his own observations; but 
that he was overcharged with imagination, which, in matters of 
opinion and theory, often led him beyond his facts; that this 
feature in his character had appeared principally in what he 
wrote on the antiquities of Touraine; but that, as to the fact in 
question, he believed him. That he himself, indeed, had not 
watched the same identical shells, as Sauvagiere had done, 
growing from small to great; but that he had often seen such 
masses of those shells of all sizes, from a point to a full size, 
as to carry conviction to his mind that they were in the act of 
growing; that he had once made a collection of shells for the 
Emperor's cabinet, reserving duplicates of them for himself; 
and that these afforded proofs of the same fact; that he after- 
wards gave those duplicates to a Monsieur du Verget, a physi- 
cian of Tours, of great science and candor, who was collecting 
on a larger scale, and who was perfectly in sentiment with 
Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, that not only the Faluniere, but 
many other places about Tours, would convince any unbiased 
observer, that shells are a fruit of the earth, spontaneously 
produced; and he gave me a copy of de la Sauvagiere's Re 
cueil de Dissertations, presented by the author, wherein is one 

145 



TRAVSL JOURNALS OF 

Sur la vegetation spontanee des coquilles du Chateau des 
Places. So far, I repeat from him. What are we to conclude? 
That we have not materials enough yet, to form any conclu- 
sion. The fact stated by Sauvagiere is not against any law of 
nature, and is therefore possible; but it is so little analogous 
to her habitual processes, that, if true, it would be extraordi- 
nary; that to command our belief, therefore, there should be 
such a suite of observations, as that their untruth would be 
more extraordinary than the existence of the fact they affirm. 
The bark of trees, the skin of fruits and animals, the feathers 
of birds, receive their growth and nutriment from the internal 
circulation of a juice through the vessels of the individual 
they cover. We conclude from analogy, then, that the shells of 
the testaceous tribe, receive also their growth from a like inter- 
nal circulation. If it be urged, that this does not exclude the 
possibility of a like shell being produced by the passage of a 
fluid through the pores of the circumjacent body, whether of 
earth, stone, or water; I answer, that it is not within the us- 
ual economy of nature, to use two processes for one species of 
production. While I withhold my assent, however, from this 
hypothesis, I must deny it to every other 1 have ever seen, by 
which their authors pretend to account for the origin of shells 
in high places. Some of these are against the laws of na- 
ture, and therefore impossible; and others are built on positions 
more difficult to assent to, than that of de la Sauvagiere. They 
all suppose the shells to have covered submarine animals, and 
have then to answer the question, How came they fifteen thou- 
sand feet above the level of the sea? And they answer it, by 
demanding what cannot be conceded. One, therefore, who had 
rather have no opinion than a false one, will suppose this ques- 
tion one of those beyond the investigation of human sagacity; 
or wait till further and fuller observations enable him to de- 
cide it. 

Chantcloup. I heard a nightingale to-day at Chanteloup. The 
gardener says, it is the male who alone sings, while the female 
*its; and that when the young are hatched, he also ceases. In 

146 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

the border at Chanteloup, is an ingenious contrivance to hide 
the projecting steps of a stair-case. Three steps were of neces- 
sity to project into the boudoir: they are therefore made tri- 
angular steps; and instead of being rested on the floor, as usual, 
they are made fast at their broad end to the stair door, swing- 
ing out and in, with that. When it shuts, it runs them under the 
other steps; when open, it brings them out to their proper 
place. 

TRAVELLING NOTES FOR MR. RUTLEDGE AND 
MR. SHIPPEN, JUNE 3, 1788 

General Observations. On arriving at a town, the first thing 
is to buy the plan of the town, and the book noting its curiosi- 
ties. Walk round the ramparts when there are any, go to the 
top of a steeple to have a view of the town and its environs. 

When you are doubting whether a thing is worth the trouble 
of going to see, recollect that you will never again be so near 
it, that you may repent the not having seen it, but can never 
repent having seen it. But there is an opposite extreme too, 
that is, the seeing too much. A judicious selection is to be 
aimed at, taking care that the indolence of the moment have 
no influence in the decision. Take care particularly not to let 
the porters of churches, cabinets, etc., lead you through all the 
little details of their profession, which will load the memory 
with trifles, fatigue the attention, and waste that and your 
time. It is difficult to confine these people to the few objects 
worth seeing and remembering. They wish for your money, 
and suppose you give it the more willingly the more they de- 
tail to you. 

When one calls in the taverns for the vin du pays, they give 
what is natural and unadulterated and cheap: when vin etran* 
gere is called for, it only gives a pretext for charging an ex- 
travagant price for an unwholesome stuff, very often of their 
own brewery. The people you will naturally see the most of 
will be tavern keepers, valets de place, and postilions. These ar* 

TAT 



TRAV6L JOURNALS OF 

the hackneyed rascals of every country. Of course they must 
never be considered when we calculate the national character. 
Objects of attention for an American. i. Agriculture. Every- 
thing belonging to this art, and whatever has a near relation 
to it. Useful or agreeable animals which might be transported 
to America. Species of plants for the farmer's garden, accord- 
ing to the climate of the different States. 

2. Mechanical arts, so far as they respect things necessary in 
America, and inconvenient to be transported thither ready- 
made, such as forges, stone quarries, boats, bridges, (very 
especially,) etc., etc. 

3. Lighter mechanical arts, and manufactures. Some of these 
will be worth a superficial view; but circumstances rendering 
it impossible that America should become a manufacturing 
country during the time of any man now living, it would be a 
waste of attention to examine these minutely. 

4. Gardens peculiarly worth the attention of an American, 
because it is the country of all others where the noblest gar- 
dens may be made without expense. We have only to cut out 
the superabundant plants. 

5. Architecture worth great attention. As we double our num- 
bers every twenty years, we must double our houses. Besides, 
we build of such perishable materials, that one half of our 
houses must be rebuilt in every space of twenty years, so 
that in that time, houses are to be built for three-fourths of our 
inhabitants. It is, then, among the most important arts; and it 
is desirable to introduce taste into an art which shows so much. 

6. Painting. Statuary. Too expensive for the state of wealth 
among us. It would be useless, therefore, and preposterous, for 
us to make ourselves connoisseurs in those arts. They are worth 
seeing, but not studying. 

7. Politics of each country, well worth studying so far as re- 
spects internal affairs. Examine their influence on the happi- 
ness of the people. Take every possible occasion for entering 
into the houses of the laborers, and especially at the moments 
of their repast; see what they eat, how they are clothed, 

148 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

whether they are obliged to work too hard; whether the gov- 
ernment or their landlord takes from them an unjust propor- 
tion of their labor; on what footing stands the property they 
call their own, their personal liberty, etc., etc. 

8. Courts. To be seen as you would see the tower of London 
or menagerie of Versailles with their lions, tigers, hyenas, and 
other beasts of prey, standing in the same relation to their fel- 
lows. A slight acquaintance with them will suffice to show you 
that, under the most imposing exterior, they are the weakest 
and worst part of mankind. Their manners, could you ape 
them, would not make you beloved in your own country, nor 
would they improve it could you introduce them there to the 
exclusion of that honest simplicity now prevailing in America 
and worthy of being cherished. 



149 



Towards Facilitating Instruction in the 
o- Saxon and Modern Dialects of the 
English Language for the Use of 
the University of Virginia 



INTRODUCTION 



IN his interest in the Anglo-Saxon language Thomas Jefferson 
was a pioneer and trail blazer. In an age in which Anglo-Saxon 
was generally neglected, he advocated its study in American 
colleges and universities, made provisions for teaching it in his 
own University of Virginia, and wrote a book on the subject. 
Portions from this book, the Essay on Anglo-Saxon, appear 
on the following pages. Jefferson first became interested in 
Anglo-Saxon while he was reading law in Williamsburg, Vir- 
ginia, at which time he "devoted some time to its study," at- 
tempting to simplify the grammar, modernize the spelling, and 
the like. Later, in 1798, he sent the results of his labors to the 
English philologist, Herbert Crofts. This section was revised 
and rewritten, in 1818, for the proposed University of Virginia. 
Still later, less than a year before his death, Jefferson added a 
prolonged P. S., making use of recent British research in the 
field of Anglo-Saxon. These two sections comprise Jefferson's 
Essay on Anglo-Saxon in its final form, and were first printed 
twenty-five years after his death, in 1851. 



To Herbert Croft, sq. y LL.B., London 
tMonttcello, Oflober joth, 1798 

SIR, The copy of your printed letter on the English and 
German languages, which you have been so kind as tc* 
send me, has come to hand; and I pray you to accept my 
thanks for this mark of your attention. I have perused it with 
singular pleasure, and, having long been sensible of the im- 
portance of a knowledge of the Northern languages to the 
understanding of English, I see it, in this letter, proved and 
specifically exemplified by your collations of the English and 
German. I shall look with impatience for the publication of 
your "English and German Dictionary." Johnson, besides the 
want of precision in his definitions, and of accurate distinction 
in passing from one shade of meaning to another of the same 
word, is most objectionable in his derivations. From a want 
probably of intimacy with our own language while in the 
Anglo-Saxon form and type, and of its kindred languages of the 
North, he has a constant leaning towards Greek and Latin for 
English etymon. Even Skinner has a little of this, who, when he 
has given the true Northern parentage of a word, often tells 
you from what Greek and Latin source it might be derived by 
those who have that kind of partiality. He is, however, on the 
whole, our best etymologist, unless we ascend a step higher 
to the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary; and he has set the good ex- 
ample of collating the English word with its kindred word in 
the several Northern dialects, which often assist in ascertaining 
its true meaning. 

Your idea is an excellent one, in producing authorities for 
the meaning of words, "to select the prominent passages in our 
best writers, to make your dictionary a general index to Eng- 
lish literature, and thus intersperse with verdure and flowers 
the barren deserts of Philology." And I believe with you that 
"wisdom, morality, religion, thus thrown down, as if without 
intention, before the reader, in quotations, may often produce 

153 



more effect than the very passages in the books themselves. "~ 
"that the cowardly suicide, in search of a strong word for his 
dying letter, might light on a passage which would excite him 
to blush at his want of fortitude, and to forego his purpose;" 
"and that a dictionary with examples at the words may, in 
regard to every branch of knowledge, produce more real ef- 
fect than the whole collection of books which it quotes." I 
have sometimes myself used Johnson as a Repertory, to find 
favorite passages which I wished to recollect, but too rarely 
with success. 

I was led to set a due value on the study of the Northern 
languages, and especially of our Anglo-Saxon, while I was a 
student of the law, by being obliged to recur to that source 
for explanation of a multitude of law-terms. A preface to 
Fortescue on Monarchies, written by Fortescue Aland, and 
afterwards premised to his volume of Reports, develops the 
advantages to be derived to the English student generally, and 
particularly the student of law, from an acquaintance with 
the Anglo-Saxon; and mentions the books to which the learner 
may have recourse for acquiring the language. I accordingly 
devoted some time to its study, but my busy life has not per- 
mitted me to indulge in a pursuit to which I felt great attrac- 
tion. While engaged in it, however, some ideas occurred for 
facilitating the study by simplifying its grammar, by reducing 
the infinite diversities of its unfixed orthography to single and 
settled forms, indicating at the same time the pronunciation 
of the word by its correspondence with the characters and pow- 
ers of the English alphabet. Some of these ideas I noted at the 
time on the blank leaves of my Elstob's Anglo-Saxon Gram- 
mar: but there I have left them, and must leave them, unpur- 
sued, although I still think them sound and useful. Among the 
works which I proposed for the Anglo-Saxon student, you will 
find such literal and verbal translations of the Anglo-Saxon 
writers recommended, as you have given us of the German in 
your printed letter. Thinking that I cannot submit those ideas 
to a better judge than yourself, and that if you find them of 

IS4 



any value you may put them to some use, either as hints in 
your dictionary, or in some other way, I will copy them as a 
sequel to this letter, and commit them without reserve to your 
better knowledge of the subject. Adding my sincere wishes for 
the speedy publication of your valuable dictionary, I tender 
* r ~" the assurance of my high respect and consideration. 



155 



AN ESSAY 
on the ^Anglo-Saxon Language 



r I ^HE importance of the Anglo-Saxon dialect toward a per- 
JL feet understanding of the English language seems not to 
have been duly estimated by those charged with the education 
of youth; and yet it is unquestionably the basis of our present 
tongue. It was a full-formed language; its frame and construc- 
tion, its declension of nouns and verbs, and its syntax were 
peculiar to the Northern languages, and fundamentally differ- 
ent from those of the South. It was the language of all Eng- 
land, properly so called, from the Saxon possession of that 
country in the sixth century to the time of Henry III in the 
thirteenth, and was spoken pure and unmixed with any other. 
Although the Romans had been in possession of that country 
for nearly five centuries from the time of Julius Caesar, yet it 
was a military possession chiefly, by their soldiery alone, and 
with dispositions intermutually jealous and unamicable. They 
seemed to have aimed at no lasting settlements there, and to 
have had little familiar mixture with the native Britons. In 
this state of connection there would probably be little incor- 
poration of the Roman into the native language, and on their 
subsequent evacuation of the island its traces would soon be 
lost altogether. And had it been otherwise, these innovations 
would have been carried with the natives themselves when 
driven into Wales by the invasion and entire occupation of 
the rest of the Southern portion of the island by the Anglo- 
Saxons. 

The language of these last became that of the country from 
that time forth, for nearly seven centuries; and so little atten- 
tion was paid among them to the Latin, that it was known to a 
few individuals only as a matter of science, and without any 
chance of transfusion into the vulgar language. We may safely 



ON <ANGLO-SAXON 

repeat the affirmation, therefore, that the pure Anglo-Saxon 
constitutes at this day the basis of our language. That it was 
sufficiently copious for the purposes of society in the existing 
condition of arts and manners, reason alone would satisfy us 
from the necessity of the case. Its copiousness, too, was much 
favored by the latitude it allowed of combining primitive words 
so as to produce any modification of idea desired. In this char- 
acteristic it was equal to the Greek, but it is more especially 
proved by the actual fact of the books they have left us in the 
various branches of history, geography, religion, law, and 
poetry. And although since the Norman conquest it has re- 
ceived vast additions and embellishments from the Latin, 
Greek, French, and Italian languages, yet these are but en- 
graftments on its idiomatic stem; its original structure and 
syntax remain the same, and can be but imperfectly under- 
stood by the mere Latin scholar. Hence the necessity of making 
the Anglo-Saxon a regular branch of academic education. In 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was assiduously cul- 
tivated by a host of learned men. The names of Lambard, 
Parker, Spelman, Wheeloc, Wilkins, Gibson, Hickes, Thwaites, 
Somner, Benson, Mareschal, Elstob, deserve to be ever remem- 
bered with gratitude for the Anglo-Saxon works which they 
have given us through the press, the only certain means of pre- 
serving and promulgating them. For a century past this study 
has been too much neglected. The reason of this neglect, and 
its remedy, shall be the subject of some explanatory observa- 
tions. These will respectI. The Alphabet. II. Orthography. 
III. Pronunciation. IV. Grammar. 

I. THE ALPHABET 

The Anglo-Saxon alphabet, as known to us in its printer* 
forms, consists of twenty-six characters, about the half of 
which are Roman, the others of forms peculiarly Saxon. These, 
mixed with the others, give an aspect to the whole rugged, 
uncouth, and appalling to an eye accustomed to the roundness 
and symmetry of the Roman character. This is a first discour- 

158 . 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

agement to the English student. Next, the task of learning a 
new alphabet, and the time and application necessary to render 
it easy and familiar to the reader, often decides the doubting 
learner against an enterprise so apparently irksome. 

The earliest remains extant of Saxon writing are said to be 
of the seventh century; and the latest of the thirteenth. The 
black letter seems to have been introduced by William the 
Conqueror, whose laws are written in Norman French, and 
in that letter. The full alphabet of Roman characters was first 
used about the beginning of the sixteenth century. But the ex- 
pression of the same sounds, by a different character did not 
change these sounds, nor the language which they constituted; 
did not make the language of Alfred a different one from that 
of Piers Ploughman, of Chaucer, Douglas, Spenser, and Shake- 
speare, any more than the second revolution, which substituted 
the Roman for the English black letter, made theirs a different 
language from that of Pope and Bolingbroke; or the writings 
of Shakespeare, printed in black letter, different from the same 
as now done in Roman type. The life of Alfred, written in 
Latin and in Roman character by Asser, was reprinted by 
Archbishop Parker in Anglo-Saxon letters. But it is Latin 
still, although the words are represented by characters differ- 
ent from those of Asser's original. And the extracts given us 
by Dr. Hickes from the Greek Septuagint, in Anglo-Saxon 
characters, are Greek still, although the Greek sounds are rep- 
resented by other types. Here then I ask, why should not this 
Roman character, with which we are all familiar, be substi- 
tuted now for the Anglo-Saxon, by printing in the former the 
works already edited in the latter type? and also the manu- 
scripts still inedited? This may be done letter for letter, and 
would remove entirely the first discouraging obstacle to the 
general study of the Anglo-Saxon. 

II. ORTHOGRAPHY 

In the period during which the Anglo-Saxon alphabet was 
in use, reading and writing were rare arts. The highest dig- 

159 



8SSAT ON .ANGLO-SAXON 

nitaries of the church subscribed their marks, not knowing 
how to write their names. Alfred himself was taught to read in 
his thirty-sixth year only, or, as some editions of Asser say, 
in his thirty-ninth. Speaking of learning in his Preface to the 
Pastoral of Gregory, Alfred says, "Swa clean hi was oth-fallen 
on Angelkin that swithe few were on behinan Humber the hior 
thenung cuthon understandan on Englisc, oth furthon an er- 
rand y-write of Latin on Englisc areckon. And I ween that not 
many beyondan Humber nay aren; swa few hior weron that I 
furthon ane on lepne nay may y-thinkan be-Suthan Thames 
tha tha I to ric fang." Or, as literally translated into later 
English by Archbishop Parker, "So clean was it fallen amongst 
the English nation, that very few were on this side Humber 
which their service could understand in English, or else fur- 
thermore an epistle from Latin into English to declare. And 
1 ween that not many beyond Humber were not. So few of 
them were that I also one only may not remember by South 
Tamise when as I to reign undertook." In this benighted state, 
so profoundly illiterate, few read at all, and fewer wrote: and 
the writer having no examples of orthography to recur to, think- 
ing them indeed not important, had for his guide his own 
ideas only of the power of the letters, unpractised and indis- 
tinct as they might be. He brought together, therefore, those 
letters which he supposed must enter into the composition of 
the sound he meant to express, and was not even particular in 
arranging them in the order in which the sounds composing 
the word followed each other. Thus, birds was spelt brides; 
grass, gaers; run, yrnan; cart, craett; fresh, fersh. They seemed 
to suppose, too, that a final vowel was necessary to give sound 
to the consonant preceding it, and they used for that purpose 
any vowel indifferently. A son was suna, sune, sunu; maera, 
maere, maero, maeru; fines, limites; ge, ye, y, i, are various 
spellings of the same prefix. The final e mute in English is a 
remain of this, as in give, love, curse. 

The vowels were used indiscriminately also lor every vowel 
sound. Thus. 

1 60 



THOMAS 

The comparative ended in ar, er, ir, or, ur, yr. 
The superlative ended in ast, est, ist, ost, ust, yst. 
The participle present ended in and, end, ind, ond, und, ynd. 
The participle past ended in ad, ed, id, od, ud, yd. 
Other examples are, betweox, betwix, betwox, betwux, betwyx, lor 
betwixt; egland, igland, ygland, for island. 

Of this promiscuous use of the vowels we have also abundant 
remains still in English. For according to the powers given to 
our letters we often use them indifferently for the same sound, 
as in bulwark, assert, stir, work, lurk, myrtle. The single word 
many, in Anglo-Saxon, was spelt, as Dr. Hickes has observed, 
in twenty different ways; to wit, maenigeo, maenio, maeniu, 
menio, meniu, maenigo, maenego, manige, menigo, manegeo, 
maenegeo, menegeo, maenygeo, menigeo, manegu, maenigu, 
menegu, menego, menigu manigo. To prove, indeed, that every 
one spelt according to his own notions, without regard to any 
standard, we have only to compare different editions of the 
same composition. . . , 1 

This unsettled orthography renders it necessary to swell the 
volume of the dictionaries, by giving to each word as many 
places in order of the alphabet as there are different modes of 
spelling it; and in proportion as this is omitted, the difficulty 
of finding the words increases on the student. 

Since, then, it is apparent that the Anglo-Saxon writers had 
established no particular standard of orthography, but each 
followed arbitrarily his own mode of combining the letters, we 
are surely at liberty equally to adopt any mode which, estab- 
lishing uniformity, may be more consonant with the power of 
the letters, and with the orthography of the present dialect, as 
established by usage. The latter attention has the advantage 
of exhibiting more evidently the legitimate parentage of the 
two dialects. 

i. Here Jefferson cites various printed versions of Alfred's Preface to 
Pope Gregory's Pastoral Care. 

161 



SSSAT ON <ANGLO-SAXON 

III. PRONUNCIATION 

To determine what that was among the Anglo-Saxons, our 
means are as defective as to determine the long-agitated ques- 
tion what was the original pronunciation of the Greek and Latin 
languages. The presumption is certainly strong that in Greece 
and Italy, the countries occupied by those languages, their pro- 
nunciation has been handed down, by tradition, more nearly 
than it can be known to other countries: and the rather, as 
there has been no particular point of time at which those an- 
cient languages were changed into the modern ones occupy- 
ing the same grounds. They have been gradually worn down 
to their present forms by time, and changes of modes and cir- 
cumstances. In like manner there has been no particular point 
of time at which the Anglo-Saxon has been changed into its 
present English form. The languages of Europe have generally, 
in like manner, undergone a gradual metamorphosis, some of 
them in name as well as in form. We should presume, there- 
fore, that in those countries of Great Britain which were oc- 
cupied earliest, longest, and latest by the Saxon immigrants, 
the pronunciation of their language has been handed down 
more nearly than elsewhere; and should be searched for in the 
provincial dialects of those countries. But the fact is, that these 
countries have divaricated in their dialects, so that it would be 
difficult to decide among them which is the most genuine. Un- 
der these doubts, therefore, we may as well take the pronuncia- 
tion now in general use as the legitimate standard, and that 
form which it is most promotive of our object to infer the 
Anglo-Saxon pronunciation. It is, indeed, the forlorn hope of 
all aim at their probably pronunciation; for were we to regard 
the powers of the letters only, no human organ could articulate 
their uncouth jumble. We will suppose, therefore, the power 
of the letters to have been generally the same in Anglo-Saxon 
as now in English; and to produce the same sounds we will 
combine them, as nearly as may be, conformably with the pres- 

162 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

ent English orthography. This is, indeed, a most irregular and 
equivocal standard; but a conformity with it will bring the 
two dialects nearer together in sound and semblance, and fa- 
cilitate the transition from the one to the other more auspi- 
ciously than a rigorous adherence to any uniform system of 
orthography which speculation might suggest. 

IV. GRAMMAR 

Some observations on Anglo-Saxon grammar may show how 
much easier that also may be rendered to the English student. 
Dr. Hickes may certainly be considered as the father of this 
branch of modern learning. He has been the great restorer of 
the Anglo-Saxon dialect from the oblivion into which it was 
fast falling. His labors in it were great, and his learning not 
less than his labors. His grammar may be said to be the only 
one we yet possess: for that edited at Oxford in 1711 is but an 
extract from Hickes, and the principal merit of Mrs. Elstob's 
is, that it is written in English, without anything original in it. 
Some others have been written, taken also, and almost en- 
tirely from Hickes. In his time there was too exclusive a preju- 
dice in favor of the Greek and Latin languages. They were 
considered as the standards of perfection, and the endeavor 
generally was to force other languages to a conformity with 
these models. But nothing can be more radically unlike than 
the frames of the ancient languages, Southern and Northern, 
of the Greek and Latin languages, from those of the Gothic 
family. Of this last are the Anglo-Saxon and English; and had 
Dr. Hickes, instead of keeping his eye fixed on the Greek and 
Latin languages, as his standard, viewed the Anglo-Saxon in 
its conformity with the English only, he would greatly have en- 
larged the advantages for which we are already so much in- 
debted to him. His labors, however, have advanced us so far 
on the right road, and a correct pursuit of it will be a just hom- 
age to him. 



ON ^NGLO-SAXON 

A noun is to be considered under its accidents of genders, 
cases, and numbers. The word gender is, in nature, synonymous 
with sex. To all the subjects of the animal kingdom nature has 
given sex, and that is twofold only, male or female, masculine 
or feminine. Vegetable and mineral subjects have no distinc- 
tion of sex, consequently are of no gender. Words, like other 
inanimate things, have no sex, are of no gender. Yet in the 
construction of the Greek and Latin languages, and of the mod- 
ern ones of the same family, their adjectives being varied in 
termination, and made distinctive of animal sex, in conformity 
with the nouns or names of animal subject, the two real gen- 
ders, which nature has established, are distinguished in these 
languages. But, not stopping here, they have by usage, thrown 
a number of unsexual subjects into the sexual classes, leaving 
the residuary mass to a third class, which grammarians call 
neutral that is to say, of no gender or sex: and some Latin 
grammarians have so far lost sight of the real and natural gen- 
ders as to ascribe to that language seven genders, the mascu- 
line, feminine, neuter, gender common to two, common to 
three, the doubtful, and the epicene; than which nothing can 
be more arbitrary, and nothing more useless. But the language 
of the Anglo-Saxons and English is based on principles totally 
different from those of the Greek and Latin, and is constructed 
on laws peculiar and idiomatic to itself. Its adjectives have no 
changes of termination on account of gender, number or case. 
Each has a single one applicable to every noun, whether it be 
the name of a thing having sex, or not. To ascribe gender to 
nouns in such a case would be to embarrass the learner with 
unmeaning and useless distinctions. 

It will be said, e.g., that a priest is of one gender, and a 
priestess of another; a poet of one, a poetess of another, etc.; 
and that therefore the words designating them must be of dif- 
ferent genders. I say, not at all; because although the thing 
designated may have sex, the word designating it, like other 
inanimate things, has no sex, no gender. In Latin, we well know 

164 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

that the thing may be of one gender and the word designating 
it of another. See Martial vii., Epig. 17. The ascription of gen- 
der to it is artificial and arbitrary, and, in English and Anglo- 
Saxon, absolutely useless. Lowthe, therefore, among the most 
correct of our English grammarians, has justly said that in the 
nouns of the English language there is no other distinction of 
gender but that of nature, its adjectives admitting no change 
but of the degrees of comparison. We must guard against the 
conclusion of Dr. Hickes that the change of termination in 
the Anglo-Saxon adjectives, as god, gode, for example, is an 
indication of gender; this, like others of his examples of inflec- 
tion, is only an instance of unsettled orthography. In the lan- 
guages acknowledged to ascribe genders to their words, as 
Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, their dictionaries indi- 
cate the gender of every noun; but the Anglo-Saxon and Eng- 
lish dictionaries give no such indication ; a proof of the general 
sense that gender makes no part of the character of the noun. 
We may safely therefore dismiss the learning of genders from 
our language, whether in its ancient or modern form. 

2. Our law of Cases is different. They exist in nature, accord- 
ing to the difference of accident they announce. No language 
can be without them, and it is an error to say that the Greek 
is without an ablative. Its ablative indeed is always like its 
dative; but were that sufficient to deny its existence, we might 
equally say that the Latins had no ablative plural, because in 
all nouns of every declension, their ablative plural is the same 
with the dative. It would be to say that to go to a place, or 
from a place, means the same thing. The grammarians of Port- 
Royal, therefore, have justly restored the ablative to Greek 
nouns. Our cases are generally distinguished by the aid of the 
prepositions of, to, by, from, or with, but sometimes also by 
change of teimination. But these changes are not so general 
or difficult as to require, or to be capable of a distribution into 
declensions. Yet Dr. Hickes, having in view the Saxon declen- 
sions of the Latin, and ten of the Greek language, has given 

165 



SSSAT ON ^NGLO-SAXON 

six, and Thwaytes seven to the Anglo-Saxon. The whole of 
them, however, are comprehended under the three simple 
canons following: 

(i.) The datives and ablatives plural of all nouns end in urn. 

(2.) Of the other cases, some nouns inflect their genitive 
singular only, and some their nominative, accusative and voca- 
tive plural also in y, as in English. 

(3.) Others, preserving the primitive form in their nomina- 
tive and vocative singular, inflect all the other cases and num- 
bers in en. 

3. Numbers. Every language, as I presume, has so formed its 
nouns and verbs as to distinguish a single and a plurality of 
subjects, and all, as far as I know, have been contented with 
the simple distinction of singular and plural, except the Greeks, 
who have interposed between them a dual number, so distinctly 
formed by actual changes of termination and inflection, as to 
leave no doubt of its real distinction from the other numbers. 
But they do not uniformly use their dual for its appropriate 
purpose. The number two is often expressed plurally, and some- 
times by a dual noun and plural verb. Dr. Hickes supposes the 
Anglo-Saxon to have a dual number also, not going through the 
whole vocabulary of nouns and verbs, as in Greek, but confined 
to two particular pronouns, i.e., wit and yit, which he trans- 
lates we two, and ye two. But Benson renders wit by nos, and 
does not give yit at all. And is it worth while to embarrass 
grammar with an extra distinction for two or three, or half a 
dozen words? And why may not wit, we two, and yit, ye two, 
be considered plural, as well as we three, or we four? as duo, 
ambo, with the Latins? We may surely say then that neither 
the Anglo-Saxon nor English have a dual number. 

4. Verbs, moods. To the verbs in Anglo-Saxon Dr. Hickes 
gives six moods. The Greeks, besides the four general moods, 
Indicative, Subjunctive, Imperative, and Infinitive, have really 
an Optative mood, distinguished from the others by actual dif- 
ferences of termination. And some Latin grammarians, besides 
the Optative, have added, in that language, a Potential mood; 

166 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

neither of them distinguished by differences of termination or 
inflection. They have therefore been disallowed by later and 
sounder grammarians; and we may, in like manner, disembar- 
rass our Anglo-Saxon and English from the Optatives and Po- 
tentials of Dr. Hickes. 

Supines and Gerunds 

He thinks, too, that the Anglo-Saxon has supines and ger- 
unds among its variations; accidents certainly peculiar to Latin 
verbs only. He considers lufian, to love, as the infinitive, and 
to lufian, a supine. The exclusion, therefore, of the preposition 
to, makes with him the infinitive, while we have ever considered 
it as the essential sign of that mood. And what all grammarians 
have hitherto called the infinitive, he considers as a supine or 
gerund. . . . 

From these aberrations, into which our great Anglo-Saxon 
leader, Dr. Hickes, has been seduced by too much regard to 
the structure of the Greek and Latin languages and too little 
to their radical difference from that of the Gothic family, we 
have to recall our footsteps into the right way, and we shall 
find our path rendered smoother, plainer, and more direct to 
the object of profiting of the light which each dialect throws 
on the other. . . . 

As we are possessed in America of the printed editions of 
the Anglo-Saxon writings, they furnish a fit occasion for this 
country to make some return to the older nations for the sci- 
ence for which we are indebted to them; and in this task I 
hope an honorable part will in time be borne by our University, 
for which, at an hour of life too late for anything elaborate, I 
hazard these imperfect hints, for consideration chiefly on a 
subject on which I pretend not to be profound. The publica- 
tion of the inedited manuscripts which exist in the libraries of 
Great Britain only, must depend on the learned of that nation. 
Their means of science are great. They have done much, and 
much is yet expected from them. Nor will they disappoint us. 

167 



8SSAT ON <ANGLO-SAXON 

Our means are as yet small; but the widow's mite was piously 
given and kindly accepted. How much would contribute to 
the happiness of these two nations a brotherly emulation in 
doing good to each other, rather than the mutual vituperations 
so unwisely and unjustifiably sometimes indulged in by both. 
And this too by men on both sides of the water, who think 
themselves of a superior order of understanding, and some of 
whom are truly of an elevation far above the ordinary stature 
of the human mind. No two people on earth can so much help 
or hurt each other. Let us then yoke ourselves jointly to the 
same car of mutual happiness, and vie in common efforts to 
do each other all the good we can to reflect on each other the 
lights of mutual science particularly, and the kind affections of 
kindred blood. Be it our task, in the case under consideration, 
to reform and republish, in forms more advantageous, what we 
already possess, and theirs to add to the common stock the in- 
edited treasures which have been too long buried in their de- 
positories. 

P. S. January, 1825. In the year 1818, by authority of the 
legislature of Virginia, a plan for the establishment of an Uni- 
versity was prepared and proposed by them. In that plan the 
Anglo-Saxon language was comprehended as a part of the circle 
of instruction to be given to the students; and the preceding 
pages were then committed to writing for the use of the Uni- 
versity. I pretend not to be an Anglo-Saxon scholar. From an 
early period of my studies, indeed, I have been sensible of the 
importance of making it a part of the regular education of our 
youth; and at different times, as leisure permitted, I applied 
myself to the study of it, with some degree of attention. But 
my life has been too busy in pursuits of another character to 
have made much proficiency in this. The leading idea which 
very soon impressed itself on my mind, and which has con- 
tinued to prevail through the whole of my observations on the 
language, was, that it was nothing more than the Old English 
of a period of some ages earlier than that of Piers Ploughman; 
and under this view my cultivation of it has been continued. It 

168 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

was apparent to me that the labors of Dr. Hickes, and other 
very learned men, have been employed in a very unfortunate 
direction, in endeavors to give it the complicated structure of 
the Greek and Latin languages. I have just now received a 
copy of a new work, by Mr. Bosworth, on the elements of 
Anglo-Saxon grammar, and it quotes two other works, by 
Turner and Jamieson, both of great erudition, but not yet 
known here. 

Mr. Bosworth's is, indeed, a treasure of that venerable learn- 
ing. It proved the assiduity with which he has cultivated it, the 
profound knowledge in it which he has attained, and that he 
has advanced far beyond all former grammarians in the science 
of its structure. Yet, I own, I was disappointed on finding that 
in proportion as he has advanced on and beyond the footsteps 
of his predecessors, he has the more embarrassed the language 
with rules and distinctions, in imitation of the grammars of 
Greek and Latin; has led it still further from its genuine type 
of old English, and increased its difficulties by the multitude 
and variety of new and minute rules with which he has charged 
it. ... And this leads to such an infinitude of minute rules and 
observances, as are beyond the power of any human memory 
to retain. If, indeed, this be the true genius of the Anglo-Saxon 
language, then its difficuties go beyond its worth, and render a 
knowledge of it no longer a compensatoin for the time and 
labor its acquisition will require; and, in that case, I would rec- 
ommend its abandonment in our University, as an unattain- 
able and unprofitable pursuit. 

But if, as I believe, we may consider it as merely an anti- 
quated form of our present language, if we may throw aside 
the learned difficulties which mask its real character, liberate 
it from these foreign shackles, and proceed to apply ourselves 
to it with little more preparation than to Piers Ploughman, 
Douglas, or Chaucer, then I am persuaded its acquisition will 
require little time or labor, and will richly repay us by the 
intimate insight it will give us into the genuine structure, pow- 
ers, and meanings of the language we now read and speak. We 

169 



ON JNGLO-SAXON 

shall then read Shakespeare and Milton with a superior degree 
of intelligence and delight, heightened by the new and deli- 
cate shades of meaning developed to us by a knowledge of the 
original sense of the same words. 

This rejection of the learned labors of our Anglo-Saxon doc- 
tors, may be considered, perhaps, as a rebellion against science. 
My hope, however, is, that it may prove a revolution. Two 
great works, indeed, will be wanting to effect all its advantages, 
i. A grammar on the simple principles of the English grammar, 
analogizing the idiom, the rules and principles of the one and 
the other, eliciting their common origin, the identity of their 
structure, laws, and composition, and their total unlikeness to 
the genius of the Greek and Latin. 2. A dictionary, on the plan 
of Stephens or Scapula, in which the Anglo-Saxon roots should 
be arranged alphabetically, and the derivatives from each root, 
Saxon and English, entered under it in their proper order and 
connection. Such works as these, with new editions of the 
Saxon writings, on the plan I venture to propose, would show 
that the Anglo-Saxon is really old English, little more difficult 
to understand than works we possess, and read, and still call 
English. They would recruit and renovate the vigor of the Eng- 
lish language, too much impaired by the neglect of its ancient 
constitution and dialects, and would remove, for the student, 
the principal difficulties of ascending to the source of the Eng- 
Jish Jangiw/jf., the main object of what has been here proposed. 



170 



biographical (ketches of 
FAMOUS MEN 



INTRODUCTION 



AS one of the founding fathers of the Republic and as a man 
\vho knew intimately most of the outstanding men connected 
with the early history of the United States, Thomas Jeffer- 
son, in his later years particularly, was frequently asked to 
furnish material to historians and biographers. The following 
biographical sketches were all written in compliance with such 
requests and are reprinted in their entirety. 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF 
FAMOUS MEN 



I 



The Character of George Washington * 

THINK I knew General Washington intimately 
and thoroughly; and were I called on to delineate 
his character, it should be in terms like these. 

His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very 
first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that 
of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judg- 
ment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little 
aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. 
Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he 
derived from councils of war, where hearing all suggestions, 
he selected whatever was best; and certainly no general ever 
planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during 
the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dis- 
located by .sudden circumstances, he was slow in re-adjust- 
ment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, 
and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. 
He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the 
calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his char- 
acter was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, 
every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he 
saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his 
purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most 
pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no mo- 

i. From Jefferson's letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814. 
Dr. Jones had written Jefferson saying he was having trouble, with a 
historical work under preparation, in depicting Washington's role during 
the Federalist-Republican struggle. 

173 



BIOGRAPHICAL SK8TCHES 

lives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, be- 
ing able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of 
the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was 
naturally irritable and high toned; but reflection and resolu- 
tion had obtained a firm and habitual ascendency over it. If 
ever, however, it broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in 
his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal 
in contributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning 
and unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls 
on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he 
exactly calculated every man's value, and gave him a solid es- 
teem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his 
stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect 
and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most grace- 
ful figure that could be seen on horseback. Although in the 
circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, 
he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were 
not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, 
nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden 
opinion, he was unready, short and embarrassed. Yet he wrote 
readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This he 
had acquired by conversation with the world, for his education 
was merely reading, writing and common arithmetic, to which 
he added surveying at a later day. His time was employed 
in action chiefly, reading little, and that only in agriculture 
and English history. His correspondence became necessarily 
extensive, and, with journalizing his agricultural proceedings, 
occupied most of his leisure hours within doors. On the whole, 
his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few 
points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did 
nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man 
great, and to place him in the same constellation with what- 
ever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remem- 
brance. For his was the singular destiny and merit, of leading 
the armies of his country successfully through an arduous 
war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting 

174. 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms 
and principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and or- 
derly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the 
whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of 
the world furnishes no other example. 

.... I am satisfied the great body of republicans think of 
him as I do. We were, indeed, disssatisfied with him on his 
ratification of the British treaty. But this was short lived. We 
knew his honesty, the wiles with which he was encompassed, 
and that age had already begun to relax the firmness of his 
purposes; and I am convinced he is more deeply seated in the 
love and gratitude of the republicans, than in the Pharisaical 
homage of the federal monarchists. For he was no monarchist 
from preference of his judgment. The soundness of that gave 
him correct views of the rights of man, and his severe justice 
devoted him to them. He has often declared to me that he 
considered our new Constitution as an experiment on the prac- 
ticability of republican government, and with what dose of 
liberty man could be trusted for his own good; that he was 
determined the experiment should have a fair trial, and would 
lose the last drop of his blood in support of it. And these dec- 
larations he repeated to me the oftener and more pointedly, 
because he knew my suspicions of Colonel Hamilton's views, 
and probably had heard from him the same declarations which 
I had, to wit, "that the British constitution, with its unequal 
representation, corruption and other existing abuses, was the 
most perfect government which had ever been established on 
earth, and that a reformation of those abuses would make it 
an impracticable government." I do believe that General Wash- 
ington had not a firm confidence in the durability of our gov- 
ernment. He was naturally distrustful of men, and inclined to 
gloomy apprehensions; and I was ever persuaded that a be- 
lief that we must at length end in something like a British 
constitution, had some weight in his adoption of the ceremonies 
of levees, birthdays, pompous meetings with Congress, and 
other forms of the same character, calculated to prepare us 

175 



BIOGRAPHICAL SK8TCHES 

gradually for a change which he believed possible, and to let 
it come on with as little shock as might be to the public mind. 
These are my opinions of General Washington, which I 
would vouch at the judgment seat of God, having been formed 
on an acquaintance of thirty years. I served with him in the 
Virginia legislature from 1769 to the Revolutionary war, and 
again, a short time in Congress, until he left us to take com- 
mand of the army. During the war and after it we corresponded 
occasionally, and in the four years of my continuance in the 
office of Secretary of State, our intercourse was daily, confiden- 
tial and cordial. After I retired from that office, great and 
malignant pains were taken by our federal monarchists, and 
not entirely without effect, to make him view me as a theorist, 
holding French principles of government, which would lead in- 
fallibly to licentiousness and anarchy. And to this he listened 
the more easily, from my known disapprobation of the British 
treaty. I never saw him afterwards, or these malignant insin- 
uations should have been dissipated before his just judgment, 
as mists before the sun. I felt on his death, with my country- 
men, that "verily a great man hath fallen this day in Israel." 

Anecdotes of Benjamin Franklin * 

Our revolutionary process, as is well known, commenced by 
petitions, memorials, remonstrances, etc., from the old Con- 
gress. These were followed by a non-importation agreement, 
as a pacific instrument of coercion. While that was before us, 
and sundry exceptions, as of arms, ammunition, etc., were 
moved from different quarters of the house, I was sitting by 
Dr. Franklin and observed to him that I thought we should 
except books; that we ought not to exclude science, even com- 
ing from an enemy. He thought so too, and I proposed the 
exception, which was agreed to. Soon after it occurred that 
medicine should be excepted, and I suggested that also to the 
Doctor. "As to that," said he, "I will tell you a story. When I 

i. These anecdotes were written by Jefferson at the request of Robert 
Walsh, journalist and publisher, and were inclosed to him with a letter 
of December 4, 1818. 

176 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

was in London, in such a year, there was a weekly club of 
physicians, of which Sir John Pr ingle was president, and I was 
invited by my friend Dr. Fothergill to attend when conven- 
ient. Their rule was to propose a thesis one week and discuss 
it the next. I happened there when the question to be con- 
sidered was whether physicians had, on the whole, done most 
good or harm? The young members, particularly, having dis- 
cussed it very learnedly and eloquently till the subject was 
exhausted, one of them observed to Sir John Pringle, that al- 
though it was not usual for the President to take part in a de- 
bate, yet they were desirous to know his opinion on the ques- 
tion. He said they must first tell him whether, under the 
appellation of physicians, they meant to include old women, 
if they did he thought they had done more good than harm, 
otherwise more harm than good." 

The confederation of the States, while on the carpet before 
the old Congress, was strenuously opposed by the smaller 
States, under apprehensions that they would be swallowed up 
by the larger ones. We were long engaged in the discussion; 
it produced great heats, much ill humor, and intemperate dec^ 
larations from some members. Dr. Franklin at length brought 
the debate to a close with one of his little apologues. He ob- 
served that "at the time of the union of England and Scotland, 
the Duke of Argyle was most violently opposed to that measure 
and among other things predicted that, as the whale had swal- 
lowed Jonah, so Scotland would be swallowed by England. 
However," said the Doctor, "when Lord Bute came into the 
government, he soon brought into its administration so many 
of his countrymen, that it was found in event that Jonah swal- 
lowed the whale." This little story produced a general laugh, 
and restored good humor, and the article of difficulty was 
passed. 

When Dr. Franklin went to France, on his revolutionary 
mission, his eminence as a philosopher, his venerable appear- 
ance, and the cause on which he was sent, rendered him ex- 
tremely popular. For all ranks and conditions of men there ; 

177 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKBTCHES 

entered warmly into the American interest. He was, therefore, 
feasted and invited into all the court parties. At these he 
sometimes met the old Duchess of Bourbon, who, being a chess 
player of about his force, they very generally played together. 
Happening once to put her king into prize, the Doctor took it. 
"Ah," said she, "we do not take kings so. 7 ' "We do in Amer- 
ica," said the Doctor. 

At one of these parties the Emperor Joseph III, then at 
Paris, incog., under the title of Count Falkenstein, was over- 
looking the game in silence, while the company was engaged 
in animated conversations on the American question. "How 
happens it M. le Comte," said the Duchess, "that while we all 
feel so much interest in the cause of the Americans, you say 
nothing for them?" "I am a king by trade," said he. 

When the Declaration of Independence was under the con- 
sideration of Congress, there were two or three unlucky expres- 
sions in it which gave offence to some members. The words 
"Scotch and other foreign auxiliaries" excited the ire of a gen- 
tleman or two of that country. Severe strictures on the conduct 
of the British king, in negotiating our repeated repeals of the 
law which permitted the importation of slaves, were disap- 
proved by some Southern gentlemen, whose reflections were 
not yet matured to the full abhorrence of that traffic. Although 
the offensive expressions were immediately yielded these gen- 
tlemen continued their depredations on other parts of the in- 
strument. I was sitting by Dr. Franklin, who perceived that I 
was not insensible to these mutilations. "I have made it a 
rule," said he, "whenever in my power, to avoid becoming the 
draughtsmen of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I took 
my lesson from an incident which I will relate to you. When I 
was a journeyman printer, one of my companions, an appren- 
tice hatter, having served out his time, was about to open shop 
for himself. His first concern was to have a handsome sign- 
board, with a proper inscription. He composed it in these 
words, * John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats for ready 
money/ with a figure of a hat subjoined; but he thought he 

178 



1'HOMAS JSFFSRSON 

would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first 
he showed it to thought the word 'Hatter' tautologous, because 
followed by the words 'makes hats/ which show he was a hat- 
ter. It was struck out. The next observed that the word 'makes' 
might as well be omitted, because his customers would not 
care who made the hats. If good and to their mind, they would 
buy, by whomsoever made. He struck it out. A third said he 
thought the words 'jor ready money' were useless, as it was 
not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Every one who 
purchased expected to pay. They were parted with, and the 
inscription now stood, 'John Thompson sells hats.' 'Sells hats!' 
says his next friend. Why nobody will expect you to give them 
away, what then is the use of that word? It was stricken out, 
and 'hats' followed it, the rather as there was one painted on 
the board. So the inscription was reduced ultimately to 'John 
Thompson' with the figure of a hat subjoined." 

The Doctor told me at Paris the two following anecdotes of 
the Abbe Raynal. He had a party to dine with him one day at 
Passy, of whom one half were Americans, the other half 
French, and among the last was the Abbe. During the dinner 
he got on his favorite theory of the degeneracy of animals, and 
even of man, in America, and urged it with his usual eloquence. 
The Doctor at length noticing the accidental stature and posi- 
tion of his guests, at table, "Come," says he, "M. 1'Abbe, let 
us try this question by the fact before us. We are here one half 
Americans, and one half French, and it happens that the 
Americans have placed themselves on one side of the table, 
and our French friends are on the other. Let both parties rise, 
and we will see on which side nature has degenerated." It hap- 
pened that his American guests were Carmichael, Harmer, 
Humphreys, and others of the finest stature and form; while 
those of the other side were remarkably diminutive, and the 
Abbe himself particularly, was a mere shrimp. He parried the 
appeal, however, by a complimentary admission of exceptions, 
among which the Doctor himself was a conspicuous one. 

The Doctor and Silas Deane were in conversation one day 

179 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKBfCHES 

at Pass/, on the numerous errors in the Abbe's Histoire des 
deux Indes, when he happened to step in. After the usual salu- 
tations, Silas Deane said to him, "The Doctor and myself, 
Abbe, were just speaking of the errors of fact into which you 
have been led in your history." "Oh, no Sir," said the Abbe, 
"that is impossible. I took the greatest care not to insert a 
single fact, for which I had not the most unquestionable au- 
thority." "Why," says Deane, "there is the story of Polly 
Baker, and the eloquent apology you have put into her mouth, 
when brought before a court of Massachusetts to suffer punish- 
ment under a law which you cite, for having had a bastard. I 
know there never was such a law in Massachusetts." "Be as- 
sured," said the Abbe, "you are mistaken, and that that is a 
true story. I do not immediately recollect indeed the particular 
information on which I quote it; but I am certain that I had 
for it unquestionable authority." Doctor Franklin, who had 
been for some time shaking with unrestrained laughter at the 
Abbe's confidence in his authority for that tale, said, "I will 
tell you, Abbe, the origin of that story. When I was a printer 
and editor of a newspaper, we were sometimes slack of news, 
and to amuse our customers, I used to fill up our vacant col- 
umns with anecdotes and fables, and fancies of my own, and 
this of Polly Baker is a story of my making, on one of these 
occasions. The Abbe, without the least disconcert, exclaimed 
with a laugh, "Oh, very well, Doctor, I had rather relate your 
stories than other men's truths." 

Notes for the Biography of George Wythe * 
George Wythe was born about the year 1727, or 1728, of a 
respectable family in the County of Elizabeth City, on the 
shores of the Chesapeake. He inherited, from his father, a for- 
tune sufficient for independence and ease. He had not the bene- 
fit of a regular education in the schools, but acquired a good 
one of himself, and without assistance; insomuch, as to become 

i. This biographical sketch was furnished to John Saunderson, who 
had written Jefferson concerning a proposed biography of Wythe. It 
was sent him with a letter of August 31, 1820. 

1 80 



THOMAS JSFFBRSON 

the best Latin and Greek scholar in the State. It is said, that 
while reading the Greek Testament, his mother held an Eng- 
lish one, to aid him in rendering the Greek text conformably 
with that. He also acquired, by his own reading, a good knowl- 
edge of Mathematics, and of Natural and Moral Philosophy. 
He engaged in the study of the law under the direction of a 
Mr. Lewis, of that profession, and went early to the bar of the 
General Court, then occupied by men of great ability, learning, 
and dignity in their profession. He soon became eminent 
among them, and, in process of time, the first at the bar, tak- 
ing into consideration his superior learning, correct elocution, 
and logical style of reasoning; for in pleading he never in- 
dulged himself with an useless or declamatory thought or word ; 
and became as distinguished by correctness and purity of con- 
duct in his profession, as he was by his industry and fidelity to 
those who employed him. He was early elected to the House 
of Representatives, then called the House of Burgesses, and 
continued in it until the Revolution. On the first dawn of that, 
instead of higgling on half-way principles, as others did who 
feared to follow their reason, he took his stand on the solid 
ground that the only link of political union between us and 
Great Britain, was the identity of our Executive; that that na- 
tion and its Parliament had no more authority over us, than 
we had over them, and that we were co-ordinate nations with 
Great Britain and Hanover. 

In 1774, he was a member of a Committee of the House of 
Burgesses, appointed to prepare a Petition to the King, a Me- 
morial to the House of Lords, and a Remonstrance to the 
House of Commons, on the subject of the proposed Stamp Act. 
He was made draughtsman of the last, and, following his own 
principles, he so far overwent the timid hesitations of his col- 
leagues, that his draught was subjected by them to material 
modifications; and, when the famous Resolutions of Mr. Henry, 
in 1775, were proposed, it was not on any difference of prin- 
ciple that they were opposed by Wythe, Randolph, Pendleton, 
Nicholas, Bland, and other worthies, who had long been the 

181 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 

habitual leaders of the House; but because those papers of the 
preceding session had already expressed the same sentiments 
and assertions of right, and that an answer to them was yet to 
be expected. 

In August, 1775, he was appointed a member of Congress, 
and in 1776, signed the Declaration of Independence, of which 
he had, in debate, been an eminent supporter. And subse- 
quently, in the same year, he was appointed, by the Legisla- 
ture of Virginia, one of a Committee to revise the laws of the 
State, as well of British as of Colonial enactment, and to pre- 
pare bills for re-enacting them, with such alterations as the 
change in the form and principles of the government, and other 
circumstances, required; and of this work, he executed the 
period commencing with the revolution in England, and ending 
with the establishment of the new government here; excepting 
the Acts for regulating descents, for religious freedom, and 
for proportioning crimes and punishments. In 1777, he was 
chosen Speaker of the House of Delegates, being of distin- 
guished learning in Parliamentary law and proceedings; and 
towards the end of the same year, he was appointed one of the 
three Chancellors, to whom that department of the Judiciary 
was confided, on the first organization of the new government. 
On a subsequent change of the form of that court, he was ap- 
pointed sole Chancellor, in which office he continued to act 
until his death, which happened in June, 1806, about the 
seventy-eighth or seventy-ninth year of his age. 

Mr. Wythe had been twice married: first, I believe, to a 
daughter of Mr. Lewis, with whom he had studied law, and 
afterwards to a Miss Taliaferro, of a wealthy and respectable 
family in the neighborhood of Williamsburg ; by neither of 
whom did he leave issue. 

No man ever left behind him a character more venerated 
than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his 
integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, 
and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal 
rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country, 

182 



THOMAS 

without the avarice of the Roman; for a more disinterested 
person never lived. Temperance and regularity in all his habits, 
gave him general good health, and his unaffected modesty and 
suavity of manners endeared him to every one. He was of easy 
elocution, his language chaste, methodical in the arrangement 
of his matter, learned and logical in the use of it, and of 
great urbanity in debate; not quick of apprehension, but, with 
a little time, profound in penetration, and sound in conclusion. 
In his philosophy he was firm, and neither troubling, nor per- 
haps trusting, any one with his religious creed, he left the 
world to the conclusion, that that religion must be good which 
could produce a life of such exemplary virtue. 

His stature was of the middle size, well formed and propor- 
tioned, and the features of his face were manly, comely, and 
engaging. Such was George Wythe, the honor of his own, and 
the model of future times. 



1-83 



on Virginia 1 



i. The full title is: Notes on the State of Virginia; written in the 
year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for 
the use of a Foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries pro- 
posed by him respecting its boundaries; rivers; sea ports; mountains; 
cascades and caverns; productions mineral, vegetable and animal; cli- 
mate; population; military force; marine force; aborigines; counties and 
towns; constitution; laws; colleges, buildings, and roads; proceedings 
as to tories; religion; manners; manufactures; subjects of commerce; 
Weights, Measures and Money; public revenue and expenses; histories, 
memorials, and state papers. 



INTRODUCTION 



JEFFERSON'S Notes on Virginia, his only original full-length 
book, was written, for the most part, in answer to inquiries 
made to him by the Marquis de Barbe-Marbois, then Secretary 
of the French Legation in Philadelphia. Following his resigna- 
tion as Governor of Virginia, during a rare period of leisure 
while recuperating from the effects of being thrown from a 
horse, Jefferson had occasion to work over the material con- 
cerning Virginia he had assiduously collected over a period of 
many years. These notes were revised and enlarged during the 
winter of 1782-83, but were not immediately published in this 
country, largely for financial reasons. The Notes on Virginia 
were first anonymously published at Jefferson's expense in an 
edition of 200 copies, Paris, 1784 (dated 1782), shortly after 
Jefferson's arrival in that capital. This very limited edition 
was followed, within the next five years, by popular French, 
English, German, and American printings, authorized and un- 
authorized. The Notes made a great impression on the French 
political world, where French liberals paid particular attention 
to the sections on the free institutions of republican govern- 
ment. 

Important not only as a notable contribution to American 
scientific writing (formulating principles of scientific geography 
later developed by von Humboldt), it has been praised by rep- 
utable twentieth-century historians of science as the most in- 
fluential scientific book written by an American. The Notes 
continue to be of interest for the clarity, vigor, and occasional 
beauty of Jefferson's prose. 

With the exception of statistical tables, insignificant on 
repetitive detail, and technical footnotes, the Notes on Virginia 
is printed complete. 



NOTES ON VIRGINIA 



QUERY I 

An exact description of the limits and boundaries of the State 
of Virginia? 

Virginia is bounded on the east by the Atlantic; on the 
north by a line of latitude crossing the eastern shore through 
Watkin's Point, being about 37 57' north latitude; from thence 
by a straight line to Cinquac, near the mouth of the Po- 
tomac; thence by the Potomac, which is common to Virginia 
and Maryland, to the first fountain of its northern branch; 
thence by a meridian line, passing throught that fountain till 
it intersects a line running east and west, in latitude 39 43' 
42.4" which divides Maryland from Pennsylvania, and which 
was marked by Messrs. Mason and Dixon; thence by that 
line, and a continuation of it westwardly to the completion of 
five degrees of longitude from the eastern boundary of Penn- 
sylvania, in the same latitude, and thence by a meridian line 
to the Ohio; on the west by the Ohio and Mississippi, to lati- 
tude 36 30' north, and on the south by the line of latitude 
last mentioned. . . . These boundaries include an area some- 
what triangular of one hundred and twenty-one thousand five 
hundred and twenty-five square miles, whereof seventy-nine 
thousand six hundred and fifty lie westward of the Alleghany 
mountains, and fifty-seven thousand and thirty-four westward 
of the meridian of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway. This 
State is therefore one-third larger than the islands of Great 
Britain and Ireland, which are reckoned at eighty-eight thou- 
sand three hundred and fifty-seven square miles. 

These limits result from, i. The ancient charters from the 
crown of England. 2. The grant of Maryland to the Lord Balti- 

187 



ON VIRGINIA 

more, and the subsequent determinations of the British court 
as to the extent of that grant. 3. The grant of Pennsylvania to 
William Penn, and a compact between the general assemblies 
of the commonwealths of Virginia and Pennsylvania as to the 
extent of that grant. 4. The grant of Carolina, and actual loca- 
tion of its northern boundary, by consent of both parties. 
5. The treaty of Paris of 1763. 6. The confirmation of the 
charters of the neighboring States by the convention of Virginia 
at the time of constituting their commonwealth. 7. The cession 
made by Virginia to Congress of all the lands to which they had 
title on the north side of the Ohio. 

QUERY II 
A notice of its rivers, rivulets, and how jar they are navigable? 

An inspection of a map of Virginia, will give a better idea 
of the geography of its rivers, than any description in writing. 
Their navigation may be imperfectly noted. 

Roanoke, so far as it lies within the State, is nowhere 
navigable but for canoes, or light batteaux; and even for these 
in such detached parcels as to have prevented the inhabitants 
from availing themselves of it at all. 

James River, and its waters, afford navigation as follows: 

The whole of Elizabeth River, the lowest of those which run 
into James River, is a harbor, and would contain upwards of 
three hundred ships. The channel is from one hundred and fifty 
to two hundred fathoms wide and at common flood tide affords 
eighteen feet water to Norfolk. The Stafford, a sixty gun ship, 
went there, lightening herself to cross the bar at Sowel's Point. 
The Fier Rodrigue, pierced for sixty- four guns, and carrying 
fifty, went there without lightening. Craney Island, at the mouth 
of this river, commands its channel tolerably well. 

Nansemond River is navigable to Sleepy Hole for vessels of 
two hundred and fifty tons; to Suffolk for those of one hundred 
tons; and to Milner's for those of twenty-five. 

Pagan Creek affords eight or ten feet water to Smithfield, 
which admits vessels of twenty tons. 

188 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

Chickahominy has at its mouth a bar, on which is onl} 
twelve feet water at common flood tide. Vessels passing that, 
may go eight miles up the river; those of ten feet draught may 
go four miles further, and those of six tons burden twenty 
miles further. 

Appomattox may be navigated as far as Broadways, by any 
vessel which has crossed Harrison's bar in James River; it 
keeps eight or ten feet water a mile or two higher up to Fisher's 
bar, and four feet on that and upwards to Petersburg, where 
all navigation ceases. 

James River itself affords a harbor for vessels of any size in 
Hampton Road, but not in safety through the whole winter; 
and there is navigable water for them as far as Mulberry Is- 
land. A forty gun ship goes to Jamestown, and lightening her- 
self, may pass Harrison's bar; on which there is only fifteen 
feet water. Vessels of two hundred and fifty tons may go to 
Warwick; those of one hundred and twenty-five go to Rocket's, 
a mile below Richmond ; from thence is about seven feet water 
to Richmond; and about the centre of the town, four feet and 
a half, where the navigation is interrupted by falls, which in 
a course of six miles, descend about eighty-eight feet perpen- 
dicular; above these it is resumed in canoes and batteaux, 
and is prosecuted safely and advantageously to within ten miles 
of the Blue Ridge; and even through the Blue Ridge a ton 
weight has been brought; and the expense would not be great, 
when compared with its object, to open a tolerable navigation 
up Jackson's river and Carpenter's creek, to within twenty-five 
miles of Howard's creek of Green Briar, both of which have 
then water enough to float vessels into the Great Kanhaway. 
In some future state of population I think it possible that its 
navigation may also be made to interlock with that of the 
Potomac, and through that to communicate by a short portage 
with the Ohio. It is to be noted that this river is called in the 
maps James River, only to its confluence with the Rivanna; 
thence to the Blue Ridge it is called the Fluvanna; and thence 
to its source Jackson's river. But in common speech, it is called 
James River to its source. 

189 



ON VIRGINIA 

The Rivanna, a branch of James River, is navigable for 
canoes and batteaux to its intersection with the South-West 
mountains, which is about twenty-two miles; and may easily 
be opened to navigation through these mountains to its fork 
above Charlottesville. . . . 

The Mississippi will be one of the principal channels of 
future commerce for the country westward of the Alleghany. 
From the mouth of this river to where it receives the Ohio, 
is one thousand miles by water, but only five hundred by 
land, passing through the Chickasaw country. From the mouth 
of the Ohio to that of the Missouri, is two hundred and 
thirty miles by water, and one hundred and forty by land, from 
thence to the mouth of the Illinois river, is about twenty-five 
miles. The Mississippi, below the mouth of the Missouri, is 
always muddy, and abounding with sand bars, which fre- 
quently change their places. However, it carries fifteen feet 
water to the mouth of the Ohio, to which place it is from one 
and a half to two miles wide, and thence to Kaskaskia from one 
mile to a mile and a quarter wide. Its current is so rapid, that 
it never can be stemmed by the force of the wind alone, acting 
on sails. Any vessel, however, navigated with oars, may come 
up at any time, and receive much aid from the wind. A batteau 
passes from the mouth of Ohio to the mouth of Mississippi in 
three weeks, and is from two to three months getting up again. 
During its floods, which are periodical as those of the Nile, 
the largest vessels may pass down it, if their steerage can be 
insured. These floods begin in April, and the river returns into 
its banks early in August. The inundation extends further on 
the western than eastern side, covering the lands in some 
places for fifty miles from its banks. Above the mouth of the 
Missouri it becomes much such a river as the Ohio, like it clear 
and gentle in its current, not quite so wide, the period of its 
floods nearly the same, but not rising to so great a height. 
The streets of the village at Cohoes are not more than ten feet 
above the ordinary level of the water, and yet were never 
overflowed. Its bed deepens every year. Cohoes, in the memory 

190 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

of many people now living, was insulated by every flood of the 
river. What was the eastern channel has now become a lake, 
nine miles in length and one in width, into which the river at 
this day never flows. This river yields turtle of a peculiar kind, 
perch, trout, gar, pike, mullets, herrings, carp, spatula-fish of 
fifty pounds weight, cat-fish of one hundred pounds weight, 
buffalo fish, and sturgeon. Alligators or crocodiles have been 
seen as high up as the Acansas. It also abounds in herons, 
cranes, ducks, brant, geese, and swans. Its passage is com- 
manded by a fort established by this State, five miles below 
the mouth of the Ohio, and ten miles above the Carolina 
boundary. 

The Missouri, since the treaty of Paris, the Illinois and 
northern branches of the Ohio, since the cession to Congress, 
are no longer within our limits. Yet having been so heretofore, 
and still opening to us channels of extensive communication 
with the western and north-western country, they shall be 
noted in their order. 1 

QUERY III 

.4 notice of the best Seaports of the State and how big are the 

vessels they can receive? 

Having no ports but our rivers and creeks, this Query has 
been answered under the preceding one. 

QUERY IV 
A notice of its Mountains? 

For the particular geography of our mountains I must refer 
to Fry and Jefferson's map of Virginia; and to Evans' analysis 
of this map of America, for a more philosophical view of them 
than is to be found in any other work. It is worthy of notice, 

i. The remainder of this Query enumerates and describes the follow- 
ing rivers: Missouri, Illinois, Kaskaskia, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, 
Wabash, Green, Kentucky, Great Miami, Salt River, Little Miami, Sioto, 
Great Sandy, Guiandot, Great Kanhaway, Hockhocking, Little Kanha- 
way, Muskingum, Monongahela, and Alleghany. 

IQI 



ON VIRGINIA 

that our mountains are not solitary and scattered confusedly 
over the face of the country; but that they commence at about 
one hundred and fifty miles from the sea-coast, are disposed in 
ridges, one behind another, running nearly parallel with the 
sea-coast, though rather approaching it as they advance north- 
eastwardly. To the south-west, as the tract of country between 
the sea-coast and the Mississippi becomes narrower, the moun- 
tains converge into a single ridge, which, as it approaches the 
Gulf of Mexico, subsides into plain country, and gives rise to 
some of the waters of that gulf, and particularly to a river 
called the Apalachiocola, probably from the Apalachies, an In- 
dian nation formerly residing on it. Hence, the mountains giv- 
ing rise to that river, and seen from its various parts, were called 
the Apalachian mountains, being in fact the end or termi- 
nation only of the great ridges passing through the conti- 
nent. European geographers, however, extended the name north- 
wardly as far as the mountains extended; some giving it, after 
their separation into different ridges, to the Blue Ridge, others 
to the North Mountain, others to the Alleghany, others to the 
Laurel Ridge, as may be seen by their different maps. But the 
fact I believe is, that none of these ridges were ever known by 
that name to the inhabitants, either native or emigrant, but as 
they saw them so called in European maps. In the same direc- 
tion, generally, are the veins of limestone, coal, and other min- 
erals hitherto discovered; and so range the falls of our great 
rivers. But the courses of the great rivers are at right angles 
with these. James and Potomac penetrate through all the ridges 
of mountains eastward of the Alleghany; that is, broken by no 
water course. It is in fact the spine of the country between the 
Atlantic on one side, and the Mississippi and St. Lawrence on 
the other. The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge 
is, perhaps, one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You 
stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the 
Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an 
hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Po- 
tomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junc- 

192 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

tion, they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, 
and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries 
our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in 
time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers 
began to flow afterwards, that in this place, particularly, they 
have been dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains, and 
have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that con- 
tinuing to rise they have at length broken over at this spot, and 
have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The 
piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, 
the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsion from their 
beds by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate the 
impression. But the distant finishing which nature has given 
to the picture, is of a very different character. It is a true con- 
trast to the foreground. It is as placid and delightful as that is 
wild and tremendous. For the mountain being cloven asunder, 
she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of 
smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain coun- 
try, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring 
around, to pass through the breach and participate of the calm 
below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, 
too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Potomac 
above the junction, pass along its side through the base of 
the mountain for three miles, its terrible precipices hanging in 
fragments over you, and within about twenty miles reach Fred- 
ericktown, and the fine country round that. This scene is worth 
a voyage across the Atlantic. Yet here, as in the neighborhood 
of the Natural Bridge, are people who have passed their lives 
within half a dozen miles, and have never been to survey these 
monuments of a war between rivers and mountains, which must 
have shaken the earth itself to its centre. . . . 

The height of our mountains has not yet been estimated with 
any degree of exactness. The Alleghany being the great ridge 
which divides the waters of the Atlantic from those of the Mis- 
sissippi, its summit is doubtless more elevated above the ocean 
than that of any other mountain. But its relative height, com- 



ON VIRGINIA 

pared with the base on which it stands, is not so great as that 
of some others, the country rising behind the successive ridges 
like the steps of stairs. The mountains of the Blue Ridge, and 
of these the Peaks of Otter, are thought to be of a greater 
height, measured from their base, than any others in our coun- 
try, and perhaps in North America. From data, which may 
found a tolerable conjecture, we suppose the highest peak to 
be about four thousand feet perpendicular, which is not a fifth 
part of the height of the mountains of South America, nor one- 
third of the height which would be necessary in our latitude to 
preserve ice in the open air unmelted through the year. The 
ridge of mountains next beyond the Blue Ridge, called by us 
the North mountain, is of the greatest extent; for which reason 
they were named by the Indians the endless mountains. 

A substance supposed to be Pumice, found floating on the 
Mississippi, has induced a conjecture that there is a volcano 
on some of its waters; and as these are mostly known to their 
sources, except the Missouri, our expectations of verifying the 
conjecture would of course be led to the mountains which di- 
vide the waters of the Mexican Gulf from those of the South 
Sea; but no volcano having ever yet been known at such a dis- 
tance from the sea, we must rather suppose that this floating 
substance has been erroneously deemed Pumice. 

QUERY V 

Its Cascades and Caverns? 

The only remarkable cascade in this country is that of the 
Falling Spring in Augusta. It is a water of James' river where 
it is called Jackson's river, rising in the warm spring mountains, 
about twenty miles southwest of the warm spring, and flowing 
into that valley. About three-quarters of a mile from its source 
it falls over a rock two hundred feet into the valley below. 
The sheet of water is broken in its breadth by the rock, in two 
or three places, but not at all in its height. Between the sheet 
and the rock, at the bottom, you may walk across dry. This 
cataract will bear no comparison with that of Niagara as to the 

194 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

quantity of water composing it; the sheet being only twelve or 
fifteen feet wide above and somewhat more spread below; but 
it is half as high again, the latter being only one hundred and 
fifty-six feet, according to the mensuration made by order of 
M. Vaudreuil, Governor of Canada, and one hundred and 
thirty according to a more recent account. 

In the lime-stone country there are many caverns of very 
considerable extent. The most noted is called Madison's Cave, 1 
and is on the north side of the Blue Ridge, near the intersec- 
tion of the Rockingham and Augusta line with the south fork 
of the southern river of Shenandoah. It is in a hill of about two 
hundred feet perpendicular height, the ascent of which, on one 
side, is so steep that you may pitch a biscuit from its summit 
into the river which washes its base. The entrance of the cave 
is, in this side, about two-thirds of the way up. It extends into 
the earth about three hundred feet, branching into subordinate 
caverns, sometimes ascending a little, but more generally de- 
scending, and at length terminates, in two different places, at 
basins of water of unknown extent, and which I should judge 
to be nearly on a level with the water of the river; however, I 
do not think they are formed by refluent water from that, be- 
cause they are never turbid; because they do not rise and fall 
in correspondence with that in times of flood or of drought; 
and because the water is always cool. It is probably one of the 
many reservoirs with which the interior parts of the earth are 
supposed to abound, and yield supplies to the fountains of wa- 
ter, distinguished from others only by being accessible. The 
vault of this cave is of solid lime-stone, from twenty to forty 
or fifty feet high; through which water is continually percolat- 
ing. This, trickling down the sides of the cave, has incrusted 
them over in the form of elegant drapery; and dripping from 
the top of the vault generates on that and on the base below, 
stalactites of a conical form, some of which have met and 
formed massive columns. 

i. Jefferson includes a diagram of Madison's Cave which is omitted 
in the present edition. 

195 



ON VIRGINIA 

Another of these caves is near the North Mountain, in the 
county of Frederic, on the lands of Mr. Zane. The entrance 
into this is on the top of an extensive ridge. You descend thirty 
or forty feet, as into a well, from whence the cave extends, 
nearly horizontally, four hundred feet into the earth, preserving 
a breadth of from twenty to fifty feet, and a height of from five 
to twelve feet. After entering this cave a few feet, the mercury, 
which in the open air was 50, rose to 57 of Fahrenheit's ther- 
mometer, answering to 11 of Reaumur's, and it continued at 
that to the remotest parts of the cave. The uniform tempera- 
ture of the cellars of the observatory of Paris, which are ninety 
feet deep, and of all subterraneous cavities of any depth, where 
no chemical agencies may be supposed to produce a factitious 
heat, has been found to be 10 of Reaumur, equal to 54^2 of 
Fahrenheit. The temperature of the cave above mentioned so 
nearly corresponds with this, that the difference may be ascribed 
to a difference of instruments. 

At the Panther gap, in the ridge which divides the waters 
of the Cow and the Calf pasture, is what is called the Blowing 
Cave. It is in the side of a hill, is of about one hundred feet di- 
ameter, and emits constantly a current of air of such force as to 
keep the weeds prostrate to the distance of twenty yards before 
it. This current is strongest in dry, frosty weather, and in long 
spells of rain weakest. Regular inspirations and expirations of 
air, by caverns and fissures, have been probably enough ac- 
counted for by supposing them combined with intermitting 
fountains; as they must of course inhale air while their reser- 
voirs are emptying themselves, and again emit it while they are 
filling. But a constant issue of air, only varying in its force 
as the weather is drier or damper, will require a new hypothesis, 
There is another blowing cave in the Cumberland mountain, 
about a mile from where it crosses the Carolina line. All we know 
of this is, that it is not constant, and that a fountain of water 
issues from it. 

The Natural Bridge, the most sublime of nature's works. 

196 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

though not comprehended under the present head, must not be 
pretermitted. It is on the ascent of a hill, which seems to have 
been cloven through its length by some great convulsion. The 
fissure, just at the bridge, is, by some admeasurements, two 
hundred and seventy feet deep, by others only two hundred 
and five. It is about forty-five feet wide at the bottom and 
ninety feet at the top; this of course determines the length of 
the bridge, and its height from the water. Its breadth in the 
middle is about sixty feet, but more at the ends, and the thick- 
ness of the mass, at the summit of the arch, about forty feet. 
A part of this thickness is constituted by a coat of earth, which 
gives growth to many large trees. The residue, with the hill on 
both sides, is one solid rock of lime-stone. The arch approaches 
the semi-elliptical form; but the larger axis of the ellipsis, 
which would be the cord of the arch, is many times longer than 
the transverse. Though the sides of this bridge are provided 
in some parts with a parapet of fixed rocks, yet few men have 
resolution to walk to them, and look over into the abyss. You 
involuntarily fall on your hands and feet, creep to the para- 
pet, and peep over it. Looking down from this height about a 
minute, gave me a violent headache. If the view from the top 
be painful and intolerable, that from below is delightful in an 
equal extreme. It is impossible for the emotions arising from 
the sublime to be felt beyond what they are here; so beautiful 
an arch, so elevated, so light, and springing as it were up to 
heaven! The rapture of the spectator is really indescribable! 
The fissure continuing narrow, deep, and straight, for a con- 
siderable distance above and below the bridge, opens a short 
but very pleasing view of the North mountain on one side and 
the Blue Ridge on the other, at the distance each of them of 
about five miles. This bridge is in the county of Rockbridge, 
to which it has given name, and affords a public and com- 
modious passage over a valley which cannot be crossed else- 
where for a considerable distance. The stream passing under it 
is called Cedar creek. It is a water of James' river, and suffi- 

197 



ON VIRGINIA 

cient in the driest seasons to turn a grist-mill, though its foun- 
tain is not more than two miles above. 1 

QUERY VI 

A notice of the mines and other subterraneous riches; 
its trees, plants, fruits, etc. 

I knew a single instance of gold found in this State. It was 
interspersed in small specks through a lump of ore of about 
four pounds weight, which yielded seventeen pennyweights of 
gold, of extraordinary ductility. This ore was found on the 
north side of Rappahanoc, about four miles below the falls. I 
never heard of any other indication of gold in its neighbor- 
hood. . . . 

Near the eastern foot of the North mountain are immense 
bodies of Schist, containing impressions of shells in a variety 
of forms. I have received petrified shells of very different kinds 
from the first sources of Kentucky, which bear no resemblance 
to any I have ever seen on the tide-waters. It is said that shells 
are found in the Andes, in South America, fifteen thousand feet 
above the level of the ocean. This is considered by many, both 
of the learned and unlearned, as a proof of an universal deluge. 
To the many considerations opposing this opinion, the follow- 
ing may be added: The atmosphere, and all its contents, 
whether of water, air, or other matter, gravitate to the earth; 
that is to say, they have weight. Experience tells us, that the 
weight of all these together never exceeds that of a column of 
mercury of thirty-one inches height, which is equal to one of 
rain water of thirty-five feet high. If the whole contents of 
the atmosphere, then, were water, instead of what they are, it 
would cover the globe but thirty-five feet deep; but as these 
waters, as they fell, would run into the seas, the superficial 
measure of which is to that of the dry parts of the globe, as 
two to one, the seas would be raised only fifty-two and a half 
feet above their present level, and of course would overflow 
the lands to that height only. In Virginia this would be a very 

i. A long footnote supplied by Jefferson is omitted here. 

198 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

small proportion even of the champaign country, the banks 
of our tide waters being frequently, if not generally, of a 
greater height. Deluges beyond this extent, then, as for in- 
stance, to the North mountain or to Kentucky, seem out of the 
laws of nature. But within it they may have taken place to a 
greater or less degree, in proportion to the combination of nat- 
ural causes which may be supposed to have produced them. 
History renders probably some instances of a partial deluge in 
the country lying round the Mediterranean sea. It has been 
often * supposed, and it is not unlikely, that that sea was once 
a lake. VVhile such, let us admit an extraordinary collection 
of the waters of the atmosphere from the other parts of the 
globe to have been discharged over that and the countries whose 
waters run into it. Or without supposing it a lake, admit such 
an extraordinary collection of the waters of the atmosphere, 
and an influx from the Atlantic ocean, forced by long-contin- 
ued western winds. The lake, or that sea, may thus have been 
so raised as to overflow the low lands adjacent to it, as those 
of Egypt and Armenia, which, according to a tradition of the 
Egyptians and Hebrews, were overflowed about two thousand 
three hundred years before the Christian era; those of Attica, 
said to have been overflowed in the time of Ogyges, about five 
hundred years later; and those of Thessaly, in the time of 
Deucalion, still three hundred years posterior. But such deluges 
as these will not account for the shells found in the higher 
lands. A second opinion has been entertained, which is, that in 
times anterior to the records either of history or tradition, the 
bed of the ocean, the principal residence of the shelled tribe, 
has, by some great convulsion of nature, been heaved to the 
heights at which we now find shells and other marine animals. 
The favorers of this opinion do well to suppose the great events 
on which it rests to have taken place beyond all the eras of 
history; for within these, certainly, none such are to be found; 
and we may venture to say farther, that no fact has taken place. 

i. Buff on Epoqucs, 96. [Jefferson's footnote.l Jefferson evidently 
means Vol. II of Buffon's Epoques. Eds. 

199 



adores ON VIRGINIA 

either in our own days, or in the thousands of years recorded in 
history, which proves the existence of any natural agents, within 
or without the bowels of the earth, of forces sufficient to heave, 
to the height of fifteen thousand feet, such masses as the Andes. 
The difference between the power necessary to produce such 
an effect, and that which shuffled together the different parts 
of Calabria in our days, is so immense, that from the existence 
of the latter, we are not authorized to infer that of the former. 
M. de Voltaire lias suggested a third solution of this diffi- 
culty. (Quest. Encycl. Coquilles.) He cites an instance in Tou- 
raine, where, in the space of eighty years, a particular spot of 
earth had been twice metamorphosed into soft stone, which 
had become hard when employed in building. In this stone 
shells of various kinds were produced, discoverable at first only 
with a microscope, but afterwards growing with the stone. From 
this fact, I suppose, he would have us infer, that, besides the 
usual process for generating shells by the elaboration of earth 
and water in animal vessels, nature may have provided an 
equivalent operation, by passing the same materials through 
the pores of calcareous earths and stones; as we see calcareous 
drop-stones generating every day, by the percolation of water 
through lime-stone, and new marble forming in the quarries 
from which the old has been taken out. And it might be asked, 
whether is it more difficult for nature to shoot the calcareous 
juice into the form of a shell, than other juices into the forms 
of crystals, plants, animals, according to the construction of 
the vess'els through which they pass? There is a wonder some- 
where. Is it greatest on this branch of the dilemma; on that 
which supposes the existence of a power, of which we have no 
evidence in any other case; or on the first, which requires us 
to believe the creation of a body of water and its subsequent 
annihilation? The establishment of the instance, cited by M. 
de Voltaire, of the growth, of shells unattached to animal 
bodies, would have been that of his theory. But he has not es- 
tablished it. He has not even left it on ground so respectable 
as to have rendered it an object of inquiry to the literati of his 

200 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

own country. Abandoning this fact, therefore, the three hypoth- 
eses are equally unsatisfactory; and we must be contented to 
acknowledge, that this great phenomenon is as yet unsolved. 
Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the 
truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. 

.... Our farms produce wheat, rye, barley, oats, buck-wheat, 
broom corn, and Indian corn. The climate suits rice well enough, 
wherever the lands do. Tobacco, hemp, flax, and cotton, are 
staple commodities. Indigo yields two cuttings. The silk-worm 
is a native, and the mulberry, proper for its food, grows kindly. 

We cultivate, also, potatoes, both the long and the round, 
turnips, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, and ground nuts (Ara- 
chis). Our grasses are lucerne, st. foin, burnet, timothy, ray, 
and orchard grass; red, white, and yellow clover; greensward, 
blue grass, and crab grass. 

The gardens yield musk-melons, water-melons, tomatoes, 
okra, pomegranates, figs, and the esculent plants of Europe. 

The orchards produce apples, pears, cherries, quinces, 
peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, and plums. 

Our quadrupeds have been mostly described by Linnaeus 
and Mons. de Buffon. Of these the mammoth, or big buffalo > 
as called by the Indians, must certainly have been the largest. 
Their tradition is, that he was carnivorous, and still exists in 
the northern parts of America. A delegation of warriors from 
the Delaware tribe having visited the Governor of Virginia, 
during the revolution, on matters of business, after these had 
been discussed and settled in council, the Governor asked them 
some questions relative to their country, and among others, 
what they knew or had heard of the animal whose bones were 
found at the Saltlicks on the Ohio. Their chief speaker imme- 
diately put himself into an attitude of oratory, and with a pomp 
suited to what he conceived the elevation of his subject, in- 
formed him that it was a tradition handed down from their 
fathers, "That in ancient times a herd of these tremendous 
animals came to the Big-bone licks, and began an universal 
destruction of the bear, deer, elks, buffaloes, and other ani- 

201 



chores ON VIRGINIA 

mals which had been created for the use of the Indians; that 
the Great Man above, looking down and seeing this, was so 
enraged that he seized his lightning, descended on the earth, 
seated himself on a neighboring mountain, on a rock of which 
his seat and the print of his feet are still to be seen, and hurled 
his bolts among them till the whole were slaughtered, except 
the big bull, who presenting his forehead to the shafts, shook 
them off as they fell; but missing one at length, it wounded 
him in the side; whereon, springing round, he bounded over the 
Ohio, over the Wabash, the Illinois, and finally over the great 
lakes, where he is living at this day." It is well known, that on 
the Ohio, and in many parts of America further north, tusks, 
grinders, and skeletons of unparalleled magnitude, are found 
in great numbers, some lying on the surface of the earth, and 
some a little below it. A Mr. Stanley, taken prisoner near the 
mouth of the Tennessee, relates, that after being transferred 
through several tribes, from one to another, he was at length 
carried over the mountains west of the Missouri to a river which 
runs westwardly; that these bones abounded there, and that 
the natives described to him the animal to which they be- 
longed as still existing in the northern parts of their country; 
from which description he judged it to be an elephant. Bones 
of the same kind have been lately found, some feet below the 
surface of the earth, in salines opened on the North Holston, a 
branch of the Tennessee, about the latitude of 36^ north. 
From the accounts published in Europe, I suppose it to be de- 
cided that these are of the same kind with those found in Si- 
beria. Instances are mentioned of like animal remains found 
in the more southern climates of both hemispheres; but they 
are either so loosely mentioned as to leave a doubt of the fact, 
so inaccurately described as not to authorize the classing them 
with the great northern bones, or so rare as to found a sus- 
picion that they have been carried thither as curiosities from 
the northern regions. So that, on the whole, there seem to be 
no certain vestiges of the existence of this animal farther south 
than the salines just mentioned. It is remarkable that the tusks 

202 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

and skeletons have been ascribed by the naturalists of Europe? 
to the elephant, while the grinders have been given to the 
hippopotamus, or river horse. Yet it is acknowledged, that the 
tusks and skeletons are much larger than those of the elephant, 
and the grinders many times greater than those of the hippo- 
potamus, and essentially different in form. Wherever these 
grinders are found, there also we find the tusks and skeleton; 
but no skeleton of the hippopotamus nor grinders of the ele- 
phant. It will not be said that the hippopotamus and elephant 
came always to the same spot, the former to deposit his grind- 
ers, and the latter his tusks and skeleton. For what became of 
the parts not deposited there? We must agree then, that these 
remains belong to each other, that they are of one and the same 
animal, that this was not a hippopotamus, because the hippo- 
potamus had no tusks, nor such a frame, and because the 
grinders differ in their size as well as in the number and form 
of their points. That this was not an elephant, I think ascer- 
tained by proofs equally decisive. I will not avail myself oi 
the authority of the celebrated 1 anatomist, who, from an ex- 
amination of the form and structure of the tusks, has declared 
they were essentially different from those of the elephant; be- 
cause another 2 anatomist, equally celebrated, has declared, on 
a like examination, that they are precisely the same. Between 
two such authorities I will suppose this circumstance equivocal. 
But, i. The skeleton of the mammoth (for so the incognitum 
has been called) bespeaks an animal of five or six times the 
cubic volume of the elephant, as Mons. de Buffon has admitted. 
2. The grinders are five times as large, are square, and the 
grinding surface studded with four or five rows of blunt points; 
whereas those of the elephant are broad and thin, and their 
grinding surface flat. 3. I have never heard an instance, and 
suppose there has been none, of the grinder of an elephant be- 
ing found in America. 4. From the known temperature and con- 
stitution of the elephant, he could never have existed in thosa 

1. Hunter. [Jefferson's footnote.] 

2. D'Aubenton. [Jefferson's footnote.] 

205 



ON VIRGINIA 

regions where the remains of the mammoth have been found. 
The elephant is a native only of the torrid zone and its vicini- 
ties; if, with the assistance of warm apartments and warm 
clothing, he has been preserved in the temperate climates of 
Europe, it has only been for a small portion of what would have 
been his natural period, and no instance of his multiplication 
in them has ever been known. But no bones of the mammoth, 
as I have before observed, have been ever found further south 
than the salines of Holston, and they have been found as far 
north as the Arctic circle. Those, therefore, who are of opinion 
that the elephant and mammoth are the same, must believe, i. 
That the elephant known to us can exist and multiply in the 
frozen zone; or, 2. That an eternal fire may once have warmed 
those regions, and since abandoned them, of which, however, 
the globe exhibits no unequivocal indications; or, 3. That the 
obliquity of the ecliptic, when these elephants lived, was so 
great as to include within the tropics all those regions in which 
the bones are found; the tropics being, as is before observed, 
the natural limits of habitation for the elephant. But if it be 
admitted that this obliquity has really decreased, and we adopt 
the highest rate of decrease yet pretended, that is, of one min- 
ute in a century, to transfer the northern tropic to the Arctic 
circle, would carry the existence of these supposed elephants 
two hundred and fifty thousand years back; a period far be- 
yond our conception of the duration of animal bones less ex- 
posed to the open air than these are in many instances. Be- 
sides, though these regions would then be supposed within the 
tropics, yet their winters would have been too severe for the 
sensibility of the elephant. They would have had, too, but one 
day and one night in the year, a circumstance to which we 
have no reason to suppose the nature of the elephant fitted. 
However, it has been demonstrated, that, if a variation of 
obliquity in the ecliptic takes place at all, it is vibratory, and 
never exceeds the limits of nine degrees, which is not sufficient 
to bring these bones within the tropics. One of these hypoth- 
eses, or some other equally voluntary and inadmissible to cau- 

204 



THOMAS J6FF8RSON 

tious philosophy, must be adopted to support the opinion that 
these are the bones of the elephant. For my own part, I find 
it easier to believe that an animal may have existed, resembling 
the elephant in his tusks, and general anatomy, while his na- 
ture was in other respects extremely different. From the 3oth 
degree of south latitude to the 3Oth degree of north, are nearly 
the limits which nature has fixed for the existence and multi- 
plication of the elephant known to us. Proceeding thence north- 
wardly to 36^2 degrees, we enter those assigned to the mam- 
moth. The farther we advance north, the more their vestiges 
multiply as far as the earth has been explored in that direction; 
and it is as probable as otherwise, that this progression con- 
tinues to the pole itself, if land extends so far. The centrte of the 
frozen zone, then, may be the acme of their vigor, as that of 
the torrid is of the elephant. Thus nature seems to have drawn 
a belt of separation between these two tremendous animals, 
whose breadth, indeed, is not precisely known, though at pres- 
ent we may suppose it about 6^ degrees of latitude; to have 
assigned to the elephant the region south of these confines, and 
those north to the mammoth, founding the constitution of the 
one in her extreme of heat, and that of the other in the extreme 
of cold. When the Creator has therefore separated their nature 
as far as the extent of the scale of animal life allowed to this 
planet would permit, it seems perverse to declare it the same, 
from a partial resemblance of their tusks and bones. But to 
whatever animal we ascribe these remains, it is certain such a 
one has existed in America, and that it has been the largest 
of all terrestrial beings. It should have sufficed to have rescued 
the earth it inhabited, and the atmosphere it breathed, from the 
imputation of impotence in the conception and nourishment of 
animal life on a large scale; to have stifled, in its birth, the 
opinion of a writer, the most learned, too, of all others in the 
science of animal history, that in the new world, "La nature 
vivante est beaucoup moins agissante, beaucoup moins forte:" l 
that nature is less active, less energetic on one side of the globe 
i. Buffon, xviii. 112 edit. Paris, 1764. [Jefferson's footnote.] 

205 



ON VIRGINIA 

dian she is on the other. As if both sides were not warmed by 
the same genial sun; as if a soil of the same chemical composi- 
tion was less capable of elaboration into animal nutriment; as 
if the fruits and grains from that soil and sun yielded a less 
rich chyle, gave less extension to the solids and fluids of the 
body, or produced sooner in the cartilages, membranes, and 
fibres, that rigidity which restrains all further extension, and 
terminates animal growth. The truth is, that a pigmy and a 
Patagonian, a mouse and a mammoth, derive their dimensions 
from the same nutritive juices. The difference of increment 
depends on circumstances unsearchable to beings with our ca- 
pacities. Every race of animals seems to have received from 
their Maker certain laws of extension at the time of their for- 
mation. Their elaborate organs were formed to produce this, 
while proper obstacles were opposed to its further progress. 
Below these limits they cannot fall, nor rise above them. What 
intermediate station they shall take may depend on soil, on 
climate, on food, on a careful choice of breeders. But all the 
manna of heaven would never raise the mouse to the bulk of 
the mammoth. 

The opinion advanced by the Count de Buffon, 1 is i. That 
the animals common both to the old and new world are smaller 
in the latter. 2. That those peculiar to the new are on a 
pmaller scale. 3. That those which have been domesticated in 
both have degenerated in America; and 4. That on the whole 
it exhibits fewer species. And the reason he thinks is, that the 
heats of America are less; that more waters are spread over its 
surface by nature, and fewer of these drained off by the hand 
of man. In other words, that heat is friendly, and moisture ad- 
verse to the production and development of large quadrupeds. 
I will not meet this hypothesis on its first doubtful ground, 
whether the climate of America be comparatively more humid? 
Because we are not furnished with observations sufficient to 
decide this question. And though, till it be decided, we are as 
free to deny as others are to affirm the fact, yet for a moment 

i. Buffon, xviii. 100, 156. [Jefferson's footnote.] 

206 



THOMAS J6FF8RSON 

let it be supposed. The hypothesis, after this supposition, pro- 
ceeds to another; that moisture is unfriendly to animal growth. 
The truth of this is inscrutable to us by reasonings a priori. Na- 
ture has hidden from us her modus agcndi. Our only appeal on 
such questions is to experience; and I think that experience is 
against the supposition. It is by the assistance of heat and 
moisture that vegetables are elaborated from the elements oi 
earth, air, water, and fire. We accordingly see the more humid 
climates produce the greater quantity of vegetables. Vegetables 
are mediately or immediately the food of every animal; and in 
proportion to the quantity of food, we see animals not only 
multiplied in their numbers, but improved in their bulk, as far 
as the laws of their nature will admit. Of this opinion is the 
Count de Buffon himself in another part of his work; l "in gen- 
eral, it appears that rather cold countries are more suitable to 
our oxen than rather warm countries, and that they (the oxen) 
are all the larger and greater in proportion as the climate is 
damper and more abounding in pasturage. . . ." ~ Here then 
a race of animals, and one of the largest too, has been in- 
creased in its dimensions by cold and moisture, in direct op- 
position to the hypothesis, which supposes that these two cir- 
cumstances diminish animal bulk, and that it is their contraries 
heat and dryncss which enlarge it. But when we appeal to ex- 
perience we are not to rest satisfied with a single fact. Let us, 
therefore, try our question on more general ground. Let us 
take two portions of the earth, Europe and America for in- 
stance, sufficiently extensive to give operation to general causes; 
let us consider the circumstances peculiar to each, and observe 
their effect on animal nature. America, running through the 
torrid as well as temperate zone, has more heat collectively 
taken, than Europe. But Europe, according to our hypothesis, 
is the dryest. They are equally adapted then to animal produc- 
tions; each being endowed with one of those causes which be- 
friends animal growth, and with one which opposes it. If it be 

1. viii, 134. [Jefferson's note.] 

2. In Jefferson's text, this is given in French. 

207 



ON VIRGINIA 

thought unequal to compare Europe with America, which is so 
much larger, I answer, not more so than to compare America 
with the whole world. Besides, the purpose of the comparison 
is to try an hypothesis, which makes the size of animals de- 
pend on the heat and moisture of climate. If, therefore, we 
take a region so extensive as to comprehend a sensible distinc- 
tion of climate, and so extensive, too, as that local accidents, 
or the intercourse of animals on its borders, may not materially 
affect the size of those in its interior parts, we shall comply 
with those conditions which the hypothesis may reasonably de- 
mand. The objection would be the weaker in the present case, 
because any intercourse of animals which may take place on 
the confines of Europe and Asia, is to the advantage of the for- 
mer, Asia producing certainly larger animals than Europe. Let 
us then take a comparative view of the quadrupeds of Europe 
and America, presenting them to the eye in three different 
tables, in one of which shall be enumerated those found in both 
countries; in a second, those found in one only; in a third, 
those which have been domesticated in both. 1 To facilitate 
the comparison, let those of each table be arranged in gradation 
according to their sizes, from the greatest to the smallest, so 
far as their sizes can be conjectured. The weights of the large 
animals shall be expressed in the English avoirdupois and its 
decimals; those of the smaller, in the same ounce and its deci- 
mals. . . . The white bear of America is as large as that of 
Europe. The bones of the mammoth which has been found in 
America, are as large as those found in the old world. It may be 
asked, why I insert the mammoth, as if it still existed? I ask in 
return, why I should omit it, as if it did not exist? Such is the 
economy of nature, that no instance can be produced, of her 
having permitted any one race of her animals to become ex- 
tinct; of her having formed any link in her great work so weak 
as to be broken. To add to this, the traditionary testimony of 
the Indians, that this animal still exists in the northern and 
T. These tables have been omitted in the present edition. 

208 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

western parts of America, would be adding the light of a taper 
to that of the meridian sun. Those parts still remain in their 
aboriginal state, unexplored and undisturbed by us, or by others 
for us. He may as well exist there now, as he did formerly where 
we find his bones. If he be a carnivorous animal, as some anat- 
omists have conjectured, and the Indians affirm, his early re- 
tirement may be accounted for from the general destruction of 
the wild game by the Indians, which commences in the firs/ 
instant of their connection with us, for the purpose of purchas- 
ing match-coats, hatchets, and fire-locks, with their skins. There 
remain then the buffalo, red deer, fallow deer, wolf, roe, glut- 
ton, wild cat, monax, bison, hedgehog, marten, and water-rat, 
of the comparative sizes of which we have not sufficient testi- 
mony. It does not appear that Messieurs de Buffon and D'Au- 
benton have measured, weighed, or seen those of America. It 
is said of some of them, by some travellers, that they are smaller 
than the European. But who were these travellers? Have they 
not been men of a very different description from those who 
have laid open to us the other three quarters of the world? Was 
natural history the object of their travels? Did they measure or 
weigh the animals they speak of? or did they not judge of them 
by sight, or perhaps even from report only? Were they ac- 
quainted with the animals of their own country, with which 
they undertake to compare them? Have they not been so ig- 
norant as often to mistake the species? A true answer to these 
questions would probably lighten their authority, so as to ren- 
der it insufficient for the foundation of an hypothesis. How 
unripe we yet are, for an accurate comparison of the animals 
of the two countries, will appear from the work of Monsieur 
de Buffon. The ideas we should have formed of the sizes of 
some animals, from the formation he had received at his first 
publications concerning them, are very different from what his 
subsequent communications give us. And indeed his candor m 
this can never be too much praised. One sentence of his book 
must do him immortal honor. "I like a person who points out 

209 



ON VIRGINIA 

a mistake just as much as one who teaches me a truth, because, 
in effect, a corrected mistake is a truth." * . . . 

Hitherto I have considered this hypothesis as applied to 
brute animals only, and not in its extension to the man of 
America, whether aboriginal or transplanted. It is the opinion 
of Mons. de Buffon that the former furnishes no exception 
to it 2 

An afflicting picture, indeed, which for the honor of human 
nature, I am glad to believe has no original. Of the Indian of 
South America I know nothing ; for I would not honor with the 
appellation of knowledge, what I derive from the fables pub- 
lished of them. These I believe to be just as true as the fables 
of ^Esop. This belief is founded on what I have seen of 
man, white, red, and black, and what has been written of him 
by authors, enlightened themselves, and writing among an 
enlightened people. The Indian of North America being more 
within our reach, I can speak of him somewhat from my own 
knowledge, but more from the information of others better ac- 
quainted with him, and on whose truth and judgment I can rely. 
From these sources I am able to say, in contradiction to this 
representation, that he is neither more defective in ardor, nor 
more impotent with his female, than the white reduced to the 
same diet and exercise; that he is brave, when an enterprise 
depends on bravery; education with him making the point of 
honor consist in the destruction of an enemy by stratagem, and 
in the preservation of his own person free from injury; or, per- 
haps, this is nature, while it is education which teaches us to 3 
honor force more than finesse; that he will defend himself 
against a host of enemies, always choosing to be killed, rather 
than to surrender, 4 though it be to the whites, who he knows 
will treat him well; that in other situations, also, he meets death 
with more deliberation, and endures tortures with a firmness 
Unknown almost to religious enthusiasm with us; that he is af- 

1. In Jefferson's text, this is given in French. 

2. Jefferson cites Buffon's thesis at this point. 

3. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

4. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

210 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

fectionate to his children, careful of them, and indulgent in the 
extreme; that his affections comprehend his other connections, 
weakening, as with us, from circle to circle, as they recede from 
the centre; that his friendships are strong and faithful to the 
uttermost * extremity ; that his sensibility is keen, even the war- 
riors weeping most bitterly on the loss of their children, though 
in general they endeavor to appear superior to human events; 
that his vivacity and activity of mind is equal to ours in the 
same situation; hence his eagerness for hunting, and for games 
of chance. The women are submitted to unjust drudgery. This 
I believe is the case with every barbarous people. With such, 
force is law. The stronger sex imposes on the weaker. It is civ- 
ilization alone which replaces women in the enjoyment of 
their natural equality. That first teaches us to subdue the selfish 
passions, and to respect those rights in others which we value 
in ourselves. Were we in equal barbarism, our females would 
be equal drudges. The man with them is less strong than with 
us, but their women stronger than ours; and both for the same 
obvious reason; because our man and their woman is habit- 
uated to labor, and formed by it. With both races the sex which 
is indulged with ease is the least athletic. An Indian man is 
small in the hand and wrist, for the same reason for which a 
sailor is large and strong in the arms and shoulders, and ? 
porter in the legs and thighs. They raise fewer children than 
we do. The causes of this are to be found, not in a difference of 
nature, but of circumstance. The women very frequently at- 
tending the men in their parties of war and of hunting, child - 
bearing becomes extremely inconvenient to them. It is said, 
therefore, that they have learned the practice of procuring abor- 
tion by the use of some vegetable; and that it even extends to 
prevent conception for a considerable time after. During these 
parties they are exposed to numerous hazards, to excessive 
exertions, to the greatest extremities of hunger. Even at their 
homes the nation depends for food, through a certain part of 
every year, on the gleanings of the forest; that is, they experi- 
i. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

211 



scores ON VIRGINIA 

ence a famine once in every year. With all animals, if the female 
be badly fed, or not fed at all, her young perish; and if both 
male and female be reduced to like want, generation becomes 
less active, less productive. To the obstacles, then, of want and 
hazard, which nature has opposed to the multiplication of wild 
animals, for the purpose of restraining their numbers within 
certain bounds, those of labor and of voluntary abortion are 
added with the Indian. No wonder, then, if they multiply less 
than we do. Where food is regularly supplied, a single farm 
will show more of cattle, than a whole country of forests can 
of buffaloes. The same Indian women, when married to white 
traders, who feed them and their children plentifully and regu- 
larly, who exempt them from excessive drudgery, who keep 
them stationary and unexposed to accident, produce and raise 
as many children as the white women. Instances are known, 
under these circumstances, of their rearing a dozen children. 
An inhuman practice once prevailed in this country, of making 
slaves of the Indians. It is a fact well known with us, that the 
Indian women so enslaved produced and raised as numerous 
families as either the whites or blacks among whom they lived. 
It has been said that Indians have less hair than the whites, 
except on the head. But this is a fact of which fair proof can 
scarcely be had. With them it is disgraceful to be hairy on the 
body. They say it likens them to hogs. They therefore pluck 
the hair as fast as it appears. But the traders who marry their 
women, and prevail on them to discontinue this practice, say, 
that nature is the same with them as with the whites. Nor, if 
the fact be true, is the consequence necessary which has been 
drawn from it. ... 

Before we condemn the Indians of this continent as wanting 
genius, we must consider that letters have not yet been intro- 
duced among them. Were we to compare them in their present 
state with the Europeans, north of the Alps, when the Roman 
arms and arts first crossed those mountains, the comparison 
would be unequal, because, at that time, those parts of Europe 

212 



THOMAS jeFFBRSON 

were swarming with numbers; because numbers produce emu- 
lation, and multiply the chances of improvement, and one im- 
provement begets another. Yet I may safely ask, how many 
good poets, how many able mathematicians, how many great 
inventors in arts or sciences, had Europe, north of the Alps, 
then produced? And it was sixteen centuries after this before a 
Newton could be formed. I do not mean to deny that there are 
varieties in the race of man, distinguished by their powers 
both of body and mind. I believe there are, as I see to be the 
case in the races of other animals. I only mean to suggest a 
doubt, whether the bulk and faculties of animals depend on 
the side of the Atlantic on which their food happens to grow, 
or which furnishes the elements of which they are compounded? 
Whether nature has enlisted herself as a Cis or Trans-Atlantic 
partisan? I am induced to suspect there has been more elo- 
quence than sound reasoning displayed in support of this the- 
ory; that it is one of those cases where the judgment has been 
seduced by a glowing pen ; and whilst I render every tribute of 
honor and esteem to the celebrated zoologist, who has added> 
and is still adding, so many precious things to the treasures of 
science, I must doubt whether in this instance he has not cher- 
ished error also, by lending her for a moment his vivid imagina- 
tion and bewitching language. . . . 

So far the Count de Buffon has carried this new theory of the 
tendency of nature to belittle her productions on this side the 
Atlantic. Its application to the race of whites transplanted from 
Europe, remained for the Abbe Raynal. "One must be aston- 
ished (he says) that America has not yet produced a good poet, 
an able mathematician, a man of genius in a single art or single 
science." * When we shall have existed as a people as long as the 
Greeks did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Vir- 
gil, the French a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shake- 
speare and Milton, should this reproach be still true, we will 
inquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the 

i. In Jefferson's text, this is given in French. 

213 



chores ON VIRGINIA 

other countries of Europe and quarters of the earth shall not 
have inscribed any name in the roll of poets. 1 But neither has 
America produced "one able mathematician, one man of genius 
in a single art or a single science." In war we have produced a 
Washington, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall 
have votaries, whose name shall triumph over time, and will in 
future ages assume its just station among the most celebrated 
worthies of the world, when that wretched philosophy shall be 
forgotten which would have arranged him among the degen- 
eracies of nature. In physics we have produced a Franklin, 
than whom no one of the present age has made more important 
discoveries, nor has enriched philosophy with more, or more 
ingenious solutions of the phenomena of nature. We have sup- 
posed Mr. Rittenhouse second to no astronomer living; that in 
genius ne must be the first, because he is self taught. As an 
artist he has exhibited as great a proof of mechanical genius 
as the world has ever produced. He has not indeed made a 
world; but he has by imitation approached nearer its Maker 
than any man who has lived from the creation to this day. 2 As 
in philosophy and war, so in government, in oratory, in paint- 
ing, in the plastic art, we might show that America, though but 
a child of yesterday, has already given hopeful proofs of genius, 
as well as of the nobler kinds, which arouse the best feelings of 
man, which call him into action, which substantiate his free- 
dom, and conduct him to happiness, as of the subordinate, 
which serve to amuse him only. We therefore suppose, that this 
reproach is as unjust as it is unkind: and that, of the geniuses 

1. Has the world as yet produced more than two poets, acknowledged 
to be such by all nations? An Englishman only reads Milton with 
delight, an Italian, Tasso, a Frenchman the Henriade; a Portuguese, 
Camoens; but Homer and Virgil have been the rapture of every age 
and nation; they are read with enthusiasm in their originals by those 
who can read the originals, and in translations by those who cannot. 
[Jefferson's footnote.] 

2. There are various ways of keeping truth out of sight. Mr. Ritten- 
house's model of the planetary system has the plagiary application of 
an Orrery; and the quadrant invented by Godfrey, an American also, 
and with the aid of which the European nations traverse the globe, is 
nailed Hartley's quadrant. [Jefferson's footnote.] 

214 



THOMAS JBFFSRSON 

which adorn the present age, America contributes its full share, 
For comparing it with those countries where genius is most cul- 
tivated, where are the most excellent models for art, and scaf- 
foldings for the attainment of science, as France and England 
for instance, we calculate thus: The United States contains 
three millions of inhabitants; France twenty millions; and the 
British islands ten. We produce a Washington, a Franklin, a 
Rittenhouse. France then should have half a dozen in each of 
these lines, and Great Britain half that number, equally emi- 
nent. It may be true that France has; we are but just becom- 
ing acquainted with her, and our acquaintance so far gives us 
high ideas of the genius of her inhabitants. It would be injuring 
too many of them to name particularly a Voltaire, a Buffon, the 
constellation o f Encyclopedists, the Abbe Raynal himself, etc., 
etc. We, therefore, have reason to believe she can produce her 
full quota of genius. The present war having so long cut off 
all communication with Great Britain, we are not able to make 
a fair estimate of the state of science in that country. The spirit 
in which she wages war, is the only sample before our eyes, and 
that does not seem the legitimate offspring either of science or 
of civilization. The sun of her glory is fast descending to the 
horizon. Her philosophy has crossed the channel, her freedom 
the Atlantic, and herself seems passing to that awful dissolu- 
tion whose issue is not given human foresight to scan. 1 

QUERY VII 

A notice of all that can increase the progress of 
Human Knowledge? 

[This section, which is concerned with an analysis of local 
climatic conditions, is omitted in the present.] 

QUERY VIII 

Tne number of its inhabitants? 

.... During the infancy of the colony, while numbers were 
small, wars, importations, and other accidental circumstances 
i. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

215 



scores ON VIRGINIA 

render the progression fluctuating and irregular. By the year 
1654, however, it becomes tolerably uniform, importations hav- 
ing in a great measure ceased from the dissolution of the com- 
pany, and the inhabitants become too numerous to be sensibly 
affected by Indian wars. Beginning at that period, therefore, we 
find that from thence to the year 1772, our tythes had in- 
creased from 7,209 to 153,000. The whole term being of one 
hundred and eighteen years, yields a duplication once in every 
twenty-seven and a quarter years. The intermediate enumer- 
ations taken in 1700, 1748, and 1759, furnish proofs of the 
uniformity of this progression. Should this rate of increase con- 
tinue, we shall have between six and seven millions of in- 
habitants within ninety-five years. If we suppose our country 
to be bounded, at some future day, by the meridian of the 
mouth of the Great Kanhaway, (within which it has been be- 
fore conjectured, are 64,461 square miles) there will then be 
one hundred inhabitants for every square mile, which is nearly 
the state of population in the British Islands. 

Here I will beg leave to propose a doubt. The present desire 
of America is to produce rapid population by as great importa- 
tions of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good pol- 
icy? The advantage proposed is the multiplication of numbers. 
Now let us suppose (for example only) that, in this state, we 
could double our numbers in one year by the importation of for- 
eigners; and this is a greater accession than the most sanguine 
advocate for emigration has a right to expect. Then I say, be- 
ginning with a double stock, we shall attain any given degree 
of population only twenty-seven years, and three months sooner 
than if we proceed on our single stock. If we propose four mil- 
lions and a half as a competent population for this State, we 
should be fifty-four and a half years attaining it, could we at 
once double our numbers; and eighty-one and three quarter 
years, if we rely on natural propagation, as may be seen by 
the following tablet: 



216 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

Proceeding on Proceeding on 

our present stock. a double stock. 

1781 5&7>6i4 1,135,228 

1808^4 1,135,228 2,270,456 

1835^ 2,270,456 4,540,912 
1862^4 4,540,912 

In the first column are stated periods of twenty-seven and 
a quarter years; in the second are our numbers at each period, 
as they will be if we proceed on our actual stock; and in the 
third are what they would be, at the same periods, were we 
to set out from the double of our present stock. I have taken 
the term of four million and a half of inhabitants for example's 
sake only. Yet I am persuaded it is a greater number than the 
country spoken of, considering how much inarable land it con- 
tains, can clothe and feed without a material change in the 
quality of their diet. But are there no inconveniences to be 
thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a 
multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? It 
is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as 
much as possible in matters which they must of necessity trans- 
act together. Civil government being the sole object of forming 
societies, its administration must be conducted by common 
consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. 
Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the 
universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the Eng- 
lish constitution, with others derived from natural right and 
natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the 
maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet from such we are to ex- 
pect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with 
them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed 
in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in 
exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, 
from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they 
to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These prin- 
ciples, with their language, they will transmit to their children. 
In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the 

-17 



ON VIRGINIA 

legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias 
its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, dis- 
tracted mass. I may appeal to experience, during the present 
contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they 
be not certain in event, are they not possible, are they not prob- 
able? Is it not safer to wait with patience twenty-seven years 
and three months longer, for the attainment of any degree of 
population desired or expected? May not our government be 
more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable? Suppose 
twenty millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sud- 
den into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? 
If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may 
believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our 
present numbers would produce a similar effect here. If they 
come of themselves they are entitled to all the rights of citizen- 
ship; but doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordi- 
nary encouragements. I mean not that these doubts should be 
extended to the importation of useful artificers. The policy of 
that measure depends on very different considerations. Spare no 
expense in obtaining them. They will after a while go to the 
plough and the hoe; but, in the mean time, they will teach us 
something we do not know. It is not so in agriculture. The in- 
different state of that among us does not proceed from a want 
of knowledge merely; it is from our having such quantities of 
land to waste as we please. In Europe the object is to make 
the most of their land, labor being abundant ; here it is to make 
the most of our labor, land being abundant. . . . 

During the regal government we had at one time obtained a 
law which imposed such a duty on the importation of slaves as 
amounted nearly to a prohibition, when one inconsiderate as- 
sembly, placed under a peculiarity of circumstance, repealed 
the law. This repeal met a joyful sanction from the then reign- 
ing sovereign, and no devices, no expedients, which could ever 
be attempted by subsequent assemblies, and they seldom met 
without attempting them, could succeed in getting the royal as- 
sent to a renewal of the duty. In trie very first session held 
under the republican government, the assembly passed a law 

218 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

for the perpetual prohibition of the importation of slaves. This 
will in some measure stop the increase of this great political 
and moral evil, while the minds of our citizens may be ripening 
for a complete emancipation of human nature. 

QUERY IX 

The number and condition of the Militia and Regular 
Troops, and their Pay? 

Every able-bodied freeman, between the ages of sixteen and 
fifty, is enrolled in the militia. Those of every county are 
formed into companies, and these again into one or more bat- 
talions, according to the numbers in the county. They are com- 
manded by colonels, and other subordinate officers, as in the 
regular service. In every county is a county-lieutenant, who 
commands the whole militia of his county, but ranks only as a 
colonel in the field. We have no general officers always existing, 
These are appointed occasionally, when an invasion or insur- 
rection happens, and their commission determines with the 
occasion. The Governor is head of the military, as well as civil 
power. The law requires every militia-man to provide himself 
with the arms usual in the regular service. But this injunction 
was always indifferently complied with, and the arms they had, 
have been so frequently called for to arm the regulars, that in 
the lower parts of the country they are entirely disarmed. In 
the middle country a fourth or fifth part of them may have 
such firelocks as they had provided to destroy the noxious ani- 
mals which infest their farms; and on the western side of the 
Blue Ridge they are generally armed with rifles. The pay of 
our militia, as well as of our regulars, is that of the continental 
regulars. The condition of our regulars, of whom we have none 
but continentals, and part of a battalion of state troops, is so 
constantly on the change, that a state of it at this day would 
not be its state a month hence. It is much the same with the 
condition of the other continental troops, which is well enough 
known. 

210 



ON VIRGINIA 

QUERY X 
The Marine? 

Before the present invasion of this State by the British, un- 
der the command of General Phillips, we had three vessels of 
sixteen guns, one of fourteen, five small gallies, and two or 
three armed boats. They were generally so badly manned as 
seldom to be in a condition for service. Since the perfect pos- 
session of our rivers assumed by the enemy, I believe we are 
left with a single armed boat only. 

QUERY XI 
A description of the Indians established in that State? 

When the first effectual settlement of our colony was made, 
which was in 1607, the country from the seacoast to the moun- 
tains, and from the Potomac to the most southern waters of 
James' river, was occupied by upwards of forty different tribes 
of Indians. Of these the Powhatans, the Mannahoacs, and 
Monacans, were the most powerful. Those between the sea- 
coast and falls of the rivers, were in amity with one another, 
and attached to the Powhatans as their link of union. Those 
between the falls of the rivers and the mountains, were divided 
into two confederacies; the tribes inhabiting the head waters 
of Potomac and Rappahannock, being attached to the Manna- 
hoacs; and those on the upper parts of James' river to the 
Monacans. But the Monacans and their friends were in amity 
with the Mannahoacs and their friends, and waged joint and 
perpetual war against the Powhatans. We are told that the 
Powhatans, Mannahoacs, and Monacans, spoke languages so 
radically different, that interpreters were necessary when they 
transacted business. Hence we may conjecture, that this was 
not the case between all the tribes, and, probably, that each 
spoke the language of the nation to which it was attached; 
which we know to have been the case in many particular in- 
stances. Very possibly there may have been anciently three 

220 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

different stocks, each of which, multiplying in a long course of 
time, had separated into so many little societies. This practice 
results from the circumstance of their having never submitted 
themselves to any laws, any coercive power, any shadow of gov- 
ernment. Their only controls are their manners, and that moral 
sense of right and wrong, which, like the sense of tasting and 
feeling in every man, makes a part of his nature. An offence 
against these is punished by contempt, by exclusion from so- 
ciety, or, where the case is serious, as that of murder, by the 
individuals whom it concerns. Imperfect as this species of coer- 
cion may seem, crimes are very rare among them; insomuch 
that were it made a question, whether no law, as among the 
savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized 
Europeans, submits man to the greatest evil, one who has seen 
both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last; 
and that the sheep are happier of themselves, than under care 
of the wolves. It will be said, the great societies cannot exist 
without government. The savages, therefore, break them into 
small ones. 

The territories of the Powhatan confederacy, south of the 
Potomac, comprehended about eight thousand square miles, 
thirty tribes, and two thousand four hundred warriors. Captain 
Smith tells us, that within sixty miles of Jamestown were five 
thousand people, of whom one thousand five hundred were war- 
riors. From this we find the proportion of their warriors to their 
whole inhabitants, was as three to ten. The Powhatan confed- 
eracy, then, would consist of about eight thousand inhabitants, 
which was one for every square mile; being about the twentieth 
part of our present population in the same territory, and the 
hundredth of that of the British islands. 

Besides these were the Nottoways, living on Nottoway river, 
the Meherrins and Tutelovs on Meherrin river, who were con- 
nected with the Indians of Carolina, probably with the 
Chowanocs. . . . 

I know of no such thing existing as an Indian monument; 
for I would not honor with that name arrow points, stone 

221 



ON VIRGINIA 

hatchets, stone pipes, and half shapen images. Of labor on the 
large scale, I think there is no remain as respectable as would 
be a common ditch for the draining of lands; unless indeed it 
would be the barrows, of which many are to be found all over 
this country. These are of different sizes, some of them con- 
structed of earth, and some of loose stones. That they were 
repositories of the dead, has been obvious to all; but on what 
particular occasion constructed, was a matter of doubt. Some 
have thought they covered the bones of those who have fallen 
in battles fought on the spot of interment. Some ascribed them 
to the custom, said to prevail among the Indians, of collecting, 
at certain periods, the bones of all their dead, wheresoever de- 
posited at the time of death. Others again supposed them the 
general sepulchres for towns, conjectured to have been on or 
near these grounds; and this opinion was supported by the qual- 
ity of the lands in which they are found (those constructed of 
earth being generally in the softest and most fertile m'eadow- 
grounds on river sides), and by a tradition, said to be handed 
down from the aboriginal Indians, that when they settled in a 
town, the first person who died was placed erect, and earth put 
about him, so as to cover and support him; that when another 
died, a narrow passage was dug to the first, the second re- 
clined against him, and the cover of earth replaced, and so on. 
There being one of these in my neighborhood, I wished to sat- 
isfy myself whether any, and which of these opinions were just. 
For this purpose I determined to open and examine it thor- 
oughly. It was situated on the low grounds of the Rivanna, 
about two miles above its principal fork, and opposite to some 
hills, on which had been an Indian town. It was of a spheroi- 
dical form, of about forty feet diameter at the base, and haa 
been of about twelve feet altitude, though now reduced by the 
plough to seven and a half, having been under cultivation about 
a dozen years. Before this it was covered with trees of twelve 
inches diameter, and round the base was an excavation of five 
feet depth and width, from whence -the earth had been taken 
of which the hillock was formed. I first dug superficially in se T 

222 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

eral parts of it, and came to collections of human bones, at 
different depth, from six inches to three feet below the surface. 
These were lying in the utmost confusion, some vertical, some 
oblique, some horizontal, and directed to every point of the 
compass, entangled and held together in clusters by the earth. 
Bones of the most distant parts were found together, as, for in- 
stance, the small bones of the foot in the hollow of a scull; 
many sculls would sometimes be in contact, lying on the face, 
on the side, on the back, top or bottom, so as, on the whole, to 
give the idea of bones emptied promiscuously from a bag or 
a basket, and covered over with earth, without any attention to 
their order. The bones of which the greatest numbers remained, 
were sculls, jaw-bones, teeth, the bones of the arms, thighs, legs, 
feet and hands. A few ribs remained, some vertebrae of the 
neck and spine, without their processes, and one instance only 
of the bone * which serves as a base to the vertebral column. 
The sculls were so tender, that they generally fell to pieces 
on being touched. The other bones were stronger. There were 
some teeth which were judged to be smaller than those of an 
adult; a scull, which on a slight view, appeared to be that of 
an infant, but it fell to pieces on being taken out, so as to pre- 
vent satisfastory examination; a rib, and a fragment of the 
under-jaw of a person about half grown; another rib of an in- 
fant; and a part of the jaw of a child, which had not cut its 
teeth. This last furnishing the most decisive proof of the burial 
of children here, I was particular in my attention to it. It was 
part of the right half of the under-jaw. The processes, by which 
it was attenuated to the temporal bones, were entire, and the 
bone itself firm to where it had been broken off, which, as 
nearly as I could judge, was about the place of the eye-tooth. 
Its upper edge, wherein would have been the sockets of the 
teeth, was perfectly smooth. Measuring it with that of an adult, 
by placing their hinder processes together, its broken end ex- 
tended to the penultimate grinder of the adult. This bone was 
white, all the others of a sand color. The bones of infants being 

i. The os sacrum, f Jefferson's note.] 



ON VIRGINIA 

soft, they probably decay sooner, which might be the cause so 
few were found here. I proceeded then to make a perpendicular 
cut through the body of the barrow, that I might examine its 
internal structure. This passed about three feet from its centre, 
was opened to the former surface of the earth, and was wide 
enough for a man to walk through and examine its sides. At 
the bottom, that is, on the level of the circumjacent plain, I 
found bones; above these a few stones, brought from a cliff a 
quarter of a mile off; then a large interval of earth, then a 
stratum of bones, and so on. At one end of the section were 
four strata of bones plainly distinguishable; at the other, three; 
the strata in one part not ranging with those in another. The 
bones nearest the surface were least decayed. No holes were 
discovered in any of them, as if made with bullets, arrows, or 
other weapons. I conjectured that in this barrow might have 
been a thousand skeletons. Every one will readily seize the 
circumstances above related, which militate against the opinion, 
that it covered the bones only of persons fallen in battle; and 
against the tradition also, which would make it the common 
sepulchre of a town, in which the bodies were placed upright, 
and touching each other. Appearances certainly indicate that 
it has derived both origin and growth from the accustomary 
collection of bones, and deposition of them together; that the 
first collection had been deposited on the common surface of 
the earth, a few stones put over it, and then a covering of 
earth, that the second had been laid on this, had covered more 
or less of it in proportion to the number of bones, and was then 
also covered with earth; and so on. The following are the par- 
ticular circumstances which give it this aspect, i. The number 
of bones. 2. Their confused position. 3. Their being in different 
strata. 4. The strata in one part having no correspondence with 
those in another. 5. The different states of decay in these strata, 
which seem to indicate a difference in the time of inhumation. 
6. The existence of infant bones among them. 

But on whatever occasion they may have been made, they 
are of considerable notoriety among the Indians; for a party 

224 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

passing, about thirty years ago, through the part of the coun- 
try where this barrow is, went through the woods directly to 
it, without any instructions or inquiry, and having staid about 
it for some time, with expressions which were construed to 
be those of sorrow, they returned to the high road, which 
they had left about half a dozen miles to pay this visit, and 
pursued their journey. There is another barrow much resem- 
bling this, in the low grounds of the south branch of Shenan- 
doah, where it is crossed by the road leading from the Rock- 
fish gap to Staunton. Both of these have, within these dozer- 
years, been cleared of their trees and put under cultivation, 
are much reduced in their height, and spread in width, by the 
plough, and will probably disappear in time. There is another 
on a hill in the Blue Ridge of mountains, a few miles north of 
Wood's gap, which is made up of small stones thrown together. 
This has been opened and found to contain human bones, as 
the others do. There are also many others in other parts of 
the country. 

Great question has arisen from whence came those aborigi- 
nals of America? Discoveries, long ago made, were sufficient to 
show that the passage from Europe to America was always 
practicable, even to the imperfect navigation of ancient times, 
In going from Norway to Iceland, from Iceland to Greenland, 
from Greenland to Labrador, the first traject is the widest; 
and this having been practised from the earliest times of which 
we have any account of that part of the earth, it is not difficult 
to suppose that the subsequent trajects may have been some- 
times passed. Again, the late discoveries of Captain Cook, 
coasting from Kamschatka to California, have proved that if 
the two continents of Asia and America be separated at all, it 
is only by a narrow strait. So that from this side also, inhabit- 
ants may have passed into America; and the resemblance be- 
tween the Indians of America and the eastern inhabitants of 
Asia, would induce us to conjecture, that the former are the 
descendants of the latter, or the latter of the former; Excepting 
indeed the Esquimaux, who, from the same circumstance ot 

225 



ON VIRGINIA 

resemblance, and from identity of language, must be derived 
from the Greenlanders, and these probably from some of the 
northern parts of the old continent. A knowledge of their sev- 
eral languages would be the most certain evidence of their deri- 
vation which could be produced. In fact, it is the best proof of 
the affinity of nations which ever can be referred to. How many 
ages have elapsed since the English, the Dutch, the Germans, 
the Swiss, the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes have separated 
from their common stock? Yet how many more must elapse be- 
fore the proofs of their common origin, which exist in their 
several languages, will disappear? It is to be lamented then, 
very much to be lamented, that we have suffered so many of the 
Indian tribes already to extinguish, without our having previ- 
ously collected and deposited in the records of literature, the 
general rudiments at least of the languages they spoke. Were 
vocabularies formed of all the languages spoken in North and 
South America, preserving their appellations of the most com- 
mon objects in nature, of those which must be present to every 
nation barbarous or civilized, with the inflections of their nouns 
and verbs, their principles of regimen and concord, and these 
deposited in all the public libraries, it would furnish opportuni- 
ties to those skilled in the languages of the old world to com- 
pafe them with these, now, or at any future time, and hence to 
construct the best evidence of the derivation of this part of the 
human race. 

But imperfect as is our knowledge of the tongues spoken in 
America, it suffices to discover the following remarkable fact: 
Arranging them under the radical ones to which they may be 
palpably traced, and doing the same by those of the red men 
of Asia, there will be found probably twenty in America, for 
one in Asia, of those radical languages, so called because if 
they were ever the same they have lost all resemblance to one 
another. A separation into dialects may be the work of a few 
ages only, but for two dialects to recede from one another till 
they have lost all vestiges of their common origin, must require 
an immense course of time; perhaps not less than many people 

226 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

give to the age of the earth. A greater number of those radical 
changes of language having taken place among the red men of 
America, proves them of greater antiquity than those of Asia. 

QUERY XII 
A notice of the counties y cities, townships, and villages? 

The counties have been enumerated under Query IX. They 
are seventy-four in number, of very unequal size and popula- 
tion. Of these thirty-five are on the tide waters, or in that par- 
allel ; twenty-three are in the midlands, between the tide waters 
and Blue Ridge of mountains; eight between the Blue Ridge 
and Alleghany; and eight westward of the Alleghany. 

The State, by another division, is formed into parishes, many 
of which are commensurate with the counties; but sometimes a 
county comprehends more than one parish, and sometimes a 
parish more than one county. This division had relation to the 
religion of the State, a portion of the Anglican church, with a 
fixed salary, having been heretofore established in each parish. 
The care of the poor was another object of the parochial divi- 
sion. 

We have no townships. Our country being much intersected 
with navigable waters, and trade brought generally to our 
doors, instead of our being obliged to go in quest of it, has 
probably been one of the causes why we have no towns of any 
consequence. Williamsburg, which, till the year 1780, was the 
seat of our government, never contained above 1,800 inhabit- 
ants; and Norfolk, the most populous town we ever had, con- 
tained but 6,000. . . . 

There are other places at which, like some of the foregoing, 
the laws have said there shall be towns; but nature has said 
there shall not, and they remain unworthy of enumeration. 
Norfolk will probably be the emporium for all the trade of the 
Chesapeake bay and its waters; and a canal of eight or ten 
miles will bring to it all that of Albemarle sound and its waters. 
Secondary to this place, are the towns at the head of the tide 

227 



whores ON VIRGINIA 

waters, to wit, Petersburg on Appomattox; Richmond on 
James' river; Newcastle on York river; Alexandria on Poto- 
mac, and Baltimore on Patapsco. From these the distribution 
'?vill be to subordinate situations in the country. Accidental cir- 
cumstances, however, may control the indications of nature, 
and in no instance do they do it more frequently than in the 
'fise and fall of towns. 

QUERY XIII 
The constitution of the State and its several charters? 

Queen Elizabeth by her letters patent, bearing date March 
25, 1584, licensed Sir Walter Raleigh to search for remote 
heathen lands, not inhabited by Christian people, and granted 
to him in fee simple, all the soil within two hundred leagues 
of the places where his people should, within six years, make 
their dwellings or abidings; reserving only to herself and her 
successors, their allegiance and one-fifth part of all the gold 
and silver ore they should obtain. Sir Walter immediately sent 
out two ships, which visited Wococon island in North Carolina, 
and the next year despatched seven with one hundred and 
seven men, who settled in Roanoke island, about latitude 
35 5'- Here Okisko, king of the Weopomeiocs, in a full 
council of his people is said to have acknowledged himself the 
homager of the Queen of England, and, after her, of Sir Wal- 
ter Raleigh. A supply of fifty men were sent in 1586, and one 
hundred and fifty in 1587. With these last Sir Walter sent a 
governor, appointed him twelve assistants, gave them a char- 
ter of incorporation, and instructed them to settle on Chesa- 
peake bay. They landed, however, at Hatorask. In 1588, when 
a fleet was ready to sail with a new supply of colonists and 
necessaries, they were detained by the Queen to assist against 
the Spanish armada. Sir Walter having now expended 40,000 
in these enterprises, obstructed occasionally by the crown with- 
out a shilling of aid from it, was under a necessity of engaging 
others to adventure their money. He, therefore, by deed bear- 
ing date the yth of March, 1589, by the name of Sir Walter 

228 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

Raleigh, Chief Governor of Assamacomoc, (probably Acomkc,) 
alias Wingadacoia, alias Virginia, granted to Thomas Smith 
and others, in consideration of their adventuring certain sums 
of money, liberty to trade to this new country free from all 
customs and taxes for seven years, excepting the fifth part of 
the gold and silver ore to be obtained; and stipulated with 
them and the other assistants, then in Virginia, that he would 
confirm the deed of incorporation which he had given in 1587, 
with all the prerogatives, jurisdictions, royalties and privi- 
leges granted to him by the Queen. Sir Walter, at different 
times, sent five other adventurers hither, the last of which was 
in 1602; for in 1603 he was attainted and put into close im- 
prisonment, which put an end to his cares over his infant col- 
ony. What was the particular fate of the colonists he had before 
sent and seated, has never been known; whether they were 
murdered, or incorporated with the savages. 

Some gentlemen and merchants, supposing that by the at- 
tainder of Sir Walter Raleigh the grant to him was forfeited, 
not inquiring over carefully whether the sentence of an Eng- 
lish court could affect lands not within the jurisdiction of that 
court, petitioned king James for a new grant of Virginia to 
them. He accordingly executed a grant to Sir Thomas Gates 
and others, bearing date the gth of March, 1607, under which, 
in the same year, a settlement was effected at Jamestown, and 
ever after maintained. Of this grant, however, no particular 
notice need be taken, as it was superseded by letters patent of 
the same king, of May 23, 1609, to the Earl of Salisbury and 
others, incorporating them by the name of "The Treasurer and 
company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London 
for the first colony in Virginia," granting to them and their 
successors all the lands in Virginia from Point Comfort along 
the sea-coast, to the northward two hundred miles, and from 
the same point along the sea-coast to the southward two hun- 
dred miles, and all the space from this precinct on the sea-coast 
up into the land, west and north-west, from sea to sea, and the 
islands within one hundred miles of it, with all the communi- 

229 



ON VIRGINIA 

ties, jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, franchises, and pre-emi- 
nencies, within the same, and thereto and thereabouts, by sea 
and land, appertaining in as ample manner as had before been 
granted to any adventurer; to be held of the king and his suc- 
cessors, in common soccage, yielding one-fifth part of the gold 
and silver ore to be therein found, for all manner of services; 
establishing a counsel in England for the direction of the enter- 
prise, the members of which were to be chosen and displaced by 
the voice of the majority of the company and adventurers, and 
were to have the nomination and revocation of governors, offi- 
cers, and ministers, which by them should be thought needful 
for the colony, the power of establishing laws and forms of 
government and magistracy, obligatory not only within the 
colony, but also on the seas in going and coming to and from 
it; authorizing them to carry thither any persons who should 
consent to go, freeing them forever from all taxes and im- 
positions on any goods or merchandise on importations into the 
colony, or exportation out of it, except the five per cent, due 
for custom on all goods imported into the British dominions, 
according to the ancient trade of merchants; which five per 
cent, only being paid they might, within thirteen months, re- 
export the same goods into foreign parts, without any custom, 
tax, or other duty, to the king or any of his officers, or depu- 
ties; with powers of waging war against those who should an- 
noy them; giving to the inhabitants of the colony all the 
rights of natural subjects, as if born and abiding in England; 
and declaring that these letters should be construed, in all 
doubtful parts, in such manner as should be most for the bene- 
fit of the grantees. 

Afterwards on the 1 2th of March, 1612, by other letters pat- 
ent, the king added to his former grants, all islands in any 
part of the ocean between the 30th and 4ist degrees of lati- 
tude, and within three hundred leagues of any of the parts be- 
fore granted to the treasurer and company, not being possessed 
or inhabited by any other Christian prince or state, nor within 
the limits of the northern colony. 

230 



THOMAS ySFFSRSON 

In pursuance of the authorities given to the company by 
these charters, and more especially of that part in the charter 
of 1609, which authorized them to establish a form of govern- 
ment, they on the 24th of July, 1621, by charter under their 
common seal, declared that from thenceforward there should 
be two supreme councils in Virginia, the on'e to be called the 
council of state, to be placed and displaced by the treasurer, 
council in England, and company from time to time, whose 
office was to be that of assisting and advising the governor; 
the other to be called the general assembly, to be convened by 
the governor once yearly or oftener, which was to consist of 
the council of state, and two burgesses out of every town, 
hundred, or plantation, to be respectively chosen by the in- 
habitants. In this all matters were to be decided by the greater 
part of the votes present; reserving to the governor a nega- 
tive voice; and they were to have power to treat, consult, and 
conclude all emergent occasions concerning the public weal, 
and to make laws for the behoof and government of the col- 
ony, imitating and following the laws and policy of England as 
nearly as might be; providing that these laws should have no 
force till ratified in a general court of the company in England, 
and returned under their common seal; and declaring that, 
after the government of the colony should be well framed and 
settled, no orders of the council in England should bind the 
colony unless ratified in the said general assembly. The king 
and company quarrelled, and by a mixture of law and force, 
the latter were ousted of all their rights without retribution, 
after having expended one hundred thousand pounds in estab- 
lishing the colony, without the smallest aid from government. 
King James suspended their powers by proclamation of July 
15, 1624, and Charles I. took the government into his own 
hands. Both sides had their partisans in the colony, but, in 
truth, the people of the colony in general thought themselves 
little concerned in the dispute. There being three parties inter- 
ested in these several charters, what passed between the first 
and second, it was thought could not affect the third. If the 

231 



ON VIRGINIA 

king seized on the powers of the company, they only passed 
into other hands, without increase or diminution, while the 
rights of the people remained as they were. But they did not 
remain so long. The northern parts of their country were 
granted away to the lords Baltimore and Fairfax; the first of 
these obtaining also the rights of separate jurisdiction and gov- 
ernment. And in 1650 the parliament, considering itself as 
standing in the place of their deposed king, and as having suc- 
ceeded to all his powers, without as well as within the realm, 
began to assume a right over the colonies, passing an act for 
inhibiting their trade with foreign nations. This succession to 
the exercise of kingly authority gave the first color for parlia- 
mentary interference with the colonies, and produced that 
fatal precedent which they continued to follow, after they had 
retired, in other respects, within their proper functions. When 
this colony, therefore, which still maintained its opposition to 
Cromwell and the parliament, was induced in 1651 to lay down 
their arms, they previously secured their most essential rights 
by a solemn convention, which, having never seen in print, I 
will here insert literally from the records. 

"ARTICLES agreed on and concluded at James Cittie in Virginia 
tor the surrendering and settling of that plantation under the obedi- 
ence and government of the commonwealth of England by the com- 
missioners of the Councill of State by authoritie of the parliamt of 
England, and by the Grand assembly of the Governour, Councill, 
and Burgesses of that countrey. 

"First it is agreed and consted that the plantation of Virginia, and 
all the inhabitants thereof, shall be and remain in due obedience and 
subjection to the Commonwealth of England, according to the laws 
vhere established, and that this submission and subscription bee ac- 
knowledged a voluntary act not forced nor constrained by a conquest 
upon the countrey, and that they shall have and enjoy such freedoms 
and priviledges as belong to the free borne people of England, and 
that the former government by the Commissions and Instructions be 
void and null. 

"2ly. That the Grand assembly as formerly shall convene and 
transact the affairs of Virginia, wherein nothing is to be acted or done 

232 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

contrairie to the government of the Commonwealth of England and 
the lawes there established. 

U 3ly. That there shall be a full and totall remission and indemp' 
nitie of all acts, words, or writeings done or spoken against the par- 
liament of England in relation to the same. 

"4-ly. That Virginia shall have and enjoy the antient bounds and 
lymitts granted by the charters of the former kings, and that we shall 
seek a new charter from the parliament to that purpose against any 
that have intrencht upon the rights thereof. 

U 5ly. That all the pattents of land granted under the colony seal 
by any of the precedent governours shall be and remaine in their full 
force and strength. 

"61y. That the priviledge of haveing ffiftie acres of land for every 
person transported in that collonie shall continue as formerly granted, 

"yly. That the people of Virginia have free trade as the people of 
England do enjoy to all places and with all nations according to the 
lawes of that commonwealth, and that Virginia shall enjoy all privi- 
ledges equall with any English plantations in America. 

U 81y. That Virginia shall be free from all taxes, customs and impo- 
sitions whatsoever, and none to be imposed on them without consent 
of the Grand assembly; and soe that neither fforts nor castle bee 
erected or garrisons maintained without their consent. 

"Qly. That noe charge shall be required from this country in re- 
spect of this present ffleet. 

"loly. That for the future settlement of the countrey in their due 
obedience, the engagement shall be tendred to all the inhabitants ac- 
cording to act of parliament made to that purpose, that all persons 
who shall refuse to subscribe the said engagement, shall have a 
yeare's time if they please to remove themselves and their estates 
out of Virginia, and in the meantime during the said yeare to have 
equall justice as formerly, 

"uly. That the use of the booke of common prayer shall be per- 
mitted for one yeare ensueinge with referrence to the consent of the 
major part of the parishes, provided that those which relate to king' 
shipp or that government be not used publiquely, and the continu- 
ance of ministers in their places, they not misdemeaning themselves, 
and the payment of their accustomed dues and agreements made 
with them respectively shall be left as they now stand dureing this 
ensueing yeare. 

"i2ly. That no man's cattell shall be questioned as the companies 

233 



chores ON VIRGINIA 

unless such as have been entrusted with them or have disposed of 
them without order. 

"i3ly. That all ammunition, powder and armes, other than for 
private use, shall be delivered up, securitie being given to make 
satisfaction for it. 

"i4ly. That all goods allreadie brought hither by the Dutch or 
others which are now on shoar shall be free from surprizall. 

"i5ly. That the quittrents granted unto us by the late kinge for 
seaven yeares bee confirmed. 

"i61y. That the commissioners for the parliament subscribeing 
these articles engage themselves and the honour of parliament for 
the full performance thereof; and that the present governour, and 
the councill, and the burgesses do likewise subscribe and engage the 
whole collony on their parts. 

RICHARD BENNETT. Scale. 
WILLIAM CLATBORNE. Scale. 
EDMOND CURTIS. Scale. 

"Theise articles were signed and sealed by the Commissioners of 
the Councill of state for the Commonwealth of England the 
twelveth day of March 1651." 

The colony supposed, that, by this solemn convention, en- 
tered into with arms in their hands, they had secured the an- 
cient limits of their country, its free trade, its exemption from 
taxation but by their own assembly, and exclusion of military 
force from among them. Yet in every of these points was this 
convention violated by subsequent kings and parliaments, and 
other infractions of their constitution, equally dangerous com- 
mitted. Their general assembly, which was composed of the 
council of state and burgesses, sitting together and deciding 
by plurality of voices, was split into two houses, by which the 
council obtained a separate negative on their laws. Appeals 
from their supreme court, which had been fixed by law in their 
general assembly, were arbitrarily revoked to England, to be 
there heard before the king and council. Instead of four hun- 
dred miles on the seacoast, they were reduced, in the space of 
thirty years, to about one hundred miles. Their trade with for- 
eigners was totally suppressed, and 'when carried to Great Brit- 

234 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

ain, was there loaded with imposts. It is unnecessary, however, 
to glean up the several instances of injury, as scattered through 
American and British history, and the more especially as, by 
passing on to the accession of the present king, we shall find 
specimens of them all, aggravated, multiplied and crowded 
within a small compass of time, so as to evince a fixed design 
of considering our rights natural, conventional and chartered 
as mere nullities. The following is an epitome of the first six- 
teen years of his reign: The colonies were taxed internally and 
externally; their essential interests sacrificed to individuals in 
Great Britain; their legislatures suspended; charters annulled; 
trials by juries taken away; their persons subjected to trans- 
portation across the Atlantic, and to trial before foreign judica- 
tories; their supplications for redress thought beneath answer: 
themselves published as cowards in the councils of their mother 
country and courts of Europe; armed troops sent among them 
to enforce submission to these violences; and actual hostilities 
commenced against them. No alternative was presented but 
resistance, or unconditional submission. Between these could be 
no hesitation. They closed in the appeal to arms. They declared 
themselves independent states. They confederated together into 
one great republic; thus securing to every State the benefit 
of an union of their whole force. In each State separately a 
new form of government was established. Of ours particularly 
the following are the outlines: The executive powers are lodged 
in the hands of a governor, chosen annually, and incapable 
of acting more than three years in seven. He is assisted by a 
council of eight members. The judiciary powers are divided 
among several courts, as will be hereafter explained. Legisla- 
tion is exercised by two houses of assembly, the one called the 
house of Delegates, composed of two members from each 
county, chosen annually by the citizens, possessing an estate 
for life in one hundred acres of uninhabited land, or twenty- 
five acres with a house on it, or in a house or lot in some town: 
the other called the Senate, consisting of twenty-four mem- 
bers, chosen quadrenially by the same electors, who for this 

235 



ON VIRGINIA 

purpose are distributed into twenty-four districts. The concur- 
rence of both houses is necessary to the passage of a law. They 
have the appointment of the governor and council, the judges 
of the superior courts, auditors, attorney-general, treasurer, 
register of the land office, and delegates to Congress. As the 
dismemberment of the State had never had its confirmation, 
but, on the contrary, had always been the subject of protesta- 
tion and complaint, that it might never be in our own power 
to raise scruples on that subject, or to disturb the harmony of 
our new confederacy, the grants to Maryland, Pennsylvania, 
and the two Carolinas, were ratified. 

This constitution was formed when we were new and un- 
experienced in the science of government. It was the first, too, 
which was formed in the whole United States. No wonder then 
that time and trial have discovered very capital defects in it. 

1. The majority of the men in the State, who pay and fight 
for its support, are unrepresented in the legislature, the roll 
of freeholders entitled to vote not including generally the half 
of those on tht roll of the militia, or of the tax-gatherers. 

2. Among those who share the representation, the shares are 
very unequal. Thus the county of Warwick, with only one 
hundred fighting men, has an equal representation with the 
county of Loudon, which has one thousand seven hundred and 
forty-six. So that every man in Warwick has as much influ- 
ence in the government as seventeen men in Loudon. But lest it 
should be thought that an equal interspersion of small among 
large counties, through the whole State, may prevent any dan- 
ger of injury to particular parts of it, we will divide it into 
districts, and show the proportions of land, of fighting men, 
and of representation in each. . . . 1 

3. The senate is, by its constitution, too homogeneous with 
the house of delegates. Being chosen by the same electors, at 
the same time, and out of the same subjects, the choice falls 
of course on men of the same description. The purpose of 
establishing different houses of legislation is to introduce the 

i. A table, compiled by Jefferson, is omitted here. 

236 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

influence of different interests or different principles. Thus in 
Great Britain it is said their constitution relies on the house 
of commons for honesty, and the lords for wisdom; which 
would be a rational reliance, if honesty were to be bought with 
money, and if wisdom were hereditary. In some of the Ameri- 
can States, the delegates and senators are so chosen, as that 
the first represent the persons, and the second the property of 
the State. But with us, wealth and wisdom have equal chance 
for admission into both houses. We do not, therefore, derive 
from the separation of our legislature into two houses, those 
benefits which a proper complication of principles are capable 
of producing, and those which alone can compensate the evils 
which may be produced by their dissensions. 

4. All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and 
judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating 
these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic 
government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be 
exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 
One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as 
oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on 
the republic of Venice. As little will it avail us that they are 
chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the govern- 
ment we fought for, but one which should not only be founded 
on free principles, but in which the powers of government 
should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of 
magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, 
without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. 
For this reason that convention which passed the ordinance of 
government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the legisla- 
tive, executive, and judiciary departments should be separate 
and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of 
more than one of them at the same time. But no barrier was 
provided between these several powers. The judiciary and 
executive members were left dependent on the legislative, 
for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their 
continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes execu- 

237 



ON VIRGINIA 

tive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be made; 
nor, if made, can it be effectual; because in that case they may 
put their proceedings into the form of an act of assembly, 
which will render them obligatory on the other branches. 
They have, accordingly, in many instances, decided rights 
which should have been left to judiciary controversy; and 
the direction of the executive, during the whole time of their 
session, is becoming habitual and familiar. And this is done 
with no ill intention. The views of the present members are 
perfectly upright. When they are led out of their regular 
province, it is by art in others, and inadvertance in them- 
selves. And this will probably be the case for some time to 
come. But it will not be a very long time. Mankind soon learn 
to make interested uses of every right and power which they 
possess, or may assume. The public money and public liberty, 
intended to have been deposited with three branches of 
magistracy, but found inadvertently to be in the hands of one 
only, will soon be discovered to be sources of wealth and 
dominion to those who hold them; distinguished, too, by this 
tempting circumstance, that they are the instrument, as well 
as the object of acquisition. With money we will get men, 
said Caesar, and with men we will get money. Nor should our 
assembly be deluded by the integrity of their own purposes, 
and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be abused, 
because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They 
should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, 
when a corruption in this, as in the country from which we 
derive our origin, will have seized the head of government, and 
be spread by them through the body of the people; when they 
will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay 
the price. Human nature is the same on every side of the 
Atlantic, and will be alike influenced by the same causes. The 
time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they 
shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out 
of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and claws after 

238 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

he shall have entered. To render these considerations the mor* 
cogent, we must observe in addition: 

5. That the ordinary legislature may alter the constitution 
itself. On the discontinuance of assemblies, it became neces- 
sary to substitute in their place some other body, competent 
to the ordinary business of government, and to the calling 
forth the powers of the State for the maintenance of our 
opposition to Great Britain. Conventions were therefore intro- 
duced, consisting of two delegates from each county, meeting 
together and forming one house, on the plan of the former 
house of burgesses, to whose places they succeeded. These 
were at first chosen anew for every particular session. But in 
March 1775, they recommended to the people to choose a 
convention, which should continue in office a year. This was 
done, accordingly, in April 1775, and in the July following 
that convention passed an ordinance for the election of dele- 
gates in the month of April annually. It is well known, that 
in July 1775, a separation from Great Britain and establish- 
ment of republican government, had never yet entered into 
any person's mind. A convention, therefore, chosen under that 
ordinance, cannot be said to have been chosen for the purposes 
which certainly did not exist in the minds of those who passed 
it. Under this ordinance, at the annual election in April 1776, 
a convention for the year was chosen. Independence, and the 
establishment of a new form of government, were not even 
yet the objects of the people at large. One extract from the 
pamphlet called Common Sense had appeared in the Virginia 
papers in February, and copies of the pamphlet itself had got 
in a few hands. But the idea had not been opened to the 
mass of the people in April, much less can it be said that they 
had made up their minds in its favor. 

So that the electors of April 1776, no more than the 
legislators of July 1775, not thinking of independence and a 
permanent republic, could not mean to vest in these delegates 
powers of establishing them, or any authorities other than 

239 ' 



ON VIRGINIA 

those of the ordinary legislature. So far as a temporary organi- 
zation of government was necessary to render our opposition 
energetic, so far their organization was valid. But they received 
in their creation no powers but what were given to every 
legislature before and since. They could not, therefore, pass 
an act transcendent to the powers of other legislatures. If 
the present assembly pass an act, and declare it shall be 
irrevocable by subsequent assemblies, the declaration is merely 
void, and the act repealable, as other acts are. So far, and no 
farther authorized, they organized the government by the 
ordinance entitled a constitution or form of government. It 
pretends to no higher authority than the other ordinances of 
the same session; it does not say that it shall be perpetual; 
that it shall be unalterable by other legislatures; that it shall 
be transcendent above the powers of those who they knew 
would have equal power with themselves. Not only the silence 
of the instrument is a proof they thought it would be alter- 
able, but their own practice also; for this very convention, 
meeting as a house of delegates in general assembly with the 
Senate in the autumn of that year, passed acts of assembly in 
contradiction to their ordinance of government; and every 
assembly from that time to this has done the same. I am safe, 
therefore, in the position that the constitution itself is alter- 
able by the ordinary legislature. Though this opinion seems 
founded on the first elements of common sense, yet is the 
contrary maintained by some persons, i. Because, say they, 
the conventions were vested with every power necessary to 
make effectual opposition to Great Britain. But to complete 
this argument, they must go on, and say further, that effectual 
opposition could not be made to Great Britain without estab- 
lishing a form of government perpetual and unalterable by the 
legislature; which is not true. An opposition which at some 
time or other was to come to an end, could not need a perpetual 
institution to carry it on; and a government amendable as its 
defects should be discovered, was as likely to make effectual 
"resistance, as one that should be unalterably wrong. Besides, 

240 ; 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

the assemblies were as much vested with all powers requisite 
far resistance as the conventions were. If, therefore, these 
powers included that of modelling the form of government in 
the one case, they did so in the other. The assemblies then as 
well as the conventions may model the government; that is ; 
they may alter the ordinance of government. 2. They urge, 
that if the convention had meant that this instrument should 
be alterable, as their other ordinances were, they would have 
called it an ordinance; but they have called it a constitution, 
which, ex vi termini, means "an act above the power of the 
ordinary legislature." I answer that constitutio, constitutium, 
statutum, lex, are convertible terms. . . . Thus in the statute 25 
Hen. VIII. c. 19, i, "Constitutions and ordinances" are used 
as synonymous. The term constitution has many other signifi 
cations in physics and politics; but in jurisprudence, whenevel 
it is applied to any act of the legislature, it invariably means a 
statute, law, or ordinance which is the present case. No in- 
ference then of a different meaning can be drawn from the 
adoption of this title; on the contrary, we might conclude 
that, by their affixing to it a term synonymous with ordinance 
or statute. But of what consequence is their meaning, where 
their power is denied? If they meant to do more than the} 1 
had power to do, did this give them power? It is not the name, 
but the authority that renders an act obligatory. ... To get 
rid of the magic supposed to be in the word constitution, let 
us translate it into its definition as given by those who think it 
above the power of the law ; and let us suppose the convention 
instead of saying, "We the ordinary legislature, establish a 
constitution" had said, "We the ordinary legislature, establish 
an act above the power of the ordinary legislature" Does not 
this expose the absurdity of the attempt? 3. But, say they, the 
people have acquiesced, and this has given it an authority 
superior to the laws. It is true that the people did not rebel 
against it; and was that a time for the people to rise in rebel- 
lion? Should a prudent acquiescence, at a critical time, be 
construed into a confirmation of every illegal thing done during 

241 



ON VIRGINIA 

that period? Besides, why should they rebel? At an annual 
election they had chosen delegates for the year, to exercise the 
ordinary powers of legislation, and to manage the great contest 
in which they were engaged. These delegates thought the 
contest would be best managed by an organized government. 
They therefore, among others, passed an ordinance of govern- 
ment. They did not presume to call it perpetual and unalter- 
able. They well knew they had no power to make it so; that 
our choice of them had been for no such purpose, and at a time 
when we could have no such purpose in contemplation. Had an 
unalterable form of government been meditated, perhaps we 
should have chosen a different set of people. There was no 
cause then for the people to rise in rebellion. But to what 
dangerous lengths will this argument lead? Did the acquies- 
cence of the colonies under the various acts of power exercised 
by Gieat Britain in our infant State, confirm these acts, and 
so far invest them with the authority of the people as to render 
them unalterable, and our present resistance wrong? On every 
unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the 
people rise in rebellion, or their silence be construed into a 
surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellious 
should we have had already? One certainly for every session 
of assembly. The other States in the union have been of opinion 
that to render a form of government unalterable by ordinary 
acts of assembly, the people must delegate persons with special 
powers. They have accordingly chosen special conventions to 
form and fix their governments. The individuals then who 
maintain the contrary opinion in this country, should have 
the modesty to suppose it possible that they may be wrong, 
and the rest of America right. But if there be only a possibility 
of their being wrong, if only a plausible doubt remains of the 
validity of the ordinance of government, is it not better to 
remove that doubt by placing it on a bottom which none will 
dispute? If they be right we shall only have the unnecessary 
trouble of meeting once in convention. If they be wrong, they 
fixoose us to the hazard of having no fundamental rights at 

242 



THOMAS 

all. True it is, this is no time for deliberating on forms of go# 
ernment. While an enemy is within our bowels, the first object 
is to expel him. But when this shall be done, when peace shalf 
be established, and leisure given us for intrenching within 
good forms, the rights for which we have bled, let no man be 
found indolent enough to decline a little more trouble for 
placing them beyond the reach of question. If anything more 
be requisite to produce a conviction of the expediency of call- 
ing a convention at a proper season to fix our form of govern- 
ment, let it be the reflection: 

6. That the assembly exercises a power of determining the 
quorum of their own body which may legislate for us. After 
the establishment of the new form they adhered to the Lex 
majoris partis, founded in common law as well as common 
right. It is the natural law of every assembly of men, whose 
numbers are not fixed by any other law. They continued for 
some time to require the presence of a majority of their whole 
number, to pass an act. But the British parliament fixes its 
own quorum; our former assemblies fixed their own quorum; 
and one precedent in favor of power is stronger than an 
hundred against it. The house of delegates, therefore, have 
lately voted that, during the present dangerous invasion, forty 
members shall be a house to proceed to business. They have 
been moved to this by the fear of not being able to collect a 
house. But this danger could not authorize them to call that 
a house which was none; and if they may fix it at one number, 
they may at another, till it loses its fundamental character of 
being a representative body. As this vote expires with the 
present invasion, it is probable the former rule will be per- 
mitted to revive; because at present no ill is meant. The power, 
however, of fixing their own quorum has been avowed, and a 
precedent set. From forty it may be reduced to four, and from 
four to one; from a house to a committee, from a committee to 
a chairman or speaker, and thus an oligarchy or monarchy be 
substituted under forms supposed to be regular. "All bad 
precedents arise out of good; but where power comes into ine 



ON VIRGINIA 

hands of the ignorant or the indifferent, that new precedent 
proceeds from the worthy and the fit to the unworthy and the 
unfit." * 

When, therefore, it is considered, that there is no legal 
obstacle to the assumption by the assembly of all the powers 
legislative, executive, and judiciary, and that these maj come 
to the hands of the smallest rag of delegation, surely the people 
will say, and their representatives, while yet they have honest 
representatives, will advise them to say, that they will not 
acknowledge as laws any acts not considered and assented to 
by the major part of their delegates. 

In enumerating the defects of the Constitution, it would be 
wrong to count among them what is only the error of particular 
persons. In December 1776, our circumstances being much dis- 
tressed, it was proposed in the house of delegates to create a 
dictator, invested with every power legislative, executive, and 
judiciary, civil and military, of life and of death, over our 
persons and over our properties; and in June 1781, again 
under calamity, the same proposition was repeated, and wanted 
a few votes only of being passed. One who entered into this 
contest from a pure love of liberty, and a sense of injured 
rights, who determined to make every sacrifice, and to meet 
every danger, for the re-establishment of those rights on a firm 
basis, who did not mean to expend his blood and substance 
for the wretched purpose of changing this matter for that, 
but to place the powers of governing him in a plurality of 
hands of his own choice, so that the corrupt will of no one 
man might in future oppress him, must stand confounded and 
dismayed when he is told, that a considerable portion of that 
plurality had mediated the surrender of them into a single 
hand, and, in lieu of a limited monarchy, to deliver him over 
to a despotic one! How must we find his efforts and sacrifices 
abused and baffled, if he may still, by a single vote, be laid 
prostrate at the feet of one man! In God's name, from whence 
have they derived this power? Is it from our ancient laws? 

I. In Jefferson's text this is given in Latin. 

244 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

None such can be produced. Is it from any principle in our ne\* 
Constitution expressed or implied? Every lineament expressed 
or implied, is in full opposition to it. Its fundamental principle 
is, that the State shall be governed as a commonwealth. It 
provides a republican organization, proscribes under the name 
of prerogative the exercise of all powers undefined by the laws; 
places on this basis the whole system of our laws; and by con- 
solidating them together, chooses that they should be left to 
stand or fall together, never providing for any circumstances, 
nor admitting that such could arise, wherein either should be 
suspended; no, not for a moment. Our ancient laws expressly 
declare, that those who are but delegates themselves shall not 
delegate to others powers which require judgment and integrity 
in their exercise. Or was this proposition moved on a supposed 
right in the movers, of abandoning their posts in a moment of 
distress t The same laws forbid the abandonment of that post, 
even on ordinary occasions; and much more a transfer of their 
powers into other hands and other forms, without consulting 
the people. They never admit the idea that these, like sheep or 
cattle, may be given from hand to hand without an appeal 
to their own will. Was it from the necessity of the case? 
Necessities which dissolve a government, do not convey its 
authority to an oligarchy or a monarchy. They throw back, 
into the hands of the people, the powers they had delegated; 
and leave them as individuals to shift for themselves. A leader 
may offer, btt not impose himself, nor be imposed on them. 
Much less can their necks be submitted to his sword, their 
breath to be held at his will or caprice. The necessity which 
should operate these tremendous effects should at least be 
palpable and irresistible. Yet in both instances, where it was 
feared, or pretended with us, it was belied by the event. It was 
belied, too, by the preceding experience of our sister States, 
several of whom had grappled through greater difficulties 
without abandoning their forms of government. When the 
proposition was first made, Massachusetts had found even the 
government of committees sufficient to carry them through an 

245 



ON VIRGINIA 

invasion. But we at the time of that proposition, were under no 
invasion. When the second was made, there had been added 
to this example those of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, 
and Pennsylvania, in all of which the republican form had 
been found equal to the task of carrying them through the 
severest trials. In thib State alone did there exist so little 
virtue, that fear was to be fixed in the hearts of the people, 
and to become the motive of their exertions, and principle of 
their government? The very thought alone was treason against 
the people; was treason against mankind in general; as rivet- 
ing forever the chains which bow down their necks, by giving to 
their oppressors a proof, which they would have trumpeted 
through the universe, of the imbecility of republican govern- 
ment, in times of pressing danger, to shield them from harm. 
Those who assume the right of giving away the reins of gov- 
ernment in any case, must be sure that the herd, whom they 
hand on to the rods and hatchet of the dictator, will lay their 
necks on the block when they shall nod to them. But if our 
assemblies supposed such a recognition in the people, I hope 
tthey mistook their character. I am of opinion, that the gov- 
ernment, instead of being braced and invigorated for greater 
.exertions under their difficulties, would have been thrown back 
upon the bungling machinery of county committees for ad- 
ministration, till a convention could have been called, and its 
wheels again set into regular motion. What a cruel moment 
was this for creating such an embarrassment, for putting to 
the proof the attachment of our countrymen to republican 
government! Those who meant well, of the advocates of this 
measure, (and most of them meant well, for I know them 
personally, had been their fellow-laborer in the common cause, 
and had often proved the purity of their principles,) had 
been seduced in their judgment by the example of an ancient 
republic, whose constitution and circumstances were funda- 
mentally different. They had sought this precedent in the his- 
tory of Rome, where alone it was to be found, and where at 
length, too, it had pioved fatal. They had taken it from a 



THOMAS 

republic rent by the most bitter factions and tumults, where 
the government was of a heavy-handed unfeeling aristocracy, 
over a people ferocious, and rendered desperate by poverty 
and wretchedness; tumults which could not be allayed under 
the most trying circumstances, but by the omnipotent hand 
of a single despot. Their constitution, therefore, allowed a 
temporary tyrant to be erected, under the name of a dictator; 
and that temporary tyrant, after a few examples, became per- 
petual. They misapplied this precedent to a people mild in 
their dispositions, patient under their trial, united for the 
public liberty, and affectionate to their leaders. But if from 
the constitution of the Roman government there resulted to 
their senate a power of submitting all their rights to the will 
of one man, does it follow that the assembly of Virginia have 
the same authority? What clause in our constitution has sub- 
stituted that of Rome, by way of residuary provision, for all 
cases not otherwise provided for? Or if they may step ad 
libitum into any other form of government for precedents to 
rule us by, for what oppression may not a precedent be found 
in this world of the ballum omnium in omnia? Searching for 
the foundations of this proposition, I can find none which may 
pretend a color of right or reason, but the defect before devel- 
oped, that there being no barrier between the Igislative, execu- 
tive, and judiciary departments, the legislature may seize the 
whole; that having seized it, and possessing a right to fix their 
own quorum, they may reduce that quorum to one, wiiom they 
may call a chairman, speaker, dictator, or by any other name 
they please. Our situation is indeed perilous, and I hope my 
countrymen will be sensible of it, and will apply, at a proper 
season, the proper remedy; which is a convention to fix the con- 
stitution, to amend its defects, to bind up the several branches 
of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, 
their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an ap- 
peal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every in- 
fraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence 
shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights. 

247 



ON VIRGINIA 

QUERY XIV 

The administration of justice and the description of the laws? 
The State is divided into counties. In every county are ap- 
pointed magistrates, called justices of the peace, usually from 
eight to thirty or forty in number, in proportion to the size of 
the county, of the most discreet and honest inhabitants. They 
are nominated by their fellows, but commissioned by the gov- 
ernor, and act without reward. These magistrates have juris- 
diction both criminal and civil. If the question before them be 
a question of law only, they decide on it themselves; but if it 
be of fact, or of fact and law combined, it must be referred 
to a jury. In the latter case, of a combination of law and 
fact, it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer 
the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this 
division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if 
the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one 
of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the 
jury undertake to decide both law and fact. If they be mis- 
taken, a decision against right, which is casual only, is less 
dangerous to the State, and less afflicting to the loser, than one 
which makes part of a regular and uniform system. In truth, it 
is better to toss up cross and pile in a cause, than to refer it to 
a judge whose mind is warped by any motive whatever, in that 
particular case. But the common sense of twelve honest men 
gives still a better chance of just decision, than the hazard of 
cross and pile. These judges execute their process by the sheriff 
or coroner of the county, or by constables of their own appoint- 
ment. If any free person commit an offense against the com- 
monwealth ; if it be below the degree of felony, he is bound by 
a justice to appear before their court, to answer it on an indict- 
ment or information. If it amount to felony, he is committed 
to jail; a court of these justices is called; if they on examina- 
tion think him guilty, they send him to the jail of the general 
court, before which court he is to be tried first by a grand jury 
of twenty-four, of whom thirteen must concur in opinion; if 

248 



THOMAS 

they find him guilty, he is then tried by a jury of twelve men 
of the county where the offence was committed, and by their 
verdict, which must be unanimous, he is acquitted or con- 
demned without appeal. If the criminal be a slave, the trial 
by the county court is final. In every case, however, except 
that of high treason, there resides in the governor a power of 
pardon. In high treason the pardon can only flow from the 
general assembly. In civil matters these justices have juris- 
diction in all cases of whatever value, not appertaining to the 
department of the admiralty. This jurisdiction is twofold. If 
the matter in dispute be of less value than four dollars and 
one-sixth, a single member may try it at any time and place 
within his county, and may award execution on the goods of 
the party cast. If it be of that or greater value, it is determin- 
able before the county court, which consists of four at the 
least of those justices and assembles at the courthouse of the 
county on a certain day in every month. From their determina- 
tion, if the matter be of the value of ten pounds sterling, or 
concern the title or bounds of land, an appeal lies to one of the 
superior courts. 

The laws of England seem to have been adopted by con- 
sent of the settlers, which might easily enough be done whilst 
they were few and living all together. Of such adoption, how- 
ever, we have no other proof than their practice till the year 
1 66 1, when they were expressly adopted by an act of the 
assembly, except so far as "a difference of condition" ren- 
dered them inapplicable. Under this adoption, the rule, in our 
courts of judicature was, that the common law of England, 
and the general statutes previous to the fourth of James, were 
in force here; but that no subsequent statutes were, unless we 
were named in them, said the judges and other partisans of the 
crown / but named or not named, said those who reflected freely. 
It will be unnecessary to attempt a description of the laws of 
England, as that may be found in English publications. To 
those which were established here, by the adoption of the leg- 

249 



ON VIRGINIA 

islature, have been since added a number of acts of assembly 
passed during the monarchy, and ordinances of convention and 
acts of assembly enacted since the establishment of the re- 
public. The following variations from the British model are 
perhaps worthy of being specified: 

Debtors unable to pay their debts, and making faithful 
delivery of their whole effects, are released from confinement, 
and their persons forever discharged from restraint for such 
previous debts; but any property they may afterwards acquire 
will be subject to their creditors. 

The poor unable to support themselves, are maintained by 
an assessment on the tytheable persons in their parish. This 
assessment is levied and administered by twelve persons in 
each parish, called vestrymen, originally chosen by the house- 
keepers of the parish, but afterwards filling vacancies in their 
own body by their own choice. These are usually the most 
discreet farmers, so distributed through their parish, that 
every part of it may be under the immediate eye of some one 
of them. They are well acquainted with the details and econ- 
omy of private life, and they find sufficient inducements to 
execute their charge well, in their philanthropy, in the approba- 
tion of their neighbors, and the distinction which that gives 
them. The poor who have neither property, friends, nor 
strength to labor, are boarded in the houses of good farmers, 
to whom a stipulated sum is annually paid. To those who are 
able to help themselves a little, or have friends from whom 
they derive some succors, inadequate however to their full 
maintenance, supplementary aids are given which enable them 
to live comfortably in their own houses, or in the houses of 
their friends. Vagabonds without visible property or vocation, 
are placed in work houses, where they are well clothed, fed, 
lodged and made to labor. Nearly the same method of providing 
for the poor prevails through all our States; and from Savan- 
nah to Portsmouth you will seldom meet a beggar. In the large 
towns, indeed, they sometimes present themselves. These are 
usually foreigners, who have never obtained a settlement in 

250- 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

any parish. I never yet saw a native American begging in the 
streets or highways. A subsistence is easily gained here; and if, 
by misfortunes, they are thrown on the charities of the world, 
those provided by their own country are so comfortable and 
so certain, that they never think of relinquishing them to be- 
come strolling beggars. Their situation too, when sick, in the 
family of a good farmer, where every member is emulous to do 
them kind offices, where they are visited by all the neighbors, 
who bring them the little rarities which their sickly appetites 
may crave, and who take by rotation the nightly watch over 
them, when their condition requires it, is without comparison 
better than in a general hospital, where the sick, the dying and 
the dead are crammed together in the same rooms, and often 
in the same beds. The disadvantages, inseparable from general 
hospitals, are such as can never be counterpoised by all the 
regularities of medicine and regimen. Nature and kind nursing 
save a much greater proportion in our plain way, at a smaller 
expense, and with less abuse. One branch only of hospital insti- 
tutions is wanting with us; that is, a general establishment for 
those laboring under difficult cases of chirurgery. The aids of 
this art are not equivocal. But an able chirurgeon cannot be 
had in every parish. Such a receptacle should therefore be 
provided for those patients; but no others should be admitted. 

Marriages must be solemnized either on special license, 
granted by the first magistrate of the county, on proof of the 
consent of the parent or guardian of either party under age, 
or after solemn publication, on three several Sundays, at some 
place of religious worship, in the parishes where the parties 
reside. The act of solemnization may be by the minister of any 
society of Christians, who shall have been previously licensed 
for this purpose by the court of the county. Quakers and 
Menonists, however, are exempted from all these conditions, 
and marriage among them is to be solemnized by the society 
itself. 

A foreigner of any nation, not in open war with us, becomes 
naturalized by removing to the State to reside, and taking an 

251 



ON VIRGINIA 

oath of fidelity; and thereupon acquires every right of a native 
citizen; and citizens may divest themselves of that character, 
by declaring, by solemn deed, or in open court, that they mean 
to expatriate themselves, and no longer to be citizens of this 
State. 

Conveyances of land must be registered in the court of the 
county wherein they lie, or in the general court, or they are 
void, as to creditors, and subsequent purchasers. 

Slaves pass by descent and dower as lands do. Where the 
descent is from a parent, the heir is bound to pay an equal 
share of their value in money to each of their brothers and 
sisters. 

Slaves, as well as lands, were entailable during the mon- 
archy; but by an act of the first republican assembly, all 
donees in tail, present and future, were vested with the absolute 
dominion of the entailed subject. 

Bills of exchange, being protested, carry ten per cent interest 
from their date. 

No person is allowed, in any other case, to take more than 
five per cent per annum simple interest for the loan of moneys. 

Gaming debts are made void, and moneys actually paid to 
discharge such debts (if they exceed forty shillings) may be 
recovered by the payer within three months, or by any other 
person afterwards. 

Tobacco, flour, beef, pork, tar, pitch, and turpentine must 
be inspected by persons publicly appointed, before they can 
be exported. 

The erecting iron-works and mills is encouraged by many 
privileges; with necessary cautions however to prevent their 
dams from obstructing the navigation of the water-courses. 
The general assembly have on several occasions shown a great 
desire to encourage the opening the great falls of James and 
Potomac rivers. As yet, however, neither of these have been 
effected. 

The laws have also descended to the preservation and im- 
provement of the races of useful animals, such as horses, cattle, 

252' 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

deer; to the extirpation of those which are noxious, as wolves, 
squirrels, crows, blackbirds; and to the guarding our citizens 
against infectious disorders, by obliging suspected vessels com- 
ing into the State, to perform quarantine, and by regulating 
the conduct of persons having such disorders within the State. 
The mode of acquiring lands, in the earliest times of our 
settlement, was by petition to the general assembly. If the 
lands prayed for were already cleared of the Indian title, and 
the assembly thought the prayer reasonable, they passed the 
property by their vote to the petitioner. But if they had not 
yet been ceded by the Indians, it was necessary that the peti- 
tioner should previously purchase their right. This purchase the 
assembly verified, by inquiries of the Indian proprietors; and 
being satisfied of its reality and fairness, proceeded further tc 
examine the reasonableness of the petition, and its consistence 
with policy; and according to the result, either granted or re- 
jected the petition. The company also sometimes, though very 
rarely, granted lands, independently of the general assembly. 
As the colony increased, and individual applications for land 
multiplied, it was found to give too much occupation to the 
general assembly to inquire into and execute the grant in every 
special case. They therefore thought it better to establish 
general rules, according to which all grants should be made, 
and to leave to the governor the execution of them, under these 
rules. This they did by what have been usually called the land 
laws, amending them from time to time, as their defects were 
developed. According to these laws, when an individual wished 
a portion of unappropriated land, he was to locate and survey 
it by a public officer, appointed for that purpose, its breadth 
was to bear a certain proportion to its length: the grant was 
to be executed by the governor; and the lands were to be im- 
proved in a certain manner, within a given time. From these 
regulations there resulted to the State a sole and exclusive 
power of taking conveyances of the Indian right of soil; since, 
according to them, an Indian conveyance alone could give no 
right to an individual, which the laws would acknowledge. The 

2S3 



ON VIRGINIA 

State, or the crown, thereafter, made general purchases of the 
Indians from time to time, and the governor parcelled them 
out by special grants, conformable to the rules before de- 
scribed, which it was not in his power, or in that of the crown, 
to dispense with. Grants, unaccompanied by their proper legal 
circumstances, were set aside regularly by fieri facias, or by bill 
in chancery. Since the establishment of our new Government, 
this order of things is but little changed. An individual, wishing 
to appropriate to himself lands still unappropriated by any 
other, pays to the public treasurer a sum of money propor- 
tioned to the quantity he wants. He carries the treasurer's 
receipt to the auditors of public accounts, who thereupon debit 
the treasurer with the sum, and order the register of the land- 
office to give the party a warrant for his land. With this war- 
rant from the register, he goes to the surveyor of the coUhty 
where the land lies on which he has cast his eye. The surveyor 
lays it off for him, gives him its exact description, in the form 
of a certificate, which certificate he returns to the landoffice, 
where a grant is made out, and is signed by the governor. This 
vests in him a perfect dominion in his lands, transmissible to 
whom he pleases by deed or will, or by descent to his heirs, 
if he die intestate. 

Many of the laws which were in force during the monarchy 
b'eing relative merely to that form of government, or incul- 
cating principles inconsistent with republicanism, the first 
assembly which met atter the establishment of the common- 
wealth appointed a committee to revise the whole code, to 
reduce it into proper form and volume, and report it to the 
assembly. This work has been executed by three gentlemen, 
and reported; 1 but probably will not be taken up till a restora- 
tion of peace shall leave to the legislature leisure to go through 
such a work. 

The plan of the revisal was this. The common law of Eng- 
land, by which is meant, that part of the English law which 
was anterior to the date of the oldest statutes extant, is made 

i. This revisal was performed by Jefferson, Wythe, and Pendleton. 

254' 



THOMAS JSFfSRSON 

the basis of the work. It was thought dangerous to attempt 
to reduce it to a text; it was therefore left to be collected 
from the usual monuments of it. Necessary alterations in that, 
and so much of the whole body of the British statutes, and of 
acts of assembly, as were thought proper to be retained, were 
digested into one hundred and twenty-six new acts, in which 
simplicity of style was aimed at, as far as was safe. The fol- 
lowing are the most remarkable alterations proposed: 

To change the rules of descent, so a? that the lands of any 
person dying intestate shall be divisible equally among all his 
children, or other representatives, in equal degree. 

To make slaves distributable among the next of kin, as other 
movables. 

To have all public expenses, whether of the general treasury, 
or of a parish or county, (as for the maintenance of the poor, 
building bridges, courthouses, &c.,) supplied by assessment on 
the citizens, in proportion to their property. 

To hire undertakers for keeping the public roads in repair, 
and indemnify individuals through whose lands new roads shall 
be opened. 

To define with precision the rules whereby aliens should be- 
come citizens, and citizens make themselves aliens. 

To establish religious freedom on the broadest bottom. 

To emancipate all slaves born after the passing the act. The 
bill reported by the revisers does not itself contain this proposi- 
tion; but an amendment containing it was prepared, to be 
offered to the legislature whenever the bill should be taken up, 
and farther directing, that they should continue with their 
parents to a certain age, then to be brought up, at the public 
expense, to tillage, arts, or sciences, according to their geniuses, 
till the females should be eighteen, and the males twenty-one 
years of age, when they should be colonized to such place as 
the circumstances of the time should render most proper, 
sending them out with arms, implements of household and of 
the handicraft arts, seeds, pairs of the useful domestic animals, 
&c.j to declare them a free and independent people, and extend 

255 



ON VIRGINIA 

to them our alliance and protection, till they have acquired 
strength; and to send vessels at the same time to other parts 
of the world for an equal number of white inhabitants; to 
induce them to migrate hither proper encouragements were to 
be proposed. It will probably be asked, Why not retain and 
incorporate the blacks into the State, and thus save the expense 
of supplying by importation of white settlers, the vacancies 
they will leave? De'ep-rooted prejudices entertained by the 
whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the in- 
juries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinc- 
tions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, 
will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will 
probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the 
other race. To these objections, which are political, may be 
added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference 
tvhich strikes us is that of color. Whether the black of the 
negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and 
scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from 
the color of the blood, the color of the bile, or from that of 
some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as 
real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is 
this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a 
greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the 
fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every pas- 
sion by greater or less suffusions of color in the one, preferable 
to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, 
that immovable veil of black which covers the emotions of the 
other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant sym- 
metry of form, their own judgment in favor of the whites, de- 
clared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the 
preference of the Oran-utan for the black woman over those 
of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is 
thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, 
and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Be- 
sides those of color, figure, and hair, there are other physical 

256 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

distinctions proving a difference of race. Thty have less hair 
on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and 
more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong 
and disagreeable odor. This greater degree of transpiration, 
renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold than 
the whites. Perhaps, too,, a difference of structure in the pul- 
monary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist has 
discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may 
have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, 
so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in 
expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less 
sleep. A black after hard labor through the day, will be in- 
duced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or 
later, though knowing he must be out with first dawn of the 
morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. 
But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, 
which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When 
present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadi- 
ness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female; 
but love seems with them to be more an 'eager desire, than a 
tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs 
are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it 
doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in 
wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, 
their existence appears to participate more of sensation than 
reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep 
when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in 
labor. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not re- 
flect must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by 
their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears 
to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason 
much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable 
of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid ; and 
that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It 
would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. 

257 



ON VIRGINIA 

We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, 
and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment 
is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for 
the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the 
sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been 
brought to, and born in America. Most of them, indeed, have 
been confined to tillage, tr their own homes, and their own 
society; yet many have been so situated, that they might have 
availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many 
have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that 
circumstance have always been associated with the whites. 
Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in coun- 
tries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a consider- 
able degree, and all have had before their eyes samples of the 
best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of 
this kind, will often carve figures on their pages not destitute 
of design and merit. They will crayon out an. animal, a plant, 
or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their 
minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with 
strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason 
and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. 
But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought 
above the level of plain narration; never saw even an elemen- 
tary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more 
generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune 
and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a 
small catch. 1 Whether they will be equal to the composition of 
a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is 
yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most 
affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, 
God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the 
poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not 

i. The instrument proper to them is the Banjar, which they brought 
hither from Africa, and which is the original of the guitar, its chords 
being precisely the four lower chords of the guitar. [Jefferson's note.] 

258 



'THOMAS jeFFERSON 

the imagination. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phyllis 
Whately; x but it could not produce a poet. The compositions 
published under her name are below the dignity of criticism, 
The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the authoi 
of that poem. Ignatius Sancho 2 has approached nearer to merit 
in composition; yet his letters do more honor to the heart than 
the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and 
general philanthropy, and show how great a degree of the 
latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is 
often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his style is 
easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrica- 
tion of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, and 
escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, 
and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as 
incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through 
the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process 
of sober reasoning; yet we find him always substituting senti- 
ment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit 
him to the first place among those of his own color who have 
presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we 
compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived 
and particularly with the epistolary class in which he has taken 
his own stand, we are compelled to enrol him at the bottom 
of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published 
under his- name to be genuine, and to have received amendment 
from no other hand; points which would not be of easy in- 
vestigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, 
in. the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been 
observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not 
the effect merely of their condition of life. We know that 
among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the 
condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of 

1. Phyllis Wheatley, (correct spelling) whose collected poems were 
published in London in 1773. 

2. Sancho, born in 1729 on a slaveship, was a longtime resident of 
England; his Letters, with Memoirs of his Life appeared in 1782. 

2S9 



whores ON VIRGINIA 

the blacks on the continent of America. The two sexes were 
confined in separate apartments, because to raise a child cost 
the master more than to buy one. Cato, for a very restricted 
indulgence to his slaves in this particular, 1 took from them a 
certain price. But in this country the slaves multiply as fast 
as the free inhabitants. Their situation and manners place the 
commerce between the two sexes almost without restraint. The 
same Cato, on a principle of economy, always sold his sick and 
superannuated slaves. He gives it as a standing precept to a 
master visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old wagons, old 
tools, old and diseased servants, and (everything else become 
useless. . . . The American slaves cannot enumerate this among 
the injuries and insults they receive. It was the common prac- 
tice to expose in the island Aesculapius, in the Tyber, diseased 
slaves whose cure was like to become tedious. The emperor 
Claudius by an edict, gave freedom to such of them as should 
recover, and first declared that if any person chose to kill rather 
than to expose them, it should not be deemed homicide. The 
exposing them is a crime of which no instance has existed with 
us; and were it to be followed by death, it would be punished 
capitally. We are told of a certain Vedius Pollio, who, in the 
presence of Augustus, would have given a slave as food to his 
fish, for having broken a glass. With the Roman, the regular 
method of taking the evidence of their slaves was under 
torture. Here it has been thought better never to resort to their 
evidence. When a master was murdered, all his slaves, in the 
same house, or within hearing, were condemned to death. Here 
punishment falls on the guilty only, and as precise proof is 
required against him as against a freeman. Yet notwithstanding 
these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, 
their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled too 
in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to 
their master's children. Epictetus, Terence, and Phaedrus. 
were slaves. But they were of the race of whites. It is not then 
condition then, but nature, which has produced the distinction. 
Whether further observation will or will not verify the coil- 
i. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

->6o 



THOMAS 

jecture, that nature has been less bountiful to them in the en^ 
dowments of the head, I believe that in those of the heart 
she will be found to have done them justice. That disposition 
to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed 
to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. 
The man in whose favor no laws of property exist, probably 
feels himself less bound to respect those made in favor of 
others. When arguing for ourselves, we lay it down as a funda- 
mental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation oi 
right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of con* 
duct, founded in force, and not in conscience; and it is a prob- 
lem which I give to the master to solve, whether the reli- 
gious precepts against the violation of property were not framed 
for him as well as his slave? And whether the slave may not 
as justifiably take a little from one who has taken all from 
him, as he may slay one who would slay him? That a change 
in the relations in which a man is placed should change his 
ideas of moral right or wrong, is neither new, nor peculiar to 
the color of the blacks. Homer tells us it was so two thousand 
six hundred years ago. 

Jove fix'd it certain, take whatever day 

Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away. 

But the slaves of which Homer speaks were whites. Not- 
withstanding these considerations which must weaken their re- 
spect for the laws of property, we find among them numerous 
instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among 
their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and 
unshaken fidelity. The opinion that they are inferior in the 
faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with 
great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many 
observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the 
anatomical knife, to optical glasses, to analysis by fire or by 
solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a 
substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of 
all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various 
and variously combined; where the effects of those which are 

261 



ON VIRGINIA 

present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, 
as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion 
would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale 
of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them. To 
our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a 
half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red 
men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of 
natural history. I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, 
that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made 
distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites 
in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against 
experience to suppose that different species of the same genus, 
or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifica- 
tions. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views 
the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of 
philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of 
man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate 
difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful 
obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their 
advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human 
nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. 
Some of these, embarrassed by the question, "What further is 
to be done with them?" join themselves in opposition with 
those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the 
Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when 
made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his 
master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. 
When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mix- 
ture. . . . 

Another object of the revisal is to diffuse knowledge more 
generally through the mass of the people. This bill proposes 
to lay off every county into small districts of five or six miles 
square, called hundreds, and in each of them to establish a 
school for teaching, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The tutor 
to be supported by the hundred, and every person in it entitled 
to send their children three years gratis, and as much longer 
as they please, paying for it. These schools to be under a 

262 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

visitor who is annually to choose the boy of best genius in the 
school, of those whose parents are too poor to give them further 
education, and to send him forward to one of the grammar 
schools, of which twenty are proposed to be erected in different 
parts of the country, for teaching Greek, Latin, Geography, 
and the higher branches of numerical arithmetic. Of the boys 
thus sent in one year, trial is to be made at the grammar 
schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole 
selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. 
By this means twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from 
the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expense, 
so far as the grammar schools go. At the end of six years' 
instruction, one half are to be discontinued (from among whom 
the grammar schools will probably be supplied with future 
masters) ; and the other half, who are to be chosen for the 
superiority of their parts and disposition, are to be sent and 
continued three years in the study of such sciences as they 
shall choose, at William and Mary College, the plan of which 
is proposed to be enlarged, as will be hereafter explained, and 
extended to all the useful sciences. The ultimate result of the 
whole scheme of education would be the teaching all the chil- 
dren of the State reading, writing, and common arithmetic; 
turning out ten annually, of superior genius, well taught in 
Greek, Latin, Geography, and the higher branches of arith- 
metic; turning out ten others annually, of still superior parts, 
who, to those branches of learning, shall have added such of 
the sciences as their genius shall have led them to; the fur- 
nishing to the wealthier part of the people convenient schools 
at which their children may be educated at their own expense. 
The general objects of this law are to provide an education 
adapted to the years, to the capacity, and the condition of 
every one, and directed to their freedom and happiness. 
Specific details were not proper for the law. These must be the 
business of the visitors entrusted with its execution. The first 
stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, 
wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruc- 
tion, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here, 

263 



adores ON VIRGINIA 

Instead, therefore, of putting the Bible and Testament into the 
hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not 
sufficiently matured for religious inquiries, their memories may 
here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, 
European and American history. The first elements of morality 
too may be instilled into their minds; such as, when further 
developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach 
them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing 
them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which 
chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good 
conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just 
pursuits. Those whom either the wealth of their parents or the 
adoption of the State shall destine to higher degrees of learning, 
will go on to the grammar schools, which constitute the next 
stage, there to be instructed in the languages. The learning 
Greek and Latin, I am told, is going into disuse in Europe. I 
know not what their manners and occupations may call for; 
but it would be very ill-judged in us to follow their example in 
this instance. There is a certain period of life, say from eight 
to fifteen or sixteen years of age, when the mind like the body 
is not yet firm enough for laborious and close operations. If 
applied to such, it falls an early victim to premature exertion; 
exhibiting, indeed, at first, in these young and tender subjects, 
the flattering appearance of their being men while they are 
yet children, but ending in reducing them to be children when 
they should be men. The memory is then most susceptible and 
tenacious of impressions; and the learning of languages being 
chiefly a work of memory, it seems precisely fitted to the 
powers of this period, which is long enough, too, for acquiring 
the most useful languages, ancient and modern. I do not pre- 
tend that language is science. It is only an instrument for the 
attainment of science. But that time is not lost which is em- 
ployed in providing tools for future operation; more especially 
as in this case the books put into the hands of the youth for 
this purpose may be such as will at the same time impress 
their minds with useful facts and good principles. If this period 
be suffered to pass in idleness, the mind becomes lethargic and 

264 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

impotent, as would the body it inhabits if unexercised during 
the same time. The sympathy between body and mind during 
their rise, progress and decline, is too strict and obvious to en- 
danger our being missed while we reason from the one to the 
other. As soon as they are of sufficient age, it is supposed they 
will be sent on from the grammar schools to the university, 
which constitutes our third and last stage, there to study those 
sciences which may be adapted to their views. By that part of 
our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius 
from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State 
of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the 
poor as the rich, but which perish without use, if not sought 
for and cultivated. But of the views of this law none is more 
important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the 
people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their 
own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, 
where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as 
has been said, to be chiefly historical. History, by apprizing 
them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it 
will avail them of the experience of other times and other 
nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and 
designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under 
every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its 
views. In every government on earth is some trace of human 
weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which 
cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cul- 
tivate and improve. Every government degenerates when 
trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves 
therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even 
them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. 
This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially 
necessary. An amendment of our constitution must here come 
in aid of the public education. The influence over government 
must be shared among all the people. If every individual which 
composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the 
government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass 
will exceed any private resources of wealth; and public ones 

265 



ON VIRGINIA 

cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case 
every man would have to pay his own price. The government 
of Great Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in 
ten has a right to vote for members of parliament. The sellers 
of the government, therefore, get nine-tenths of their price 
clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by con- 
fining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the 
people; but it would be more effectually restrained by an ex- 
tension of that right to such members as would bid defiance to 
the means of corruption. 

Lastly, it is proposed, by a bill in this revisal, to begin a 
public library and gallery, by laying out a certain sum annually 
in books, paintings, and statues. 

QUERY XV 

The Colleges and Public Establishments, the Roads, 
Buildings, &c. 

The college of William and Mary is the only public seminary 
of learning in this State. It was founded in the time of king 
William and queen Mary, who granted to it twenty thousand 
acres of land, and a penny a pound duty on certain tobaccoes 
exported from Virginia and Maryland, which had been levied 
by the statute of 25 Car. II. The assembly also gave it, by 
temporary laws, a duty on liquors imported, and skins and 
furs exported. From these resources it received upwards of 
three thousand pounds communibus annis. The buildings are 
of brick, sufficient for an indifferent accommodation of perhaps 
an hundred students. By its charter it was to be under the 
government of twenty visitors, who were to be its legislators, 
and to hcive a president and six professors, who were incor- 
porated. It was allowed a representative in the general as- 
sembly. Under this charter, a professorship of the Greek and 
Latin languages, a professorship of mathematics, one of moral 
philosophy, and two of divinity, were established. To these 
were annexed, for a sixth professorship, a considerable dona- 
tion by Mr. Boyle, of England, for the instruction of the 

266 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

Indians, and their conversion to Christianity. This was called 
the professorship of Brafferton, from an estate of that name 
in England, purchased with the monies given. The admission 
of the learners of Latin and Greek filled the college with chil- 
dren. This rendering it disagreeable and degrading to young 
gentlemen already prepared for entering on the sciences, they 
were discouraged from resorting to it, and thus the schools 
for mathematics and moral philosophy, which might have been 
of some service, became of very little. The revenues, too, were 
exhausted in accommodating those who came only to acquire 
the rudiments of science. After the present revolution, the 
visitors, having no power to change those circumstances in the 
constitution of the college which were fixed by the charter, 
and being therefore confined in the number of the professor- 
ships, undertook to change the objects of the professorships. 
They excluded the two schools for divinity, and that for the 
Greek and Latin languages, and substituted others; so that at 
present they stand thus: 

A Professorship for Law and Police; 

Anatomy and Medicine; 
A Natural Philosophy and Mathematics; 

Moral Philosophy, the Law of Nature and Nations, the 
Fine Arts; 

Modern Languages; 

For the B raff er ton. 

And it is proposed, so soon as the legislature shall have 
leisure to take up this subject, to desire authority from them to 
increase the number of professorships, as well for the purpose 
of subdividing those already instituted, as of adding others for 
other branches of science. To the professorships usually estab- 
lished in the universities of Europe, it would seem proper to 
add one for the ancient languages and literature of the north, 
on account of their connection with our own language, laws, 
customs, and history. The purposes of the Brafferton institu- 
tion would be better answered by maintaining a perpetual 
mission among the Indian tribes, the object of which, besides 
instructing them in the principles of Christianity, as the 

267 



ON VIRGINIA 

founder requires, should be to collect their traditions, laws, 
customs, languages, and other circumstances which might lead 
to a discovery of their relation with one another, or descent 
from other nations. When these objects are accomplished with 
one tribe, the missionary might pass on to another. 

The roads are under the government of the county courts, 
subject to be controlled by the general court. They order new 
roads to be opened wherever they think them necessary. The 
inhabitants of the county are by them laid off into precincts, 
to each of which they allot a convenient portion of the public 
roads to be kept in repair. Such bridges as may be built without 
the assistance of artificers, they are to build. If the stream be 
such as to require a bridge of regular workmanship, the court 
employs workmen to build it, at the expense of the whole 
county. If it be too great for the county, application is made 
to the general assembly, who authorize individuals to build it, 
and to take a fixed toll from all passengers, or give sanction to 
such other proposition as to them appears reasonable. 

Ferries are admitted only at such places as are particularly 
pointed out by law, and the rates of ferriage are fixed. 

Taverns are licensed by the courts, who fix their rates from 
time to time. 

The private buildings are very rarely constructed of stone 
or brick, much the greatest portion being of scantling and 
boards, plastered with lime. It is impossible to devise things 
more ugly, uncomfortable, and happily more perishable. There 
are two or three plans, on one of which, according to its size, 
most of the houses in the State are built. The poorest people 
build huts of logs, laid horizontally in pens, stopping the inter- 
stices with mud. These are warmer in winter, and cooler in 
summer, than the more expensive construction of scantling and 
plank. The wealthy are attentive to the raising of vegetables, 
but very little so to fruits. The poorer people attend to neither, 
living principally on milk and animal diet. This is the more 
inexcusable, as the climate requires indispensably a free use 
of vegetable food, for health as well as comfort, and is very 
friendly to the raising of fruits. The only public buildings 

268 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

worthy of mention are the capital, the palace, the college, and 
the hospital for lunatics, all of them in Williamsburg, hereto- 
fore the seat of our government. The capitol is a light and airy 
structure, with a portico in front of two orders, the lower of 
which, being Doric, is tolerably just in its proportions and 
ornaments, save only that the intercolonations are too large. 
The upper is Ionic, much too small for that on which it is 
mounted, its ornaments not proper to the order, nor propor- 
tioned within themselves. It is crowned with a pediment, which 
is too high for its span. Yet, on the whole, it is the most pleasing 
piece of architecture we have. The palace is not handsome with- 
out, but it is spacious and commodious within, is prettily situ- 
ated, and with the grounds annexed to it, is capable of being 
made an elegant seat. The college and hospital are rude, mis- 
shapen piles, which, but that they have roofs, would be taken 
for brick-kilns. There are no other public buildings but churches 
and courthouses, in which no attempts are made at elegance. 
Indeed, it would not be easy to execute such an attempt, as a 
workman could scarcely be found capable of drawing an order. 
The genius of architecture seems to have shed its maledictions 
over this land. Buildings are often erected, by individuals, of 
considerable expense. To give these symmetry and taste, would 
not increase their cost. It would only change the arrangement 
of the materials, the form and combination of the members. 
This would often cost less than the burthen of barbarous orna- 
ments with which these buildings are sometimes charged. But 
the first principles of the art are unknown, and there exists 
scarcely a model among us sufficiently chaste to give an idea 
of them. Architecture being one of the fine arts, and as such 
within the department of a professor of the college, according 
to the new arrangement, perhaps a spark may fall on some 
young subjects of natural taste, kindle up their genius, and 
produce a reformation in this elegant and useful art. But all we 
shall do in this way will produce no permanent improvement 
to our country, while the unhappy prejudice prevails that 
houses of brick or stone are less wholesome than those of wood. 
A dew is often observed on the walls of the former in rainy 

269 



ON VIRGINIA 

weather, and the most obvious solution is, that the rain has 
penetrated through these walls. The following facts, however, 
are sufficient to prove the error of this solution: i. This dew 
upon the walls appears when there is no rain, if the state of the 
atmosphere be moist. 2. It appears upon the partition as well as 
the exterior walls. 3. So, also, on pavements of brick or stone. 
4. It is more copious in proportion as the walls are thicker; the 
reverse of which ought to be the case, if this hypothesis were 
just. If cold water be poured into a vessel of stone, or glass, a 
dew forms instantly on the outside; but if it be poured into a 
vessel of wood, there is no such appearance. It is not supposed, 
in the first case, that the water has exuded through the glass, 
but that it is precipitated from the circumambient air; as the 
humid particles of vapor, passing from the boiler of an alembic 
through its refrigerant, are precipitated from the air, in which 
they are suspended, on the internal surface of the refrigerant. 
Walls of brick and stone act as the refrigerant in this instance. 
They are sufficiently cold to condense and precipitate the 
moisture suspended in the air of the room, when it is heavily 
charged therewith. But walls of wood are not so. The question 
then is, whether the air in which this moisture is left floating, or 
that which is deprived of it, be most wholesome? In both cases 
the remedy is easy. A little fire kindled in the room, whenever 
the air is damp, prevents the precipitation on the walls; and 
this practice, found healthy in the warmest as well as coldest 
seasons, is as necessary in a wooden as in a stone or brick house. 
I do not mean to say that the rain never penetrates through 
walls of brick. On the contrary, I have seen instances of it. 
'But with us it is only through the northern and eastern walls of 
the house, after a northeasterly storm, this being the only one 
which continues long enough to force through the walls. This, 
however, happens too rarely to give a just character of un- 
wholesomeness to such houses. In a house, the walls of which 
are of well-burnt brick and good mortar, I have seen the rain 
penetrate through but twice in a dozen or fifteen years. The in- 
habitants of Europe, who dwell chiefly in houses of stone or 
brick, are surely as healthy as those of Virginia. These houses 

270 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

have the advantage, too, of being warmer in winter and cooler 
in summer than those of wood; of being cheaper in their first 
construction, where lime is convenient, and infinitely more 
durable. The latter consideration renders it of great importance 
to eradicate this prejudice from the minds of our countrymen. 
A country whose buildings are of wood, can never increase in 
its improvements to any considerable degree. Their duration is 
highly estimated at fifty years. Every half century then our 
country becomes a tabula rasa, whereon we have to set out 
anew, as in the first moment of seating it. Whereas when build- 
ings are of durable materials, every new edifice is an actual and 
permanent acquisition to the State, adding to its value as well 
as to its ornament. 

QUERY XVI 

The measures taken with regard to the estates and possessions 
of the Rebels, commonly called Tories? 

A tory has been properly defined to be a traitor in thought 
but not in deed. The only description, by which the laws have 
endeavored to come at them, was that of non-jurors, or persons 
refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the State. Persons of 
this description were at one time subjected to double taxation, 
at another to treble, and lastly were allowed retribution, and 
placed on a level with good citizens. It may be mentioned as a 
proof, both of the lenity of our government, and unanimity of 
its inhabitants, that though this war has now raged near seven 
years, not a single execution for treason has taken place. 

Under this query I will state the measures which have been 
adopted as to British property, the owners of which stand on a 
much fairer footing than the tories. By our laws, the same as 
the English as in this respect, no alien can hold lands, nor aLen 
enemy maintain an action for money, or other movable thing. 
Lands acquired or held by aliens become forfeited to the State; 
and, on an action by an alien enemy to recover money, or other 
movable property, the defendant may p!ead that he is an alien 
enemy. This extinguishes his right in the hands of the debtor or 
holder of his movable property. By our separation from Great 

271 



ON VIRGINIA 

Britain, British subjects became aliens, and being at war, they 
were alien enemies. Their lands were of course forfeited, and 
their debts irrecoverable. The assembly, however, passed laws 
at various times, for saving their property. They first seques- 
tered their lands, slaves, and other property on their farms in 
the hands of commissioners, who were mostly the confidential 
friends or agents of the owners, and directed their clear profits 
to be paid into the treasury; and they gave leave to all persons 
owing debts to British subjects to pay them also into the treas- 
ury. The monies so to be brought in were declared to remain 
the property of the British subject, and if used by the State, 
were to be repaid, unless an improper conduct in Great Britain 
should render a detention of it reasonable. Depreciation had at 
that time, though unacknowledged and unperceived by the 
whigs, begun in some small degree. Great sums of money were 
paid in by debtors. At a later period, the assembly, adhering to 
the political principles which forbid an alien to hold lands in 
the State, ordered all British property to be sold ; and, become 
sensible of the real progress of depreciation, and of the losses 
which would thence occur, if not guarded against, they ordered 
that the proceeds of the sales should be converted into their 
then worth in tobacco, subject to the future direction of the 
legislature. This act has left the question of retribution more 
problematical. In May, 1780, another act took away the per- 
mission to pay into the public treasury debts due to British 
subjects. 

QUERY XVII 
The different religions received into that State? 

The first settlers in this country were emigrants from Eng- 
land, of the English Church, just at a point of time when it 
was flushed with complete victory over the religious of all other 
persuasions. Possessed, as they became, of the powers of mak- 
ing, administering, and executing the laws, they showed equal 
intolerance in this country with .their Presbyterian brethren, 
who had emigrated to the northern government. The poor 
Quakers were flying from persecution in England. They cast 

272 



THOMAS 

their eyes on these new countries as asylums of civil and re- 
ligious freedom; but they found them free only for the reign- 
ing sect. Several acts of the Virginia assembly of 1659, 1662, 
and 1693, had made it penal in parents to refuse to have their 
children baptized; had prohibited the unlawful assembling of 
Quakers ; had made it penal for any master of a vessel to bring 
a Quaker into the State; had ordered those already here, and 
such as should come thereafter, to be imprisoned till they 
should abjure the country; provided a milder punishment for 
their first and second return, but death for their third; had in- 
hibited all persons from suffering their meetings in or near 
their houses, entertaining them individually, or disposing of 
books which supported their tenets. If no execution took place 
here, as did in New England, it was not owing to the modera- 
tion of the church, or spirit of the legislature, as may be in- 
ferred from the law itself ; but to historical circumstances which 
have not been handed down to us. The Anglicans retained full 
possession of the country about a century. Other opinions be- 
gan then to creep in, and the great care of the government to 
support their own church, having begotten an equal degree of 
indolence in its clergy, two-thirds of the people had become dis- 
senters at the commencement of the present revolution. The 
laws, indeed, were still oppressive on them, but the spirit of the 
one party had subsided into moderation, and of the other had 
risen to a degree of determination which commanded respect, 
The present state of our laws on the subject of religion is 
this. The convention of May, 1776, in their declaration of 
rights, declared it to be a truth, and a natural right, that the 
exercise of religion should be free; but when they proceeded to 
form on that declaration the ordinance of government, instead 
of taking up every principle declared in the bill of rights, and 
guarding it by legislative sanction, they passed over that which 
asserted our religious rights, leaving them as they found them. 
The same convention, however, when they met as a member 
of the general assembly in October, 1776, repealed all acts of 
Parliament which had rendered criminal the maintaining any 
opinions in matters of religion, the forbearing to repair to 

273 



ON VIRGINIA 

church, and the exercising any mode of worship; and suspended 
the laws giving salaries to the clergy, which suspension was 
made perpetual in October, 1779. Statutory oppressions in re- 
ligion being thus wiped away, we remain at present under those 
only imposed by the common law, or by our own acts of assem- 
bly. At the common law, heresy was a capital offence, punish- 
able by burning. Its definition was left to the ecclesiastical 
judges, before whom the conviction was, till the statute of the 
I El. c. I circumscribed it, by declaring, that nothing should 
be deemed heresy, but what had been so determined by author- 
ity of the canonical scriptures, or by one of the four first gen- 
eral councils, or by other council, having for the grounds of 
their declaration the express and plain words of the scriptures. 
Heresy, thus circumscribed, being an offence against the com- 
mon law, our act of assembly of October 1777, c. 17, gives cog- 
nizance of it to the general court, by declaring that the juris- 
diction of that court shall be general in all matters at the com- 
mon law. The execution is by the writ De haeretico combur- 
endo. By our own act of assembly of 1705, c. 30, if a person 
brought up in the Christian religion denies the bein^ of a God, 
or the Trinity, or asserts there are more gods than one, or 
denies the Christian religion to be true, or the scriptures to be 
of divine authority, he is punishable on the first offence by 
incapacity to hold any office or employment ecclesiastical, civil, 
or military; on the second by disability to sue, to take any gift 
or legacy, to be guardian, executor, or administrator, and by 
three years' imprisonment without bail. A father's right to the 
custody of his own children being founded in law on his right 
of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course 
be severed from him, and put by the authority of a court into 
more orthodox hands. This is a summary view of that religious 
slavery under which a people have been willing to remain, 
who have lavished their lives and fortunes for the establish- 
ment of their civil freedom. The error l seems not sufficiently 
eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts 
of the body, are subject to the coercion of the iaws. But our 
j. Jefferson's footnote omitted. 

274 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as 
we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never 
submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to 
our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such 
acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury 
for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It 
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If it be said, his 
testimony in a court of justice cannot be relied on, reject it 
then, and be the stigma on him. Constraint may make him 
worse by making him a hypocrite, but it will never make him a 
truer man. It may fix him obstinately in his errors, but will not 
cure them. Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual 
agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support 
the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, 
to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies 
of error, and of error only. Had not the Roman government 
permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been in- 
troduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the 
Reformation, the corruptions of Christianity could not have 
been purged away. If it be restrained now, the present corrup- 
tions will be protected, and new ones encouraged. Was the gov- 
ernment to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies 
would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France 
the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, the potato as an 
article of food. Government is just as infallible, too, when it 
fixes systems in physics. Galileo was sent to the Inquisition for 
affirming that the earth was a sphere; the government had de- 
clared it to be as flat as a trencher, and Galileo was obliged to 
abjure his error. This error, however, at length prevailed, the 
earth became a globe, and Descartes declared it was whirled 
round its axis by a vortex. The government in which he lived 
was wise enough to see that this was no question of civil juris- 
diction, or we should all have been involved by authority in 
vortices. In fact, the vortices have been exploded, and the 
Newtonian principle of gravitation is now more firmly estab- 
lished, on the basis of reason, than it would be were the govern 
uient to step in, and to make it an article of necessary faith. 

275 



ON VIRGINIA 

Reason and experiment have been indulged, and error has fled 
before them. It is error alone which needs the support of gov- 
ernment. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coer- 
cion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men 
governed by bad passions, by private as well as public rea- 
sons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. 
But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face 
and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there 
is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of 
a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter. Differ- 
ence of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects 
perform the office of a censor morum over such other. Is uni- 
formity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and chil- 
dren, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, 
tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch 
towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To 
make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. 
To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect 
that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That 
these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. 
That ours is but one of that thousand. That if there be but one 
right, and ours that one, we should wish to see the nine hun- 
dred and ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of 
truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by 
force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instru- 
ments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged; 
and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it our- 
selves. But every State, says an inquisitor, has established some 
religion. No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a 
proof of the infallibility of establishments? Our sister States of 
Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long subsisted 
without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and 
doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond concep- 
tion. They flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported; of 
various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to 
preserve peace and order ; or if a sect arises, whose tenets would 
subvert morals, good sense has fair play, and reasons and 

276 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

laughs it out of doors, without suffering the State to be troubled 
with it. They do not hang more malefactors than we do. They 
are not more disturbed with religious dissensions. On the con- 
trary, their harmony is unparalleled, and can be ascribed to 
nothing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no 
other circumstance in which they differ from every nation on 
earth. They have made the happy discovery, that the way to 
silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them. Let us 
too give this experiment fair play, and get rid, while we may, 
of those tyrannical laws. It is true, we are as yet secured 
against them by the spirit of the times. I doubt whether the 
people of this country would suffer an execution for heresy, or a 
three years' imprisonment for not comprehending the mysteries 
of the Trinity. But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a 
permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of pro- 
tection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, 
the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will be- 
come corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may com- 
mence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never 
be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential 
right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and our- 
selves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going 
down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every mo- 
ment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, there- 
fore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, 
but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think 
of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, 
therefore, which hall not be knocked off at the conclusion of 
this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heav- 
ier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion. 

QUERY XVIII 

The particular customs and manners that may happen to be 
received in that State? 

It is difficult to determine on the standard by which the man- 
ners of a nation may be tried, whether catholic or particular. It 
is more difficult for a native to bring to that standard the man- 

277 



ON VIRGINIA 

tiers of his own nation, familiarized to him by habit. There 
must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our 
people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The 
whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exer- 
cise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting des- 
potism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the 
other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is 
an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education 
in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what 
he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive either in 
his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemper- 
ance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a suffi- 
cient one that his child is present. But generally it is not suf- 
ficient. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the 
lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of 
smaller slaves, gives a loose to the worst of passions, and thus 
nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but 
be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a 
prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by 
such circumstances. And with what execration should the 
statesman be loaded, who, permitting one half the citizens thus 
to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into 
despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the 
one part, and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can 
have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference 
to that in which he is born to live and labor for another; in 
which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute 
as far as depends on his individual endeavors to the evanish- 
ment of the human race, or entail his own miserable condition 
on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the 
morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in 
a warm climate, no man will labor for himself who can make 
another labor for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors 
of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. 
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we 
have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds 
of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That 

278 



THOMAS JSFF6RSON 

they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I trem- 
ble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his 
justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nature 
and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune ; 
an exchange of situation is among possible events; that it may 
become probably by supernatural interference! The Almighty 
has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest. 
But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject 
through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of his- 
tory natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will 
force their way into every one's mind. I think a change already 
perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The 
spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the 
dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under 
the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this 
is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of 
the masters, rather than by their extirpation. 

QUERY XIX 

The present state of manufactures, commerce, interior 
and exterior trade? 

We never had an interior trade of any importance. Our ex- 
terior commerce has suffered very much from the beginning of 
the present contest. During this time we have manufactured 
within our families the most necessary articles of clothing. 
Those of cotton will bear some comparison with the same kinds 
of manufacture in Europe; but those of wool, flax and hemp 
are very coarse, unsightly, and unpleasant; and such is our 
attachment to agriculture, and such our preference for foreign 
manufactures, that be it wise or unwise, our people will cer- 
tainly return as soon as they can, to the raising raw materials, 
and exchanging them for finer manufactures than they are able 
to execute themselves. 

The political economists of Europe have established it as a 
principle, that every State should endeavor to manufacture for 
itself; and this principle, like many others, we transfer to 
America, without calculating the difference of circumstance 

279 



ON VIRGINIA 

which should often produce a difference of result. In Europe the 
lands are either cultivated, or locked up against the cultivator. 
Manufacture must therefore be resorted to of necessity not of 
choice, to support the surplus of their people. But we have an 
immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman. 
Is it best then that all our citizens should be employed in its 
improvement, or that one half should be called off from that to 
exercise manufactures and handicraft arts for the other? Those 
who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever 
He had a chosen people, whose breasts He has made His 
peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the 
focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise 
might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals 
in the masL of cultivators is a phenomenon of which no age nor 
nation has furnished an example. It is the mark set on those, 
who, not looking up to heaven, to their own soil and industry, 
as does the husbandman, for their subsistence, depend for it on 
casualties and caprice of customers. Dependence begets sub- 
servience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and pre- 
pares fit tools for the designs of ambition. This, the natural 
progress and consequence of the arts, has sometimes perhaps 
been retarded by accidental circumstances; but, generally 
speaking, the proportion which the aggregate of the other 
classes of citizens bears in any State to that of its husbandmen, 
is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a 
good enough barometer whereby to measure its degree of cor- 
ruption. While we have land to labor then, let us never wish to 
see our citizens occupied at a workbench, or twirling a distaff. 
Carpenters, masons, smiths, are wanting in husbandry; but, 
for the general operations of manufacture, let our workshops re- 
main in Europe. It is better to carry provisions and materials 
to workmen there, than bring them to the provisions and mate- 
rials, and with them their manners and principles. The loss by 
the transportation of commodities across the Atlantic will be 
made up in happiness and permanence of government. The 
mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure 
government, as sores do to the strength of the human body. It 

280 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic 
in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to 
the heart of its laws and constitution. 

QUERY XX 

A notice of the commercial productions particular to the State y 

and of those objects which the inhabitants are obliged to get 

from Europe and from other parts of the world? 

In the year 1758 we exported seventy thousand hogsheads of 
tobacco, which was the greatest quantity ever produced in this 
country in one year. But its culture was fast declining at the 
commencement of this war and that of wheat taken its place; 
and it must continue to decline on the return of peace. I sus- 
pect that the change in the temperature of our climate has be- 
come sensible to that plant, which to be good, requires an ex- 
traordinary degree of heat. But it requires still more indis- 
pensably an uncommon fertility of soil; and the price which it 
commands at market will not enable the planter to produce 
this by manure. Was the supply still to depend on Virginia and 
Maryland alone as its culture becomes more difficult, the price 
would rise so as to enable the planter to surmount those diffi- 
culties and to live. But the western country on the Mississippi, 
and the midlands of Georgia, having fresh and fertile lands in 
abundance, and a hotter sun, will be able to undersell these two 
States, and will oblige them to abandon the raising of tobacco 
altogether. And a happy obligation for them it will be. It is a 
culture productive of infinite wretchedness. Those employed 
in it are in a continual state of exertion beyond the power of 
nature to support. Little food of any kind is raised by them; 
so that the men and animals on these farms are badly fed, and 
the earth is rapidly impoverished. The cultivation of wheat is 
the reverse in every circumstance. Besides clothing the earth 
with herbage, and preserving its fertility, its feeds the labor- 
ers plentifully, requires from them only a moderate toil, ex- 
cept in the season of harvest, raises great numbers of animals 
for food and service, and diffuses plenty and happiness among 

281 



ON VIRGINIA 

*he whole. We find it easier to make an hundred bushels of 
wheat than a thousand weight of tobacco, and they are worth 
more when made. The weavil indeed is a formidable obstacle 
to the cultivation of this grain with us. But principles are al- 
ready known which must lead to a remedy. Thus a certain de- 
gree of heat, to wit, that of the common air in summer, is nec- 
essary to hatch the eggs. If subterranean granaries, or others, 
therefore, can be contrived below that temperature, the evil 
will be cured by cold. A degree of heat beyond that which 
hatches the egg we know will kill it. But in aiming at this we 
easily run into that which produced putrefaction. To produce 
putrefaction ; however, three agents are requisite, heat, mois- 
ture, and the external air. If the absence of any one of these be 
secured, the other two may safely be admitted. Heat is the one 
we want. Moisture then, or external air, must be excluded. The 
former has been done by exposing the grain in kilns to the ac- 
tion of fire, which produces heat, and extracts moisture at the 
same time; the latter, by putting the grain into hogsheads, 
covering it with a coating of lime, and heading it up. In this 
situation its bulk produced a heat sufficient to kill the eggs; 
the moisture is suffered to remain indeed, but the external air 
is excluded. A nicer operation yet has been attempted; that is, 
to produce an intermediate temperature of heat between that 
which kills the egg, and that which produces putrefaction. The 
threshing the grain as soon as it is cut, and laying it in its 
chaff in large heaps, has been found very nearly to hit this 
temperature, though not perfectly, nor always. The heap gen- 
erates heat sufficient to kill most of the eggs, whilst the chaff 
commonly restrains it from rising into putrefaction. But all 
these methods abridge too much the quantity which the farmer 
can manage, and enable other countries to undersell him, which 
are not infested with this insect. There is still a desideratum 
then to give with us decisive triumph to this branch of agri- 
culture over that of tobacco. The culture of wheat by enlarging 
our pasture, will render the Arabian horse an article of very 
considerable profit. Experience has shown that ours is the par- 
ticular climate of America where he may be raised without de- 

282 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

generacy. Southwardly the heat of the sun occasions a de- 
ficiency of pasture, and northwardly the winters are too cold 
for the short and fine hair, the particular sensibility and con- 
stitution of that race. Animals transplanted into unfriendly cli- 
mates, either change their nature and acquire new senses against 
the new difficulties in which they are placed, or they multiply 
poorly and become extinct. A good foundation is laid for their 
propagation here by our possessing already great numbers of 
horses of that blood, and by a decided taste and preference for 
them established among the people. Their patience of heat 
without injury, their superior wind, fit them better in this and 
the more southern climates even for the drudgeries of the 
plough and wagon. Northwardly they will become an object 
only to persons of taste and fortune, for the saddle and light 
carriages. To those, and for these uses, their fleetness and 
beauty will recommend them. Besides these there wil) be other 
valuable substitutes when the cultivation of tobacco shall be 
discontinued such as cotton in the eastern parts of the State, 
and hemp and flax in the western. 

It is not easy to say what are the articles either of necessity, 
comfort, or luxury, which we cannot raise, and which we there* 
fore shall be under a necessity of importing from abroad, as 
everything hardier than the olive, and as hardy as the fig, may 
be raised here in the open air. Sugar, coffee and tea, indeed, 
are not between these limits; and habit having placed them 
among the necessaries of life with the wealthy part of our citi- 
zens, as long as these habits remain we must go for them to 
those countries which are able to furnish them. 

QUERY XXI 

The weights, measures and the currency of the hard money? 
Some details relating to exchange with Europe? 

Our weights and measures are the same which are fixed by 
acts of parliament in England. How it has happened that in 
this as well as the other American States the nominal value of 
coin was made to differ from what it was in the country we had 

283 



ON VIRGINIA 

left, and to differ among ourselves too, I am not able to say 
with certainty. ... 

The first symptom of the depreciation of our present paper 
money, was that of silver dollars selling at six shillings, which 
had before been worth but five shillings and ninepence. The 
assembly thereupon raised them by law to six shillings. As the 
dollar is now likely to become the money-unit of America, as 
it passes at this rate in some of our sister States, and as it 
facilitates their computation in pounds and shillings, &c., con- 
verso, this seems to be more convenient than its former de- 
nomination. But as this particular coin now stands higher than 
any other in the proportion of one hundred and thirty-three 
and a half to on'e hundred and twenty-five, or sixteen to fifteen, 
it will be necessary to raise the others in proportion. 

QUERY XXII 
The public Income and Expenses? 

To this estimate of our [financial] abilities, let me add a 
word as to the application of them. If, when cleared of the pres- 
ent contest, and of the debts with which that will charge us, 
we come to measure force hereafter with any European power, 
such events are devoutly to be deprecated. Young as we are, 
and with such a country before us to fill with people and with 
happiness, we should point in that direction the whole genera- 
tive force of nature, wasting none of it in efforts of mutual de- 
struction. It should be our endeavor to cultivate the peace and 
friendship of every nation, even of that which has injured us 
most, when we shall have carried our point against her. Our in- 
terest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to 
knock off all its shackles, giving perfect freedom to all persons 
for the vent of whatever they may choose to bring into our 
ports, and asking the same in theirs. Never was so much false 
arithmetic employed on any subject, as that which has been 
employed to persuade nations that it is their interest to go to 
war. Were the money which it has cost to gain, at the dose of 

284 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

a long war, a little town, or a little territory, the right to cut 
wood here, or to catch fish there, expended in improving what 
they already possess, in making roads, opening rivers, building 
ports, improving the arts, and finding employment for their 
idle poor, it would render them much stronger, much wealthier 
and happier. This I hope will be our wisdom. And, perhaps, to 
remove as much as possible the occasions of making war, it 
might be better for us to abandon the ocean altogether, that 
being the element whereon we shall be principally exposed to 
jostle with other nations; to leave to others to bring what we 
shall want, and to carry what we can spare. This would make 
us invulnerable to Europe, by offering none of our property to 
their prize, and would turn all our citizens to the cultivation 
of the earth; and, I repeat it again, cultivators of the earth are 
the most virtuous and independent citizens. It might be time 
enough to seek employment for them at sea, when the land no 
longer offers it. But the actual habits of our countrymen attach 
them to commerce. They will exercise it for themselves. Wars 
then must sometimes be our lot; and all the wise can do, will 
be to avoid that half of them which would be produced by our 
own follies and our own acts of injustice; and to make for the 
other half the best preparations we can. Of what nature should 
these be? A land army would be useless for offence, and not the 
best nor safest instrument of defence. For either of these pur- 
poses, the sea is the field on which we should meet an Euro- 
pean enemy. On that element it is necessary we should possess 
some power. To aim at such a navy as the greater nations of 
Europe possess, would be a foolish and wicked waste of the 
energies of our countrymen. It would be to pull on our own 
heads that load of military expense which makes the European 
laborer go supperless to bed, and moistens his bread with the 
sweat of his brows. It will be enough if we enable ourselves to 
prevent insults from those nations of Europe which are weak 
on the sea, because circumstances exist, which render even 
the stronger ones weak as to us. Providence has placed their 
richest and most defenceless possessions at our door; has 

285 



scores ON VIRGINIA 

obliged their most precious commerce to pass, as it were, in re- 
view before us. To protect this, or to assail, a small part only 
of their naval force will ever be risked across the Atlantic. The 
dangers to which the elements expose them here are too well 
known, and the greater dangers to which they would be ex- 
posed at home were any general calamity to involve their whole 
fleet. They can attack us by detachment only; and it will suf- 
fice to make ourselves equal to what they may detach. Even 
a smaller force than they may detach will be rendered equal 
or superior by the quickness with which any check may be re- 
paired with us, while losses with them will be irreparable till 
too late. A small naval force then is sufficient for us, and a 
small one is necessary. What this should be, I will not under- 
take to say. I will only say, it should by no means be so great 
as we are able to make it. Suppose the million of dollars, or 
three hundred thousand pounds, which Virginia could annually 
spare without distress, to be applied to the creating a navy. A 
single year's contribution would build, equip, man, and send 
to sea a force which should carry three hundred guns. The rest 
of the confederacy, exerting themselves in the same proportion, 
would equip in the same time fifteen hundred guns more. So 
that one year's contributions would set up a navy of eighteen 
hundred guns. The British ships of the line average seventy-six 
guns; their frigates thirty-eight. Eighteen hundred guns then 
would form a fleet of thirty ships, eighteen of which might be 
of the line, and twelve frigates. Allowing eight men, the British 
average, for every gun, their annual expense, including sub- 
sistence, clothing, pay, and ordinary repairs, would be about 
$1,280 for every gun, or $2,304,000 for the whole. I state this 
only as one year's possible exertion, without deciding whether 
more or less than a year's exertion should be thus applied. 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

QUERY XXIII 

The histories of the State, the memorials published in its name 

m the time of its being a colony, and the pamphlets relating to 

its interior or exterior affairs present or ancient? 

Captain Smith, who next to Sir Walter Raleigh may be con- 
sidered as the founder of our colony, has written its history, 
from the first adventures to it, till the year 1624. He was a 
member of the council, and afterwards president of the colony; 
and to his efforts principally may be ascribed its support against 
the opposition of the natives. He was honest, sensible, and wall 
informed; but his style is barbarous and uncouth. His history, 
however, is almost the only source from which we derive any 
knowledge of the infancy of our State. 

The reverend William Stith, a native of Virginia, and presi- 
dent of its college, has also written the history of the same 
period, in a large octavo volume of small print. He was a man 
of classical learning, and very exact, but of no taste in style. He 
is inelegant, therefore, and his details often too minute to be tol- 
erable, even to a native of the country, whose history he writes. 

Beverley, a native also, has run into the other extreme; he 
has comprised our history from the first propositions of Sir 
Walter Raleigh to the year 1700, in the hundredth part of the 
space which Stith employs for the fourth part of the period. 

Sir Walter Keith has taken it up at its earliest period, and 
continued it to the year 1725. He is agreeable enough in style, 
and passes over events of little importance. Of course he is 
short and would be preferred by a foreigner. 

During the regal government, some contest arose on the exac- 
tion of an illegal fee by Governor Dinwiddie, and doubtless 
there were others on other occasions not at present recollected. 
It is supposed that these are not sufficiently interesting to a for- 
eigner to merit a detail. 

The petition of the council and burgesses of Virginia to the 
king, their memorials to the lords, and remonstrance to the 
commons in the year 1764, began the present contest; and 

287 



ON VIRGINIA 

these having proved ineffectual to prevent the passage of the 
stamp-act, the resolutions of the house of burgesses of 1765 
were passed declaring the independence of the people of Vir- 
ginia of the parliament of Great Britain, in matters of taxation. 
From that time till the Declaration of Independence by Con- 
gress in 1776, their journals are rilled with assertions of the 
public rights. The pamphlets published in this State on the con- 
troverted question, were: 

1766, An Inquiry into the rights of the British Colonies, by 
Richard Bland. 

1769, The Monitor's Letters, by Dr. Arthur Lee. 

1774, A summary View of the rights of British America. 1 

1774, Considerations, &c., by Robert Carter Nicholas. 

Since the Declaration of Independence this State has had 
no controversy with any other, except with that of Pennsyl- 
vania, on their common boundary. Some papers on this subject 
passed between the executive and legislative bodies of the two 
States, the result of which was a happy accommodation of their 
rights. 

To this account of our historians, memorials, and pamphlets, 
it may not be unuseful to add a chronological catalogue of 
American state-papers, as far as I have been able to collect 
their titles. 2 It is far from being either complete or correct. 
Where the title alone, and not the paper itself, has come under 
my observation, I cannot answer for the exactness of the date. 
Sometimes I have not been able to find any date at all, and 
sometimes have not been satisfied that such a paper exists. An 
extensive collection of papers of this description has been for 
some time in a course of preparation by a gentleman 3 fully 
equal to the task, and from whom, therefore, we may hope ere 
long to receive it. In the meantime accept this as the result of 
my labors, and as closing the tedious detail which you have so 
undesignedly drawn upon yourself. 

1. By the author of these "Notes." [Jefferson's note.] 

2. Jefferson was a pioneer in collecting and preserving early American 
manuscripts and printed laws. The exhaustive bibliography he includes 
at this point is omitted from the present edition. 

3. Ebenezer Hazard. [Jefferson's note.] 

288 



PUBLIC TAPERS 



INTRODUCTION 



WHEN Jefferson came to Congress in the notable year 1775, 
John Adams remarked he "brought with him a reputation for 
literature, science and a happy talent of composition." Jeffer- 
son's happy talent of composition seems to have \von him the 
role of writing more bills, reports and official documents than 
any of his contemporaries. It is generally conceded that his 
talent as an organizer and writer of public papers was one of 
the solid pillars of his statesmanship. Jefferson's official papers 
range from those written as a member of the Virginia Assem- 
bly, the Virginia Convention, and the Continental Congress, to 
those prepared as Governor of Virginia, Minister to France, 
Secretary of State, Vice-President, and, finally, President. How- 
ever, when an enterprising publisher wanted to publish every 
last one of these papers, Jefferson declined, saying many of 
them "would be like old newspapers, materials for future his- 
torians, but no longer interesting to the readers of the day." 

Guided by Jefferson's criterion, the editors have selected 
papers the extraordinary importance or interest of which is 
not obscured by technical exposition. Jefferson's stylistic tri- 
umph, The Declaration of Independence, is not included in this 
section since it appears in his Autobiography. Another work, 
far less known but almost as great a literary contribution 
to the American Revolution, is here printed in full. This, A 
Summary View of the Rights of British America, was pre- 
pared as Jefferson's instructions for the delegates from Virginia 
to the proposed first Congress of the Colonies. It is an uncom- 
promising argument that the natural right of emigration and 
conquest made the Am'erican colonies free of British Par- 
liamentary jurisdiction, and that their only tie was that of vol- 

290 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

untary submission to the "same common Sovereign," the Brit- 
ing King. These resolutions were not adopted. "Tamer senti- 
ments were preferred/ 7 Jefferson observed many years later. 
However, admirers of the vibrant manifesto subscribed a sum 
for its publication, gave it its present title, and published the 
work (Williamsburg, 1774) as that of "a native of Virginia." 

The Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, introduced into 
the Virginia Assembly June 13, 1779, by John Harvie, was 
briskly attacked by the opposition. Jefferson regarded this bill 
as one of his most genuine contributions to humanity. It pro- 
claimed the religious independence of the individual, and for- 
mulated Jefferson's belief in freedom of thought. When word 
came to Jefferson in Paris in 1786 that the Assembly had finally 
passed this bill, he hastened to order an edition printed there. 
It was subsequently reprinted in America. 

The First Inaugural Address, typically Jeffersonian in politi- 
cal sentiment, is a lasting definition of democratic principles. 
The Second Inaugural Address is the performance, as Jeffer- 
son said, of which the First is the promise. The famous passage 
on the Indians was included for its own sake, but also for the 
more urgent purpose of combatting "the hue and cry raised 
against philosophy and the rights of man." Jefferson was aim- 
ing at the "anti-social doctrines" of the aroused Federalist op 
position. 

Additional papers, and excerpts from papers, are includec 



291 



PUBLIC PAPERS 



A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774 

RESOLVED, That it be an instruction to the said deputies, 
when assembled in General Congress, with the deputies 
from the other states of British America, to propose to the said 
Congress, that an humble and dutiful address be presented tc 
his Majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as Chief Magis- 
trate of the British empire, the united complaints of his Maj- 
esty's subjects in America; complaints which are excited by 
many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted 
to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon 
the rights which God, and the laws, have given equally and 
independently to all. To represent to his Majesty that these, 
his States, have often individually made humble application 
to his imperial Throne, to obtain, through its intervention, 
some redress of their injured rights; to none of which, was 
ever even an answer condescended. Humbly to hope that this, 
their joint address, penned in the language of truth, and di- 
vested of those expressions of servility, which would persuade 
his Majesty that we are asking favors, and not rights, shall ob- 
tain from his Majesty a more respectful acceptance; and this 
his Majesty will think we have reason to expect, when he re- 
flects that he is no more than the chief officer of the people, 
appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, 
to assist in working the great machine of government, erected 
for their use, and, consequently, subject to their superintend- 
ence; and, in order that these, our rights, as well as the inva- 
sions of them, may b'e laid more fully before his Majesty, to 
take a view of them, from the origin and first settlement of 
these countries. 

To remind him that our ancestors, before their emigration 

203 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

TO America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions 
in Europe, and possessed a right, which nature has given to 
all men, of departing irom the country in which chance, not 
choice, has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, 
and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and 
regulations as, to them, shall seem most likely to promote pub- 
lic happiness. That their Saxon ancestors had, under this uni- 
versal law, in like manner, left their native wilds and woods in 
the North of Europe, had possessed themselves of the Island 
of Britain, then less charged with inhabitants, and had estab- 
lished there that system of laws which has so long been the 
glory and protection of that country. Nor was ever any claim 
of superiority or dependence asserted over them, by that mother 
country from which they had migrated: and were such a claim 
made, it is believed his Majesty's subjects in Great Britain 
have too firm a feeling of the rights derived to them from 
their ancestors, to bow down the sovereignty of their state be- 
fore such visionary pretensions. And it is thought that no cir- 
cumstance has occurred to distinguish, materially, the British 
from the Saxon emigration. America was conquered, and her 
settlements made and firmly established, at the expense of in- 
dividuals, and not of the British public. Their own blood was 
spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own for- 
tunes expended in making that settlement effectual. For them- 
selves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for 
themselves alone they have right to hold. No shilling was ever 
issued from the public treasures of his Majesty, or his ances- 
tors, for their assistance, till of very late times, after the col- 
onies had become established on a firm and permanent footing. 
That then, indeed, having become valuable to Great Britain 
for her commercial purposes, his Parliament was pleased to 
lend them assistance against an enemy who would fain have 
drawn to herself the benefits of their commerce, to the great 
aggrandisement of herself, and danger of Great Britain. Such 
assistance, and in such circumstahces, they had often before 
given to Portugal and other allied states, with whom they carry 

294 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

on a commercial intercourse. Yet these states never supposed 
that by calling in her aid, they thereby submitted themselves 
to her sovereignty. Had such terms been proposed, they would 
have rejected them with disdain, and trusted for better, to the 
moderation of their enemies, or to a vigorous exertion of their 
own force. We do not, however, mean to underrate those aids, 
which, to us, were doubtless valuable, on whatever principles 
granted: but we would shew that they cannot give a title to 
that authority which the British Parliament would arrogate 
over us; and that may amply be repaid by our giving to the 
inhabitants of Great Britain such exclusive privileges ir trade 
as may be advantageous to them, and, at the same time, not 
too restrictive to ourselves. That settlement having been thus 
effected in the wilds of America, the emigrants thought proper 
to adopt that system of laws, under which they had hitherto 
lived in the mother country, and to continue their union with 
her, by submitting themselves to the same common sovereign, 
who was thereby made the central link, connecting the several 
parts of the empire thus newly multiplied. 

But that not long were they permitted, however far they 
thought themselves removed from the hand of oppression, tc 
hold undisturbed the rights thus acquired at the hazard of their 
lives and loss of their fortunes. A family of Princes was then 
on the British throne, whose treasonable crimes against their 
people, brought on them, afterwards, the exertion of those sa- 
cred and sovereign rights of punishment, reserved in the hands 
of the people for cases of extreme necessity, and judged by the 
constitution unsafe to be delegated to any other judicature. 
While every day brought forth some new and unjustifiable texer* 
tion of power over their subjects on that side of the water, it 
was not to be expected that those here, much less pile at that 
time to oppose the designs of despotism, should be exempted 
from injury. Accordingly, this country which had been acquired 
by the lives, the labors, and fortunes of individual adventurers, 
was by these Princes, several times, parted out and distributed 
among the favorites and followers of their fortunes; and, by 

295 



TUELIC TAPSRS OF 

an assumed right of the Crown alone, were erected into distinct 
and independent governments; a measure, which it is believed, 
his Majesty's prudence and understanding would prevent him 
from imitating at this day; as no exercise of such power, of 
dividing and dismembering a country, has ever occurred in his 
Majesty's realm of England, though now of very ancient stand- 
ing; nor could it be justified or acquiesced under there, or in 
any part of his Majesty's empire. 

That the exercise of a free trade with all parts of the world, 
possessed by the American colonists, as of natural right, and 
which no law of their own had taken away or abridged, was 
next the object of unjust encroachment. Some of the colonies 
having thought proper to continue the administration of their 
government in the name and under the authority of his Maj- 
esty, King Charles the first, whom, notwithstanding his late 
deposition by the Commonwealth of England, they continued 
in the sovereignty of their State, the Parliament, for the Com- 
monwealth, took the same in high offence, and assumed upon 
themselves the power of prohibiting their trade with all other 
parts of the world, except the Island of Great Britain. This ar- 
britrary act, however, they soon recalled, and by solemn treaty 
entered into on the i2th day of March, 1651, between the said 
Commonwealth, by their Commissioners, and the colony of Vir- 
ginia by their House of Burgesses, it was expressly stipulated by 
the eighth article of the said treaty, that they should have 'free 
trade as the people of England do enjoy to all places and with 
all nations, according to the laws of that Commonwealth/ But 
that, upon the restoration of his Majesty, King Charles the sec- 
ond, their rights of free commerce fell once more a victim to ar- 
bitrary power; and by several acts of his reign, as well as of 
some of his successors, the trade of the colonies was laid undei 
such restrictions, as show what hopes they might form from the 
justice of a British Parliament, were its uncontrolled power ad- 
mitted over these States. History has* informed us, that bodies of 
men as well as of individuals, are susceptible of the spirit of 
tyranny. A view of these acts of Parliament for regulation, as it 

296 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

has been affectedly called, of the American trade, if all other 
evidences were removed out of the case, would undeniably evince 
the truth of this observation. Besides the duties they impose on 
our articles of export and import, they prohibit our going to any 
markets Northward of Cape Finisterra, in the kingdom of 
Spain, for the sale of commodities which Great Britain will 
not take from us, and for the purchase of others, with which 
she cannot supply us ; and that, for no other than the arbitrary 
purpose of purchasing for themselves, by a sacrifice of our 
rights and interests, certain privileges in their commerce with 
an allied state, who, in confidence, that their exclusive trade 
with America will be continued, while the principles and power 
of the British Parliament be the same, have indulged them- 
selves in every exorbitance which their avarice could dictate 
or our necessity extort: have raised their commodities called 
for in America, to the double and treble of what they sold 
for, before such exclusive privileges were given them, and of 
what better commodities of the same kind would cost us else- 
where; and, at the same time, give us much less for what we 
carry thither, than might be had at more convenient ports. 
That these acts prohibit us from carrying, in quest of other 
purchasers, the surplus of our tobaccos, remaining after the 
consumption of Great Britain is supplied: so that we must 
leave them with the British merchant, for whatever he will 
please to allow us, to be by him re-shipped to foreign markets, 
where he will reap the benefits -of making sale of them for full 
value. That, to heighten still the idea of Parliamentary justice, 
and to show with what moderation they are like to exercise 
power, where themselves are to feel no part of its weight, we 
take leave to mention to his Majesty, certain other acts of the 
British Parliament, by which they would prohibit us from 
manufacturing, for our own use, the articles we raise on our 
own lands, with our own labor. By an act passed in the fifth 
year of the reign of his late Majesty, King George the second, 
an American subject is forbidden to make a hat for himself, 
of the fur which he has taken, perhaps, on his own soil; an 

297 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

instance of despotism, to which no parallel can be produced in 
the most arbitrary ages of British history. By one other act, 
passed in the twenty-third year of the same reign, the iron 
which we make, we are forbidden to manufacture; and, heavy 
as that article is, and n'ecessary in every branch of husbandry, 
besides commission and insurance, we are to pay freight for it 
to Great Britain, and freight for it back again, for the purpose 
of supporting, not men, but machines, in the island of Great 
Britain. In the same spirit of equal and impartial legislation, 
is to be viewed the act of Parliament, passed in the fifth year 
of the same reign, by which American lands are made subject 
to the demands of British creditors, while their own lands wer'e 
still continued unanswerable for their debts; from which, one 
of these conclusions must necessarily follow, either that justice 
is not the same thing in America as in Britain, or else, that the 
British Parliament pay less regard to it here than there. But, 
that we do not point out to his Majesty the injustice of these 
acts, with intent to rest on that principle the cause of their 
nullity: but to show that 'experience confirms the propriety of 
those political principles, which exempt us from the jurisdiction 
of the British Parliament. The true ground on which we declare 
these acts void, is, that the British Parliament has no right to 
exercise authority over us. 

That these exercises of usurped power have not been con- 
fined to instances alone, in which themselves were interested; 
but they have also intermeddled with the regulation of the in- 
ternal affairs of the colonies. The act of the Qth of Anne for 
establishing a post office in America, seems to have had little 
connection with British convenience, except that of accommo- 
dating his Majesty's ministers and favorites with the sale of a 
lucrative and easy office. 

That thus have we hastened through the reigns which pre- 
ceded his Majesty's, during which the violation of our rights 
were less alarming, because repeated at more distant intervals, 
than that rapid and bold succession of injuries, which is likely 
to distinguish the present from all other periods of American 

298 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

story. Scarcely have our minds been able to emerge from the 
astonishment into which one stroke of Parliamentary thundet 
has involved us, before another more heavy and more alarm- 
ing is fallen on us. Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed tor 
the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, be' 
gun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through 
every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, sys- 
tematical plan of reducing us to slavery. 1 

That the act, passed in the 4th year of his majesty's reign, 
entitled "An act for granting certain duties in the British col- 
onies and plantations in America, &c." 

One other act, passed in the 5th year of his reign, entitled 
"An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties and 
other duties in the British colonies and plantations in Amer- 
ica, &c." 

One other act, passed in the 6th year of his reign, entitled 
"An act for the better securing the dependency of his majesty's 
dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great 
Britain;" and one other act, passed in the yth year of his reign, 
entitled "An act for granting duties on paper, tea, &c." form 
that connected chain of parliamentary usurpation, which has 
already been the subject of frequent applications to his maj- 
esty, and the houses of lords and commons of Great Britain; 
and no answers having yet been condescended to any of these, 
we shall not trouble his majesty with a repetition of the mat- 
ters they contained. 

But that one other act, passed in the same yth year of the 
reign, having been a peculiar attempt, must ever require pecul- 
iar mention; it is entitled "An act for suspending the legisla- 
ture of New York." 2 

One free and independent legislature, hereby takes upon it- 
self to suspend the powers of another, free and independent as 

1. The following passage, naming the acts of tyranny, is taken from 
Ford. [Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Fed- 
eral Edition, 12 vols., G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York and London, 
1904-05.! The version given in the Memorial Edition is not intelligible. 

2. This ends the inserted material from Ford. 

299 



TUBLIC TAPBRS OF 

itself. Thus exhibiting a phenomenon unknown in nature, the 
creator, and creature of its own power. Not only the principles 
of common sense, but the common feelings of human nature 
must be surrendered up, before his Majesty's subjects here, 
can be persuaded to believe, that they hold their political 
existence at the will of a British Parliament. Shall these gov- 
ernments be dissolved, their property annihilated, and their 
people reduced to a state of nature, at the imperious breath 
of a body of men whom they never saw, in whom they never 
confided, and over whom they have no powers of punishment 
or removal, let their crimes against the American public be ever 
so great? Can any one reason be assigned, why one hundred 
and sixty thousand electors in the island of Great Britain, 
should give law to four millions in the States of America, every 
individual of whom is equal to every individual of them in 
virtue, in understanding, and in bodily strength? Were this to 
be admitted, instead of being a free people, as we have hitherto 
supposed, and mean to continue ourselves, we should suddenly 
be found the slaves, not of one, but of one hundred and sixty 
thousand tyrants; distinguished, too, from all others, by this 
singular circumstance, that they are removed from the reach 
of fear, the only restraining motive which may hold the hand 
of a tyrant. 

That, by 'an act to discontinue in such manner, and for such 
time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, 
lading or shipping of goods, wares and merchandize, at the 
town and within the harbor of Boston, in the province of 
Massachusetts bay, in North America/ which was passed at 
the last session of the British Parliament, a large and populous 
town, whose trade was their sole subsistence, was deprived of 
that trade, and involved in utter ruin. Let us for a while, sup- 
pose the question of right suspended, in order to examine this 
act on principles of justice. An act of Parliament had been 
passed, imposing duties on teas, to be paid in America, against 
which act the Americans had protested, as inauthoritative. The 
East India Company, who till that time, had never sent a 

300 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

pound of tea to America on their own account, step forth on 
that occasion, the asserters of Parliamentary right, and send 
hither many ship loads of that obnoxious commodity. The mas- 
ters of their several vessels, however, on their arrival in Amer- 
ica, wisely attended to admonition, and returned with their 
cargoes. In the province of New-England alone, the remon- 
strances of the people were disregarded, and a compliance, after 
being many days waited for, was flatly refused. Whether in 
this, the master of the vessel was governed by his obstinacy, 
or his instructions, let those who know, say. There are extraor- 
dinary situations which require extraordinary interposition. An 
exasperated people, who feel that they possess power ; are not 
easily restrained within limits strictly regular. A number of 
them assembled in the town of Boston, threw the tea into the 
ocean, and dispersed without doing any other act of violence. 
If in this they did wrong, they were known, and were amenable 
to the laws. of the land; against which, it could not be objected, 
that they had ever, in any instance, been obstructed or di- 
verted from the regular course, in favor of popular offenders. 
They should, therefore, not have been distrusted on. this oc- 
casion. But that ill-fated colony had formerly been bold in 
their enmities against the House of Stuart, and were now de- 
voted to ruin, by that unseen hand which governs the momen- 
tous affairs of this great empire. On the partial representations 
of a few worthless ministerial dependants, whose constant 
office it has been to keep that government embroiled, and 
who, by their treacheries, hope to obtain the dignity of British 
knighthood, without calling for a party accused, without ask- 
ing a proof, without attempting a distinction between the guilty 
and the innocent, the whole of that ancient and wealthy town, 
is in a moment reduced from opulence to beggary. Men whc 
had spent their lives in extending the British commerce, whc 
had invested, in that place, the wealth their honest endeavor^ 
had merited, found themselves and their families, thrown at 
once on the world, for subsistence by its charities. Not the 
hundredth part of the inhabitants of that town, had been con* 

301 



TUBLIC TAP8RS OF 

cerned in the act complained of; many of them were in Great 
Britain, and in other parts beyond the sea; yet all were in 
volved in one indiscriminate ruin, by a new executive power, 
unheard of till then, that of a British Parliament. A property 
of the value of many millions of money, was sacrificed to re- 
venge, not repay, the loss of a few thousands. This is adminis- 
tering justice with a heavy hand indeed ! And when is this tem- 
pest to be arrested in its course? Two wharves are to be opened 
again when his Majesty shall think proper: the residue, which 
lined the extensive shores of the bay of Boston, are forever 
interdicted the exercise of commerce. This little exception 
seems to have been thrown in for no other purpose, than that 
of setting a precedent for investing his Majesty with legislative 
powers. If the pulse of his people shall beat calmly under this 
experiment, another and another will be tried, till the measure 
of despotism be filled up. It would be an insult on common 
sense, to pretend that this exception was made, in order to re- 
store its commerce to that great town. The trade, which can- 
not be received at two wharves alone, must of necessity be 
transferred to some other place; to which it will soon be fol- 
lowed by that of the two wharves. Considered in this light, it 
would be an insolent and cruel mockery at the annihilation of 
the town of Boston. By the act for the suppression of riots and 
tumults in the town of Boston, passed also in the last session 
of Parliament, a murder committed there, is, if the Governor 
pleases, to be tried in the court of King's bench, in the island 
of Great Britain, by a jury of Middlesex. The witnesses, too, 
on receipt of such a sum as the Governor shall think it reason- 
able for them to expend, are to enter into recognizance to ap- 
pear at the trial. This is, in other words, taxing them to the 
amount of their recognizance; and that amount may be what- 
ever a Governor pleases. For who does his Majesty think can 
be prevailed on to cross the Atlantic for the sole purpose of 
bearing evidence to a fact? His expenses are to be borne, in- 
deed, as they shall be estimated by a Governor; but who are 
to feed the wife and children whom he leaves behind, and who 

302 



TFIOMAS J8FF8RSON 

have had no other subsistence but his daily labor? Those epi- 
demical disorders, too, so terrible in a foreign climate, is the 
cure of them to be estimated among the articles of expense, and 
their danger to be warded off by the Almighty power of a Par- 
liament? And the wretched criminal, if he happen to have of- 
fended on the American side, stripped of his privilege of trial 
by peers of his vicinage, removed from the place where alone 
full evidence could be obtained, without money, without coun- 
sel, without friends, without exculpatory proof, is tried before 
Judges predetermined to condemn. The cowards who would 
suffer a countryman to be torn from the bowels of their so- 
ciety, in order to be thus offered a sacrifice to Parliamentary 
tyranny, would merit that everlasting infamy now fixed on the 
authors of the act! A clause, for a similar purpose, had been 
introduced into an act passed in the twelfth year of his Maj- 
esty's reign, entitled, c an act for the better securing and pre- 
serving his Majesty's Dock-yards, Magazines, Ships, Ammuni- 
tion and Stores;' against which, as meriting the same censures, 
the several colonies have already protested. 

That these are the acts of power, assumed by a body of 
men foreign to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our 
laws; against which we do, on behalf of the inhabitants of 
British America, enter this, our solemn and determined pro- 
test. And we do earnestly intreat his Majesty, as yet the only 
mediatory power between the several States of the British em- 
pire, to recommend to his Parliament of Great Britain, the total 
revocation of these acts, which, however nugatory they may be, 
may yet prove the cause of further discontents and jealousies 
among us. 

That we next proceed to consider the conduct of his Maj- 
esty, as holding the Executive powers of the laws of these 
States, and mark out his deviations from the line of duty. By 
the Constitution of Great Britain, as well as of the several 
American States, his Majesty possesses the power of refusing 
to pass into a law, any bill which has already passed the other 
two branches of the legislature. His Majesty, however, and his 

303 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

ancestors^ conscious of the impropriety of opposing their single 
opinion to the united wisdom of two Houses of Parliament, 
while their proceedings were unbiassed by interested principles, 
for several ages past, have modestly declined the exercise of 
this power, in that part of his. empire called Great Britain. But, 
by change of circumstances, other principles than those of jus- 
tice simply, have obtained an influence on their determinations. 
The addition of new States to the British empire has produced 
an addition of new, and, sometimes, opposite interests. It is 
now, therefore, the great office of his Majesty to resume the 
exercise of his negative power, and to prevent the passage of 
laws by any one legislature of the empire, which might bear 
injuriously on the rights and interests of another. Yet this will 
not excuse the wanton exercise of this power, which we have 
seen his Majesty practice on the laws of the American legisla- 
ture. For the most trifling reasons, and, sometimes for no con- 
ceivable reason at all, his Majesty has rejected laws of the most 
salutary tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the 
great object of desire in those colonies, where it was, unhap- 
pily, introduced in their infant state. But previous to the en- 
franchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude 
all further importations from Africa. Yet our repeated attempts 
to effect this, by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which 
might amount to a prohibition, having been hitherto defeated 
by his Majesty's negative: thus preferring the immediate ad- 
vantages of a few British corsairs, to the lasting interests of the 
American States, and to the rights of human nature, deeply 
wounded by this infamous practice. Nay, the single interposi- 
tion of an interested individual against a law was scarcely ever 
known to fail of success, though, in the opposite scale, were 
placed the interests of a whole country. That this is so shame- 
ful an abuse of a power, trusted with his Majesty for other pur- 
poses, as if, not reformed, would call for some legal restrictions. 
With equal inattention to the necessities of his people here, 
has his Majesty permitted our laws to lie neglected, in Eng- 
land, for years, neither confirming them by his assent, nor an- 

304 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

nulling them by his negative: so, that such of them as have no 
suspending clause, we hold on the most precarious of all ten- 
ures, his Majesty's will; and such of them as suspend them- 
selves till his Majesty's assent be obtained, we have feared 
might be called into existence at some future and distant period, 
when time and change of circumstances shall have rendered 
them destructive to his people here. And, to render this griev- 
ance still more oppressive, his Majesty, by his instructions, has 
laid his Governors under such restrictions, that they can pass 
no law, of any moment, unless it have such suspending clause: 
so that, however immediate may be the call for legislative in- 
terposition, the law cannot be executed, till it has twice crossed 
the Atlantic, by which time the evil may have spent its whole 
force. 

But in what terms reconcilable to Majesty, and at the same 
time to truth, shall we speak of a late instruction to his Maj- 
esty's Governor of the colony of Virginia, by which he is for- 
bidden to assent to any law for the division of a county, unless 
the new county will consent to have no representative in As- 
sembly? That colony has as yet affixed no boundary to the 
Westward. Their Western counties, therefore, are of an indefi- 
nite extent. Some of them are actually seated many hundred 
miles from their Eastern limits. Is it possible, then, that his 
Majesty can have bestowed a single thought on the situation of 
those people, who, in order to obtain justice for injuries, how- 
ever great or small, must, by the laws of that colony, attend 
their county court at such a distance, with all their witnesses, 
monthly, till their litigation be determined? Or does his Maj- 
esty seriously wish, and publish it to the world, that his sub- 
jects should give up the glorious right of representation, with 
all the benefits derived from that, and submit themselves the 
absolute slaves of his sovereign will? Or is it rather meant to 
confine the legislative body to their present numbers, that they 
may be the cheaper bargain, whenever they shall become worth 
a purchase? 

One of the articles of impeachment against Tresilian, ivnd 

305 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

the other Judges of Westminster Hall, in the reign of Richard 
the Second, for which they suffered death, as traitors to their 
country, was, that they had advised the King, that he might 
dissolve his Parliament at any time ; and succeeding kings have 
adopted the opinion of these unjust Judges, Since the establish- 
ment, however, of the British constitution, at the glorious Rev- 
olution, on its free and ancient principles, neither his Majesty, 
nor his ancestors, have exercised such a power of dissolution 
in the island of Great Britain; x and when his Majesty was 
petitioned, by the united voice of his people there, to dissolve 
the present Parliament, who had become obnoxious to them, 
his Ministers were heard to declare, in open Parliament, that 
his Majesty possessed no such power by the constitution. But 
how different their language, and his practice, here! To declare, 
as their duty required, the known rights of their country, to 
oppose the usurpation of every foreign judicature, to disregard 
the imperious mandates of a Minister or Governor, have been 
the avowed causes of dissolving Houses of Representatives in 
America. But if such powers be really vested in his Majesty, 
can he suppose they are there placed to awe the members from 
such purposes as these? When the representative body have 
lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have no- 
toriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they 
have assumed to themselves powers which the people never 
put into their hands, then, indeed, their continuing in office be- 
comes dangerous to the State, and calls for an exercise of the 
power of dissolution. Such being the cause for which the repre- 
sentative body should, and should not, be dissolved, will it not 
appear strange, to an unbiassed observer, that that of Great 
Britain was not dissolved, while those of the colonies have re- 
peatedly incurred that sentence? 

i. On further inquiry, I find two instances of dissolutions before the 
Parliament would, of itself, have been at an end: viz., the Parliament 
called to meet August 24, 1698, was dissolved by King William, Decem- 
ber 19, 1700, and a new one called, to meet February 6, 1701, which was 
also dissolved, November n, 1701, and a new one met December 30, 1701. 
[Jefferson's note.] 

306 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

But your Majesty, or your Governors, have carried this 
power beyond every limit known or provided for by the laws, 
After dissolving one House of Representatives, they have re- 
fused to call another, so that, for a great length of time, the 
legislature provided by the laws, has been out of existence. 
From the nature of things, every society must, at all times, pos- 
sess within itself the sovereign powers of legislation. The feel- 
ings of human nature revolt against the supposition of a State 
so situated, as that it may not, in any emergency, provide 
against dangers which, perhaps, threaten immediate ruin. While 
those bodies are in existence to whom the people have dele- 
gated the powers of legislation, they alone possess, and may 
exercise, those powers. But when they are dissolved, by the 
lopping off one or more of their branches, the power reverts to 
the people, who may use it to unlimited extent, either assembling 
together in person, sending deputies, or in any other way they 
may think proper. We forbear to trace consequences further; 
the dangers are conspicuous with which this practice is replete. 

That we shall, at this time also, take notice of an error in the 
nature of our land holdings, which crept in at a very early pe- 
riod of our settlement. The introduction of the Feudal tenures 
into the kingdom of England, though ancient, is well enough 
understood to set this matter in a proper light. In the ear- 
lier ages of the Saxon settlement, feudal holdings were cer- 
tainly altogether unknown, and very few, if any, had been 
introduced at the time of the Norman conquest. Our Saxon 
ancestors held their lands, as they did their personal property, 
in absolute dominion, disincumbered with any superior, answer- 
ing nearly to the nature of those possessions which the Feudal- 
ist term Allodial. William the Norman, first introduced that 
system generally. The lands which had belonged to those who 
fell in the battle of Hastings, and in the subsequent insur- 
rections of his reign, formed a considerable proportion of the 
lands of the whole kingdom. These he granted out, subject to 
feudal duties, as did he also those of a great number of his 
new subjects, who, by persuasions or threats, were induced 

307 



TUBLIC TAP6RS OF 

l& surrender them for that purpose. But still, much was left 
in the hands of his Saxon subjects, held of no superior, and not 
subject to feudal conditions. These, therefore, by express laws, 
enacted to render uniform the system of military defence, 
were made liable to the same military duties as if they had 
been feuds; and the Norman lawyers soon found means to 
saddle them, also, with the other feudal burthens. But still 
they had not been surrendered to the King, they were not 
derived from his grant, and therefore they were not holden of 
him. A general principle was introduced, that "all lands in 
England were held either mediately or immediately of the 
Crown;' 7 but this was borrowed from those holdings which 
were truly feudal, and only applied to others for the purposes 
of illustration. Feudal holdings were, therefore, but excep- 
tions out of the Saxon laws of possession, under which all lands 
were held in absolute right. These, therefore, still form the 
basis or groundwork of the Common law, to prevail where- 
soever the exceptions have not taken place. America was not 
conquered by William the Norman, nor its lands surrendered 
to him or any of his successors. Possessions there are, un- 
doubtedly, of the Allodial nature. Our ancestors, however, who 
migrated hither, were laborers, not lawyers. The fictitious 
principle, that all lands belong originally to the King, they 
were early persuaded to believe real, and accordingly took 
grants of their own lands from the Crown. And while the 
Crown continued to grant for small sums and on reasonable 
rents, there was no inducement to arrest the error, and lay it 
open to public view. But his Majesty has lately taken on him 
to advance the terms of purchase and of holding, to the double 
of what they were; by which means, the acquisition of lands 
being rendered difficult, the population of our country is likely 
to be checked. It is time, therefore, for us to lay this matter 
before his Majesty, and to declare, that he has no right to 
grant lands of himself. From the nature and purpose of civil 
institutions, all the lands within , the limits, which any par- 
ticular party has circumscribed around itself, are assumed by 

jo* 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

that society, and subject to their allotment; this may be done 
by themselves assembled collectively, or by their legislature, 
to whom they may have delegated sovereign authority; and, 
if they are allotted in neither of these ways, each individual of 
the society, may appropriate to himself such lands as he finds 
vacant, and occupancy will give him title. 

That, in order to enforce the arbitrary measures before com- 
plained of, his Majesty has, from time to time, sent among 
us large bodies of armed forces, not made up of the people 
here, nor raised by the authority of our laws. Did his Majesty 
possess such a right as this, it might swallow up all our other 
rights, whenever he should think proper. But his Majesty has 
no right to land a single armed man on our shores; and those 
whom he sends here are liable to our laws, for the suppression 
and punishment of riots, routs, and unlawful assemblies, or 
are hostile bodies invading us in defiance of law. When, in the 
course of the late war, it became expedient that a body of 
Hanoverian troops should be brought over for the defence of 
Great Britain, his Majesty's grandfather, our /ate sovereign, 
did not pretend to introduce them under any authority he 
possessed. Such a measure would have given just alarm to his 
subjects of Great Britain, whose liberties would not be safe 
if armed men of another country, and of another spirit, might 
be brought into the realm at any time, without the consent of 
their legislature. He, therefore, applied to Parliament, who 
passed an act for that purpose, limiting the number to be 
brought in, and the time they were to continue. In like man- 
ner is his Majesty restrained in every part of the empire. He 
possesses indeed the executive power of the laws in every 
State; but they are the laws of the particular State, which he 
is to administer within that State, and not those of any one 
within the limits of another. Every State must judge for itself, 
the number of armed men which they may safely trust among 
them, of whom they are to consist, and under what restrictions 
they are to be laid. To render these proceedings still more 
criminal against our laws, instead of subjecting the military to 

30.0 



TUBLIC TAPBRS OF 

the civil power, his majesty has expressly made the civil sub- 
ordinate to the military. But can his Majesty thus put down 
all law under his feet? Can he erect a power superior to that 
which erected himself? He has done it indeed by force; but 
let him remember that force cannot give right. 

That these are our grievances, which we have thus laid 
before his Majesty, with that freedom of language and senti- 
ment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as 
derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their 
Chief Magistrate. Let those flatter, who fear: it is not an 
American art. To give praise where it is not due might be well 
from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting 
the rights of human nature. They know, and will, therefore, 
say, that Kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the 
people. Open your breast, Sire ; to liberal and expanded 
thought. Let not the name of George the Third, be a blot on 
the page of history. You are surrounded by British counsellors, 
but remember that they are parties. You have no ministers for 
American affairs, because you have none taken from among us, 
nor amenable to the laws on which they are to give you advice. 
It behooves you, therefore, to think and to act for yourself 
and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are 
legible to every reader; to pursue them, requires not the aid 
of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in 
the art cf being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and man- 
kind will give you credit where you fail. No longer persevere in 
sacrificing the rights of one part of the empire to the inordinate 
desires of another; but deal out to all, equal and impartial 
right. Let no act be passed by any one legislature, which may 
infringe on the rights and liberties of another. This is the im- 
portant post in which fortune has placed you, holding the 
balance of a great, if a well-poised empire. This, Sire, is the 
advice of your great American council, on the observance of 
which may perhaps depend your felicity and future fame, and 
the preservation of that harmony which alone can continue, 
both to Great Britain and America, the reciprocal advantages 

310 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

of their connection. It is neither our wish nor our interest to 
separate from her. We are willing, on our part, to sacrifice 
everything which reason can ask, to the restoration of that 
tranquillity for which all must wish. On their part, let them Vr 
ready to establish union on a generous plan. Let them name 
their terms, but let them be just. Accept of every commercial 
preference it is in our power to give, for such things as we can 
raise for their use. or they make for ours. But let them not 
think to exclude us from going to other markets to dispose of 
those commodities which they cannot use, nor to supply those 
wants which they cannot supply. Still less, let it be proposed, 
that our properties, within our own territories, shall be taxed 
or regulated by any power on earth, but our own. The God who 
gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force 
may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, Sire, is our last, 
our determined resolution. And that you will be pleased to 
interpose, with thai efficacy which your earnest endeavors may 
insure, to procure redress of these our great grievances, to 
quiet the minds of your subjects in British America against 
any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fra- 
ternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that 
that may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent 
prayer of all British America. 

An Act for establishing Religious Freedom [1779], passed 
in the Assembly of Virginia in the beginning of the year 
1786 

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; 
that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or 
burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits 
of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan 
of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of 
body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on 
either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious 
presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesias- 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

tical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men 
have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up 
their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and 
infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, 
hath established and maintained false religions over the great- 
est part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a 
man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of 
opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that 
even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own 
religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty 
of piving his contributions to the particular pastor whose 
morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels 
most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the 
ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an 
approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incite- 
ment to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of 
mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our 
religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geom- 
etry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy 
the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of 
being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he 
profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving 
him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in 
common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right ; that it 
tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is 
meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of wordly 
honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and 
conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do 
not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent 
who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate 
to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain 
the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition 
of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once 
destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge 
of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, 
and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they 

312 



rHOMAS JSFFSRSON 

shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough 
for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its offices to 
interfere when principles break out into overt acts against 
peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will 
prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient 
antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, 
unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural 
weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dan- 
gerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them. 

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no 
man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious 
worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, 
restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor 
shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions of 
belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argu- 
ment to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that 
the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil 
capacities. 

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the 
people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no 
power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted 
with the powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare 
this act irrevocable, would be of no effect in law, yet we are 
free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted 
are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall 
be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its 
operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right. 

Report of Government for the Western Territory. 1 March 

22, 1784 

The Committee to whom was re-committed the report of a 
plan for a temporary government of the Western territory have 
agreed to the following resolutions. 

i. This document has been included because of its important proposal 
to limit the spread of slavery in the entire western territory of the 
United States. [The text is taken from Ford.] 

313 



TUBLIC TAP8RS OF 

Resolved, that so much of the territory ceded or to be ceded 
by individual states to the United States as is already pur- 
chased or shall be purchased of the Indian inhabitants & offered 
for sale by Congress, shall be divided into distinct states, .... 

That the settlers on any territory so purchased & offered for 
sale shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Con- 
gress, receive authority from them with appointments of time 
& place for their free males of full age, within the limits of their 
state to meet together for the purpose of establishing a tem- 
porary government, to adopt the constitution and laws of any 
one of the original states, so that such laws nevertheless shall 
be subject to alteration by th^ir ordinary legislature; & to erect, 
subject to a like alteration, counties or townships for the elec- 
tion of members for their legislature. 

That such temporary government shall only continue in 
force in any state until it shall have acquired 20,000 free in- 
habitants, when giving due proof thereof to Congress, they 
shall receive from them authority with appointment of time & 
place to call a convention of representatives to establish a per- 
manent Constitution & Government for themselves. Provided 
that both the temporary and permanent governments be estab- 
lished on these principles as their basis, i. That they shall 
forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States 
of America. 2. That in their persons, property and territory 
they shall be subject to the Government of the United States 
in Congress assembled, & to the articles of Confederation in all 
those cases in which the original states shall be so subject. 
3. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts 
contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on them by 
Congress, according to the same common rule & measure, by 
which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other 
states. 4. That their respective Governments shall be in repub- 
lican forms and shall admit no person to be a citizen who holds 
any hereditary title. 5. That after the year 1800 of the Chris- 
tian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servi- 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

tude in any of the sd states, otherwise than in punishment of 
crimes whereof the party shall have been convicted to have 
been personally guilty. 

That whensoever any of ths sd states shall have, of free 
inhabitants, as many as shall then be in any one the least 
numerous, of the thirteen original states, such state shall be 
admitted by it's delegates into the Congress of the United 
States on an equal footing with the said original states: pro- 
vided nine States agree to such admission according to the 
reservation of the nth of the articles of Confederation, and 
in order to adopt the sd articles of Confederation, to the state 
of Congress when it's numbers shall be thus increased, it shall 
be proposed to the legislatures of states originally parties 
thereto, to require the assent of two thirds of the United States 
in Congress assembled in all those cases wherein by the said 
articles the assent of nine states is now required; which being 
agreed to by them shall be binding on the new states. Until 
such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said 
states after the establishment of their temporary government 
shall have authority to keep a sitting member in Congress, with 
a right of debating, but not of voting. 

That the preceding articles shall be formed into a charter of 
compact, shall be duly executed by the president of the United 
States in Congress assembled, under his hand & the seal of the 
United States, shall be promulgated & shall stand as funda- 
mental constitutions between the thirteen original states and 
each of the several states now newly described, unalterable but 
by the joint consent of the United States in Congress as- 
sembled, & of the particular state within which such alteration 
is proposed to be made. 

That measures rjot inconsistent with the principles of the 
Confedn. & necessary for the preservation of peace & good 
order among the settlers in any of the said new states until 
they shall assume a temporary Government as aforesaid, may 
from time to time be taken by the U S in C. assembled. 



TVBLIC TAP6RS OF 

Opinion upon the question whether the President should 
veto the Bill, declaring that the seat of government shall 
be transferred to the Potomac, in the year 1790. July 
*5> 1790 

Every man, and every body of men on earth, posseses the 
right of self-government. They receive it with their being from 
the hand of nature. Individuals exercise it by their single will; 
collections of men by that of their majority; for the law of the 
majority is the natural law of every society of men. When a 
certain description of men are to transact together a particular 
business, the times and places of their meeting and separating, 
depend on their own will; they make a part of the natural right 
of self-government. This, like all other natural rights, may be 
abridged or modified in its exercise by their own consent, or 
by the law of those who depute them, if they meet in the right 
of others; but as far as it is not abridged or modified, they 
retain it as a natural right and may exercise them in what 
form they please, either exclusively by themselves, or in as- 
sociation with others, or by others altogether, as they shall 
agree. 

March 18, 1792. Paper on the rights to navigate the Mis- 
sissippi 

But our right is built on ground still broader and more un- 
questionable, to wit: 

On the law of nature and nations. 

If we appeal to this, as we feel it written on the heart of 
man, what sentiment is written in deeper characters than that 
the ocean is free to all men, and their rivers to all their in- 
habitants? Is there a man, savage or civilized, unbiased by 
habit, who does not feel and attest this truth? Accordingly, in 
all tracts of country united under the same political society, 
we find this natural right universally acknowledged and pro- 
tected by laying the navigable rivers open to all their in- 

316 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

habitants. When their rivers enter the limits of another society, 
if the right of the upper inhabitants to descend the stream is in 
any case obstructed, it is an act of force by a stronger society 
against a weaker, condemned by the judgment of mankind. 
The late case of Antwerp and the Scheldt was a striking proof 
of a general union of sentiment on this point; as it is believed 
that Amsterdam had scarcely an advocate out of Holland, and 
even there its pretensions were advocated on the ground of 
treaties, and not of natural right. . . . The United States hold 
600,000 square miles of habitable territory on the Mississippi 
and its branches, and this river and its branches afford many 
thousands of miles of navigable waters penetrating this terri- 
tory in all its parts. The inhabitable grounds of Spain below our 
boundary and bordering on the river, which alone can pretend 
any fear of being incommoded by our use of the river, are not 
the thousandth part of that extent. This vast portion of the 
territory of the United States has no other outlet for its pro- 
ductions, and these productions are of the bulkiest kind. And 
in truth, their passage down the river may not only be innocent, 
as to the Spanish subjects on the river, but cannot fail to enrich 
them far beyond their present condition. The real interest then 
of all the inhabitants, upper and lower, concur in fact with 
their rights. 

Opinion on the question whether the United States have 
a right to renounce their treaties with France, or to hold 
them suspended till the government of that country shall 
be established. April 28, 



I consider the people who constitute a society or nation as 
the source of all authority in that nation; as free to transact 
their common concerns by any agents they think proper; to 
change these agents individually, or the organization of them 
in form or function whenever they please; that all the acts 
done by these agents under the authority of the nation, are the 
acts of the nation, are obligatory to them and enure to their 

317 



TUBL1C TAPBRS OF 

use, and can in no wise be annulled or affected by any change 
in the form of the government, or of the persons administering 
it, consequently the treaties between the United States and 
France, were not treaties between the United States and Louis 
Capet, but between the two nations of America and France; 
and the nations remaining in existence, though both of them 
have since changed their forms of government, the treaties are 
not annulled by these changes. The law of nations, by which 
this question is to be determined, is composed of three 
branches, i. The moral law of our nature. 2. The usages of 
nations. 3, Their special conventions. The first of these only 
concerns this question, that is to say the moral law to which 
man has been subjected by his creator, and of which his feelings 
or conscience, as it is sometimes called, are the evidence with 
which his creator has furnished him. The moral duties which 
exist between individual and individual in a state of nature, 
accompany them into a state of society, and the aggregate of 
the duties of all the individuals composing the society con- 
stitutes the dutie" of that society towards any other; so that 
between society and society the same moral duties exist as did 
between the individuals composing them, while in an unas- 
sociated state, and their maker not having released them from 
those duties on their forming themselves into a nation. Com- 
pacts then, between nation and nation, are obligatory on them 
by the same moral law which obliges individuals to observe 
their compacts. There are circumstances, however, which some- 
times excuse the non-performance of contracts between man 
and man; so are there also between nation and nation. When 
performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non-perform- 
ance is not immoral; so if performance becomes self-destructive 
to the party, the law of self-preservation overrules the laws of 
obligation in others. For the reality of these principles I appeal 
to the true fountains of evidence, the head and heart of every 
rational and honest man. It is there nature has written her 
moral laws, and where every man may read them for himself. 
He will never read there the permission to annul his obliga- 

318 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

tions for a time, or forever, whenever they become dangerous, 
useless, or disagreeable; certainly not when merely useless or 
disagreeable. . . . and though he may, under certain degrees of 
danger, yet the danger must be imminent, and the degree great, 
Of these, it is true, that nations are to be judges for themselves; 
since no one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another, 
but the tribunal of our conscience remains, and that also of 
the opinion of the world. These will revise the sentence we pass 
in OMr own case, and as we respect these, we must see that in 
judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial 
and rigorous judges. 

.... Questions of natural right are triable by their con- 
formity with the moral sense and reason of man. Those who 
write treatises of natural law, can only declare what their own 
moral sense and reason dictate in the several cases they state. 
Such of them as happen to have feelings and a reason coin- 
cident with those of the wise and honest part of mankind, are 
respected and quoted as witnesses of what is morally right or 
wrong in particular cases. Grotius, Puffendorf, Wolf, and 
Vattel are of this number. Where they agree their authority is 
strong; but where they differ (and they often differ), we must 
appeal to our own feelings and reason to decide between 
them. . . . 

Report on the privileges and restrictions on the commerce 
oj the United States in foreign countries. December i6 t 
* '793 

.... As to commerce, two methods occur, i. By friendly ar< 
rangements with the several nations with whom these re- 
strictions exist: Or, 2. By the separate act of our own legisla- 
tures for countervailing their effects. 

There can be no doubt but that of these two, friendly ar- 
rangement is the most eligible. Instead of embarrassing com- 
merce under piles of regulating laws, duties and prohibitions, 
could it be relieved from all its shackles in all parts of the 
world, could every country be employed in producing that 

319 



TUBLIC TAPBRS OF 

which nature has best fitted it to produce, and each be free 
to exchange with others mutual surplusses for mutual wants, 
the greatest mass possible would then be produced of those 
things which contribute to human life and human happiness; 
the numbers of mankind would be increased, and their con- 
dition bettered. . . . 

But should any nation, contrary to our wishes, suppose it 
may better find its advantage by continuing its system of pro- 
hibitions, duties and regulations, it behooves us to protect our 
citizens, their commerce and navigation, by counter prohibi- 
tions, duties and regulations, also. Free commerce and naviga- 
tion are not to be given in exchange for restrictions and 
vexations; nor are they likely to produce a relaxation of 
them. . . . 

Where a nation imposes high duties on our productions, or 
prohibits them altogether, it may be proper for us to do the 
same by theirs; first burdening or excluding those productions 
which they bring here, in competition with our own of the same 
kind; selecting next, such manufactures as we take from them 
in greatest quantity, and which, at the same time, we could the 
soonest furnish to ourselves, or obtain from other countries; 
imposing on them duties lighter at first, but heavier and 
heavier afterwards as other channels of supply open. Such 
duties having the effect of indirect encouragement to domestic 
manufactures of the same kind, may induce the manufacturer 
to come himself into these States, where cheaper subsistence, 
equal laws, and a vent of his wares, free of duty, may ensure 
him the highest profits from his skill and industry. And here, 
it would be in the power of the State governments to co-operate 
essentially, by opening the resources of encouragement which 
are under their control, extending them liberally to artists in 
those particular branches of manufacture for which their soil, 
climate, population and other circumstances have matured 
them, and fostering the precious jefforts and progress of house- 
hold manufacture, by some patronage suited to the nature of 
its objects, guided by the local informations they possess, and 

320 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

guarded against abuse by their presence and attentions. The 
oppressions on our agriculture, in foreign ports, would thus be 
made the occasion of relieving it from a dependence on the 
councils and conduct of others, and of promoting arts, manu- 
factures and population at home. . . , 

Inauguration Address. March 4, 1801 

Friends and Fellow Citizens: 

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive 
office of our country, T avail myself of the presence of that por- 
tion of my fellow citizens which is here assembled, to express 
my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been 
pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness 
that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with 
those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness 
of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. 
A rising nation, spread over a wise and fruitful land, traversing 
all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged 
in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, 
advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye 
when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the 
honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country 
committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink 
from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magni- 
tude of the undertaking. Utterly indeed, should I despair, did 
not the presence of many whom I here see remind me, that in 
the other high authorities provided by our constitution, I shall 
find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal, on which to 
rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are 
charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those 
associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guid- 
ance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the 
vessel in which we are all embarked amid the conflicting ele- 
ments of a troubled world. 

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, 
the animation of discussion and of exertions has sometimes 

321 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to 
think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but 
this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced 
according to the rules of the constitution, all will, of course, 
arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in 
common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in 
mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority 
is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be rea- 
sonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which 
equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be op- 
pression. Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and 
one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and 
affection without which liberty and even life itself are but 
dreary things. And let us reflect that having banished from 
our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so 
long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we coun- 
tenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and 
capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes 
and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing 
spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter 
his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitations 
of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful 
shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and 
less by others; that this should divide opinions as to measures 
of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of 
principle. We have called by different names brethren of the 
same principle. We are all republicans we are federalists. If 
there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union 
or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as 
monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be 
tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, 
that some honest men fear that a republican government can- 
not be strong; that this government is not strong enough. But 
would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experi- 
ment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free 
and f rm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this gov- 

322 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

ernment, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy 
to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, 
the strongest government on earth. I believe it is the only one 
where every man, at the call of the laws, would fly to the 
standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public 
order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that 
man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can 
he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have 
we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let 
history answer this question. 

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own 
federal and republican principles, our attachment to our union 
and representative government. Kindly separated by nature 
and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter 
of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of 
the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for 
our descendants to the hundredth and thousandth generation; 
entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our 
own faculties, to the acquisitions of our industry, to honor and 
confidence from our fellow citizens, resulting not from birth 
but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by 
a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various 
forms, yet all of them including honesty, truth, temperance, 
gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an 
overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves 
that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater 
happiness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is 
necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one 
thing more, fellow citizens a wise and frugal government, 
which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall 
leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of 
industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth 
of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good gov- 
ernment, and this is necessary to close the circle of our 
felicities. 

About to enter, fellow citizens, on the exercise of duties 



TUBLIC TAPERS OF 

which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is 
proper that you should understand what I deem the essential 
principles of our government, and consequently those which 
ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within 
the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general prin- 
ciple, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all 
men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; 
peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations en- 
tangling alliances with none; the support of the state govern- 
ments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations 
for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti- 
republican tendencies; the preservation of the general govern- 
ment in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of 
our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the 
right of election by the people a mild and safe corrective of 
abuses which are lopped by the sword of the revolution where 
peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in 
the decisions of the majority the vital principle of republics, 
from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle 
and immediate parent of despotism; a well-disciplined militia 
our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, 
til] regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil 
over the military authority; economy in the public expense, 
that labor may be lightly burdened ; the honest payment of our 
debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encourage- 
ment of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the 
diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at 
the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the 
press; freedom of person under the protection of the habeas 
corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected these prin- 
ciples form the bright constellation which has gone before 
us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and re- 
formation. The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our 
heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be 
the creed of our political faith the text of civil instruction 
the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; 

324 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, 
let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which 
alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety. 

I repair, then, fellow citizens, to the post you have assigned 
me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen 
the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learned to 
expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to 
retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which 
bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence 
reposed in our first and great revolutionary character, whose 
preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his 
country's love, and destined for him the fairest page in the 
volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as 
may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your 
affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. 
When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose 
positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask 
your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be inten- 
tional; and your support against the errors of others, who may 
condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The ap- 
probation implied by your suffrage is a consolation to me for 
the past; and my future solicitude will be to retain the good 
opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate 
that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to 
be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all. 

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance 
with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever 
you become sensible how much better choice it is in your 
power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the 
destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and 
give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity. 

First Annual Message. December 8, i8or 

Fellow citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives: 

It is a circumstance of sincere gratification to me that on 
meeting the great council of our nation, I am able to announce 

325 



TUBLIC TAP8RS OF 

to them, on the grounds of reasonable certainty, that the wars 
and troubles which have for so many years afflicted our sister 
nations have at length come to an end, and that the com- 
munications of peace and commerce are once more opening 
among them. While we devoutly return thanks to the beneficent 
Being who has been pleased to breathe into them the spirit of 
conciliation and forgiveness, we are bound with peculiar grati- 
tude to be thankful to him that our own peace has been pre- 
served through so perilous a season, and ourselves permitted 
quietly to cultivate the earth and to practice and improve those 
arts which tend to increase our comforts. The assurances, 
indeed, of friendly disposition, received from all the powers 
with whom we have principal relations, had inspired a con- 
fidence that our peace with them would not have been dis- 
turbed. But a cessation of the irregularities which had affected 
the commerce of neutral nations, and of the irritations and 
injuries produced by them, cannot but add to this confidence; 
and strengthens, at the same time, the hope, that wrongs com- 
mitted on unoffending friends, under a pressure of circum- 
stances, will now be reviewed with candor, and will be 
considered as founding just claims of retribution for the past 
and new assurance for the future. 

Among our Indian neighbors, also, a spirit of peace and 
friendship generally prevails; and I am happy to inform you 
that the continued efforts to introduce among them the imple- 
ments and the practice of husbandry, and of the household 
arts, have not been without success; that they are becoming 
more and more sensible of the superiority of this dependence 
for clothing and subsistence over the precarious resources of 
hunting and fishing; and already we are able to announce, that 
instead of that constant diminution of their numbers, produced 
by their wars and their wants, some of them begin to experience 
an increase of population. 

To this state of general peace with which we have been 
blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable 
of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands un- 

326 



THOMAS JBFFSRSON 

founded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself 
to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. 
The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a 
small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean, with as- 
surances to that power of our sincere desire to remain in peace, 
but with orders to protect our commerce against the threatened 
attack. The measure was seasonable and salutary. The bey had 
already declared war in form. His cruisers were out. Two had 
arrived at Gibraltar. Our commerce in the Mediterranean was 
blockaded, and that of the Atlantic in peril. The arrival of our 
squadron dispelled the danger. One of the Tripolitan cruisers 
having fallen in with, and engaged the small schooner Enter- 
prise, commanded by Lieutenant Sterret, which had gone as a 
tender to our larger vessels, was captured, after a heavy 
slaughter of her men, without the loss of a single one on our 
part. The bravery exhibited by our citizens on that element, 
will, I trust, be a testimony to the world that it is not the want 
of that virtue which makes us seek their peace, but a con- 
scientious desire to direct the energies of our nation to the 
multiplication of the human race, and not to its destruction. 
Unauthorized by the constitution, without the sanction of 
Congress, to go beyond the line of defence, the vessel being 
disabled from committing further hostilities, was liberated with 
its crew. The legislature will doubtless consider whether, by 
authorizing measures of offence, also, they will place our force 
on an equal footing with that of its adversaries. I communicate 
all material information on this subject, that in the exercise 
of the important function confided by the constitution to the 
legislature exclusively, their judgment may form itself on a 
knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight. 

I lay before you the result of the census lately taken of out 
inhabitants, to a conformity with which we are to reduce the 
ensuing rates of representation and taxation. You will perceive 
that the increase of numbers during the last ten years, pro- 
ceeding in geometrical ratio, promises a duplication in little 

327 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

more than twenty-two years. We contemplate this rapid 
growth, and the prospect it holds up to us, not with a view to 
the injuries it may enable us to do to others in some future 
day, but to the settlement of the extensive country still re- 
maining vacant within our limits, to the multiplications of 
men susceptible of happiness, educated in the love of order, 
habituated to self-government, and valuing its blessings above 
all price. 

Other circumstances, combined with the increase of numbers, 
have produced an augmentation of revenue arising from con- 
sumption, in a ratio far beyond that of population alone, and 
though the changes of foreign relations now taking place so 
desirably for the world, may for a season affect this branch 
of revenue, yet, weighing all probabilities of expense, as well 
as of income, there is reasonable ground of confidence that we 
may now safely dispense with all the internal taxes, compre- 
hending excises, stamps, auctions, licenses, carriages, and re- 
fined sugars, to which the postage on newspapers may be 
added, to facilitate the progress of information, and that the 
remaining sources of revenue will be sufficient to provide for 
the support of government, to pay the interest on the public 
debts, and to discharge the principals in shorter periods than 
the laws or the general expectations had contemplated. War, 
indeed, and untoward events, may change this prospect of 
things, and call for expenses which the imposts could not meet; 
but sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of 
our fellow citizens to accumulate treasure for wars to happen 
we know not when, and which might not perhaps happen but 
from the temptations offered by that treasure. 

These views, however, of reducing our burdens, are formed 
on the expectation that a sensible, and at the same time a 
salutary reduction, may take place in our habitual expendi- 
tures. For this purpose those of the civil government, the army, 
and navy, will need revisal. 

When we consider that this government is charged with the 
external and mutual relations only of these states; that the 

328 



THOMAS JSFFeRSON 

states themselves have principal care of our persons, our prop* 
erty, and our reputation, constituting the great field of human 
concerns, we may well doubt whether our organization is not 
too complicated, too expensive; whether offices and officers 
have not been multiplied unnecessarily, and sometimes injur- 
iously to the service they were meant to promote. . . . 

A statement has been formed by the secretary of war, on 
mature consideration, of all the posts and stations where gan 
risons will be expedient, and of the number of men requisite 
for each garrison. The whole amount is considerably short of 
the present military establishment. For the surplus no par- 
ticular use can be pointed out. For defence against invasion, 
their number is as nothing; nor is it conceived needful or safe 
that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for that 
purpose. Uncertain as we must ever be of the particular point 
in our circumference where an enemy may choose to invade 
us, the only force which can be ready at every point and com- 
petent to oppose them, is the body of neighboring citizens as 
formed into a militia. On these, collected from the parts most 
convenient, in numbers proportioned to the invading foe, it is 
best to rely, not only to meet the first attack, but if it threatens 
to be permanent, to maintain the defence until regulars may be 
engaged to relieve them. These considerations render it Im- 
portant that we should at every session continue to amend the 
defects which from time to time show themselves in the laws 
for regulating the militia, until they are sufficiently perfect. 
Nor should we now or at any time separate, until we can say 
we have done everything for the militia which we could do were 
an enemy at our door. 

The provisions of military stores on hands will be laid before 
you, that you may judge of the additions still requisite. 

With respect to the extent to which our naval preparations 
should be carried, some difference of opinion may be expected 
to appear; but just attention to the circumstances of every part 
of the Union will doubtless reconcile all. A small force will 
probably continue to be wanted for actual service in the 

329 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

Mediterranean. Whatever annual sum beyond that you may 
think proper to appropriate to naval preparations, would per- 
haps be better employed in providing those articles which may 
be kept without waste or consumption, and be in readiness 
when any exigence calls them into use. Progress has been 
made, as will appear by papers now communicated, in pro- 
viding materials for seventy-four gun ships as directed by 
law. . . . 

Agriculture, manufacture, commerce, and navigation, the 
four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left 
most free to individual enterprise. Protection from casual em- 
barrassments, however, may sometimes be seasonably inter- 
posed. If in the course of your observations or inquiries they 
should appear to need any aid within the limits of our con- 
stitutional powers, your sense of their importance is a sufficient 
assurance they will occupy your attention. We cannot, indeed, 
but all feel an anxious solicitude for the difficulties under which 
our carrying trade will soon be placed. How far it can be re- 
lieved, otherwise than by time, is a subject of important con- 
sideration. 

The judiciary system of the United States, and especially 
that portion of it recently erected, will of course present itself 
to the contemplation of Congress; and that they may be able 
to judge of the proportion which the institution bears to the 
business it has to perform, I have caused to be procured from 
the several States, and now lay before Congress, an exact 
statement of all the causes decided since the first establishment 
of the courts, and of those which were depending when addi- 
tional courts and judges were brought into their aid. 

And while on the judiciary organization, it will be worthy 
your consideration, whether the protection of the inestimable 
institution of juries has been extended to all the cases involving 
the security of our persons and property. Their impartial selec- 
tion also being essential to their value, we ought further to con- 
sider whether that is sufficiently secured in those States where 
they are named by a marshal depending on executive will, 

330 



THOMAS 

or designated by the court or by officers dependent on them. 

I cannot omit recommending a revisal of the laws on the 
subject of naturalization. Considering the ordinary chances of 
human life, a denial of citizenship under a residence of four- 
teen years is a denial to a great proportion of those who ask it, 
and controls a policy pursued from their first settlement by 
many of these States, and still believed of consequence to their 
prosperity. And shall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from 
distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness 
extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed 
humanity find no asylum on this globe? The constitution, in- 
deed, has wisely provided that, for admission to certain offices 
of important trust, a residence shall be required sufficient to 
develop character and design. But might not the general char- 
acter and capabilities of a citizen be safely communicated to 
every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking his 
life and fortunes permanently with us? with restrictions, per- 
haps, to guard against the fraudulent usurpation of our flag; 
an abuse which brings so much embarrassment and loss on 
the genuine citizen, and so much danger to the nation of being 
involved in war, that no endeavor should be spared to detect 
and suppress it. 

These, fellow citizens, are the matters respecting the staU 
of the nation, which I have thought of importance to be sub^ 
mitted to your consideration at this time. Some others of less 
moment, or not yet ready for communication, will be the sub- 
ject of separate messages. I am happy in this opportunity of 
committing the arduous affairs of our government to the 
collected wisdom of the Union. Nothing shall be wanting on 
my part to inform, as far as in my power, the legislative judg- 
ment, nor to carry that judgment into faithful execution. The 
prudence and temperance of your discussions will promote, 
within your own walls, that conciliation which so much be- 
friends rational conclusion; and by its example will encourage 
among our constituents that progress of opinion which is tend- 
ing to unite them in object and in will. That all should be 

331 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

satisfied with any one order of things is r.ot to be expected, but 
I indulge the pleasing persuasion that the great body of our 
citizens will cordially concur in honest and disinterested efforts, 
which have for their object to preserve the general and State 
governments in their constitutional form and equilibrium; to 
maintain peace abroad, and order and obedience to the laws at 
home; to establish principles and practices of administration 
favorable to the security of liberty and property, and to reduce 
expenses to what is necessary for the useful purposes of 
government. 

Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, and' Stephen 
S. Nelson, A Committee of the Danbury Baptist Associa- 
tion, in the State of Connecticut. Washington, January i, 
1802 

Gentlemen: The affectionate sentiments of esteem and ap- 
probation which you are so good as to express towards me, on 
behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest 
satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of 
the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are 
persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them 
becomes more and more pleasing. 

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely 
between man and his God, that he owes account to none other 
for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of gov- 
ernment reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate 
with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people 
which declared that their legislature should "make no law re- 
specting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free 
exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between 
Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme 
will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shal" 
see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments 
which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced 
he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and bless- 
ing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you 
for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of 
my high respect and esteem. 

Washington, January 7, 1802 

Brothers and friends of the Miamis, Powtewatamies, and 
Weeauks : 

I receive with great satisfaction the visit you have been so 
kind as to make us at this place, and I thank the Great Spirit 
who has conducted you to us in health and safety. It is well 
that friends should sometimes meet, open their minds mutually, 
and renew the chain of affection. Made by the same Great 
Spirit, and living in the same land with our brothers, the red 
men, we consider ourselves as of the same family; we wish to 
live with them as one people, and to cherish their interests as 
our own. The evils which of necessity encompass the life of 
man are sufficiently numerous. Why should we add to them by 
voluntarily distressing and destroying one another? Peace, 
brothers, is better than war. Tn a long and bloody war, we lose 
many friends, and gain nothing. Let us then live in peace and 
friendship together, doing to each other all the good we can. 
The wise and good on both sides desire this, and we must take 
care that the foolish and wicked among us shall not prevent it. 
On our part, we shall endeavor in all things to be just and gen- 
erous towards you, and to aid you in meeting those difficulties 
which a change of circumstances is bringing on. We shall, with 
great pleasure, see your people become disposed to cultivate 
the earth, to raise herds of the useful animals, and to spin and 
weave, for their food and clothing. These resources are certain; 
they will never disappoint you: while those of hunting may 
fail, and expose your women and children to the miseries of 
hunger and cold. We will with pleasure furnish you with imple- 
ments for the most necessary arts, and with persons who may 
instruct you how to make and use them. 

333 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 
Second Annual Message. December 15, 1802 

To cultivate peace and maintain commerce and navigation in 
all their lawful enterprises; to foster our fisheries and nurseries 
of navigation and for the nurture of man, and protect the 
manufactures adapted to our circumstances; to preserve the 
faith of the nation by an exact discharge of its debts and con- 
tracts, expend the public money with the same care and econ- 
omy we would practise with our own, and impose on our citi- 
zens no unnecessary burden; to keep in all things within the 
pale of our constitutional powers, and cherish the federal union 
as the only rock of safety these, fellow citizens, are the land- 
marks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our proceed- 
ings. By continuing to make these our rule of action, we shall 
endear to our countrymen the true principles of their constitu- 
tion, and promote a union of sentiment and of action equally 
auspicious to their happiness and safety. On my part, you may 
count on a cordial concurrence in every measure for the public 
good, and on all the information I possess which may enable 
you to discharge to advantage the high functions with which 
you are invested by your country. 

Third Annual Message. October //, 1803 

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States: 

In calling you together, fellow citizens, at an earlier day than 
was contemplated b) the act of the last session of Congress, I 
have not been insensible to the personal inconveniences neces- 
sarily resulting from an unexpected change in your arrange- 
ments. But matters of great public concernment have rendered 
this call necessary, and the interest you feel in these will super- 
sede in your minds all private considerations. 

Congress witnessed, at their last session, the extraordinary 
agitation produced in the public mind by the suspension of our 
right of deposit at the port of New Orleans, no assignment of 
another place having been made according to treaty. They were 

334 



3 J8FFSRSON 
sensible that the continuance of that privation would be more 
injurious to our nation than any consequences which could 
flow from any mode of redress, but reposing just confidence in 
the good faith of the government whose officer had committed 
the wrong, friendly and reasonable representations were re- 
sorted to, and the right of deposit was restored. 

Previous, however, to this period, we had not been unaware 
of the danger to which our peace would be perpetually exposed 
while so important a key to the commerce of the western 
county remained under foreign power. Difficulties, too, were 
presenting themselves as to the navigation of other streams, 
which, arising within our territories, pass through those ad- 
jacent. Propositions had, therefore, been authorized for ob- 
taining, on fair conditions, the sovereignty of New Orleans, and 
of other possessions in that quarter interesting to our quiet, 
to such extent as was deemed practicable; and the provisional 
appropriation of two millions of dollars, to be applied and 
accounted for by the president of the United States, intended 
as part of the price, was considered as conveying the sanction 
of Congress to the acquisition proposed. The enlightened Gov- 
ernment of France saw, with just discernment, the importance 
to both nations of such liberal arrangements as might best and 
permanently promote the peace, friendship, and interests of 
both; and the property and sovereignty of all Louisiana, which 
had been restored to them, have on certain conditions been 
transferred to the United States by instruments bearing date 
the 30th of April last. When these shall have received the con- 
stitutional sanction of the senate, they will without delay be 
communicated to the representatives also, for the exercise of 
their functions, as to those conditions which are within the 
powers vested by the constitution in Congress. While the 
property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters se- 
cure an independent outlet for the produce of the western 
States, and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole 
course, free from collision with other powers and the dangers 
to our peace from that source, the fertility of the country, its 

335 



TUBLIC TAPBRS OF 

climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our 
treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a wide- 
spread field for the blessings of freedom and equal laws. 

With the wisdom of Congress it will rest to take those ulte- 
rior measures which may be necessary for the immediate occu- 
pation and temporary government of the country; for its in- 
corporation into our Union; for rendering the change of gov- 
ernment a blessing to our newly-adopted brethren ; for securing 
to them the rights of conscience and of property; for confirm- 
ing to the Indian inhabitants their occupancy and self-govern- 
ment, establishing friendly and commercial relations with them, 
and for ascertaining the geography of the country acquired. 
Such materials for your information, relative to its affairs in 
general, as the short space of time has permitted me to collect, 
will be laid before you when the subject shall be in a state for 
your consideration. 

Another important acquisition of territory has also been 
made since the last session of Congress. The friendly tribe of 
Kaskaskia Indians with which we have never had a difference, 
reduced by the wars and wants of savage life to a few individ- 
uals unable to defend themselves against the neighboring 
tribes, has transferred its country to the United States, re- 
serving only for its members what is sufficient to maintain 
them in an agricultural way. The considerations stipulated are, 
that we shall extend to them our patronage and protection, and 
give them certain annual aids in money, in implements of 
agriculture, and other articles of their choice. This country, 
among the most fertile within our limits, extending along the 
Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois to and up the Ohio, 
though not so necessary as a barrier since the acquisition of the 
other bank, may yet be well worthy of being laid open to imme- 
diate settlement, as its inhabitants may descend with rapidity 
in support of the lower* country should future circumstances 
expose that to foreign enterprize. As the stipulations in this 
treaty also involve matters within the competence of both 
houses only, it will be laid before Congress as soon as the senate 
shall have advised its ratification. 

336 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

With many other Indian tribes, improvements in agricul- 
ture and household manufacture are advancing, and with all 
our peace and friendship are established on grounds much 
firmer than heretofore. The measure adopted of establishing 
trading houses among them, and of furnishing them necessaries 
in exchange for their commodities, at such moderated prices 
as leave no gain, but cover us from loss, has the most concilia- 
tory and useful effect upon them, and is that which will best 
secure their peace and good will. . . . 

Should the acquisition of Louisiana be constitutionally con- 
firmed and carried into effect, a sum of nearly thirteen millions 
of dollars will then be added to our public debt, most of which 
is payable after fifteen years; before which term the present 
existing debts will all be discharged by the established opera- 
tion of the sinking fund. When we contemplate the ordinary 
annual augmentation of imposts from increasing population 
and wealth, the augmentation of the same revenue by its ex- 
tension to the new acquisition, and the economies which may 
still be introduced into our public expenditures, I cannot but 
hope that Congress in reviewing their resources will find means 
to meet the intermediate interests of this additional debt with- 
out recurring to new taxes, and applying to this object only the 
ordinary progression of our revenue. Its extraordinary increase 
in times of foreign war will be the proper and sufficient fund 
for any measures of safety or precaution which that state jf 
things may render necessary in our neutral position. . . . 

We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted 
up again in Europe, and nations with which we have the most 
friendly and useful relations engaged in mutual destruction. 
While we regret the miseries in which we see others involved, 
let us bow with gratitude to that kind Providence which, in- 
spiring with wisdom and moderation our late legislative coun- 
cils while placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs, 
guarded us from hastily entering into the sanguinary contest, 
and left us only to look on and to pity its ravages. These will 
be heaviest on those immediately engaged. Yet the nations pur- 

337 



"PUBLIC TAPBRS OF 

suing peace will not be exempt from all evil. In the course of 
this conflict, let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest and 
desire, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by 
every act of justice and of incessant kindness; to receive their 
armed vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea, 
but to administer the means of annoyance to none; to establish 
in our harbors such a police as may maintain law and order; 
to restrain our citizens from embarking individually in a 
war in which their country takes no part; to punish severely 
those persons, citizen or alien, who shall usurp the cover of 
our flag for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with sus- 
picion those of real Americans, and committing us into contro- 
versies for the redress of wrongs not our own; to exact from 
every nation the observance, toward our vessels and citizens, 
of those principles and practices which all civilized people ac- 
knowledge; to merit the character of a just nation, and main- 
tain that of an independent one, preferring every consequence 
to insult and habitual wrong. . . . Separated by a wide ocean 
from the nations of Europe, and from the political interests 
which entangle them together, with productions and wants 
which render our commerce and friendship useful to them and 
theirs to us, it cannot be the interest of any to assail us, nor 
ours to disturb them. We should be most unwise, indeed, were 
we to cast away the singular blessings of the position in which 
nature has placed us, the opportunity she has endowed us with 
of pursuing, at a distance from foreign contentions, the paths 
of industry, peace, and happiness; of cultivating general friend- 
ship, and of bringing collisions o f interest to the umpirage of 
reason rather than of force. . . . 

Fourth Annual Message. November 8, 1804 

While noticing the irregularities committed on the ocean by 
others, those on our own part should not be omitted nor left 
unprovided for. Complaints have, been received that persons 
residing within the United States have taken on themselves to 

338 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

arm merchant vessels, and to force a commerce into certain 
ports and countries in defiance of the laws of those countries. 
That individuals should undertake to wage private war, inde- 
pendently of the authority of their country, cannot be permitted 
in a well-ordered society. Its tendency to produce aggression 
on the laws and rights of other nations, and to endanger the 
peace of our own is so obvious, that I doubt not you will adopt 
measures for restraining it effectually in future. . . . 

Second Inaugural Address. March 4, 1805 

Proceeding, fellow citizens, to that qualification which the 
constitution requires, before my entrance on the charge again 
conferred upon me, it is my duty to express the deep sense I 
entertain of this new proof of confidence from my fellow citi- 
zens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires me, so to 
conduct myself as may best satisfy their just expectations. 

On taking this station on a former occasion, I declared the 
principles on which I believed it my duty to administer the af- 
fairs of our commonwealth. My conscience tells me that I have, 
on every occasion, acted up to that declaration, according to 
its obvious import, and to the understanding of every candid 
mind. 

In the transaction of your foreign affairs, we have endeavored 
to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and especially of those 
with which we have the most important relations. We have done 
them justice on all occasions, favored where favor was lawful 
and cherished mutual interests and intercourse on fair and 
equal terms. We are firmly convinced, and we act on that con- 
viction, that with nations as with individuals, our interests 
soundly calculated, will ever be found inseparable from our 
moral duties; and history bears witness to the fact, that a just 
nation is taken on its word, when recourse is had to armaments 
and wars to bridle others. 

At home, fellow citizens, you best know whether we have 
done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of use- 
less establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue 

339 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

our internal taxes. These covering our land with officers, and 
opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that 
process of domiciliary vexation which, once entered, is scarcely 
to be restrained from reaching successively every article of 
produce and property. If among these taxes some minor ones fell 
which had not been inconvenient, it was because their amount 
would not have paid the officers who collected them, and be- 
cause, if they had any merit, the state authorities might adopt 
them, instead of others less approved. 

The remaining revenue on the consumption of foreign ar- 
ticles, is paid cheerfully by those who can afford to add foreign 
luxuries to domestic comforts, being collected on our seaboards 
and frontiers only, and incorporated with the transactions of 
our mercantile citizens, it may be the pleasure and pride of an 
American to ask, what farmer, what mechanic, what laborer, 
ever sees a taxgatherer of the United States? These contribu- 
tions enable us to support the current expenses of the govern- 
ment, to fulfill contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish 
the native right of soil within our limits, to extend those limits, 
and to apply such a surplus to our public debts, as places at a 
short day their final redemption, and that redemption once 
effected, the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just reparti- 
tion among the states, and a corresponding amendment of the 
constitution, be applied, in time of peace y to rivers, canals, 
roads, arts, manufactures, education, and other great objects 
within each state. In time of war, if injustice, by ourselves or 
others, must sometimes produce war, increased as the same 
revenue will be increased by population and consumption, and 
aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet 
within the year all the expenses of the year, without encroach- 
ing on the rights of future generations, by burdening them with 
the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of use- 
ful works, and a return to a state of peace, a return to the prog- 
ress of improvement. 

I have said, fellow citizens, that {he income reserved had en- 
*Hed us to extend our limits; but that extension may possibly 

340 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

pay for itself before we are called on, and in the meantime, may 
keep down the accruing interest; in all events, it will repay the 
advances we ha\ e made. I know that the acquisition of Louisi- 
ana has been disapproved by some, from a candid apprehen- 
sion that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its 
union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative 
principle may operate effectively? The larger our association, 
the less will it be shaken by local passions; and in any view, is 
it not bettei that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should 
be settled by our own brethren and children, than by strangers 
of another family? With which shall we be most likely to live 
in harmony and friendly intercourse? 

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise 
is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the 
general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occa- 
sion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have 
left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction 
and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by 
the several religious societies. 

The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have regarded 
with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with 
the faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of 
liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left 
them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing 
population from other regions directed itself on these shores; 
without power to divert, or habits to contend against, they 
have been overwhelmed by the current, or driven before it; 
now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter's state ; 
humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic 
arts; to encourage them to that industry which alone can en- 
able them to maintain their place in existence, and to prepare 
them in time for that state of society, which to bodily com- 
forts adds the improvement of the mind ana morals. We have 
therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of hus- 
bandry and household use; we have placed among them in- 
structors in the arts of first necessity; and they are covered 



TUBLIC TAPSRS OF 

with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among our- 
selves. 

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which 
awaits their present course of life, to induce them to exercise 
their reason, follow its dictates, and change their pursuits with 
the change of circumstances, have powerful obstacles to en- 
counter; they are combated by the habits of their bodies, prej- 
udice of their minds, ignorance, pride, and the influence of 
interested and crafty individuals among them, who feel them- 
selves something in the present order of things, and fear to be- 
come nothing in any other. These persons inculcate a sancti- 
monious reverence for the customs of their ancestors; that 
whatsoever they did, must be done through all time; that rea- 
son is a false guide, and to advance under its counsel, in their 
physical, moral or political condition, is perilous innovation; 
that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ig- 
norance being safety, and knowledge full of danger; in short, 
my friends, among them is seen the action and counteraction of 
good sense and bigotry; they, too, have their anti-philosophers, 
who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, 
who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties to main- 
tain the ascendency of habit over the duty of improving our 
reason, and obeying its mandates. 

In giving these outlines, I do not mean, fellow citizens, to 
arrogate to myself the merit of the measures; that is due, in 
the first place, to the reflecting character of our citizens at 
large, who, by the weight of public opinion, influence and 
strengthen the public measures; it is due to the sound discre- 
tion with which they select from among themselves those to 
whom they confide the legislative duties; it is due to the zeal 
and wisdom of the characters thus selected, who lay the founda- 
tions of public happiness in wholesome laws, the execution of 
which alone remains for others; and it is due to the able and 
faithful auxiliaries, whose patriotism has associated with me in 
the executive functions. 

During this course of administration, and in order to dis- 

342 



THOMAS 

turb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, 
charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare, 
These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and 
science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to 
lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, 
have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved 
and provided by the laws of the several States against false- 
hood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on 
the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore 
been left to find their punishment in the public indignation. 

Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment 
should be^ fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, 
unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and pro- 
tection of truth whether a government, conducting itself in 
the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and do- 
ing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should 
witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation. The 
experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our 
fellow citizens have looked on, cool and collected; they saw the 
latent source from which these outrages proceeded; they gath- 
ered around their public functionaries, and when the constitu- 
tion called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced 
their verdict, honorable to those who had served them, and 
consolatory to the friend of man, who believes he may be in- 
trusted with his own affairs. 

No inference is here intended, that the laws, provided by 
the State against false and defamatory publications, should not 
be enforced; he who has time, renders a service to public 
morals and public tranquillity, in reforming these abuses by 
the salutary coercions of the law; but the experiment is noted, 
to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained their 
ground against false opinions in league with false facts, the 
press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint; the 
public judgment will correct false reasonings and opinions, on 
a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be 
drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its de- 

343 



TUBLIC TAP8RS OF 

moralizing licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which 
this rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in 
the censorship of public opinion. 

Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so 
generally, as auguring harmony and happiness to our future 
course, I offer to our country sincere congratulations. With 
those, too, not yet rallied to the same point, the disposition to 
do so is gaining strength; facts are piercing through the veil 
drawn over them; and our doubting brethren will at length see, 
that the mass of their fellow citizens, with whom they cannot 
yet resolve to act, as to principles and measures, think as they 
think, and desire what they desire; that our wish, as well as 
theirs, is, that the public efforts may be directed honestly to 
the public good, that peace be cultivated, civil and religious 
liberty unassailed, law and order preserved, equality of rights 
maintained, and that state of property, equal or unequal, which 
results to every man from his own industry, or that of his fa- 
thers. When satisfied of these views, it is not in human nature 
that they should not approve and support them; in the mean- 
time, let us cherish them with patient affection; let us do them 
justice, and more than justice, in all competitions of interest; 
and we need not doubt that truth, reason, and their own inter- 
ests, will at length prevail, will gather them into the fold of 
their country, and will complete their entire union of opinion, 
which gives to a nation the blessing of harmony, and the bene- 
fit of all its strength. 

I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow citizens 
have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those 
principles which they have approved. I fear not that any mo- 
tives of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no pas- 
sion which could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice; 
but the weakness of human nature, and the limits of my own 
understanding, will produce errors of judgment sometimes in- 
jurious to your interests. I shall need, therefore, all the indul- 
gence I have heretofore experienced the want of it will cer- 
tainly not lessen with increasing years. I shall need, too, the 

344 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fore- 
fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted 
them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and com- 
forts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, 
and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose 
goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he 
will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their coun- 
cils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall 
result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friend- 
ship, and approbation of all nations. 

To the General Assembly of North Carolina. Washington, 
January 10, 1808 

The wrongs our country has suffered, fellow citizens, by vio- 
lations of those moral rules which the Author of our nature has 
implanted in man as the law of his nature, to govern him in his 
associated, as well as individual character, have been such as 
justly to excite the sensibilities you express, and a deep abhor- 
rence at indications threatening a substitution of power for 
right in the intercourse between nations. Not less worthy of 
your indignation have been the machinations of parricides 
who have endeavored to bring into danger the union of these 
States, and to subvert, for the purposes of inordinate ambition, 
a government founded in the will of its citizens, and directed 
to no object but their happiness. 

I learn, with the liveliest sentiments of gratitude and re- 
spect, your approbation of my conduct, in the various charges 
which my country has been pleased to confide to me at differ- 
ent times; and especially that the administration of our public 
affairs, since my accession to the chief magistracy, has been so 
far satisfactory, that my continuance in that office after its 
present term, would be acceptable to you. But, that I should 
lay down my charge at a proper period, is as much a duty as 
to have borne it faithfully. If some termination to the services 
of the chief magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or 
supplied by practice, his office, nominally for years, will in 

345 



TUBL1C TAP8RS OF 

fact become for life ; and history shows how easily that degen- 
erates into an inheritance. Believing that a representative gov- 
ernment, responsible at short periods of election, is that which 
produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind, I feel it a 
duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle; 
and I should unwillingly be the person who, disregarding the 
sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor, should fur- 
nish the first example of prolongation beyond the second term 
of office. 

Truth also obliges me to add, that I am sensible of that de- 
cline which advancing years bring on; and feeling their physi- 
cal, I ought not to doubt their mental effect. Happy if I am the 
first to perceive and obey this admonition of nature, and to 
solicit a retreat from cares too great for the wearied faculties 
of age. 

Declining a re-election on grounds which cannot but be ap- 
proved, it will be the great comfort of my future days, and the 
satisfactory reward of a service of forty years, to carry into 
retirement such testimonies as you have been pleased to give, 
of the approbation and good will of my fellow citizens gen- 
erally. And I supplicate the Being in whose hands we all are, to 
preserve our county in freedom and independence, and to be- 
stow on yourselves the blessings of His favor. 

To the Society of Tammany, or Columbian Order, No. i, 
of the City of New York. Washington, February 29, 1808 

I have received your address, fellow citizens, and, thankful 
for the expressions so personally gratifying to myself, I con- 
template with high satisfaction the ardent spirit it breathes of 
love to our country, and of devotion to its liberty and inde- 
pendence. The crisis in which it is placed, cannot but be unwel- 
come to those who love peace, yet spurn at a tame submission 
to wrong. So fortunately remote from the theatre of European 
contests, and carefully avoiding to implicate ourselves in them, 
we had a right to hope for an exemption from the calamities 

346 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

which have afflicted the contending nations, and to be per- 
mitted unoffendingly to pursue paths of industry and peace. 

But the ocean, which, like the air, is the common birthright 
of mankind, is arbitrarily wrested from us, and maxims con- 
secrated by time, by usage, ana by an universal sense of right^ 
are trampled on by superior force. To give time for this de- 
moralizing tempest to pass over, one measure only remained 
which might cover our beloved country from its overwhelming 
fury: an appeal to the deliberate understanding of our fellow 
citizens in a cessation of all intercourse with the belligerent 
nations, until it can be resumed under the protection of a re- 
turning sense of the moral obligations which constitute a law 
for nations as well as individuals. There can be no question, in 
a mind truly American, whether it is best to send our citizens 
and property into certain captivity, and then wage war for 
their recovery, or to keep them at home, and to turn seriously 
to that policy which plants the manufacturer and the husband- 
man side by side, and establishes at the door of every one that 
exchange of mutual labors and comforts, which we have hith- 
erto sought in distant regions, and under perpetual risks of 
broils with them. 

Eighth Annual Message. November 8, 1808 

Considering the extraordinary character of the times in 
which we live, our attention should unremittingly be fixed on 
the safety of our country. For a people who are free, and who 
mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their 
best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us, at every meet- 
ing, to revise the condition of the militia, and to ask ourselves 
if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our 
territories exposed to invasion. Some of the States have paid a 
laudable attention to this object; but every degree of neglect 
is to be found among others. Congress alone have power to 
produce a uniform state of preparation in this great organ of 

347 



TUBLIC TAPSRS 

defence; the interests which they so deeply feel in their own 
and their country's security will present this as among the most 
important objects of their deliberation. . . . 

The suspension of our foreign commerce, produced by the 
injustice of the belligerent powers, and the consequent losses 
and sacrifices of our citizens, are subjects of just concern. The 
situation into which we have thus been forced, has impelled us 
to apply a portion of our industry and capital to internal manu- 
factures and improvements. The extent of this conversion is 
daily increasing, and little doubt remains that the establish- 
ments formed and forming will under the auspices of cheaper 
materials and subsistence, the freedom of labor from taxation 
with us, and of protecting duties and prohibitions become per- 
manent. . . . 

Availing myself of this the last occasion which will occur of 
addressing the two houses of the legislature at their meeting, I 
cannot omit the expression of my sincere gratitude for the re- 
peated proofs of confidence manifested to me by themselves 
and their predecessors since my call to the administration, 
and the many indulgences experienced at their hands. The same 
grateful acknowledgments are due to my fellow citizens gen- 
erally, whose support has been my great encouragement under 
all embarrassments. In the transaction of their business I can- 
not have escaped error. It is incident to our imperfect nature. 
But I may say with truth, my errors have been of the un- 
derstanding, not of intention; and that the advancement of 
their rights and interests has been the constant motive for 
every measure. On these considerations I solicit their indulgence. 
Looking forward with anxiety to their future destinies, I trust 
that, in their steady character unshaken by difficulties, in their 
love of liberty, obedience to law, and support of the public au- 
thorities, I see a sure guaranty of the permanence of our repub- 
lic; and retiring from the charge of their affairs, I carry with 
me the consolation of a firm persuasion that Heaven has in 
store for our beloved country long ages to come of prosperity 
and happiness. 



LETTERS 



INTRODUCTION 



REFLECTING upon bis long and active life, Jefferson ob- 
served "the letters of a person .... form the only full and 
genuine journal of his life." This statement is particularly true 
of Jefferson himself, who wrote a staggering number of letters, 
probably between fifty and seventy-five thousand. Although 
many of these have been published, many unpublished ones are 
in public or private collections. These letters, with their phe- 
nomenal range of interest, not only re-create the most versa- 
Ole American of his time, but the age in which he lived. 

The majority of these letters are taken from the twenty- 
volume Memorial Edition, which modernizes spelling and punc- 
tuation. Letters from manuscript collections, published here 
for the first time, or from other printed sources, retain, in 
most cases, Jefferson's spelling and punctuation. The Memorial 
Edition contains frequent textual inaccuracies. Only such in- 
accuracies as impede the reader's understanding have been 
cited and corrected in the following selections. 



LETTERS 



TO JOHN HARVIE l 

ShadweU, Jan. 14, i?6o> 

SIR, I was at Colo. Peter Randolph's about a Fort- 
night ago, & my Schooling falling into Discourse, he said he 
thought it would be to my Advantage to go to the College, 2 
& was desirous I should go, as indeed I am myself for several 
Reasons. In the first place as long as I stay at the Mountains 
the loss of one fourth of my Time is inevitable, by Company's 
coming here & detaining me from School. And likewise my Ab- 
sence will in a great measure put a Stop to so much Company, 
& by that Means lessen the Expences of the Estate in Hous'e- 
Keeping. And on the other Hand by going to the College I 
shall get a more universal Acquaintance, which may hereafter 
be serviceable to me; & I suppose I can pursue my studies in 
the Greek & Latin as well there as here, & likewise learn some- 
thing of the Mathematics. I shall be glad of your opinion. 



TO JOHN PAGE 8 

Fair field, December 25, 1762 

DEAR PAGE, This very day, to others the day of great- 
est mirth and jollity, sees me overwhelmed with more and 
greater misfortunes than have befallen a descendant of Adam 
for these thousand years past, I am sure; and perhaps, after 

1. John Harvie, after Peter Jefferson's death, was one of Thomas 
Jefferson's guardians. 

2. William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. 

3. John Page, later to become governor of Virginia, was Jefferson's 
closest friend at William and Mary. 

351 



OF 

excepting Job, since the creation of the world. I think his mis- 
fortunes were somewhat greater than mine; for, although we 
may be pretty nearly on a level in other respects, yet, I thank 
my God, I have the advantage of brother Job in this, that 
Satan has not as yet put forth his hand to load me with bodily 
afflictions. You must know, dear Page, that I am now in a 
house surrounded with enemies, who take counsel together 
against my soul; and when I lay me down to rest, they say 
among themselves, come let us destroy him. I am sure if there 
is such a thing as a Devil in this world, he must have been here 
last night, and have had some hand in contriving what hap- 
pened to me. Do you think the cursed rats (at his instigation, 
I suppose) did not eat up my pocket-book, which was in my 
pocket, within a foot of my head? And not contented with 
plenty for the present, they carried away my jemmy-worked 
silk garters, and half a dozen new minuets I had just got, to 
serve, I suppose, as provision for the winter. But of this I 
should not have accused the Devil (because, you know rats 
will be rats, and hunger, without the addition of his instiga- 
tions, might have urged them to do this), if something worse, 
and from a different quarter, had not happened. You know it 
rained last night, or if you do not know it, I am sure I do. 
When I went to bed, I laid my watch in the usual place, and 
going to take her up after I arose this morning, I found her in 
the same place, it's true, but Quantum mutatus ab illo! a all 
afloat in water, let in at a leak in the roof of the house, and as 
silent and still as the rats that had eaten my pocket-book. Now, 
you know, if chance had had anything to do in this matter, 
there were a thousand other spots where it might have chanced 
to leak as well as at this one, which was perpendicularly over 
my watch. But I'll tell you, it's my opinion that the Devil came 
and bored the hole over it on purpose. Well, as I was saying, 
my poor watch had lost her speech. I should not have cared 
much for this, but something worse attended it; the subtle par- 
ticles of the water with which the fcase was filled, had, by their 
i. "How changed from what it was!" 

352 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

penetration, so overcome the cohesion of the particles of the 
paper, of which my dear picture and watch-paper were com- 
posed, 1 that, in attempting to take them out to dry them, good 
God! Mem horret rejerre! 2 My cursed fingers gave them such 
a rent, as I fear I never shall get over. This, cried I, was the 
last stroke Satan had in reserve for me; he knew I cared not for 
anything else he could do to me, and was determined to try his 
last most fatal expedient. "Multis fortunce vulneribus percussus, 
huic uni me imparem scnsi, ct pcnitus succubui!" 3 I would 
have cried bitterly, but I thought it beneath the dignity of a 
man. . . . However, whatever misfortunes may attend the 
picture or lover, my hearty prayers shall be, that all the health 
and happiness which Heaven can send may be the portion 
of the original, and that so much goodness may ever meet 
with what may be most agreeable in this world, as I am sure 
it must be in the next. And now, although the picture be de- 
faced, there is so lively an image of her imprinted in my mind, 
that I shall think of her too often, I fear, for my peace of 
mind; and too often, I am sure, to get through old Coke this 
winter; for God knows I have not seen him since I packed him 
up in my trunk in Williamsburg. Well, Page, I do wish the 
Devil had old Coke, for 1 am sure I never was so tired of an 
old dull scoundrel in my life. What! are there so few inquie- 
tudes tacked to this momentary life of ours, that we must need 
be loading ourselves with a thousand more? Or, as brother Job 
says (who, by-the-bye, I think began to whine a little under 
his afflictions), "Are not my days few? Cease then, that I may 
take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return, even 
to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death." But the 
old fellows say we must read to gain knowledge, and gain 
knowledge to make us happy and admired. Mere jargon! Is 
there any such thing as happiness in this world? No. And as 

1. This refers to a portrait of Rebecca Burwell whose brother was a 
classmate of Jefferson at William and Mary. 

2. "The mind shudders to recall it." 

3. "Pierced through by the many wounds of fate, I fek myself un- 
equal to' this one and succumbed utterly!" 

353 



OF 

for admiration, I am sure the man who powders most, perfumes 
most, embroiders most, and talks most nonsense, is most ad- 
mired. Though to be candid, there are some who have too much 
good sense to esteem such monkey-like animals as these, in 
whose formation, as the saying is, the tailors and barbers go 
halves with God Almighty; and since these are the only per- 
sons whose esteem is worth a wish, I do not know but that, 
upon the whole, the advice of these old fellows may be worth 
following. 

You cannot conceive the satisfaction it would give me to 
have a letter from you. Write me very circumstantially every- 
thing which happened at the wedding. Was she there? because, 
if she was, I ought to have been at the Devil for not being 
there too. If there is any news stirring in town or country, such 
as deaths, courtships, or marriages, in the circle of my ac- 
quaintance, let me know it. Remember me affectionately to all 
the young ladies of my acquaintance, particularly the Miss 
Burwells, and Miss Potters, and tell them that though that 
heavy earthly part of me, my body, be absent, the better half 
of me, my soul, is ever with them, and that my best wishes 
shall ever attend them. Tell Miss Alice Corbin that I verily 
believe the rats knew I was to win a pair of garters from her, 
or they never would have been so cruel as to carry mine away. 
This very consideration makes me so sure of the bet, that I 
shall ask everybody I see from that part of the world what 
pretty gentleman is making his addresses to her. I would fain 
ask the favor of Miss Becca Burwell to give me another watch- 
paper of her own cutting, which I should esteem much more, 
though it were a plain round one, than the nicest in the world 
cut by other hands; however, I am afraid she would think this 
presumption, after my suffering the other to get spoiled. If you 
think you can excuse me to her for this, I should be glad if you 
would ask her. Tell Miss Sukey Potter that I heard, just be- 
fore I came out of town, that she was offended with me about 
something, what it is I do not know; but this I know, that I 
never was guilty of the least disrespect to her in my life, either 

354 



THOMAS 

in word or deed; as far from it as it has been possible for one 
to be. I suppose when we meet next, she will be endeavoring 
to repay an imaginary affront with a real one ; but she may save 
herself the trouble, for nothing that she can say or do to me 
shall ever lessen her in my esteem, and I am determined al- 
ways to look upon her as the same honest-hearted, good- 
humored, agreeable lady I ever did. Tell tell in short, tell 
them all ten thousand things more than either you or I can now 
or ever shall think of as long as we live. 

My mind has been so taken up with thinking of my ac- 
quaintances, that, till this moment, I almost imagined myself 
in Williamsburg, talking to you in our old unreserved way; 
and never observed, till I turned over the leaf, to what an im- 
moderate size I had swelled my letter; however, that I may not 
tire your patience by further additions, I will make but this 
one more, that I am sincerely and affectionately, 

Dear Page, your friend and servant. 

P. S. I am now within an easy day's ride of Shadwell, whither 
I shall proceed in two or three days. 



TO JOHN PAGE 

Shadwell, July isth, 1763 

.... The most fortunate of us, in our journey through 
life, frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may 
greatly afflict us; and, to fortify our minds against the attacks 
of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one of the prin- 
cipal studies and endeavors of our lives. The only method of 
doing this is to assume a perfect resignation to the Divine will, 
to consider that whatever does happen, must happen; and that, 
by our uneasiness, we cannot prevent the blow before it does 
fall, but we may add to its force after it has fallen. These con- 
siderations, and others such as these, may enable us in some 
measure to surmount the difficulties thrown in our way; to bear 
up with a tolerable degree of patience under this burthen of 

355 



OF 

life; and to proceed with a pious and unshaken resignation, till 
we arrive at our journey's end, when we may deliver up our 
trust into the hands of him who gave it, and receive such re- 
ward as to him shall seem proportioned to our merit. Such, dear 
Page, will be the language of the man who considers his situa- 
tion in this life, and such should be the language of every man 
who would wish to render that situation as easy as the nature 
of it will admit. Few things will disturb him at all: nothing 
will disturb him much. . . . 

TO JOHN PAGE 

Williams burg, October 7, 1763 

DEAR PAGE, In the most melancholy fit that ever any 
poor soul was, I sit down to write to you. Last night, as merry 
as agreeable company and dancing with Belinda in the Apollo 
could make me, I never could have thought the succeeding 
sun would have seen me so wretched as I now am! I was pre- 
pared to say a great deal: I had dressed up, in my own mind, 
such thoughts as occurred to me, in as moving a language as 1 
knew how, and expected to have performed in a tolerably cred- 
itable manner. But, good God! When I had an opportunity of 
venting them, a few broken sentences, uttered in great disorder, 
and interrupted with pauses of uncommon length, were the toe 
visible marks of my strange confusion! The whole confab I will 
tell you, word for word, if I can, when I see you, which God 
send may be soon. Affairs at W. and M. are in the greatest 
confusion. Walker, M'Clurg and Wat Jones are expelled pro 
tempore, or, as Horrox softens it, rusticated for a month. Lewis 
Burwell, Warner Lewis, and one Thompson, have fled to escape 
flagellation. I should have excepted Warner Lewis, who came 
off of his own accord. Jack Walker leaves town on Monday. 
The court is now at hand, which I must attend constantly, so 
that unless you come to town, there is little probability of my 
meeting with you anywhere else. For God sake come. I am, dear 
Page, your sincere friend. 

356 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

TO ROBERT SKIPWITH l 

Monticello, Aug, 3, 1777 

.... A little attention however to the nature of the 
human mind evinces that the entertainments of fiction are use- 
ful as well as pleasant. That they are pleasant when well written 
every person feels who reads. But wherein is its utility asks the 
reverend sage, big with the notion that nothing can be useful 
but the learned lumber of Greek and Roman reading with 
which his head is stored? 

I answer, everything is useful which contributes to fix in the 
principles and practices of virtue. When any original act ot 
charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to oui 
sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty 
and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and 
grateful acts also. On the contrary when we see or read of any 
atrocious deed, we are disgusted with its deformity, and con- 
ceive an abhorrence of vice. Now every emotion of this kind is 
an exercise of our virtuous dispositions, and dispositions of the 
mind, like limbs of the body acquire strength by exercise. But 
exercise produces habit, and in the instance of which we speafc 
the exercise being of the moral feelings produces a habit of 
thinking and acting virtuously. We never reflect whether the 
story we read be truth or fiction. If the painting be lively, ana 
a tolerable picture of nature, we are thrown into a reverie, from 
which if we awaken it is the fault of the writer. I appeal to 
every reader of feeling and sentiment whether the fictitious 
murder of Duncan by Macbeth in Shakespeare does not excite 
in him as great a horror of villainy, as the real one of Henry IV, 
by Ravaillac as related by Davila? And whether the fidelity 
of Nelson and generosity of Blandford in Marmontel do not 
dilate his breast and elevate his sentiments as much as any 
similar incident which real history can furnish? Does he not in 

i. Robert Skipwith was a member of a well-to-do Virginia family 
and an in-law of Jefferson. 

357 



L8TT8RS OF 

fact feel himself a better man while reading them, and privately 
covenant to copy the fair example? We neither know nor care 
whether Lawrence Sterne really went to France, whether he 
was there accosted by the Franciscan, at first rebuked him un- 
kindly, and then gave him a peace offering: or whether the 
whole be not fiction. In either case we equally are sorrowful at 
the rebuke, and secretly resolve we will never do so: we are 
pleased with the subsequent atonement, and view with emula- 
tion a soul candidly acknowledging its fault and making a just 
reparation. Considering history as a moral exercise, her lessons 
would be too infrequent if confined to real life. Of those re- 
corded by historians few incidents have been attended with 
such circumstances as to excite in any high degree this sym- 
pathetic emotion of virtue. We are, therefore, wisely framed to 
be as warmly interested for a fictitious as for a real personage. 
The field of imagination is thus laid open to our use and lessons 
may be formed to illustrate and carry home to the heart every 
moral rule of life. Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty 
is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter 
by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, 
and divinity that ever were written. This is my idea of well- 
written Romance, of Tragedy, Comedy and f^pic poetry. . . . 

TO DR. WILLIAM SMALL 1 

May 7, 7775 

DEAR SIR, Within this week we have received the un- 
happy news of an action of considerable magnitude, between 
the King's troops and our brethren of Boston, in which it is 
said five hundred of the former, with the Earl of Percy, are 
slain. That such an action has occurred, is undoubted, though 
perhaps the circumstances may not have reached us with truth. 
This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and 
a phrensy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people. 

i. Dr. William Small, Scottish professor at William and Mary, was 
the greatest intellectual influence on Jefferson during his college days. 

358 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

It is a lamentable circumstance, that the only mediatory power, 
acknowledged by both parties, instead of leading to a recon- 
ciliation his divided people, should pursue the incendiary pur- 
pose of still blowing up the flames, as we find him constantly 
doing, in every speech and public declaration. This may, per- 
haps, be intended to intimidate into acquiescence, but the effect 
has been most unfortunately otherwise. A little knowledge of 
human nature, and attention to its ordinary workings, might 
have foreseen that the spirits of the people here were in a state, 
in which they were more likely to be provoked, than frightened, 
by haughty deportment. And to fill up the measure of irritation, 
a proscription of individuals has been substituted in the room 
of just trial. Can it be believed, that a grateful people will suf- 
fer those to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has 
been the developing and asserting their rights? Had the Parlia- 
ment possessed the power of reflection, they would have avoided 
a measure as impotent, as it was inflammatory. When I saw 
Lord Chatham's bill, I entertained high hope that a reconcilia- 
tion could have been brought about. The difference between his 
terms, and those offered by our Congress, might have been ac- 
commodated, if entered on, by both parties, with a disposition 
to accommodate. But the dignity of Parliament, it seems, can 
brook no opposition to its power. Strange, that a set of men, 
who have made sale of their virtue to the Minister, should yet 
talk of retaining dignity! But I am getting into politics, though 
I sat down only to ask your acceptance of the wine, and ex- 
press my constant wishes for your happiness. 

TO JOHN RANDOLPH, ESQ. 1 

Philadelphia, November 29, 1775 

.... This day, certain intelligence has reached us, that 
our General, Montgomery, is received into Montreal; and we 

i. At the beginning of hostilities between the Colonies and England, 
this friend and kinsman of Thomas Jefferson sided with the Crown and 
forsook Virginia to live in England. (Not to be confused with John 
Randolph of Roanoke.) 

359 



LSTTSRS OF 

expect, every hour, to be informed that Quebec has opened its 
arms to Colonel Arnold, who, with eleven hundred men, was 
sent from Boston up the Kennebec, and down the Chaudiere 
river to that place. He expected to be there early this month. 
Montreal acceded to us on the i3th, and Carleton set out, with 
the shattered remains of his little army, for Quebec, where we 
hope he will be taken up by Arnold. In a short time, we have 
reason to hope, the delegates of Canada will join us in Con- 
gress, and complete the American union, as far as we wish to 
have it completed. We hear that one of the British transports 
has arrived at Boston; the rest are beating off the coast, in 
very bad weather. You will have heard, before this reaches you, 
that Lord Dunmore has commenced hostilities in Virginia. That 
people bore with everything, till he attempted to burn the 
town of Hampton. They opposed and repelled him, with con- 
siderable loss on his side, and none on ours. It has raised our 
countrymen into a perfect phrensy. It is an immense misfor- 
tune, to the whole empire, to have a King of such a disposition 
at such a time. We are told, and everything proves it true, that 
he is the bitterest enemy we have. His Minister is able, and 
that satisfies me that ignorance or wickedness, somewhere, con- 
trols him. In an earlier part of this contest, our petitions told 
him, that from our King there was but one appeal. The ad- 
monition was despised, and that appeal forced on us. To undo 
his empire, he has but one truth more to learn; that, after 
colonies have drawn the sword, there is but one step more they 
can take. That step is now pressed upon us, by the measures 
adopted ; as if they were afraid we would not take it. Believe 
me, dear Sir, there is not in the British empire a man who more 
cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But by 
the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a 
connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; 
and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America. We want 
neither inducement nor power, to declare and assert a separa- 
tion. It is will, alone, which is wanting, and that is growing 
apace under the fostering hand of our King. One bloody cam- 

360 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

paign will probably decide, everlastingly, our future course; 
and I am sorry to find a bloody campaign is decided on. If our 
winds and waters should not combine to rescue their shores 
from slavery, and General Howe's reinforcements should ar- 
rive in safety, we have hopes he will be inspirited to come out 
of Boston and take another drubbing; and we must drub him 
soundly, before the sceptred tyrant will know we are not mere 
brutes, to crouch under his hand, and kiss the rod with which 
he designs to scourge us. 



TO FRANCIS EPPES a 

Philadelphia, July i$th, 1776 

.... Admiral Howe is himself arrived at New York, and 
two or three vessels, supposed to be of his fleet, were coming in. 
The whole is expected daily. 

Washington's numbers are greatly increased, but we do not 
know them exactly. I imagine he must have from 30 to 35,000 
by this time. The enemy the other day ordered two of their 
men-of-war to hoist anchor and push by our batteries up the 
Hudson River. Both wind and tide were very fair. They passed 
all the batteries with ease, and, as far as is known, without re- 
ceiving material damage; though there was an incessant fire 
kept up on them. This experiment of theirs, I suppose, is a 
prelude to the passage of their whole fleet, and seems to indi- 
cate an intention of landing above New York. I imagine Gen- 
eral Washington, finding he cannot prevent their going up the 
river, will prepare to amuse them wherever they shall go. Our 
army from Canada is now at Crown Point, but still one half 
down with the small pox. You ask about Arnold's behavior at 
the Cedars. It was this. The scoundrel, Major Butterfield, hav- 
ing surrendered three hundred and ninety men, in a fort with 
twenty or thirty days' provision, and ammunition enough, to 

i. Francis Eppcs, member of a distinguished Virginia family, had 
married one of the sisters of Jefferson's wife, Martha [Wayles] Skeltoiv 

361 



OF 

about forty regulars, one hundred Canadians, and five hundred 
Indians, before he had lost a single manand Major Sher- 
burne, who was coming to the relief of the fort with one hun 
dred men, having, after bravely engaging the enemy an ho~? 
and forty minutes, killing twenty of them and losing twelve of 
his own, been surrounded by them, and taken prisoners also 
General Arnold appeared on the opposite side of the river and 
prepared to attack them. His numbers I know not, but believe 
they were about equal to the enemy. Captain Foster, com- 
mander of the king's troops, sent over a flag to him, proposing 
an exchange of prisoners for as many of the king's in our pos- 
session, and, moreover, informed Arnold that if he should at- 
tack, the Indians would put every man of the prisoners to 
death. Arnold refused, called a council of war, and, it being now 
in the night, it was determined to attack next morning. A sec- 
ond flag came over; he again refused, though in an excruciat- 
ing situation, as he saw the enemy were in earnest about killing 
the prisoners. His men, too, began to be importunate for the 
recovery of their fellow-soldiers. A third flag came, the men 
grew more clamorous and Arnold, now almost raving with rage 
and compassion, was obliged to consent to the exchange and 
six da^s suspension of hostilities, Foster declaring he had not 
boats to deliver them in less time. However, he did deliver them 
so much sooner as that before the six days were expired, himself 
and party had fled out of all reach. Arnold then retired to Mont- 
real. You have long before this heard of General Thompson's 
defeat. The truth of that matter has never appeared till lately. 
You will see it in the public papers. No men on earth ever be- 
haved better than ours did. The enemy behaved dastardly. 
Colonel Allen (who was in the engagement) assured me this 
day, that such was the situation of our men, half way up to the 
thighs in mud for several hours, that five hundred men of spirit 
must have taken the whole; yet the enemy were repulsed sev- 
eral times, and our people had time to extricate themselves and 
come off. It is believed the enemy suffered considerably. The 
above account of Arnold's affair you may rely on, as I was one 

362 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

of a committee appointed to inquire into the whole of that 
matter, and have it from those who were in the whole trans- 
action, and were taken prisoners. 

My sincere affections to Mrs. Eppes, and adieu. 



TO [JOHN FABRONl] 1 

Williamsburg, Virginia, June 8tk, 1778 

.... If there is a gratification, which I envy any people 
in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite 
passion of my soul, and fortune has cast my lot in a country 
where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of 
life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time 
lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I 
shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, v/ho may 
be a proficient in singing, &, on the Harpsichord. I should be 
contented to receive such an one two or three years hence; 
when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a 
greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can 
furnish. 

The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the in- 
dulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought 
that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy 
which] we are obliged to observe. I retain among my domestic 
servants a gardener, a weaver, a cabinet-maker, and a stone- 
cutter, to which I would add a vigneron^ In a country where, 
like yours, music is cultivated and practiced by every class of 
men, I suppose there might be found persons of these trades 
who could perform on the French horn, clarinet, or hautboy, 
and bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French 

1. John Fabroni, an Italian musician, had instructed both Jefferson 
and Mrs. Jefferson in music. 

2. The complete text, as it appears in Ford, is: "I retain for instance 
among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore 
di lino e lin), a cabinet-maker (Stipeltaro) and a stone-cutter (Scalpel- 
lino laborante in piano) to- which I would add a vigneron. 

363 



OF 

horns, two clarinets, two hautboys, and a bassoon, without en- 
larging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment 
for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time, to find 
them, if they chose, a conveyance to their own country, might 
induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without mean- 
ing to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for 
you, in your ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out 
such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good na- 
ture would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think 
such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me 
what will be necessary to be done on my part, I will take care 
that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed 
of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in 
France, with which country alone we have safe correspond- 
ence I am, Sir, with much esteem, your humble servant. 

TO COLONEL JAMES MONROE 1 

Monticello, May 20th, 1782 

.... If we are made in some degree for others, yet, in a 
greater, are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling, 
r,nd indeed ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in 
himself than one of his neighbors, or indeed all of them put 
together. This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the 
bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of 
which our government has been charged. Nothing could so com- 
pletely divest us of that liberty as the establishment of the 
opinion, that the State has a perpetual right to the services of 
all its members. This, to men of certain ways of thinking, would 
be to annihilate the blessings of existence, and to contradict 
the Giver of life, who gave it for happiness and not for wretch- 
edness. And certainly, to .such it were better that they had 
never been born. However, with these, I may think public 
service and private misery inseparably linked together. I have 

i. James Monroe, later fifth President of the United States, was a 
cl*se friend and follower of Jefferson until the latter's death. 

364 



THOMAS JBFFBRSON 

not the vanity to count myself among those whom the Statr 
would think worth oppressing with perpetual service. I have 
received a sufficient memento to the contrary. I am persuaded 
that, having hitherto dedicated to them the whole of the active 
and useful part of my life, I shall be permitted to pass the rest 
in mental quiet. I hope, too, that I did not mistake modes any 
more than the matter of right when I preferred a simple act of 
renunciation, to the taking sanctuary under those disqualifica- 
tions (provided by the law for other purposes indeed but) af- 
fording asylum also for rest to the wearied. I dare say you did 
not expect by the few words you dropped on the right of re- 
nunciation to expose yourself to the fatigue of so long a letter, 
but I wished you to see that, if I had done wrong, I had been 
betrayed by a semblance of right at least. . . . 

TO FRANQOIS JEAN, CHEVALIER DE CHASTELLUX 1 

Am pt hill Nov. 26, 1782 

.... It [your letter] found me a little emerging from 
the stupor of mind which had rendered me as dead to the world 
as she whose loss occasioned it. 2 Your letter recalled to my 
memory that there were persons still living of much value to 
me. If you should have thought me remiss in not testifying to 
you sooner how deeply I had been impressed with your worth 
in the little time I had the happiness of being with you, you will 
I am sure ascribe it to it's true cause, the state of the dreadful 
suspense in which I had been kept all the summer & the catas- 
trophe which closed it. Before that event my scheme of life 
had been determined. I had folded myself in the arms of re- 
tirement,, and rested all prospects of future happiness on do- 
mestic & literary objects. A single event wiped away all my 
plans and left me a blank which I had not the spirits to fill up. 

1. The Marquis de Chastellux, celebrated French soldier and writer, 
had visited Jefferson at Monticello in the spring of 1782. His impressions 
are recorded in his book, Travels in North America. [Ford.] 

2. Jefferson refers to the death of his wife. After this event, Jefferson 
virtually ceased writing letters for almost a year. 

305 



OF 

In this state of mind an appointment from Congress found me, 
requiring me to cross the Atlantic. . . . 

TO MARTHA JEFFERSON * 

Annapolis, Dec. 22, 1783 

.... I omitted ... to advise you on the subject of dress, 
which I know you are a little apt to neglect. I do not wish you 
to be gaily clothed at this time of life, but what you wear 
should be fine of its kind. But above all things and at all times 
let your clothes be clean, whole, and properly put on. Do not 
fancy you must wear them till the dirt is visible to the eye. You 
will be the last who is sensible of this. Some ladies think 
they may, under the privileges of the dishabille, be loose and 
negligent of their dress in the morning. But be you, from the 
moment you rise till you go to bed, as cleanly and properly 
dressed as at the hours of dinner or tea. A lady who has been 
seen as a sloven or a shu in the morning, will never efface the 
impression she has made, with all the dress and pageantry she 
can afterwards involve herself in. Nothing is so disgusting to 
our sex as a want of cleanliness and delicacy in yours. I hope, 
therefore, the moment you rise from bed, your first work will 
be to dress yourself in such style, as that you may be seen by 
any gentleman without his being able to discover a pin amiss, 
or any other circumstance of neatness wanting. . . . 

TO COLONEL MONROE 

Paris, June 17, 1785 

.... I sincerely wish you may find it convenient to 
come here; the pleasure of the trip will be less than you expect, 
but the utility greater. It will make you adore your own coun- 

i. Martha Jefferson was Jefferson's oldest daughter. [Henry S. Ran- 
dall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, 3 vols., Derby and Jackson: New 
York, 1858. Hereafter referred to as Randall.] 

366 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

try, its soil, its climate, its equality, liberty, la#s, people, and 
manners. My God! how little do my countrymen know what 
precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other 
people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myseli. 
While we shall see multiplied instances of Europeans going to 
live in America, I will venture to say, no man now living will 
ever see an instance of an American removing to settle in 
Europe, and continuing there. Come, then, and see the proofs 
of this, and on your return add your testimony to that of 
every thinking American, in order to satisfy our countrymen 
how much it is their interest to preserve, uninfected by con- 
tagion, those peculiarities in their governments and manners, 
to which they are indebted for those blessings. . . . 



TO DR. PRICE 1 

Paris y August 7, 

SIR, Your favor of July the 2d came duly to hand. The 
concern you therein express as to the effect of your pamphlet 
in America, induces me to trouble you with some observations 
on that subject. 

From my acquaintance with that country, I think I am able 
to judge, with some degree of certainty, of the manner in which 
it will have been received. Southward of the Chesapeake, it will 
find but few readers concurring with it in sentiment, on the 
subject of slavery. From the mouth to the head of the Chesa- 
peake, the bulk of the people will approve it in theory, and it 
will find a respectable minority ready to adopt it in practice; a 
minority, which for weight and worth of character, prepon- 
derates against the greater number, who have not the courage 
to divest their families of a property, which, however, keeps 
their conscience unquiet. Northward of the Chesapeake, you 
may find, here and there, an opponent to your doctrine, as you 

i. Richard Price, the English moral and political philosopher, de- 
fended the cause of American independence in Great Britain. 

367 



OF 

find, here and there, a robber and murderer- but in no 
greater number. In that part of America, there being but few 
slaves, they can easily disencumber themselves of them; and 
emancipation is put into such a train, that in a few years there 
will be no slaves northward of Maryland. In Maryland, I do 
not find such a disposition to begin the redress of this enormity, 
as in Virginia. This is the next State to which we may turn 
our eyes for the interesting spectacle of justice, in conflict with 
avarice and oppression; a conflict wherein the sacred side is 
gaining daily recruits, from the influx into office of young men 
grown, and growing up. These have sucked in the principles of 
liberty, as it were, with their mother's milk; and it is to them I 
look with anxiety to turn the fate of this question. Be not there- 
fore discouraged. What you have written will do a great deal 
of good; and could you still trouble yourself with our welfare, 
no man is more able to give aid to the laboring side. The Col- 
lege of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, since the remodel- 
ling of its plan, is the place where are collected together all the 
young men of Virginia, under preparation for public life. They 
are there under the direction (most of them) of a Mr. Wythe, 
one of the most virtuous of characters, and whose sentiments 
on the subject of slavery are unequivocal. I am satisfied, if you 
could resolve to address an exhortation to those young men, 
with all that eloquence of which you are master, that its influ- 
ence en the future decision of this important question would 
be great, perhaps decisive. Thus you see, that, so far from 
thinking you have cause to repent of what you have done, I 
wish you to do more, and wish it, on an assurance of its effect. 
The information I have received from America, of the recep- 
tion of your pamphlet in the different States, agrees with the 
expectations I had formed. 

Our country is getting into a ferment against yours, or rather 
has caught it from yours. God knows how this will fend; but 
assuredly in one extreme or the other. There can be no medium 
between those who have loved so much. I think the decision is 
in your power as yet, but will not be so long. 

368 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

I pray you to be assured of the sincerity of the esteem and 
respect with which I have the honor to be. Sir. your most 
obedient Viumble servant. 



TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES 1 

Paris, August 15, 1785 

.... The monopoly of the purchase of tobacco in France 
discourages both the French and American merchant from 
bringing it here, and from taking in exchange the manufactures' 
and productions of France. It is contrary to the spirit of tradej, 
and to the dispositions of merchants, to carry a commodity to 
any market where but one person is allowed to buy it, and 
where, of course, that person fixes its price, which the seller 
must receive, or re-export his commodity, at the loss of his 
voyage thither. Experience accordingly shows, that they carry 
it to other markets, and that they take in exchange the mer- 
chandise of the place where they deliver it. I am misinformed, 
if France has not been furnished from a neighboring nation 
with considerable quantities of tobacco since the peace, and 
been obliged to pay there in coin, what might have been paid 
here in manufactures, had the French and American mer- 
chants brought the tobacco originally here. I suppose, too, 
that the purchases made by the Farmers General, in America, 
are paid for chiefly in coin, which coin is also remitted directly 
hence to England, and makes an important part of the bal- 
ance supposed to be in favor of that nation against this. Should 
the Farmers General, by themselves, or by the company to 
whom they may commit the procuring these tobaccos from 
America, require, for the satisfaction of government on this 
head, the exportation of a proportion of merchandise in ex- 
change for them, it would be an unpromising "expedient. It 
would only commit the exports, as well as imports, between 

i. The Count de Vergennes was Secretary of Foreign Affairs undei 
Louis XVI, and chief of the royal council of finances. 



OF 

France and America, to a monopoly, which, being secure against 
rivals in the sale of the merchandise of France, would not be 
likely to sell at such moderate prices as might encourage its con- 
sumption there, and enable it to bear a competition with similar 
articles from other countries. I am persuaded this exporta- 
tion ot coin may be prevented, and that of commodities ef- 
fected, by leaving both operations to the French and Amer- 
ican merchants, instead of the Farmers General. They will 
import a sufficient quantity of tobacco, if they are allowed a per- 
fect freedom in the sale; and they will receive in payment, wines, 
oils, brandies, and manufactures, instead of coin; forcing 
each other, by their competition, to bring tobaccos of the best 
quality; to give to the French manufacturer the full worth 
of his merchandise, and to sell to the American consumer at 
the lowest price they can afford; thus encouraging him to use, 
in preference, the merchandise of this country. . . . 

While the advantages of an increase of revenue to the crown, 
a diminution of impost on the people, and a payment in mer- 
chandise, instead of money, are conjectured as likely to re- 
sult to France from a suppression of the monopoly on tobac- 
co, we have also reason to hope some advantages on our part; 
and this hope alone could justify my entering into the present 
details. I do not expect this advantage will be by any aug- 
mentation of price. The other markets of Europe have too 
much influence on this article to admit any sensible augmenta- 
tion of price to take place. But the advantage I principally 
expect is an increase of consumption. This will give us a vent 
for so much more, and, of consequence, find employment for 
so many more cultivators of the earth; and in whatever pro- 
portion it increases this production for us, in the same pro- 
portion will it procure additional vent for the merchandise 
of France, and employment for the hands which produce it. I 
expect, too, that by bringing our merchants here, they would 
procure a number of commodities in exchange, better in kind, 
dnd cheaper in price. It is with .sincerity I add, that warm 



THOMAS JBFFBRSON 

feelings are indulged in my breast by the further hope, that 
it would bind the two nations still closer in friendship, by 
binding them in interest. In truth, no two countries are better 
calculated for the exchanges of commerce. France wants rice, 
tobacco, potash, furs, and ship-timber. We want wines, bran- 
dies, oils, and manufactures. There is an affection, too, be- 
tween the two people, which disposes them to favor one an- 
other. If they do not come together, then, to make the ex- 
changes in their own ports, it shows there is some substantial 
obstructions in the way. We have had the benefit of too many 
proofs of his Majesty's friendly disposition towards the United 
States, and know too well his affectionate care of his own sub- 
jects, to doubt his willingness to remove these obstructions, 
if they can be unequivocally pointed out. It is for his wis- 
dom to decide, whether the monopoly, which is the subject 
of this letter, be deservedly classed with the principal of these. 
It is a great comfort to me, too, that, in presenting this to the 
mind of his Majesty, your Excellency will correct my ideas 
where an insufficient knowledge of facts may have led me into 
error; and that, while the interests of the King and of his 
people are the first objects of your attention, an additional 
one will be presented by those dispositions toward us, which 
have heretofore so often befriended our nation. 

I avail myself of this occasion to repeat the assurance of 
that high respect and esteem, with which I have the honor 
to be your Excellency's most obedient, and most humble serv- 
ant. 

TO MRS. TRIST * 

Paris, August 18, 1785 
DEAR MADAM, 

I am much pleased with the people of this country. The 
roughness of the human mind is so thoroughly rubbed off with 

i. Mrs. Trist had taken care of Jefferson's oldest daughter Martha 
during her stay in Philadelphia. Her grandson Nicholas P. Trist married 
one of Jefferson's grand-daughters, Virginia Jefferson Randolph. 

371 



OF 

them, *>hat it seems as if one might glide through a whole life 
among them without a jostle. Perhaps, too, their manners may 
be the best calculated for happiness to a people in their situa- 
tion, but I am convinced they fall far short of effecting a 
happiness so temperate, so uniform, and so lasting as is gen- 
erally enjoyed with us. The domestic bonds here are abso- 
lutely done away, and where can their compensation be found? 
Perhaps they may catch some moments of transport above 
the level of the ordinary tranquil joy we experience, but they 
are separated by long intervals, during which all the passions 
are at sea without rudder or compass. Yet, fallacious as the 
pursuits of happiness are, they seem on the whole to furnish 
the most effectual abstraction from a contemplation of the 
hardness of their government. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive 
how so good a people, with so good a King, so well-disposed 
rulers in general, so genial a climate, so fertile a soil, should 
be rendered so ineffectual for producing human happiness by 
one single curse that of a bad form of government. But 
it is a fact, in spite of the mildness of their governors, the 
people are ground to powder by the vices of the form of govern- 
ment. Of twenty millions of people supposed to be in France, 
I am of opinion there are nineteen millions more wretched, 
more accursed in every circumstance of human existence than 
the most conspicuously wretched individual of the whole 
United States. I beg your pardon for getting into politics. I 
will add only one sentiment more of that character, that is, 
nourish peace with their persons, but war against their man- 
ners. Every step we take towards the adoption of their man- 
ners is a step to perfect misery. I pray you to write to me often. 
Do not you turn politician too; but write me all the small 
news the news about persons and about states; tell me who 
dies, that I may meet these disagreeable events in detail, and 
not all at once when I return; who marry, who hang them- 
selves because they cannot marry, &c. . . . 



372 



THOMAS JSFF8RSON 

TO PETER CARR 1 

Paris, August 19, 

DEAR PETER, I received, by Mr. Mazzei, your letter 
of April the 2oth. I am much mortified to hear that you have 
lost so much time; and that, when you arrived in Williams- 
burg, you were not at all advanced from what you were when 
you left Monticello. Time now begins to be precious to you. 
Every day you lose will retard a day your entrance on that 
public stage whereon you may begin to be useful to yourself. 
However, the way to repair the loss is to improve the future 
time. I trust, that with your dispositions, even the acquisition 
of science is a pleasing employment. I can assure you, that 
the possession of it is, what (next to an honest heart) will 
above all things render you dear to your friends, and give you 
fame and promotion in your own country. When your mind 
shall be well improved with science, nothing will be necessary 
to place you in the highest points of view, but to pursue the 
interests of your country, the interests of your friends, and 
your own interests also, with the purest integrity, the most 
chaste honor. The defect of these virtues can never be made 
up by all the other acquirements of body and mind. Make 
these, then, your first object. Give up money, give up fame, give 
up science, give up the earth itself and all it contains, rather 
than do an immoral act. And never suppose, that in any pos- 
sible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you 
to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear 
to you. Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never 
be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act 
were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly. En- 
courage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them when- 
ever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain 
strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that 

i. Peter Carr was one of Jefferson's favorite nephews, the son of 
Jefferson's school-boy friend Dabney Carr and Martha Jefferson, his 
fourth sister. 

373 



OF 

exercise will make them habitual. From the practice of the 
purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive the most 
sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment 
of death. If ever you find yourself environed with difficulties 
and perplexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss 
how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that 
that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. 
Though you cannot see, when you take one step, what will be 
the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never 
fear their leading you out of the labyrinth, in the easiest man- 
ner possible. The knot which you thought a Gordian one, will 
untie itself before you. Nothing is so mistaken as the supposi- 
tion, that a person is to extricate himself from a difficulty, by 
intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by trimming, by an 
untruth, by an injustice. This increases the difficulties tenfold; 
and those, who pursue these methods, get themselves so in- 
volved at length, that they can turn no way but their infamy 
becomes more exposed. It is of great importance to set a resolu- 
tion, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no 
vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits 
himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second 
and third time, till at length it becomes habitual ; he tells lies 
without attending to it, and truths without the world's believ- 
ing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the 
heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions. 

An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is 
the second. It is time for you now to begin to be choice in your 
reading; to begin to pursue a regular course in it; and not to 
suffer yourself to be turned to the right or left by reading any- 
thing out of that course. I have long ago digested a plan for 
you, suited to the circumstances in which you will be placed. 
This I will detail to you, from time to time, as you advance. 
For the present, I advise you to begin a course of ancient 
history, reading everything in the original and not in transla- 
tions. First read Goldsmith's history of Greece. This will give 
you a digested view of that field. Then take up ancient his- 

37* 



THOMAS 38FFSRSON 

tory in the detail, reading the following books, in the follow- 
ing order: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Anabasis, Ar- 
rian ; Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form 
the first stage of your historical reading, and is all I need 
mention to you now. The next will be of Roman history. 1 From 
that, we will come down to modern history. In Greek and Latin 
poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, 
Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles. 
Read also Milton's "Paradise Lost," Shakspeare, Ossian, Pope's 
and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own 
language. In morality, read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memora- 
bilia, Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophies, Anto- 
ninus, and Seneca. In order to assure a certain progress in this 
reading, consider what hours you have free from the school 
and the exercises of the school. Give about two of them, every 
day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. 
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of 
exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exer- 
cise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence 
to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that 
nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on 
the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion 
of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you. The 
object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore 
not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert 
yourself by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best 
possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. The 
Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to 
the uses of man; but I doubt whether we have not lost more 
than we have gained, by the use of this animal. No one has 
occasioned so much the degeneracy of the human body. An 
Indian goes on foot nearly as far in a day, for a long journey, 
as an enfeebled white does on his horse; and he will tire the 
best horses. There is no habit you will value so much as that of 

i. Livy, Sallust, Caesar, Cicero's epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, Gibbon. 
[Jefferson's footnote.] 

375 



OF 

walking far without fatigue. I would advise you to take your 
exercise in the afternoon: not because it is the best time for 
exercise, for certainly it is not; but because it is the best time 
to spare from your studies; and habit will soon reconcile it to 
health, and render it nearly as useful as if you gave to that the 
more precious hours of the day. A little walk of half an hour, in 
the morning, when you first rise, is advisable also. It shakes 
off sleep, and produces other good effects in the animal econ- 
omy. Rise at a fixed and an early hour, and go to bed at a 
fixed and early hour also. Sitting up late at night is injurious 
to the health, and not useful to the mind. Having ascribed 
proper hours to exercise, divide what remain (I mean of your 
vacant hours) into three portions. Give the principal to His- 
tory, the other two, which should be shorter, to Philosophy and 
Poetry. Write to me once every month or two, and let me know 
the progress you make. Tell me in what manner you employ 
every hour in the day. The plan I have proposed for you is 
adapted to your present situation only. When that is changed, 
I shall propose a corresponding change of plan. I ha w e ordered 
the following books to be sent to you from London, to the care 
of Mr. Madison: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon's Hel- 
lenics, Anabasis and Memorabilia, Cicero's works, Baretti's 
Spanish and English Dictionary, Martin's Philosophical Gram- 
mar, and Martin's Philosophia Britannica. I will send you the 
following from hence: Bezout's Mathematics, De la Lande's As- 
tronomy, Muschenbrock's Physics, Quintus Curtius, Justin, a 
Spanish Grammar, and some Spanish books. You will observe 
that Martin, Bezout, De la Lande, and Muschenbrock, are not 
in the preceding plan. They are not to be opened till you go 
to the University. You are now, I expect, learning French. You 
must push this; because the books which will be put into your 
hands when you advance into Mathematics, Natural philoso- 
phy, Natural history, &c., will be mostly French, these sciences 
being better treated by the French than the English writers. 
Our future connection with Spain renders that the most neces- 
sary of the modern languages, after the French. When you be- 

376 



THOMAS JBFFSRSON 

come a public man, you may have occasion for it, and the 
circumstance of your possessing that language, may give you 
a preference over other candidates. I have nothing further +o 
add for the present, but husband well your time, cherish your 
instructors, strive to make everybody your friend; and be as- 
sured that nothing will be so pleasing as your success to, Deaf 
Peter, 

Yours affectionately. 



TO JOHN JAY l 
(Private) 

Paris, August 23, 1785 

.... We have now lands enough to employ an infinite 
number of people in their cultivation. Cultivators of the earth 
are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, 
the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied 
to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests, by 
the most lasting bonds. As long, therefore, as they can find 
employment in this line, I would not convert them into mari- 
ners, artisans, or anything else. But our citizens will find em- 
ployment in this line, till their numbers, and of course their 
productions, become too great for the demand, both internal 
and foreign. This is not the case as yet, and probably will not 
be for a considerable time. As soon as it is, the surplus of 
hands must be turned to something else. I should then, per- 
haps, wish to turn them to the sea in preference to manu- 
factures; because, comparing the characters of the two classes, 
I find the former the most valuable citizens. I consider the 
class of artificers as the panders of vice, and the instruments 
by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned. 
However, we are not free to decide this question on principles 
of theory only. Our people are decided in the opinion, that it 

i. John Jay, American statesman and diplomat, was later Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court. 

377 



LSTTSRS OF 

is necessary for us to take a share in the occupation of the 
ocean, and their established habits induce them to require that 
the sea be kept open to them, and that that line of policy be 
pursued, which will render the use of that element to them as 
great as possible. I think it a duty in those entrusted with the 
administration of their affairs, to conform themselves to the 
decided choice of their constituents; and that therefore, we 
should, in every instance, preserve an equality of right to them 
in the transportation of commodities, in the right of fishing, 
and in the other uses of the sea. 

But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars without 
a doubt. Their property will be violated on the sea, and in 
foreign ports, their persons will be insulted, imprisoned, &c., 
for pretended debts, contracts, crimes, contraband, &c., &c. 
These insults must be resented, even if we had no feelings, yet 
to prevent their eternai repetition; or, in other words, our com- 
merce on the ocean and in other countries, must be paid for by 
frequent war. The justest dispositions possible in ourselves, will 
not secure us against it. It would be necessary that all other 
nations were just also. Justice indeed, on our part, will save us 
from those wars which would have been produced by a con- 
trary disposition. But how can we prevent those produced by 
the wrongs of other nations? By putting ourselves in a condi- 
tion to punish them. Weakness provokes insult and injury, 
while a condition to punish, often prevents them. This reason- 
ing leads to the necessity of some naval force; that being the 
only weapon by which we can reach an enemy. I think it to 
our interest to punish the first insult; because an insult un- 
punished is the parent of many others. We are not, at this 
moment, in a condition to do it, but we should put ourselves 
into it, as soon as possible. . . . 



378 



THOMAS JBFFSRSON 
TO BARON GEISMER* 

Paris, September 6 y 1785 

DEAR SIR, Your letter of March the 28th, which I re- 
ceived about a month after its date, gave me a very real pleas- 
ure, as it assured me of an existence which I valued, and of 
which I had been led to doubt. You are now too distant from 
America, to be much interested in what passes there. From the 
London gazettes, and the papers copying them, you are led 
to suppose that all there is anarchy, discontent and civil war. 
Nothing, however, is less true. There are not, on the face of 
the earth, more tranquil governments than ours, nor a happier 
and more contented people. Their commerce has not as yet 
found the channels, which their new relations with the world 
will offer to best advantage, and the old ones remain as yet 
unopened by new conventions. This occasions a stagnation in 
the sale of their produce, the only truth among all the cir- 
cumstances published about them. Their hatred against Great 
Britain, having lately received from that nation new cause and 
new aliment, has taken a new spring. . . . The character in 
which I am here at present, confines me to this place, and will 
confine me as long as I continue in Europe. How long this will 
be, I cannot tell. I am now of an age which does not easily 
accommodate itself to new manners and new modes of living; 
and I am savage enough to prefer the woods, the wilds, and 
the independence of Monticello, to all the brilliant pleasures 
of this gay Capital. I shall, therefore, rejoin myself to my na- 
tive country, with new attachments, and with exaggerated es- 
teem for its advantages; for though there is less wealth there, 
there is more freedom, more ease, and less misery. I should 
like it better, however, if it could tempt you once more to 
visit it; but that is not to be expected. Be this as it may, and 
whether fortune means to allow or deny me the pleasure of 

i. German brigade major in the American Revolutionary war, Baron 
Geismer was made prisoner in Virginia. 

379 



OF 

ever seeing you again, be assured that the worth which gave 
birth to my attachment, and which still animates it, will con- 
tinue to keep it up while we both live, and that it is with sin- 
cerity I subscribe myself, dear Sir, your friend and servant. 



TO JAMES MADISON * 

Paris, September 20, 

.... I received this summer a letter from Messrs. Bu- 
chanan and Hay, as Directors of the public buildings, desir- 
ing I would have drawn for them, plans of sundry buildings, 
and, in the first place, of a capitol. 2 They fixed, for their receiv- 
ing this plan, a day which was within about six weeks of that 
on which their letter came to my hand. I engaged an architect 
of capital abilities in this business. Much time was requisite, 
after the external form was agreed on, to make the internal 
distribution convenient for the three branches of government. 
This time was much lengthened by my avocations to other 
objects, which I had no right to neglect. The plan, however, 
was settled. The gentlemen had sent me one which they had 
thought of. The one agreed on here, is more convenient, more 
beautiful, gives more room, and will not cost more than two- 
thirds of what that would. We took for our model what is 
called the Maison Quarrce of Nismes, one of the most beauti- 
ful, if not the most beautiful and precious morsel of architec- 
ture left us by antiquity. It was built by Caius and Lucius 
Caesar, and repaired by Louis XIV., and has the suffrage of 
all the judges of architecture who have seen it, as yielding to 
no one of the beautiful monuments of Greece, Rome, Palmyra, 
and Balbec, which late travellers have communicated to us. 
It is very simple, but it is noble beyond expression, and would 
have done honor to our country, as presenting to travellers a 

1. James Madison, fourth President of the United States, was, until 
Jefferson's death, one of his closest ' friends and staunchest followers. 

2. For Richmond, Virginia. 

380 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

specimen of taste in our infancy, promising much for our ma- 
turer age. I have been much mortified with information, which 
I received two days ago from Virginia, that the first brick of 
the capitol would be laid within a few days. But surely, the 
delay of this piece of a summer would have been repaired by 
the savings in the plan preparing here, were we to value its 
other superiorities as nothing. But how is a taste in this beau- 
tiful art to be formed in our countrymen unless we avail our- 
selves of every occasion when public buildings are to be erected, 
of presenting to them models for their study and imitation? 
Pray try if you can effect the stopping of this work. . . . 

The loss will be only of the laying the bricks already laid, 
or a part of them. The bricks themselves will do again for 
the interior walls, and one side wall and one end wall may 
remain, as they will answer equally well for our plan. This loss 
is not to be weighed against the saving of money which will 
arise, against the comfort of laying out the public money for 
something honorable, the satisfaction of seeing an object and 
proof of national good taste, and the regret and mortification 
of erecting a monument of our barbarism, which will be loaded 
with execrations as long as it shall endure. The plans are in 
good forwardness, and I hope will be ready within three or 
four weeks. They could not be stopped now, but on paying 
their whole price, which will be considerable. If the under- 
takers are afraid to undo what they have done, encourage 
them to it by a recommendation from the Assembly. You 
see I am an enthusiast on the subject of the arts. But it is an 
enthusiasm of which I am not ashamed, as its object is to 
improve the taste of my countrymen, to inaease their reputa- 
tion, to reconcile to them the respect of the world, and pro- 
cure them its praise. . . . 



381 



OF 

TO MR. BELLINI 1 

Paris, September jo, 

.... Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of 
Europe! It is not necessary for your information, that I should 
enter into details concerning it. But you are, perhaps, curious 
to know how this new scene has struck a savage of the moun- 
tains of America. Not advantageously, I assure you. I find the 
general fate of humanity here most deplorable. The truth of 
Voltaire's observation, offers itself perpetually, that every man 
here must be either the hammer or the anvil. It is a true pic- 
ture of that country to which they say we shall pass hereafter, 
and where we are to see God and his angels in splendor, and 
crowds of the damned trampled under their feet. While the 
great mass of the people are thus suffering under physical and 
moral oppression, I have endeavored to examine more nearly 
the condition of the great, to appreciate the true value of the 
circumstances in their situation, which dazzle the bulk of spec- 
tators, and, especially, to compare it with that degree of happi- 
ness which is enjoyed in America, by every class of people. 
Intrigues of love occupy the younger, and those of ambition, 
the elder part of the great. Conjugal love having no Existence 
among them, domestic happiness, of which that is the basis, 
is utterly unknown. In lieu of this, are substituted pursuits 
which nourish and invigorate all our bad passions, and which 
offer only moments of ecstasy, amidst days and months of rest- 
lessness and torment. Much, very much inferior, this, to the 
tranquil, permanent felicity with which domestic society in 
America blesses most of its inhabitants; leaving them to fol- 
low steadily those pursuits which health and reason approve, 
and rendering truly delicious the intervals of those pursuits. 
In science, the mass of the people are two centuries behind 
ours; their literati, half a dozen years before us. Books, really 
good, acquire just reputation in that time, and so become 

i. Charles Bellini, an imigri resident of Virginia, became the first 
nrofessor of modern languages at William and Mary. 

382 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

known to us, and communicate to us all their advances in 
knowledge. Is not this delay compensated, by our being placed 
out of the reach of that swarm of nonsensical publications 
which issues daily from a thousand presses, and perishes al- 
most in issuing? With respect to what are termed polite man- 
ners, without sacrificing too much the sincerity of language, 1 
would wish my countrymen to adopt just so much of Euro- 
pean politeness, as to be ready to make all those little sacri- 
fices of self, which really render European manners amiable, and 
relieve society from the disagreeable scenes to which rudeness 
often subjects it. Here, it seems that a man might pass a life 
without encountering a single rudeness. In the pleasures of the 
table, they are far before us, because, with good taste they 
unite temperance. They do not terminate the most sociable 
meals by transforming themselves into brutes. I have never 
yet seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of 
the people. Were I to proceed to tell you how much I en- 
joy their architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should 
want words. It is in these arts they shine. The last of them, 
particularly, is an enjoyment, the deprivation of which with 
us, cannot be calculated. I am almost ready to say, it is the 
only thing which from my heart I envy them, and which, in 
spite of all the authority of the Decalogue, I do covet. But I 
am running on in an estimate of things infinitely better known 
to you than to me, and which will only serve to convince you, 
that I have brought with me all the prejudices of country, 
habit, and age. But whatever I may allow to be charged to 
me as prejudice, in every other instance, I have one sentiment 
at least, founded on reality: it is that of the perfect esteem 
which your merit and that of Mrs. Bellini have produced, and 
which will forever enable m'e to assure you of the sincere regard 
with which I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant. 



383 



OF 

TO HOGENDORP l 

Paris, October 13, 

.... You ask what I think on the expediency of en- 
couraging our States to be commercial? Were I to indulge my 
own theory, I should wish them to practise neither commerce 
nor navigation, but to stand, with respect to Europe, precisely 
on the footing of China. We should thus avoid wars, and all our 
citizens would be husbandmen. Whenever, indeed, our num- 
bers should so increase as that our produce would over- 
stock the markets of those nations who should come to seek 
it, the farmers must either employ the surplus of their time in 
manufactures, or the surplus of our hands must be employed 
in manufactures or in navigation. But that day would, I think, 
be distant, and we should long keep our workmen in Europe, 
while Europe should be drawing rough materials, and even 
subsistence from America. But this is theory only, and a the- 
ory which the servants of America are not at liberty to fol- 
low. Our people have a decided taste for navigation and com- 
merce. They take this from their mother country; and their 
servants are in duty bound to calculate all their measures on 
this datum: we wish to do it by throwing open all the doors of 
commerce, and knocking off its shackles. But as this cannot be 
done for others, unless they will do it for us, and there is no 
great probability that Europe will do this, I suppose we shall 
be obliged to adopt a system which may shackle them in our 
ports, as they do us in theirs. 

With respect to the sale of our lands, that cannot begin till 
a considerable portion shall have been surveyed. They cannot 
begin to survey till the fall of the leaf of this year, nor to 
sell probably till the ensuing spring. So that it will be yet a 
twelvemonth before we shall be able to judge of the efficacy 
of our land office to sink our national debt. It is made a fun- 

T. Charles Van Hogendorp was a Dutch business man. 

384 ' 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

damental, that the proceeds shall be solely and sacredly ap- 
plied as a sinking fund to discharge the capital only of the debt. 
It is true that the tobaccos of Virginia go almost entirely 
to England. The reason is, the people of that State owe a great 
debt there, which they are paying as fast as they can. I think I 
have now answered your several queries, and shall be happy 
to receive your reflections on the same subjects, and at all 
times to hear of your welfare, and to give you assurances of 
the esteem, with which I have the honor to be, dear bir, your 
most obedient, and most humble servant. 

TO J. BANISTER, JUNIOR 1 

Paris, October i$ y 1785 

DEAR SIR, I should sooner have answered the para- 
graph in your letter, of September the igth, respecting the best 
seminary for the education of youth in Europe, but that it was 
necessary for me to make inquiries on the subject. The result 
of these has been, to consider the competition as resting be- 
tween Geneva and Rome. They are equally cheap, and prob- 
ably are equal in the course of education pursued. The advan- 
tage of Geneva is, that students acquire there the habit of 
speaking French. The advantages of Rome are, the acquiring a 
local knowledge of a spot so classical and so celebrated; the 
acquiring the true pronunciation of the Latin language; a just 
taste in the fine arts, more particularly those of painting, sculp- 
ture, architecture, and music; a familiarity with those objects 
and processes of agriculture which experience has shown best 
adapted to a climate like ours; and lastly, the advantage of a 
fine climate for health. It is probable, too, that by being 
boarded in a French family, the habit of speaking that lan- 
guage may be obtained. I do not count on any advantage to be 

i. This young man, sent abroad because of ill health, was being edu- 
cated in France, where he was recommended to Jefferson's care. 

385 



OF 

derived, in Geneva, from a familiar acquaintance with the prin- 
ciples of that government. The late revolution has rendered it 
a tyrannical aristocracy, more likely to give ill than good* ideas 
to an American. I think the balance in favor of Rome. Pisa 
is sometimes spoken of as a place of education. But it does not 
offer the first and third of the advantages of Rome. But why 
send an American youth to Europe for education? What are the 
objects of an useful American education? Classical knowledge, 
modern languages, chiefly French, Spanish, and Italian; 
Mathematics, Natural philosophy, Natural history, Civil his- 
tory, and Ethics. In Natural philosophy, I m'ean to include 
Chemistry and Agriculture, and in Natural history, to include 
Botany, as well as the other branches of those departments. It 
is true that the habit of speaking the modern languages cannot 
be so well acquired in America; but every other article can be 
as well acquired at William and Mary college, as at any 
place in Europe. When college education is done with, and 
a young man is to prepare himself for public life, he must cast 
his 'eyes (for America) either on Law or Physics. For the for- 
mer, where can he apply so advantageously as to Mr. Wythe? 
For the latter, he must come to Europe: the medical class of 
students, therefore, is the only on'e which need come to Europe. 
Let us view the disadvantages of sending a youth to Europe. 
To enumerate them all, would require a volume. I will s'elect a 
few. If he goes to England, he learns drinking, horse racing, 
and boxing. These are the peculiarities of English education. 
The following circumstances are common to education in that, 
and the other countries of Europe. He acquires a fondness for 
European luxury and dissipation, and a contempt for the sim- 
plicity of his own country; he is fascinated with the privileges 
of the European aristocrats, and sees, with abhorrence, the 
lovely equality which the poor enjoy with the rich, in his own 
country; he contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy; 
he forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to him, 
and loses the seasons of life for forming, in his own country, 
those friendships which, of all others, are the most faithful 

386 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

and permanent; he is led, by the strongest of all the human 
passions, into a spirit for female intrigue, destructive of his 
own and others' happiness, or a passion for whores, destructive 
of his health, and, in both cases, learns to consider fidelity 
to the marriage bed as an ungentlemanly practice, and incon- 
sistent with happiness; he recollects the voluptuary dress and 
arts of the European women, and pities and despises the chaste 
affections and simplicity of those of his own country; he re- 
tains, through life, a fond recollection, and a hankering after 
those places, which were the scenes of his first pleasures and 
of his first connections; he returns to his own country, a for* 
eigner, unacquainted with the practices of domestic economy 
necessary to preserve him from ruin, speaking and writing his 
native tongue as a foreigner, and therefore unqualified to ob- 
tain those distinctions, which eloquence of the pen and tongue- 
ensures in a free country; for I would observe to you, that what 
is called style in writing or speaking is formed very early in 
life, while the imagination is warm, and impressions are per- 
manent. I am of opinion, that there never was an instance of a 
man's writing or speaking his native tongue with elegance, who 
passed from fifteen to twenty years of age out of the country 
wher'e it was spoken. Thus, no instance exists of a person's 
writing two languages perfectly. That will always appear to be 
his native language, which was most familiar to him in his 
youth. It appears to me, then, that an American, coming to 
Europe for education, loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in 
his health, in his habits, and in his happin'ess. I had entertained 
only doubts on this head before I came to Europe: what I see 
md hear, since I came here, proves more than I had even sus- 
pected. Cast your eye over America: who are the men of most 
learning, of most eloquence, most beloved by their country- 
men and most trusted and promoted by them? They are those 
who have been Educated among them, and whose manners, 
morals, and habits, are perfectly homogeneous with those of the 
country. 

Did you expect by so short a question, to draw such a ser- 

387 



OF 

mon on yourself? I dare say ym did not. But the consequences 
of foreign education are alarming to me, as an American. I 
sin, therefore, through zeal, whenever I enter on the subject. 
You are sufficiently American to pardon me for it. Let me hear 
of your health, and be assured of the esteem with which I am, 
dear Sir, your friend and servant. 



TO REVEREND JAMES MADISON 1 

Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1785 

DEAR SIR, Seven o'clock, and retired to my fireside, 1 
have determined to enter into conversation with you. This is a 
village of about 15,000 inhabitants when the court is not here, 
and 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley through which 
runs a brook and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains, 
most of which are naked rock. The King comes here, in the fall 
always, to hunt. His court attends him, as do also the foreign 
diplomatic corps; but as this is not indispensably required and 
my finances do not admit the expense of a continued residence 
here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the King's 
levees, returning again to Paris, distant forty miles,. This be- 
ing the first trip I set out yesterday morning to take a view 
of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the 
highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about 
a league. 

As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor 
woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the 
same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring 
poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by 
enquiries for the path which would lead me to the mountain: 
and th'ence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition 
and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous 

i. Bishoo Madison, not to be confused with his statesman cousin of 
the same name, was The President of William and Mary, and first Bishop 
of the Protestant-Episcopal-Church in Virginia. 

388 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to main* 
tain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would 
consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no em- 
ployment and of course was without bread. As we had walked 
together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I 
gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude 
which I could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable 
to utter a word. She had probably never bfefore received so 
great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of 
my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal divi- 
sion of property which occasions the numberless instances of 
wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be 
observed all over Europe. 

The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in 
a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of 
guirieas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the 
country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 do- 
mestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of 
manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring 
husbandmen. But after all these comes the most numerous of 
all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked 
myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted 
to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a 
very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These 
lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. It should 
seem then that it must be becaus'e of the enormous wealth of 
the proprietors which places them above attention to the in- 
crease of their revenues by permitting these lands to be labored. 
I am conscious that an equal division of property is imprac- 
ticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality pro- 
ducing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators can- 
not invent too many devices for subdividing property, only tak- 
ing care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the nat- 
ural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of 
every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers 
and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic meas** 

389 



OF 

Jive and a practicable on'e. Another means of silently lessening 
the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below 
a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in 
geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any 
country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear 
that the laws of property have been so far extended as to vio- 
late natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for 
man to labor; and live on. If for the encouragement of indus- 
try we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that 
other employment be provided to those excluded from the ap- 
propriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the 
earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our coun- 
try to say that every man who cannot find employment, but 
who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate 
it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by 
every possible means that as few as possible shall be without 
a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most 
precious part of a state. . . . 



TO A. STUART, Esq. 1 

Paris, January 25, 

.... The quiet of Europe, at this moment, furnishes 
little which can attract your notice. Nor will that quiet be soon 
disturbed, at least for the current year. Perhaps it hangs on 
the life of the King of Prussia, and that hangs by a very slen- 
der thread. American reputation in Europe is not such as to be 
flattering to its citizens. Two circumstances are particularly ob- 
jected to us: the non-payment of our debts, and the want of 
energy in our government. These discourage a connection with 
us. I own it to be my opinion, that good will arise from the 
destruction of our credit. I see nothing else which can restrain 

i. After a distinguished career as a soldier during the Revolution, 
Stuart became a legislator and jurist, for years leading the conservative 
Wing of Jeffersonian democrats in Virginia. 

390 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

our disposition to luxury, and to the change of those manners 
which alone can preserve republican government. As it is im- 
possible to prevent credit, the best way would be to cure its ill 
effects, by giving an instantaneous recovery to the creditor. This 
would be reducing purchases on credit to purchases for ready 
money. A man would then see a prison painted on everything 
he wished, but had not ready money to pay for. 

I fear from an expression in your letter, that the people 
of Kentucky think of separating, not only from Virginia (in 
which they are right), but also from the confederacy. I own, I 
should think this a most calamitous event, and such a one as 
every good citizen should set himself against. Our present fed- 
eral limits are not too large for good government, nor will the 
increase of votes in Congress produce any ill effect. On the 
contrary, it will drown the little divisions at present existing 
there. Our confederacy must be viewed as the nest, from which 
all America, North and South, is to be peopled. We should 
take care, too, not to think it for the interest of that great 
Continent to press too soon on the Spaniards. Those coun- 
tries cannot be in better hands. My fear is, that they are too 
feeble to hold them till our population can be sufficiently ad- 
vanced to gain it from them, piece by piece. The navigation of 
the Mississippi we must have. This is all we are, as yet, ready 
to receive. I have made acquaintance with a very sensible, can- 
did gentleman here, who was in South America during the 
revolt which took place there, while our Revolution was going 
on. He says, that those disturbances (of which we scarcely 
heard anything) cost, on both sides, an hundred thousand lives. 

I have made a particular acquaintance here, with Monsieur 
de Buffon, and have a great desire to give him the best idea I 
can of our elk. Perhaps your situation may enable you to aid 
m'e in this. You could not oblige me more than by sending me 
the horns, skeleton, and skin of an elk, were it possible to pro- 
cure them. The most desirable form of receiving them would 
be, to have the skin slit from the under jaw along the belly to 
the tail, and down the thighs to the knee, to take the anima/ 



OF 

out, leaving the legs and hoofs, the bones of the head, and the 
horns attached to the skin. By sewing up the belly, &c., and 
stuffing the skin, it would present the form of the animal. How- 
ever, as an opportunity of doing this is scarcely to be expected, 
I shall be glad to receive them detached, packed in a box, and 
sent to Richmond, to the care of Dr. Currie. Everything of 
this kind is precious here. . . . 



TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, February 8, 1786 

.... I am persuaded, that a gift of lands by the State 
of Virginia to the Marquis de La Fayette would give a good 
opinion here of our character, and would reflect honor on the 
Marquis. Nor, am I sure that the day will not come when it 
might be an useful asylum to him. The time of life at which 
he visited America was too well adapted to receive good and 
lasting impressions to permit him ever to accommodate himself 
to the principles of monarchical government; and it will need 
all his own prudence, and that of his friends, to make this coun- 
try a safe residence for him. How glorious, how comfortable in 
deflection, will it be, to have prepared a refuge for him in 
case of a reverse. In the meantime, he could settle it with ten- 
ants from the freest part of this country, Bretaigne. I have 
neVer suggested the smallest idea of this kind to him ; because 
the execution of it should convey the first notice. If the State 
has not a right to give him lands with their own officers, they 
could buy up, at cheap prices, the shares of others. . , . 



TO JOHN PAGE 

Paris, May 4, 1786 

.... I returned but three or four days ago from a two 
months' trip to England. I traversed' that country much, and 

392 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

own both town and country fell short of my expectations. Com- 
paring it with this, I found a much greater proportion of bar- 
rens, a soil, in other parts, not naturally so good as this, not 
better cultivated, but better manured, and, therefore, more 
productive. This proceeds from the practice of long leases 
there, and short ones here. The laboring people here are poorer 
than in England. They pay about one half their produce in 
rent; the English, in general, about a third. The gardening, in 
that country, is the article in which it surpasses all the earth. 
I mean their pleasure gardening. This, indeed, went far be- 
yond my ideas. The city of London, though handsomer than 
Paris, is not so handsome as Philadelphia. Their architecture 
is in the most wretched style I ever saw, not meaning to ex- 
cept Am'erica, where it is bad, nor even Virginia, where it is 
worse than in any other part of America which I have seen. 
The mechanical arts in London are carried to a wonderful 
perfection. But of these I need not sp'eak, because of them my 
countrymen have unfortunately too many samples before their 
eyes. I consider the extravaganc'e, which has seized them, as a 
more baneful evil than toryism was during the war. It is the 
more so, as the example is set by the best and most amiable 
characters among us. Would a missionary appear, who would 
make frugality the basis of his religious system, and go through 
the land, preaching it up as the only road to salvation, I would 
join his school, though not generally disposed to seek my re- 
ligion out of the dictates of my own reason, and feelings of my 
own heart. These things have been more deeply impressed on 
my mind, by what I have heard and seen in England. That 
nation hate us, their ministers hate us, and their King, more 
than all other men. They have the impudence to avow this, 
though they acknowledge our trade important to them. But 
they think, we cannot prevent our countrymen from bringing 
that into their laps. A conviction of this determines them to 
make no terms of commerce with us. They say, they will pockfet 
our carrying trade as well as their own. Our overtures of com- 
mercial arrangements have been treated with a derision, which 

393 



OF 

shows their firm persuasion, that we shall never unite to sup- 
press their commerce, or even to impede it. I think their hostility 
towards us is much more deeply rooted at present, than during 
the war. In the arts, the most striking thing I saw there, new, 
was the application of the principle of the steam-engine to grist 
mills. I saw eight pair of stones which are worked by steam, 
and there are to be set up thirty pair in the same house. An hun- 
dred bushels of coal a day, are consumed at pres'ent. I do not 
know in what proportion the consumption will be increased by 
the additional geer. . . . 



TO MR. WYTHE * 

Paris, August 13, 1786 

.... If all the sovereigns of Europe were to set them- 
selves to work, to emancipate the minds of their subjects from 
tfieir present ignorance and prejudices, and that, as zealously 
as they now endeavor the contrary, a thousand years would not 
place them on that high ground, on which our common people 
are now setting out. Ours could not have be'en so fairly placed 
under the control of the common sense of the people, had they 
not been separated from their par'ent stock, and kept from 
contamination, either from them, or the other people of the 
old world, by the intervention of so wide an ocean. To know 
the worth of this, one must see the want of it here. I think by 
far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the 
diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure founda- 
tion can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happi- 
ness. If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good 
conservators of the public happiness, send him here. It is the 
best school in the universe to cure him of that folly. He will see 
here, with his own eyes, that these descriptions of men are an 

i. After graduating from William and Mary, Jefferson studied law 
under George Wythe, one of the most celebrated jurists of his day, who 
later became Jefferson's warm friend. 

394 



VHOMAS J8FF8RSON 

abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of 
the people. The omnipotence of their effect cannot be better 
proved, than in this country particularly, where, notwithstand- 
ing the finest soil upca earth, the finest climate under heaven, 
and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable? 
character of which the human form is susceptible; where such 
a people, I say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, 
are loaded with misery, by kings, nobles, and priests, and by 
them alone. Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; 
establish and improve the law for educating the common pea 
pie. Let our countryrrien know, that the people alone can pro 
tect us against these evils, and that the tax which will be paid 
for this purpose, is not more than the thousandth part of what 
will be paid to kings, priests and nobles, who will rise up among 
us if We leave the people in ignorance. The people of England, 
I think, are less oppressed than here. But it needs but half an 
eye to see, when among them, that the foundation is laid in 
their dispositions for the establishment of a despotism. No- 
bility, wealth, and pomp are the objects of their admiration. 
They are by no means the free-minded people we suppose them 
in America. Their learned men, too, are few in number, and arte 
less learned, and infinitely less emancipated from prejudice, 
than those of this country. . . . 



TO MRS. COSWAY 1 

Paris, October 12, 1786 

MY DEAR MADAM, Having performed the last sad 
office of handing you into your carriage, at the pavilion de St. 
Denis, and seen the wheels get actually into motion, I turned 
on my heel and walked, more dead than alive, to the opposite 
door, where my own was awaiting me. Mr. Danquerville was 

T. Maria Cosway, a famous Italian-English beauty and accomplished 
painter, captivated Jefferson during his stay in Paris. 

395 



OF 

missing. He was sought for, found, and dragged down stairs. 
We were crammed into the carriage, like recruits for the Bas- 
tille, and not having soul enough to give orders to the coach- 
man, he presumed Paris our destination, and drove off. After 
a considerable interval, silence was broke, with a "Je suis 
vraiment afjlige du depart de ces bons gens." This was a sig- 
nal for a mutual confession of distress. Wfe began immediately 
to talk of Mr. and Mrs. Cosway, of their goodness, their tal- 
ents, their amiability; and, though we spoke of nothing else, 
we seemed hardly to have entered into the matter, when the 
coachman announced the rue St. Denis, and that we were oppo- 
site Mr. Danquerville's. He insisted on descending there, and 
traversing a short passage to his lodgings. I was carried home. 
Seated by my fireside, solitary and sad, the following dialogue 
,took place between my Head and my Heart. 

Head. Well, friend, you seem to be in a pretty trim. 

Heart. I am indeed the most wretched of all earthly beings. 
Overwhelmed with grief, every fibre of my frame distended be- 
yond its natural powers to bear, I would willingly meet what- 
ever catastrophe should leave me no more to feel, or to fear. 

Head. These are the eternal consequences of your warmth 
and precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you 
are ever leading us. You confess your follies, indeed; but still 
you hug and cherish them; and no reformation can be hoped 
where there is no repentance. 

Heart. Oh, my friend! this is no moment to upbraid my 
foibles. I am rent into fragments by the force of my grief! If 
you have any balm, pour it into my wounds; if none, do not 
harrow them by new torments. Spare me in this awful moment! 
At any other, I will attend with patience to your admonitions. 

Head. On the contrary, I never found that the moment of 
triumph, with you, was the moment of attention to my ad- 
monitions. While suffering under your follies, you may per- 
haps be made sensible of them, but the paroxysm over, you 
fancy it can never return. Harsh, therefore, as the medicine 
may be, it is my office to administer it. You will be pleased tc 

396 



THOMAS 38FFSRSON 

remember, that when our friend Trumbull used to be telling 
us of the merits and talents of these good p'eople, I never 
ceased whispering to you that we had no occasion for new 
acquaintances; that the greater their merits and talents, the 
more dangerous their friendship to our tranquillity, because the 
regret at parting would be greater. 

Heart. Accordingly, Sir, this acquaintance was not the conse- 
quence of my doings. It was one of your projects, which threw 
us in the way of it. It was you, remember, and not I, who de- 
sired the meeting at Legrand and Molinos. I never trouble myself 
with domes nor arches. The Halle aux Bleds might have rotted 
down, before I should have gone to see it. But you, forsooth, 
who are eternally getting us to sleep with your diagrams and 
crotchets, must go and examine this wonderful piece of archi- 
tecture; and when you had seen it, oh! it was the most superb 
thing on earth! What you had seen there was worth all you 
had yet seen in Paris! I thought so, too. But I meant it of the 
lady and gentleman to whom we had been presented; and not 
of a parcel of sticks and chips put together in pens. You, tfien, 
Sir, and not I, have been the cause of the present distress. 

Head. It would have been happy for you if my diagrams and 
crotchets had gotten you to sleep on that day, as you are pleased 
to say they eternally do. My visit to Legrand and Molinos had 
public utility for its object. A market is to be built in Rich- 
mond. What a commodious plan is that of Legrand and Moli- 
nos; especially, if we put on it the noble dome of the Halle aux 
Bleds. If such a bridge as they showed us can be thrown across 
the Schuylkill, at Philadelphia, the floating bridges taken up, 
and the navigation of that river opened, what a copious re* 
source will be added, of wood and provisions, to warm and feed 
the poor of that city? While I was occupied with thes'e objects, 
you were dilating with your new acquaintances, and contriving 
how to prevent a separation from them. Every soul of you had 
an engagement for the day. Yet all these wer'e to be sacrificed, 
that you might dine together. Lying messengers were to be 
despatched into every quarter of the city, with apologies for 

397 



OF 

your breach of engagement. You, particularly, had the effron- 
tery to send word to the Duchess Danville, that on the mo- 
ment we were setting out to dine with her, despatches came to 
hand, which required immediate attention. You wanted me to 
invent a more ingenious excuse; but I knew you were getting 
into a scrap'e, and I would have nothing to do with it. Well; 
after dinner to St. Cloud, from St. Cloud to Ruggieri's, from 
Ruggieri's to Krumfoltz; and if the day had been as long as 
a J .apland summer day, you would still have contrived means 
among you to have filled it. 

Heart. Oh! my dear friend, how you have revived me by re- 
calling to my mind the transactions of that day! How well I re- 
member them all, and that, when I came home at night, and 
looked back to the morning, it seemed to have been a month 
agone. Go on, then, like a kind comforter, and paint to me the 
day We went to St. Germains. How beautiful was every object! 
the Port de Neuilly, the hills along the Seine, the rainbows of 
the machine of Marly, the terrace of St. Germains, the cha- 
teaux, the gardens, the statues of Marly, the pavilion of Lu- 
cienne. Recollect, too, Madrid, Bagatelle, the King's garden, 
the Dessert. How grand the idea excited by the remains of such 
a column. The spiral staircase, too, was beautiful. Every mo- 
ment was filled with something agreeable. The wheels of time 
moved on with a rapidity, of which those of our carriage gave 
but a faint idea. And yet, in the evening, when one took a retro- 
spect of the day, what a mass of happiness had we travelled 
over! Retrace all those scenes to me, my good companion, and 
I will forgive the unkindness with which you were chiding 
me. Ihe day we went to St. Germains was a little too warm, 
I think; was it not? 

Head. Thou art the most incorrigible of all the beings that 
ever sinned! I reminded you of the follies of the first day, in- 
tending to deduce from thence some useful lessons for you ; but 
instead of listening to them, you kindle at the recollection, 
you retrace the whole series with a fondness, which shows you 
nothing, but the opportunity, to act it over again. I often 

398 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

told you, during its course, that you were imprudently engaging 
your affections, under circumstances that must have cost you a 
great deal of pain; that the persons, indeed, were of the great- 
est merit, possessing good sense, good humor, honest hearts, 
honest manners, and eminence in a lovely art; that the lady 
had, moreover, qualities and accomplishments belonging to her 
sex, which might form a chapter apart for her; such as music, 
modesty, beauty, and that softness of disposition, which is the 
ornament of hei sex and charm of ours; but that all these con- 
siderations would increase the pang of separation; that their 
stay here was to be short; that you rack our whole system 
when you are parted from those you love, complaining that 
such a separation is worse than death, inasmuch as this ends 
our sufferings, whereas that only begins them; and that the 
separation would, in this instance, be the more severe, as you 
would probably never see them again. 

Heart. But they told me they would come back again, the 
next year. 

Head. But, in the meantime, see what you suffer; and their 
return, too, depends on so many circumstances, that if you had 
a grain of prudence, you would not count upon it. Upon the 
whole, it is improbable, and therefore you should abandon the 
idea of ever seeing them again. 

Heart. May heaven abandon me if I do! 

Head. Very well. Suppose, then, they come back. They are 
to stay two months, and, when these are expired, what is to fol- 
low? Perhaps you flatter yourself they may come to America? 

Heart. God only knows what is to happen. I see nothing im- 
possible in that supposition ; and I see things wonderfully con- 
trived sometimes, to make us happy. Where could they find 
such objects as in America, for the exercise of their enchanting; 
art? especially the lady, who paints landscapes so inimitably. 
She wants only subjects worthy of immortality, to render her 
pencil immortal. The Falling Spring, the Cascad'e of Niagara, 
the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Mountains, the 
Natural Bridge; it is worth a voyage across the Atlantic t<j 

399 



OF 

rfet these objects; much more to paint, and make them, and 
thereby ourselves, known to all ages. And our own dear Monti- 
cello; where has nature spread so rich a mantle under the eye? 
mountains, forest, rocks, rivers. With what majesty do we there 
ride above the storms! How sublime to look down into the 
workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thun- 
der, all fabricated at our feet! and the glorious sun, when rising 
as if out of a distant water, just gilding the tops of the moun- 
tains, and giving life to all nature! I hope in God, no circum- 
stancfe may ever make either seek an asylum from grief! With 
what sincere sympathy I would open every cell of my com- 
position, to receive the effusion of their woes! I would pour 
my tears into their wounds; and if a drop of balm could be 
found on the top of the Cordilleras, or at the remotest sources 
of the Missouri, I would go thither myself to seek and to bring 
it. Deeply practised in the school of affliction, the human heart 
knows no joy which I have not lost, no sorrow of which I have 
not drunk! Fortune ran present no grief of unknown form to 
me! Who, then, can so softly bind up the wound of another, as 
he who has felt the same wound himself? But heaven forbid 
they should ever know a sorrow! Let us turn over another leaf, 
for this has distracted me. 

Head. Well. Let us put this possibility to trial then, on an- 
other point. When you consider the character which is given 
of our country, by the lying newspapers of London, and their 
credulous copiers in other countries; when you reflect that all 
Europe is made to believe we are a lawless banditti, in a state 
of absolute anarchy, cutting one another's throats, and plun- 
dering without distinction, how could you expect that any rea- 
sonable creature would venture among us? 

Heart. But you and I know that all this is false: that there is 
not a country on earth, where there is greater tranquillity; 
where the laws are milder, or better obeyed; where every one 
is more attentive to his own business, or meddles less with that 
of others; where strangers are better received, more hospitably 
treated, and with a more sacred respect. 

40O 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

Head. True, you and I know this, but your friends do not 
know it. 

Heart. But they are sensible people, who think for them- 
selves. They will ask of impartial foreigners, who have been 
among us, whether they saw or heard on the spot, any instance 
of anarchy. They will judge, too, that a people, occupied as 
we are, in opening rivers, digging navigable canals, making 
roads, building public schools, establishing academies, erect- 
ing busts and statues to our great men, protecting religious 
freedom, abolishing sanguinary punishments, reforming and im- 
proving our laws in general; they will judge, I say, for them- 
selves, whether these are not the occupations of a people at 
their ease; whether this is not better evidence of our true state, 
than a London newspaper, hired to lie, and from which no truth 
can ever be extracted but by reversing everything it says. 

Head. I did not begin this lecture, my friend, with a view 
to learn from you what America is doing. Let us return, then, 
to our point. I wish to make you sensible how imprudent it is 
to place your affections, without reserve, on objects you must so 
soon lose, and whose loss, when it comes, must cost you such 
s'evere pangs. Remember the last night. You knew your friends 
were to leave Paris to-day. This was enough to throw you into 
agonies. All night you tossed us from one side of the bed to 
the other; no sleep, no rest. The poor crippled wrist, too, never 
left orie moment in the same position; now up, now down, now 
here, now there; was it to be wondered at, if its pains re- 
turned? The surgeon then was to be called, and to be rated 
as an ignoramus, because he could not divine the cause of this 
extraordinary change. In fine, my friend, you must mend your 
manners. This is not a world to live at random in, as you do. To 
avoid those eternal distresses, to which you are forever expos- 
ing us, you must learn to look forward, before you take a step 
which may interest our peace. Everything in this world is a 
matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance 
in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any ob- 
ject may offer; but put fairly into the other, the pains which 

401 



t OF 

are to follow, and s'ee which preponderates. The making an ac- 
quaintance, is not a matter f ji indifference. When a new one is 
proposed to you, view it all round. Consider what advantages 
it presents, and to wli?/t inconveniences it may expose you. Do 
not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook 
beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain; and he is 
the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with 
which it is beset. Pleasure is always before us; but misfortune 
is at our side: while running after that, this arrests us. The 
most effectual means of being secure against pain, is to retire 
within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those 
which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man 
will count on: for nothing is ours, which another may deprive 
us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. 
Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never 
cloying, we ride serene and sublime above the concerns of this 
mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and mo- 
tion, the laws which bind up their existence, and that Eternal 
Being who made and bound them up by those laws. Let this be 
our employ. Leave the bustle and tumult of society to those 
who have not talents to occupy themselves without them. 
Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the fol- 
lies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries 
is sufficient: why cuter then as volunteers into those of an 
other? Is there so lil tie gall poured into our cup, that we must 
need help to drink fiat of our neighbor? A friend dies, or leaves 
us: we feel as if a )imb were cut off. He is sick: we must watch 
over him, and participate of his pains. His fortune is ship- 
wrecked: ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a 
child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it 
were our own. 

Heart. And what more sublime delight than to mingle tears 
with one whom the hand of heaven hath smitten! to watch over 
the bed of sickness, and to beguile its tedious and its painful 
moments 1 to share our bread with one to whom misfortune has 
left uon^,' This world abounds indeed with misery; to lighten 

402 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

its burthen, we must divide it with one another. But let u& now 
try the virtue of your mathematical balance, and 0j you have 
put into one scale the burthens of friendship, let me put its 
comforts into the other. When languishing then under disease, 
how grateful is the solace of our friends! how are we penetrated 
with their assiduities and attentions! how much are we sup- 
ported by their encouragements and kind offices! When heaven 
has taken from us some object of our love, how sweet is it to 
have a bosom whereon to recline our heads, and into which we 
may pour the torrent of our tears! Grief, with such a comfort, 
is almost a luxury! In a life, where we are perpetually exposed 
to want and accident, yours is a wonderful proposition, to in- 
sulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, and to wrap ourselves in 
the mantle of self-sufficiency! For, assuredly, nobody will care 
for him who cares for nobody. But friendship is precious, not 
only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a 
benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is 
sunshine. I will recur for proof to the days we have lately 
passed. On these, indeed, the sun shone brightly. How gay did 
the face of nature appear! Hills, valleys, chateaux, gardens, 
rivers, every object wore its liveliest hue! Whence did they 
borrow it? From the presence of our charming companion,, 
They were pleasing, because she seemed pleased. Alone, the 
scene would have been dull and insipid: the participation of it 
with her gave it relish. Let the gloomy monk, sequestered from 
the world, seek unsocial pleasures in the bottom of his cell! 
Let the sublimated philosopher grasp visionary happiness, wiiile 
pursuing phantoms dressed in the garb of truth! Their su- 
preme wisdom is supreme folly; and they mistake for happi- 
ness the mere absence of pain. Had they ever felt the solid 
pleasure of one generous spasm of the heart, they would ex- 
change for it all the frigid speculations of their lives, which you 
have been vaunting in such elevated terms. Believe me, then, 
my friend, that that is a miserable arithmetic which could esti- 
mate friendship at nothing, or at less than nothing. Respect for 
you has induced me to enter into this discussion, and to hear 

403 



OF 

principles uttered which I detest and abjure. Respect for my- 
self now obliges me to recall you into the proper limits of your 
office. When natufe assigned us the same habitation, she gave 
us over it a divided empire. To you, she allotted the field of 
science; to me, that of morals. When the circle is to be squared, 
or the orbit of a comet to be traced; when the arch of greatest 
strength, or the solid of least resistance, is to be investigated, 
take up the problem; it is yours; nature has given me no 
cognizance of it. In like manner, in denying to you the feelings 
of sympathy, of benevolence, of gratitude, of justice, of love, of 
friendship, she has excluded you from their control. To these, 
she has adapted the mechanism of the heart. Morals were too 
essential to the happiness of man, to be risked on the uncertain 
combinations of the head. She laid their foundation, therefore, 
in sentiment, not in science. That she gave to all, as necessary 
to all; this to a few only, as sufficing with a few. I know, in- 
deed, that you pretend authority to the sovereign control of our 
conduct, in all its parts; and a respect for your grave saws and 
maxims, a desire to do what is right, has sometimes induced m'e 
to conform to your counsels. A few facts, however, which I 
can readily recall to your memory, will suffice to prove to you, 
that nature has not organized you for our moral direction. 
When the poor, wearied soldier whom we overtook at Chicka- 
hominy, with his pack on his back, begged us to let him get 
up behind our chariot, you began to calculate that the road was 
full of soldiers, and that if all should be taken up, our horses 
would fail in their journey. We drove on therefore. But, soon 
becoming sensible you had made me do wrong, that, though 
we cannot relieve all the distressed, we should relieve as many 
as we can, I turned about to take up the soldier; but he had 
entered a bye-path, and was no more to be found; and from 
that moment to this, I could never find him out, to ask his 
forgiveness. Again, when the poor woman came to ask a char- 
ity in Philadelphia, you whispered that she looked like a drunk- 
ard, and that half a dollar was enough to give her for the ale- 
house. Those who want the dispositions to give, easily find rea- 

404 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

sons why they ought not to give. When I sought her out after- 
wards, and did what I should have done at first, you know that 
she employed the money immediately towards placing her child 
at school. If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the 
point of the bayonet, had been governed by its heads instead 
of its hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging on a 
gallows as high as Hainan's. You began to calculate, and to 
compare wealth and numbers: we threw up a few pulsations of 
our blood; we supplied enthusiasm against wealth and num- 
bers; we put our existence to the hazard, when the hazard 
seemed against us, and We saved our country: justifying, at the 
same time, the ways of Providence, whose precept is, to do al- 
ways what is right, and leave the issue to Him. In short, my 
friend, as far as my recollection serves me, I do not know that 
I fever did a good thing on your suggestion, or a dirty one with- 
out it. I do forever, then, disclaim your interference in my 
province. Fill paper as you please with triangles and squares: 
try how many ways you can hang and combine them together. 
1 shall never envy nor control your sublime delights. But leave 
me to decide, when and where friendships are to be contracted, 
You say, I contract them at random. So you said the woman 
at Philadelphia was a drunkard. I receive none into my es- 
teem, till I know they are worthy of it. Wealth, title, office, 
are no recommendations to my friendship. On the contrary, 
great good qualities are requisite to make amends for their hav- 
ing wealth, title, and office. You confess, that, in the present 
case, I could not have made a worthier choice. You only object, 
that I was so soon to lose them. We are not immortal ourselves, 
my friend; how can we expect our enjoyments to be so? We 
have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is 
the law of our existence; and we must acquiesce. It is the condi- 
tion annexed to all our pleasures, not by us who receive, but 
by him who gives them. True, this condition is pressing cruelly 
on me at this moment. I feel more fit for death than life. But, 
when I look back on the pleasures of which it is the conse- 
quence, I am conscious they were worth the price I am pay- 

40S 



OF 

ing. Notwithstanding your endeavors, too, to damp my hop'es, 
I comfort myself with expectations of their promised return. 
Hope is sweeter than despair; and they were too good to mean 
to deceive me. "In the summer," said the gentleman; but "in 
the spring," said the lady; and I should love her forever, were 
it only for that! Know, then, my friend, that I have taken 
these good people into my bosom; that I have lodged them in 
the warmest cell I could find; that I love them, and will con- 
tinue to love them through life; that if fortune should dispose 
them on one side the globe, and me on the other, my affections 
shall pervade its whole mass to reach them. Knowing then my 
determination, attempt not to disturb it. If you can, at any 
time, furnish matter for their amusement, it will be the office 
of a good neighbor to do it. I will, in like manner, seize any 
occasion which may offer, to do the like good turn for you with 
Condorcet, Rittenhouse, Madison, La Cretelle, or any other of 
those worthy sons of science, whom you so justly prize. 

I thought this a favorable proposition whereon to rest the 
issue of the dialogue. So I put an end to it by calling for my 
nightcap. Methinks, I hear you wish to heaven I had called 
a little sooner, and so spared you the ennui of such a sermon. 
I did not interrupt them sooner, because I was in a mood 
for hearing sermons. You too were the subject; and on such 
a thesis, I never think the theme long; not even if I am to 
write it, and that slowly and awkwardly, as now, with the 
left hand. But, that you may not be discouraged from a cor- 
respondence which begins so formidably, I will promise you, 
on my honor, that my future letters shall be of a reasonable 
length. I will even agree to express but half my esteem for 
you, for fear of cloying you with too full a dose. But, on your 
part, no curtailing. If your letters are as long as the Bible, they 
will appear short to me. Only let them be brimful of affec- 
tion. I shall read them with the dispositions with which Arle- 
quin, in Les deux billets, spelt the words "je t'aime," and 
wished that the whole alphabet had entered into their composi- 
tion. 

406 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

We have had incessant rains since your departure. These 
make me fear for your health, as well as that you had an un- 
comfortable journey. The same cause has prevented me from 
being able to give you any account of your friends here. This 
voyage to Fontainebleau will probably send the Count de 
Moustier and the Marquise de Brehan, to America. Danquer- 
ville promised to visit me, but has not done it as yet. De la 
Tude comes sometimes to take family soup with me, and en- 
tertains me with anecdotes of his five and thirty years' im- 
prisonment. How fertile is the mind of man, which can make 
the Bastile and dungeon of Vincennes yield interesting anec- 
dotes! You know this was for making four verses on Madame 
de Pompadour. But I think you told me you did not know the 
verses. They were these: "Sans esprit, sans sentiments, Sans etrc 
bvlle, ni neuvc, En France on peut avoir le premier amant: 
Pompadour en est I'eprcuvc" * I have read the memoir of his 
three escapes. As to myself, my health is good, except my wrist 
which mends slowly, and my mind which mends not at all, but 
broods constantly over your departure. The lateness of the sea- 
son obliges me to decline my journey into the south of France. 
Present me in the most friendly terms to Mr. Cosway, and re- 
ceive me into your own recollection with a partiality and 
warmth, proportioned not to my own poor m'erit, but to the 
sentiments of sincere affection and esteem, with which I have 
the honor to be, my dear Madam, your most obedient humble 
servant. 

TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, December 16, 1786 

.... To make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and 
keep us distinct in domestic ones, gives the outline of the 
proper division of powers between the general and particular 

i. "Without brains or feeling, | Without beauty or youth, | In France; 
one may have the first of lovers: | There's Pompadour for proof." 

407 



OF 

governments. But, to enable the federal head to exercise the 
powers given it to best advantage, it should be organized as 
the particular ones are, into legislative, executive, and judici- 
ary. The first and last are already separated. The second 
should be. When last with Congress, I often proposed to mem- 
bers to do this, by making of the committee of the States, an 
executive committee during the recess of Congress, and, dur- 
ing its sessions, to appoint a committee to receive and despatch 
all executive business, so that Congress itself should meddle 
only with what should be legislative. But I question if any Con- 
gress (much less all successively) can have self-denial enough 
to go through with this distribution. The distribution, then, 
should be imposed on them. I find Congress have reversed their 
division of the western States, and proposed to make them 
fewer and larger. This is reversing the natural order of things. 
A tractable people may be governed in large bodies; but, in 
proportion as they depart from this character, the extent of 
their government must be less. We see into what small divi- 
sions the Indians are obliged to reduce their societies. This 
measure, with the disposition to shut up the Mississippi, gives 
me serious apprehensions of the severance of the eastern and 
western parts of our confederacy. It might have been made the 
interest of the western States to remain united with us, by 
managing their interests honestly, and for their own good. But, 
the moment we sacrifice their interest to our own, they will see 
it better to govern themselves. The moment they resolve to do 
this, the point is settled. A forced connection is neither our 
interest, nor within our power. 

The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received 
with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with en- 
thusiasm. I do not mean by the governments, but by the in- 
dividuals who compose them. It has been translated into French 
and Italian, has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, 
and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those re- 
ports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new 
"Encyclopedic," and is appearing in most of the publications 

408 



THOMAS J8FF6RSON 

respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the stand- 
ard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during 
which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, 
priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced 
the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the 
reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own 
opinions. . . . 

TO JOHN JAY 

Paris, January g, 1787 

.... You will have seen in the public papers, that the 
King has called an assembly of the Notables of this country. 
This has not been done for one hundred and sixty years 
past. Of course, it calls up all the attention of the people. 
The objects of this assembly are not named: several are con- 
jectured. The tolerating the Protestant religion; removing all 
the internal Custom houses to the frontier; equalizing the 
gabelles on salt through the kingdom; the sale of the King's 
domains, to raiste money; or, finally, the effecting this neces- 
sary end by some other means, are talked of. But in truth, 
nothing is known about it. This government practises secrecy 
so systematically, that it never publishes its purposes or its 
proceedings, sooner or more extensively than necessary. I 
send you a pamphlet, which, giving an account of the last 
Assemblee des Notables, may give an idea of what the 
present will be. . . . 

TO MONSIEUR DE CREVE-COEUR 1 

Paris y January 15, 1787 

Dear Sir, I see by the Journal of this morning, that 
they are robbing us of another of our inventions to give it to 
the English. The writer, indeed, only admits them to have 

i. This distinguished French emigre- and acquaintance of Jefferson 
was the author of Letters of art American Farmer. 

409 



OF 

revived what he thinks was known to the Greeks, that is, the 
making the circumference of a wheel of one single piece. The 
farmers in New Jersey Were the first who practised it, and 
they practised it commonly. Dr. Franklin, in one of his 
trips to London, mentioned this practice to the man now in 
London, who has the patent for making those wheels. The 
idea struck him. The Doctor promised to go to his shop, and 
assist him in trying to make the wheel of one piece. The 
Jersey farmers do it by cutting a young sapling, and bending 
it, while green and juicy, into a circle; and leaving it so until 
it becomes perfectly seasoned. But in London there are no 
saplings. The difficulty was, then, to give to old wood the 
pliancy of young. The Doctor and the workman labored to- 
gether some weeks, arid succeeded; and the man obtained a 
patent for it, which has made his fortune. I was in his shop 
in London, he told me the whole story himself, and acknowl- 
edged, not only the origin of the idea, but how much the 
assistance of Dr. Franklin had contributed to perform the 
operation on dry wood. He spoke of him with love and 
gratitude. I think I have had a similar account from Dr. 
Franklin, but cannot be quite c'ertain. I know, that being in 
Philadelphia when the first set of patent wheels arrived from 
London, and were spoken of by the gentleman (an English- 
man) who brought them, as a wonderful discovery, the idea 
of its being a new discovery was laughed at by the Philadel- 
phians, who, in their Sunday parties across the Delaware, 
had seen every farmer's cart mounted on such wheels. The 
writer in the paper, supposes the English workman got his 
idea from Homer. But it is more likely the Jersey farmer got 
his idea from thence, because ours are the only farmers who 
can read Homer; because, too, the Jersey practice is precisely 
that stated by Homer: the English practice very different. 
Homer's words are (comparing a young hero killed by Ajax to 
\ poplar felled by a workman) literally thus: "He fell on the 
ground, like a poplar, which has grpwn smooth, in the west 
part of a great meadow; with its branches shooting from its 

410 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

summit. But the chariot maker, with the sharp axe, has felled 
it, that he may bend a wheel for a beautiful chariot. It lies 
drying on the banks of the river." Observe the circumstances 
which coincide with the Jersey practice, i. It is a tree growing 
in a moist place, full of juices and easily bent. 2. It is cut 
while green. 3. It is bent into the circumference of a wheel. 
4. It is left to dry in that form. You, who write French wfell 
and readily, should write a line for the Journal, to reclaim 
the honor of our farmers. Adieu. Yours affectionately. 



TO COLONEL EDWARD CARRINGTON 1 

Paris, January ib, 

.... The tumults in America I expected would have 
produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political 
state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of these 
tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness 
of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves 
on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion 
here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people 
will always be found to be the best army. They may be led 
astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The 
people are the only censors of their governors; and even 
their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of 
their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be 
to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way 
to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people, is to 
give them full information of their affairs through the channel 
of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should 
penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our 
governments being the opinion of the people, the very first 
object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to 
decide whether we should have a government without news- 

i. Carrington was a member of a prominent Virginia family who 
served in the Revolution and was a member of the Continental Congress. 

411 



OF 

papers, or newspapers without a government, I should not 
hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that 
every man should receive those papers, and be capable of 
reading them. I am convinced that those societies (as the 
Indians) which live without government, enjoy in their gen- 
eral mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those 
who live under the European governments. Among the former, 
public opinion is in the place of law, and restrains morals as 
powerfully as laws ever did anywhere. Among the latter, under 
pretence of governing, they have divided their nations into 
two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a 
true picture of Europe. Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our 
people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe 
upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. 
If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and 
I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall 
all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general 
natufe, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience de- 
clares that man is the only animal which devours his own 
kind; for I can apply no milder term to the governments of 
Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on th<e poor. . . , 



TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, January 30, 

. . : . I am impatient to learn your sentiments on the 
late troubles in the Eastern States. So far as I have yet seen, 
they do not appear to threaten serious consequences. Those 
States have suffered by the stoppage of the channels of their 
commerce, which have not yet found other issues. This must 
render money scarce, and make the people uneasy. This uneasi- 
ness has produced acts absolutely unjustifiable; but I hope 
they will provoke no severities from their governments. A 
consciousness of those in power that their administration of the 
public affairs has been honest, may, perhaps, produce too 

412 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

great a degree of indignation; and those characters, wherein 
fear predominates over hope, may apprehend too much from 
these instances of irregularity. They may conclude too hastily, 
that nature has formed man insusceptible of any other gov- 
ernment than that of force, a conclusion not founded in truth 
nor experience. Societies exist under three forms, sufficiently 
distinguishable, i. Without government, as among our Indians. 
2. Under governments, wherein the will of every one has a 
just influence; as is the case in England, in a slight degree, 
and in our States, in a great one. 3. Under governments of 
force; as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of 
the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence 
under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of 
wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, 
that the first condition is not the best. But I believe it to be 
inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second 
state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under 
that, enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has 
its evils, too; the principal of which is the turbulence to which 
it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of mon- 
archy, and it becomes nothing. Malo perlculosam libertatcm 
quam quictam servitutem. * Even this evil is productive of 
good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes 
a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it, that a 
little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary 
in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful 
rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on 
the rights of the people, which have produced them. An ob- 
servation of this truth should render honest republican gov- 
ernors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to 
discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the 
sound health of government. 

.... The Marquis d'e La Fayette is a most valuable auxil- 
iary to me. His zeal is unbounded, and his weight with those 
in power, great. His education having been merely military, 

i. I prefer freedom with danger to slavery with ease. 

413 



OF 

commerce was an unknown field to him. But his good sense 
enabling him to comprehend perfectly whatever is explained 
to him, his agency has been very efficacious. He has a great 
deal of sound genius, is well remarked by the King, and rising 
in popularity. He has nothing against him, but the suspicion 
of republican principles. I think he will one day be of the 
ministry. His foible is, a canine appetite for popularity and 
fame; but he will get above this. The Count de Vergennes 
is ill. The possibility of his recovery, renders it dangerous for 
us to express a doubt of it; but he is in danger. He is a 
great minister in European affairs, but has very imperfect 
ideas of our institutions, and no confidence in them. His de- 
votion to the principles of pure despotism, renders him un- 
affectionate to our governments. But his fear of England 
makes him value us as a make weight. He is cool, reserved in 
political conversations, but free and familiar on other sub- 
jects, and a very attentive, agreeable person to do business 
with. It is impossible to have a clearer, better organized head; 
but age has chilled his heart. . . . 



TO MADAME LA COMTESSE DE TESSE * 

Nismes, March 20, 

Here I am, Madam, gazing whole hours at the Maison 
Quarree, like a lover at his mistress. The stocking weavers 
and silk spinners around it consider me a hypochondriac 
Englishman, about to write with a pistol the last chapter 
of his history. This is the second time I have been in love 
since I left Paris. The first was with a Diana at the Chateau 
de Laye-Epinaye in Beaujolois, a delicious morsel of sculpture, 
by M. A. Slodtz. This, you will say, was in rule, to fall in 
love with a female beauty; but with a house! it is out of all 
precedent. No, Madam, it is not without a precedent in my 

i. Madame de Tesse was Lafayette's ol'der cousin whom Jefferson 
greatly admired and frequently visited while he was in Paris. 

414 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

own history. While in Paris, T was violently smitten with 
the Hotel de Salm, and used to go to the Tuileries almost 
daily, to look at it. ... 

From Lyons to Nismes I have been nourished with the 
remains of Roman grandeur. They have always brought you 
to my mind, because I know your affection for whatever is 
Roman and noble. At Vienna I thought of you. But I am 
glad you were not there; for you would have seen me more 
angry than, I hope, you will ever see me. The Praetorian Palace, 
as it is called, comparable, for its fine proportions, to the 
Maison Quarree, defaced by the barbarians who have con- 
verted it to its present purpose, its beautiful fluted Corinthian 
columns cut out, in part, to make space for Gothic windows, 
and hewed down, in the residue, to the plane of the building, 
was enough, you must admit, to disturb my composure. At 
Orange, too, I thought of you. I was sure you had seen with 
pleasure the sublime triumphal arch of Marius at the entrance 
of the city. I went then to the Arenae. Would you believe, 
Madam, that in this eighteenth century, in France, under the 
reign of Louis XVI., they are at this moment pulling down 
the circular wall of this superb remain, to pave a road? . . . 

A pro pas of Paris. I have now been three weeks from there, 
without knowing anything of what has passed. I suppose 1 
shall meet it all at Aix, where I have directed my letters to 
be lodged, paste restante. My journey has given me leisure to 
reflect on this Assemblee des Notables. Under a good and 
a young King, as the pres'ent, I think good may be made of it, 
I would have the deputies then, by all means, so conduct 
themselves as to encourage him to repeat the calls of this 
Assembly. Their first steps should be, to get themselves divided 
into two chambers instead of s'even; the Noblesse and the 
Commons separately. The second, to persuade the King, 
instead of choosing the deputies of the Commons himself, to 
summon those chosen by the people for the Provincial ad- 
ministrations. The third, as the Noblesse is too numerous to be 
all of the Assemblee, to obtain permission for that body to 

415 



OF 

choose its own deputies. Two Houses, so elected, would contain 
a maaS of wisdom which would make the people happy, and 
the King great; would place him in history where no other 
act can possibly place him. They would thus put themselves 
in the track of the best guide they can follow; they would 
soon overtake it, become its guide in turn, and lead to the 
wholesome modifications wanting in that model, and necessary 
to constitute a rational government. Should they attempt more 
than the established habits of the people are ripe for, they 
may lose all, and retard indefinitely the ultimate object of 
their aim. Thes'e, Madam, are my opinions; but I wish to 
know yours, which, I am sure, will be better. 

From a correspondent at Nismes, you will not expect news. 
Were I to attempt to give you news, I should tell you stories 
one thousand years old. I should detail to you the intrigues of 
the courts of the Caesars, how they affect us here, the oppres- 
sions of their praetors, prefects, &c. I am immersed in antiqui- 
ties from morning to night. For me, the city of Rome is 
actually existing in all the splendor of its empire. I am filled 
with alarms for the event of the irruptions daily making on us, 
by the Goths, the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Vandals, lest they 
should re-conquer us to our original barbarism. If I am some- 
times induced to look forward to the eighteenth century, it 
is only when Recalled to it by the recollection of your good- 
ness and friendship, and by those sentiments of sincere esteem 
and respect with which I have the honor to be Madam, your 
most obedient, and most humble servant. 

TO MARTHA JEFFERSON 1 

Aix-en Provence, March 28, 1787 

I was happy, my dear Patsy, to receive, on my arrival 
h^re, your letter, informing me of your good health and occupa- 

i. Martha, Jefferson's oldest daughter, ' had accompanied her father 
on his mission to France. She was fifteen years old when this letter was 
written. [Randall.] 

416 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

tiotis. I have not written you soon'er because I have been almost 
constantly on the road. My journey hitherto has been a very 
pleasing one. It was undertaken with the hope that the mineral 
waters of this place might restore strength to my wrist. Other 
considerations also concurred, instruction, amusement, and 
abstraction from business, of which I had too much at Paris. 
I am glad to learn that you are employed in things new and 
good, in your music and drawing. You know what have been 
my fears for some time past that you do not employ yourself 
so closely as I could wish. You have promised me a more 
assiduous attention, and I have great confidence in what you 
promise. It is your future happiness which interests me, and 
nothing can contribute more to it (moral rectitude always ex- 
cepted) than the contracting a habit of industry and activity. 
Of all the cankers of human happiness none corrodes with so 
silent, yet so baneful a tooth, as indolence. Body and mind 
both unemployed, our being becomes a burthen, and tevery 
object about us loathsome, even the dearest. Idleness begets 
ennui, ennui the hypochondria, and that a diseased body. No 
laborious person was ever yet hysterical. Exercise and applica- 
tion produce order in our affairs, health of body, cheerfulness 
of mind, and these make us precious to our friends. It is while 
we are young that the habit of industry is formed. If not then, 
it never is afterwards. The fortune of our lives, therefore, de- 
pends on employing well the short period of youth. If at any 
moment, my dear, you catch yourself in idleness, start from it 
as you would from the precipice of a gulf. You are not, how- 
ever, to consider yourself as unemployed while taking exercise. 
That is n'ecessary for your health, and health is the first of all 
objects. For this reason, if you leave your dancing-master for 
the summer, you must increase your other exercise. 

I do not like your saying that you are unable to read the 
ancient print of your Livy, but with the aid of your master. 
W'e are always equal to what we undertake with resolution. A 
little degree of this will enable you to decipher your Livy. If 
you always lean on your master, you will never be able to 

417 



OF 

proceed without him. It is a part of the American character 
to consider nothing as d'esperate to surmount every difficulty 
by resolution and contrivance. In Europe there are shops for 
every want: its inhabitants therefore have no idea that their 
wants can be furnished otherwise. Remote from all other aid, 
we are obliged to invent and to execute; to find means within 
ourselves, and not to lean on others. Consider, therefore, the 
conquering your Livy as an exercise in the habit of surmount- 
ing difficulties; a habit which will be necessary to you in the 
country where you are to live, and without which you will be 
thought a very helpless animal, and less esteemed. Music, 
drawing, books, invention, and exercise, will be so many re- 
sources to you against ennui. But there are others which, to this 
object, add that of utility. These are the needle and domestic 
economy. The latter you cannot learn here, but the former you 
may. In the country life of America there are many moments 
when a woman can have recourse to nothing but her needle for 
employment. In a dull company and in dull weather, for in- 
stance, it is ill manners to read; it is ill manners to leave them; 
no card-playing there among genteel people that is aban- 
doned to blackguards. The needle is then a valuable resource. 
Besides, without knowing how to use it herself, how can the 
mistress of a family direct the works of her servants? 

You ask me to \\rite you long letters. I will do it, my dear, 
on condition you will read them from time to time, and practice 
what they will inculcate. Their precepts will be dictated by 
experience, by a perfect knowledge of the situation in which 
you will be placed, and by the fondest love for you. This it is 
which makes me wish to see you more qualified than common. 
My expectations from you are high yet not higher than you 
may attain. Industry and resolution are all that are wanting. 
Nobody in this world can make me so happy, or so miserable, 
as you. Retirement from public life will ere long become 
necessary for me. To your sister and yourself I look to render 
the evening of my life serene and contented. Its morning has 
been clouded by loss after loss, till I have nothing left but you. 

418 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

I do not doubt either your affection or dispositions. But great 
exertions are necessary, and you have little time left to make 
them. Be industrious, then, my dear child. Think nothing 
unsurmountable by resolution and application and you will be 
all that I wish you to be. 

.... Continue to love me with all the warmth with which 
you are beloved my dear Patsy. . . . 



TO MARTHA JEFFERSON 

Toulon, April 7, 1787 * 

MY DEAR PATSY: 

I received yesterday at Marseilles your letter of March 
25th; and I received it with pleasure, because it announced 
to me that you were well. Experience learns us to be always 
anxious about the health of those whom we love. I have 
not been able to write to you as often as I expected, because 
I am generally on the road; and when I stop anywhere, I am 
occupied in seeing what is to be seen. It will be some time 
now, perhaps three weeks, before I shall be able to write you 
again. But this need not slacken your writing to me, because 
you have leisure, and your letters come regularly to me. I have 
received letters which inform me that our dear Polly 2 will 
certainly come to us this summer. By the time I return, it will 
be time to exp'ect her. When she arrives, she will become a 
precious charge on your hands. The difference of your age., 
and your common loss of a mother, will put that office on you. 
Teach her to be always true; no vice is so mean as the want of 
truth, and at the sam'e time so useless. Teach her never to be 
angry: anger only serves to torment ourselves, to divert 
others, and alienate their esteem. And teach her industry and 
application to useful pursuits. I will venture to assufe you, that 
if you inculcate this in her mind, you will make her a happ> 

1. [Fordl 

2. Maria Jefferson, Martha's younger sister. 

419 



OF 

being herself, a most inestimable friend to you, and precious 
to all the world. In teaching her these dispositions of mind, 
you will be more fixed in them yourself, and render yourself 
dear to all your acquaintances. Practice them, then, my dear, 
without ceasing. If ever you find yourself in difficulty, and 
doubt how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and you will 
find it the easiest way of getting out of the difficulty. Do it 
for the additional incitement of increasing the happiness of him 
who loves you infinitely, .... 



TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE l 

Nice, April u, 

Your head, my dear friend, is full of notable things; 
and being better employed, therefore, I do not expect letters 
from you. I am constantly roving about, to see what I have 
never seen before, and shall never see again. In the great 
cities, I go to see what travellers think alone worthy of being 
seen; but I make a job of it, and generally gulp it all down in 
a day. On the other hand, I am never satiated with rambling 
through the fields and farms, examining the culture and cul- 
tivators, with a degree of curiosity which makes some take 
me to be a fool, and others to be much wiser than I am. I 
have been pleased to find among the people a less degree of 
physical misery than I had expected. They are generally well 
clothed, and have a plenty of food, not animal indeed, but 
vegetable, which is as wholesome. Perhaps they are over- 
worked, the excess of the rent required by the landlord obliging 
them to too many hours of labor in order to produce that, and 
wherewith to feed and clothe themselves. The soil of Cham- 
pagne and Burgundy I have found more universally good than 
I had expected, and as I could not help making a comparison 

i. Lafayette, brilliant volunteer fighter for American freedom and one 
of Jefferson's dearest friends for half a century, was political contact, 
man for him while he was Minister to France. 

420 



THOMAS .JSFFSRSON 

with England, I found that comparison mote unfavorable to the 
latter than is generally admitted. The soil, the climate, and 
the productions are superior to those of England, and the 
husbandry as good, except in one point; that of manure. In 
England, long leases for twenty-one years, or three lives, to 
wit, that of the farmer, his wife, and son, renewed by the 
son as soon as he comes to the possession, for his own life, 
his wife's and eldest child's, and so on, render the farms 
there almost hereditary, make it worth the farmer's while to 
manure the lands highly, and give the landlord an opportunity 
of occasionally making his rent keep pace with the improved 
state of the lands. Here the leases are either during pleasure, 
or for three, six, or nine years, which does not give the 
farmer time to repay himself for the expensive operation of 
well manuring, and, therefore, he manures ill, or not at all. 
I suppose, that could the practice of leasing for three lives be 
introduced in the whole kingdom, it would, within the term 
of your life, increase agricultural productions fifty per cent.; 
or were any one proprietor to do it with his own lands, it 
would increase his rents fifty per cent., in the course of 
twenty-five years. But I am told the laws do not permit it. 
The laws then, in this particular, are unwise and unjust, and 
ought to give that permission. In the southern provinces, where 
the soil is poor, the climate hot and dry, and there are few 
animals, they would learn the art, found so precious in Eng- 
land, of making vegetable manure, and thus improving these 
provinces in the article in which nature has been least kind 
to them. Indeed, thes'e provinces afford a singular spectacle. 
Calculating on the poverty of their soil, and their climate 
by its latitude only, they should have been the poorest in 
France. On the contrary, they are the richest, from one 
fortuitous circumstance. Spurs or ramifications of high moun- 
tains, making down from the Alps, and, as it were, reticulating 
these provinces, give to the valleys the protection of a par- 
ticular inclosure to each, and the benefit of a general stagnation 
of the northern winds produced by the whole of them, and thus 

421 



OF 

jountervail the advantage of several degrees of latitude. 
From the first olive fields of Pierrelatte, to the orangeries of 
Hieres, has been continued rapture to me. I have often wished 
for you. I think you have not made this journey. It is a pleasure 
you have to come, and an improvement to be added to the 
many you have already made. It will be a great comfort to 
you, to know, from your own inspection, the condition of all 
the provinces of your own country, and it will be interesting 
to them at some future day, to be known to you. This is, 
perhaps, the only mom'ent of your life in which you can 
acquire that knowledge. And to do it most effectually, you 
must be absolutely incognito, you must ferret the people out 
of their hovels as I have done, look into their kettles, feat their 
bread, loll on their beds under pretence of resting yourself, 
but in fact, to find if they are soft. You will feel a sublime 
pleasure in the course of this investigation, and a sublimer 
i>ne hereafter, when you shall be able to apply your knowledge 
to the softening of their beds, or the throwing a morsel of 
meat into their kettle of vegetables. 

You will not wonder at the subjects of my letters; they are 
the only ones which have been presented to my mind for some 
time past; and the waters must always be what are the foun- 
tains from which they flow. According to this, indeed, I should 
have intermixed, from beginning to "end, warm expressions of 
friendship to you. But according to the ideas of our country, 
we do not permit ourselves to speak even truths, when they 
may have the air of flattery. I content myself, therefore, with 
saying once for all, that I love you, your wife and children. 
Tell them so, and adieu. Yours affectionately. 



TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, June 20, 1787 

.... The idea of separating the executive business of 
the confederacy from Congress, as the judiciary is already, in 

422 



THOMAS 

some degree, is just and necessary. I had frequently pressed 
on the members individually, while in Congress, the doing 
this by a resolution of Congress for appointing an executive 
committee, to act during the sessions of Congress, as the com- 
mittee of the States was to act during their vacations. But the 
referring to this committee all executive business, as it should 
present itself, would require a more p'ersevering self-denial 
than I suppose Congress to possess. It will be much better to 
make that separation by a federal act. The negative, proposed 
to be given them on all the acts of the several legislatures, is 
now, for the first time, suggested to my mind. Prima jade, 
I do not like it. It fails in an essential character; that the hole 
and the patch should be commensurate. But this proposes to 
mend a snail hole by covering the whole garment. Not more 
than one out of one hundred State acts concern the confed- 
eracy. This proposition, then, in order to give them one degree 
of power, which they ought to have, gives them ninety-nine 
more, which they ought not to have, upon a presumption 
that the} r will not exercise the ninety-nine. But upon every 
act, there will be a preliminary question, Does this act concerr 
the confederacy? And was there ever a proposition so plain, 
as to pass Congress without a debate? Their decisions are 
almost always wise; they are like pure metal. But you know 
of how much dross this is the result. Would not an appeal from 
the State judicature to a federal court, in all cases where 
the act of Confederation controlled the question, be as ef 
fectual a remedy, and exactly commensurate to the defect? 
A British creditor, for example, sues for his debt in Virginia; 
the defendant pleads an act of the State, excluding him from 
their courts; the plaintiff urges the Confederation, and the 
treaty made under that, as controlling the State law; the 
judges are weak enough to decide according to the views of 
their legislature. An appeal to a federal court sets all to rights. 
It will be said, that this court may encroach on the juris- 
diction of the State courts. It may. But there will be a power, 
to wit, Congress, to watch and restrain them. But place the 

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OF 

same authority in Congress its'elf, and there will be no power 
above them, to perform the same office. They will restrain 
within due bounds, a jurisdiction exercised by others, much 
more rigorously than if exercised by themselves. . . . 

The late changes in the ministry here excite considerable 
hopes. I think we gain in them all. I am particularly happy at 
the re-'entry of Malesherbes into the Council. His knowledge 
and integrity render his value inappreciable, and the greater 
to me, because, while he had no views of office, we had estab- 
lished together the moGt unreserved intimacy. So far, too, I am 
pleased with Montmorin. His honesty proceeds from the heart 
as well as the head, and therefore may be more surely counted 
on. The King loves business, 'economy, order, and justice, 
and wishes sincerely the good of his people; but he is irascible, 
rude, very limited in his understanding, and religious, border- 
ing on bigotry. He has no mistress, loves his que'en, and is 
too much governed by her. She is capricious like her brother, 
and governed by him; devoted to pleasure and expense; and 
not remarkable for any other vices or virtues. Unhappily the 
King shows a propensity for the pleasures of the table. That 
for drink has increased lately, or, at least, it has become more 
known. . . . 

TO T. M. RANDOLPH, JUNIOR 1 

Paris, July 6, 1787 

.... I am glad to find, that among the various branches 
of science presenting themselves to your mind, you have fixed 
on that of politics as your principal pursuit. Your country will 
derive from this a more immediate and sensible benefit. She 
has much for you to do. For, though we may say with con- 
fidence, that the worst of the American constitutions is 
better than the best which ever existed before, in any other 
country, and that they are wonderfully perfect for a first 

i. Randolph was Jefferson's nephew who later married Martha Jeffer- 
son, his second cousin and Thomas Jefferson's older daughter. 

424 



THOMAS 

essay, yet every human essay must have defects. It will re- 
main, therefore, to those now coming on the stage of public 
affairs, to perfect what has been so well begun by those going 
off it. Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Natural History, 
Anatomy, Chemistry, Botany, will become amusements for 
your hours of relaxation, and auxiliaries to your principal 
studies. Precious and delightful ones they will be. As soon as 
such a foundation is laid in them, as you may build on as you 
please, hereafter, I suppose you will proceed to your main 
objects, Politics^ Law, Rhetoric, and History. As to these, 
the place where you study them is absolutely indifferent. I 
should except Rhetoric, a very Essential member of them, and 
which I suppose must be taught to advantage where you are. 
You would do well, therefore, to attend the public exercises 
in this branch also, and to do it with very particular diligence. 
This being done, the question arises, where you shall fix your- 
self for studying Politics, Law, and History? I should not 
hesitate to decide in favor of France, because you will, at 
the same time, be learning to speak the language of that 
country, become absolutely essential under our present cir- 
cumstances. The best method of doing this, would be to fix 
yourself in some family where there are women and children, 
in Passy, Auteuil, or some other of the little towns in reach of 
Paris. The principal hours of the day, you will attend to your 
studies, and in those of relaxation, associate with the family. 
You will learn to speak better from women and children in 
three months, than from men in a year. Such a situation, too, 
will render more easy a due attention to economy of time and 
money- Having pursued your main studies here, about two 
years, and acquired a facility in speaking French, take a tout 
of four or five months through this country and Italy, return 
then to Virginia, and pass a year in Williamsburg, under the 
care of Mr. Wythe; and you will be ready to enter on the 
public stage, with superior advantages. I have proposed to you, 
to carry on the study of the law with that of politics and 
history. Every political measure will, forever, have an intimate 



LSTT8RS OF 

connection with the laws of the land; and he, who knows 
nothing of these, will always be perplexed, and often foiled by 
adversaries having the advantage of that knowledge over him. 
Besides, it is a source of infinite comfort to reflect, that 
under every chance of fortune, we have a resource in our^ 
selves from which we may be able to derive an honorable 
subsistence. I would, therefore, propose not only the study, but 
Ihe practice of the law for some time, to possess yourself of 
the habit of public speaking. With respect to modern lan- 
guages, French, as I have before observed, is indispensable. 
Next to this, the Spanish is most important to an American. 
Our connection with Spain is already important, and will 
become daily more so. Besides this, the ancient part of Ameri- 
can history is written chiefly in Spanish. To a person who 
would make a point of reading and speaking French and 
Spanish, I should doubt the utility of learning Italian. These 
three languages, being all degeneracies from the Latin, re- 
semble one another so much, that I doubt the probability of 
keeping in the head a distinct knowledge of them all. I suppose 
that he who learns them all, will speak a compound of the 
three, and neither perfectly. The journey which I propose to 
you need not be expensive, and would be very useful. With 
your talents and industry, with science, and that steadfast 
honesty which eternally pursues right, regardless of con- 
sequences, you may promise yourself everything but health, 
without which there is no happiness. An attention to health, 
then, should take place of every other object. The time neces- 
sary to secure this by active exercises, should be devoted to it, 
in preference to every other pursuit. I know the difficulty with 
which a studious man tears himself from his studies, at any 
given moment of the day. But his happiness, and that of his 
family, depend on it. The most uninformed mind, with a 
healthy body, is happier than the wisest valetudinarian. I need 
not tell you, that if I can be useful to you in any part of this, 
or any other plan you shall adopt, you will make me happy 
by commanding my services. . . * 

426 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

TO EDWARD CARRINGTON 

Paris, August 4, 1787 

DEAR SIR, Since mine of the i6th of January, I have 
been honored by your favors of April the 24th and June the 
9th. I am happy to find that the States have come so generally 
into the schemes of the federal convention, from which, I am 
sure, we shall see wise- propositions. I confess, I do not go as far 
in the reforms thought necessary, as some of my correspondents 
in America; but if the convention should adopt such proposi- 
tions, I shall suppose them necessary. My general plan would 
be, to make the States one as to everything connected with for- 
eign nations, and several as to everything purely domestic. 
But with all the imperfections of our present government, it 
is without comparison the best existing, or that ever did exist. 
Its greatest defect is the imperfect manner in which matters 
of commerce have been provided for. It has be'en so often 
said, as to be generally believed, that Congress have no power 
by the Confederation to enforc'e anything; for example, con- 
tributions of money. It was not necessary to give them that 
power expressly ; they have it by the law of nature. When two 
parties make a compact, there results to each a power of com- 
pelling the other to execute it. Compulsion was never so easy 
as in our case, where a single frigate would soon levy on the 
commerce of any State the deficiency of its contributions; nor 
more safe than in the hands of Congress, which has always 
shown that it would wait, as it ought to do, to the last ex- 
tremities, before it would execute any of its powers which are 
disagreeable. I think it Very material, to separate, in the 
hands of Congress, the executive and legislative powers, as the 
judiciary already are, in some degree. This, I hope, will be 
done. The want of it has been the source of more evil than we 
have experienced from any other cause. Nothing is so em- 
barrassing nor so mischievous, in a great assembly, as the 
details of execution. The smallest trifle of that kind occupies 

427 



OF 

as long as the most important act of legislation, and takes place 
of everything else. Let any man recollect, or look over, the 
tiles of Congress; he will observe the most important proposi- 
tions hanging over, from week to we'ek, and month to month, 
till the occasions have passed them, and the things never done. 
I have ever viewed the executive details as the greatest cause 
of evil to us, because they in fact place us as if we had no 
federal head, by diverting the attention of that head from 
great to small subjects; and should this division of power not 
be recommended by the convention, it is my opinion Congress 
should make it itself, by establishing an executive com- 
mittee. . ., . 



TO COLONEL MONROE 

Paris, August 5, 1787 

DEAR SIR, A journey of between three and four 
months, into the southern parts of France and northern of 
Italy, has prevented my writing to you. In the meantime, you 
have changed your ground, and engaged in different occupa- 
tions, so that I know not whether the news of this side the 
water will even amuse you. However, it is all I have for you. 
The storm which seemed to be raised suddenly in Brabant, 
will probably blow over. The Emperor, on his return to Vienna, 
pretended to revoke all the concessions which had been made 
by his Governors General, to his Brabantine subjects; but he, 
at the same time, called for deputies from among them to 
consult with. He will use their agency to draw himself out of 
the scrape, and all there, I think, will be quieted. Hostilities go 
on occasionally in Holland. France espouses the cause of the 
Patriots, as you know, and England and Prussia that of the 
Stadtholder. France and England are both unwilling to bring 
on war, but a hasty move of the King of Prussia will perplex 
them. He has thought the stopping his sister sufficient cause 
for sacrificing a hundred or two thousand of his subjects, and 

428 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

as many Hollanders and French. He has therefore ordered 
twenty thousand men to march, without consulting England, 
or even his own ministers. He may thus drag England into a 
war, and of course this country, against their will. But it is 
certain they will do everything they can to prevent it; .and that 
in this at least they .agree. Though such a war might be gainful 
to us, yet it is much to be deprecated by us at this time. In all 
probability, France would be unequal to such a war by sea and 
by land, and it is not our interest, or even safe for us, that she 
should be weakened. The great improvements in their con- 
stitution, effected by the Assemblee des Notables, you are ap- 
prized of. That of partitioning the country into a number of 
subordinate governments, under the administration of Provin- 
cial Assemblies, chosen by the people, is a capital one. But 
to the delirium of joy which these improvements gave the 
nation, a strange reverse of temper has suddenly succeeded. 
The deficiencies of their revenue were exposed, and they were 
frightful. Yet there was an appearance of intention to econo- 
mise, and reduce the expenses of government. But expenses are 
still very inconsiderately incurred, and all reformation in that 
point despaired of. The public credit is affected; and such a 
spirit of discontent has arisen, as has never been seen. The 
parliament refused to register the edict for a stamp tax, or 
any other tax, and call for the States General, who alone, 
they say, can impose a new tax. They speak with a boldness 
unexampled. The King has called them to Versailles to- 
morrow, where he will hold a lit de justice, and compel them 
to register the tax. How the chapter will finish, we must wait 
to see. . . . 

TO PETER CARR 

Paris, August 10, 1787 

DEAR PETER, I have received your two letters of 
December the 3Oth and April the i8th, and am very happy to 
find by them, as well as by letters from Mr. Wythe, that you 



OF 

have been so fortunate as to attract his notice and good will; 
I am sure you will find this to have been one of the most 
fortunate events of your life, as I have ever been sensible it 
was of mine. I enclose you a sketch of the sciences to which I 
would wish you to apply, in such order as Mr. Wythe shall 
advise; I mention, also, the books in them worth your reading, 
which submit to his correction. Many of these are among your 
father's books, which you should have brought to you. As I do 
not recollect those of them not in his library, you must write to 
me for them, making out a catalogue of such as you think you 
shall have occasion for, in eighteen months from the date of 
your letter, and consulting Mr. Wythe on the subject. To this 
sketch, I will add a few particular observations: 

1. Italian. I fear the learning this language will confound 
your French and Spanish. Being all of them degenerated dia- 
lects of the* Latin, they are apt to mix in conversation. I have 
never se'en a person speaking the three languages, who did not 
ffiix them. It is a delightful language, but late events having 
Tendered the Spanish more useful, lay it aside to prosecute that. 

2. Spanish. Bestow great attention on this, and tendeavor to 
acquire an accurate knowledge of it. Our future connections 
with Spain and Spanish America, will render that language a 
valuable acquisition. The ancient history of that part of Amer- 
ica, too, is written in that language. I send you a dictionary. 

3. Moral Philosophy. I think it lost time to attend lectures 
on this branch. He who made us would have been a pitiful 
bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter 
of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who 
are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined 
for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this 
object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, 
merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his na- 
ture, as the s'ense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true 
foundation of morality, and not the TO KaXov, 1 truth, &c., as 
fanciful writers have imagined. The moral sense, or conscience.. 

i. The beautiful. 

430 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all 
human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of mem- 
bers is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be 
strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the 
body. This sense is submitted, indeed, in some degree, to the 
guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required 
for this: even a less one than what we call common sense. State 
a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will 
decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he 
has not been led astray by artificial rules. In this branch, there- 
fore, read good books, because they will encourage, as well as 
direct your feelings. The writings of Sterne, particularly, form 
the best course of morality that ever was written. Besides these, 
read the books mentioned in the enclosed paper; and, above all 
things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be 
grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be 
true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, &c. Consider every act of 
this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral facul- 
ties and increase your worth. 

4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine 
this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor 
of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other 
subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the 
consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, 
shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak 
minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and 
call to her tribunal 'every fact, every opinion. Question with 
boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, 
he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of 
blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion 
of your own country. Read the Bible, then, as you would read 
Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course 
of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you 
do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony 
of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not 
being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. 



OF 

But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of natur'e, 
must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. 
Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspira- 
tion from God. Examine upon what Evidence his pretensions 
are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its 
falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws 
of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of 
Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we 
to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with 
their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, etc. But it 
is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, 
therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been 
inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because 
millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer 
enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a 
body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have 
stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated 
animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have 
resumed its revolution, and that without a second general pros- 
tration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence 
which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You 
will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a per- 
sonage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 
i, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, 
suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, and as- 
cended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a 
man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic 
mind, who set out without pr'etensions to divinity, ended in be- 
lieving them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by be- 
ing gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the 
first commission of that offence by whipping, and the second by 

exile, or death in furea 

Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its con- 
sequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will 
find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you 
feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure 

432 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a conscious- 
ness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves 
you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a 
future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases 
the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you 
will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I re- 
peat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither 
believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or de- 
scription of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own rea- 
son is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are an- 
swerable, not for the Tightness, but uprightness of the decision. 
I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that 
you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those 
whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be 
Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because 
these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as 
the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own 
reason, and not by the r'eason of those ecclesiastics. Most of 
these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected 
by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get and send you. 

5. Travelling. This makes men wiser, but less happy. When 
men of sober age travel, they gather knowledge, which they 
may apply usefully for their country; but they are subject ever 
after to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are 
weakened by being extended over more objects; and they 
learn new habits which cannot be gratified when they return 
hom'e. Young men, who travel, are exposed to all these incon- 
veniences in a higher degree, to others still more serious, and 
do not acquire that wisdom for which a previous foundation 
is requisite, by repeated and just observations at home. Thfe 
glare of pomp and pleasure is analogous to the motion of the 
blood; it absorbs all their affection and attention, they are 
torn from it as from the only good in this world, and return 
to their home as to a place of exile and condemnation. Their 
eyes are forever turned back to the object they have lost, and 
its recollection poisons the residue of their lives. Their first 

433 



OF 

and most delicate passions are hackneyed on unworthy objects 
here, and they carry home the dregs, insufficient to make them- 
selves or anybody else happy. Add to this, that a habit of idle- 
ness, an inability to apply themselves to business is acquired, 
and renders them useless to themselves and their country. 
These observations are founded in experience. There is no 
place where your pursuit of knowledge will be so little ob- 
structed by foreign objects, as in your own country, nor any, 
wherein the virtu'es of the heart will be less exposed to be 
weakened. Be good, be learned, and be industrious, and you 
will not want the aid of travelling, to render you precious to 
your country, dear to your friends, happy within yourself. I 
fepeat my advice, to take a great deal of exercise, and on 
foot. Health is the first requisite after morality. Write to me 
often, and be assured of the interest I take in your success, as 
well as the warmth of those sentiments of attachment with 
tvhich I am, dear Peter, your affectionate friend v 



TO JOHN ADAMS 1 

Paris, August 30, 

. . . , all tongues in Paris (and in France as it is said) 
have been let loose, and never was a license of speaking against 
the government exercised in London more freely or more uni- 
versally. Caricatures, placards, bons mots, have been indulged in 
by all ranks of people, and I know of no well-attested instance 
of a single punishment. For some time mobs of ten, twenty and 
thirty thousand people collected daily, surrounded the par- 
liament house, huzzaed the members, even entered the doors 
and examined into their conduct, took the horses out of the car- 
riages of those who did well, and drew them home. The govern- 
ment thought it prudent to prevent these, drew some regiments 

i. Jefferson and Adam's mutual friendship and respect, interrupted 
for some years because of political differences and personal misunder- 
standings, was particularly strong in the later years of their lives. Their 
correspondence is notable for its philosophic and spirited character. 

434 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

into the neighborhood, multiplied the guards, had the streets 
constantly patrolled by strong parties, suspended privileged 
places, forbade all clubs, etc. The mobs have ceased; perhap? 
this may be partly owing to the absence of parliament. The 
Count d'Artois, sent to hold a bed of justice in the Cour des 
Aides, was hissed and hooted without reserve, by the popu- 
lace; the carriage of Madame de (I forget the name) in the 
Quefen's livery was stopped by the populace, under a belief that 
it was Madame de Polignac, whom they would have insulted; 
the Queen, going to the theatre at Versailles with Madame de 
Polignac, was received with a general hiss. The King, long in 
the habit of drowning his cares in wine, plunges deeper and 
deeper. The Queen cries, but sins on. The Count d'Artois is 
detested, and Monsieur, the general favorite. . . . 



TO JOHN ADAMS 

Paris, November 13, 

.... How do you like our new constitution? I confess 
there are things in it which stagger all my disposition to sub- 
scribe to what such an Assembly has proposed. The house of 
federal representatives will not be adequate to the manage- 
ment of affairs, either foreign or federal. Their President seems 
a bad edition of a Polish King. He may be elected from four 
years to four years, for life. Reason and experience prove to 
us, that a chief magistrate, so continuable, is an office for life. 
When on'e or two generations shall have proved that this is an 
office for life, it becomes, on every occasion, worthy of intrigue r 
of bribery, of force, and even of foreign interference. It will 
be of great consequence to France and England, to have Amer- 
ica governed by a Galloman or Angloman. Once in office, and 
possessing the military force of the Union, without the aid 01 
check of a council, he would not be easily dethroned, even ii 
the people could be induced to withdraw their votes from hinv 
I wish that at the end of the four years, they had made him 

435 



OF 

forever ineligible a second time. Indeed, I think all the good 
of this new constitution might have been couched in three or 
four new articles, to be added to the good, old and venerable 
fabric, which should have been preserved even as a religious 
relique. . . . 

TO COLONEL SMITH 1 

Paris, November 13, 1787 

.... can history produce an instance of rebellion ? so 
honorably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were 
founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should 
ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people can- 
not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong 
will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the 
facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such mis- 
conceptions, it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the pub- 
lic liberty. We have had thirteen States independent for eleven 
years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebel- 
lion in a century and a half, for each State. What country 
before, ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? 
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers ai"e 
not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the 
spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to sec 
them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify 
a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must 
be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and 
tyrants. It is its natural manure. . . . 

TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, December 20, 1787 

.... I like much the general idea of framing a govern- 
ment, which should go on of itself, peaceably, without needing 

1. Colonel William Stephens Smith was an American diplomat and 
son-in-law of John Adams. 

2. Jefferson has been discussing Shays's insurrection in Massachusetts, 

436 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

continual recurrence to the State legislatures. I like the organi- 
zation of the government into legislative, judiciary and execu- 
tive. I like the power given the legislature to levy taxes, and 
for that reason solely, I approve of the greater House being 
chosen by the people directly. For though I think a House so 
chosen, will be very far inferior to the present Congress, will be 
very illy qualified to legislate for the Union, for foreign na- 
tions, etc., yet this evil does not weigh against the good, of 
preserving inviolate the fundamental principle, that the people 
are not to be taxed but by representatives chosen immediately 
by themselves. I am captivated by the compromise of the op- 
posite claims of the great and little States, of the latter to 
equal, and the former to proportional influence. I am much 
pleased, too, with the substitution of the method of voting by 
person, instead of that of voting by States; and I like the 
negative given to the Executive, conjointly with a third of 
either House; though I should have liked it better, had the 
judiciary been associated for that purpose, or invested sep- 
arately with a similar power. There are other good things of 
less moment. I will now tell you what I do not like. First, the 
omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and without the 
aid of sophism, for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, 
protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, 
the Eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, 
and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of 
the land, and not by the laws of nations. To say, as Mr. Wil- 
son does, that a bill of rights was not necessary, because all 
is reserved in the case of the general government which is not 
given, while in the particular ones, all is given which is not 
reserved, might do for the audience to which it was addressed; 
but it is surely a gratis dictum, the reverse of which might just 
as well be said; and it is opposed by strong inferences from 
the body of the instrument, as well as from the omission of the 
cause of our present Confederation, which had made the res- 
ervation in express terms. It was hard to conclude, because 
there has been a want of uniformity among the States as to the 

437 



OF 

cases triable by jury, because some have been so incautious as 
to dispense with this mode of trial in certain cases, therefore, 
the more prudent States shall be reduced to the same level of 
calamity. It would have been much more just and wise to have 
concluded the other way, that as most of the States had pre- 
served with jealousy this sacred palladium of liberty, those 
who had wandered, should be brought back to it; and to have 
established general right rather than general wrong. For I 
consider all the ill as established, which may be established. 
I have a right to nothing, which another has a right to take 
away; and Congress will have a right to take away trials by 
jury in all civil cases. Let me add, that a bill of rights is what 
the people are entitled to against every government on earth, 
general or particular; and what no just government should re- 
fuse, or rest on inference. 

The second feature I dislike, and strongly dislike, is th'e 
abandonment, in every instance, of the principle of rotation in 
office, and most particularly in the case of the President. Rea- 
son and experience tell us, that the first magistrate will always 
be re-elected if he may be re-elected. He is then an officer for 
life. This once observed, it becomes of so much consequence to 
certain nations to have a friend or a foe at the head of our 
affairs, that they will interfere with money and with arms. 
A Galloman, or an Angloman, will be supported by the nation 
he befriends. If once elected, and at a second or third election 
outvoted by one or two votes, he will pretend false votes, foul 
play, hold possession of the reins of government, be supported 
by the States voting for him, especially if they be the central 
ones, lying in a compact body themselves, and separating their 
opponents; and they will be aided by one nation in Europe, 
while the majority are aided by another. The election of a 
President of America, some years hence, will be much more in- 
teresting to certain nations of Europe, than ever the election 
of a King of Poland was. Reflect on all the instances in history, 
ancient and modern, of elective monarchies, and say if they 
do not give foundation for my fears; the Roman Emperors, 

438 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 

the Popes while they were of any importance, the German Em- 
perors till they became hereditary in practice, the Kings of 
Poland, the Deys of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said, 
that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the less 
frequently they are repeated the better. But experience says, 
that to free them from disorder, they must be rendered less 
interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign power, nor 
domestic party, will waste their blood and money to elect a 
person, who must go out at the end of a short period. The 
power of removing every fourth year by the vote of the people, 
is a power which they will not exercise, and if they were dis- 
posed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. The King 01 
Poland is removable every day by the diet. But they never re- 
move him. Nor would Russia, the Emperor, etc., permit them 
to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals on. matters of fact 
as well as laws; and the binding all persons, legislative, execu- 
tive, and judiciary by oath, to maintain that constitution. I do 
not pretend to decide, what would be the best method of pro- 
curing the establishment of the manifold good things in this 
constitution, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopt- 
ing it, in hopes of future amendment; or after it shall have 
been duly weighed and canvassed by the people, after seeing 
the parts they generally dislike, and those they generally ap- 
prove, to say to them, "We se'e now what you wish. You are 
willing to give to your federal government such and such pow- 
ers; but you wish, at the same time, to have such and such 
fundamental rights secured to you, and certain sources of con- 
vulsion taken away. Be it so. Send together deputies again. Let 
them establish your fundamental rights by a sacrosanct dec- 
laration, and let them pass the parts of the Constitution you 
have approved. These will give powers to your federal govern- 
ment sufficient for your happiness." 

This is what might be said, and would probably produce a 
speedy, more perfect and more permanent form of government. 
At all events, I hope you will not be discouraged from making 
other trials, if the present one should fail. We are never per- 

439 



OF 

mitted to despair of the commonwealth. I have thus told you 
freely what I like, and what I dislike, merely as a matter of 
curiosity; for I know it is not in my power to offer matter of 
information to your judgment, which has been formed after 
hearing and weighing everything which the wisdom of man 
could offer on these subjects. I own, I am not a friend to a very 
energetic government. It is always oppressive. It places the 
governors indeed more at their ease, at the expense of the peo- 
ple. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has given more alarm, 
than I think it should have done. Calculate that one rebellion 
in thirteen States in the course of eleven years, is but one for 
-each State in a century and a half. No country should be so 
long without one. Nor will any degree of power in the hands of 
government, prevent insurrections. In England, where the hand 
of power is heavier than with us, there are seldom half a dozen 
years without an insurrection. In France, where it is still heav- 
ier, but less despotic, as Montesquieu supposes, than in some 
other countries, and where there are always two or three hun- 
dred thousand men ready to crush insurrections, there have 
been three in the course of the three years I have been here, in 
every one of which greater numbers were engaged than in 
Massachusetts, and a great deal more blood was spilt. In Tur- 
key, where the sole nod of the despot is death, insurrections are 
the events of every day. Compare again the ferocious depreda- 
tions of their insurgents, with the order, the moderation and 
the almost self-extinguishment of ours. And say, finally, whether 
peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or 
information to the people. This last is the most Certain, and the 
most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the 
whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their in- 
terest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. 
And it requires no very high degree of education to convince 
them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preserva- 
tion of our liberty. After all, it is my 'principle that the will of 
the majority should prevail. If they approve the proposed con- 
stitution in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in 

440 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

hopes they will amend it, whenever they shall find it works 
wrong. This reliance cannot deceive us, as long as we remain 
virtuous; and I think we shall be so, as long as agriculture is 
our principal object, which will be the case, while there remains 
vacant lands in any part of America. When we get piled upon 
one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become cor- 
rupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do 
there. I have tired you by this time with disquisitions which 
you have already heard repeated by others a thousand and a 
thousand times; and therefore, shall only add assurances of the 
esteem and attachmem with which I have the honor to be, 
dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant. 

P. S. The instability of our laws is really an immense evil. 
I think it would be well to provide in our constitutions, that 
there shall always be a twelvemonth between the engrossing a 
bill and passing it; that it should then be offered to its passage 
without changing a word; and that if circumstances should be 
thought to require a sp'eedier passage, it should take two-thirds 
of both Houses, instead of a bare majority. 

TO E. CARRINGTON 

Paris, Dec. 21, 1787 

.... I often doubt whether I should trouble Congress 
or my friends with . . . details of European politics. I know 
they do not excite that interest in America, of which it is im- 
possible for orie to divest himself here. I know, too, that it is a 
maxim with us, and I think it a wise one, not to entangle our- 
selves with the affairs of Europe. Still, I think, we should know 
them. The Turks have practiced the same maxim of not med- 
dling in the complicated wrangles of this continent. But thfey 
have unwisely chosen to be ignorant of them also, and it is 
this total ignorance of Europe, its combinations and its move- 
ments, which exposes them to that annihilation possibly about 
taking place. While there are pow'ers in Europe which fear our 
views, or have views on us, we should keep an eye on them, 

441 



OF 

their connections and oppositions, that in a moment of need, 
we may avail ourselves of their weakness with respect to others 
as well as ourselves, and calculate their designs and movements, 
on all the circumstances under which they exist. Though I am 
persuaded, therefore, that thes'e details are read by many with 
great indifference, yet I think it my duty to enter into them, 
and to run the risk of giving too much, rather than too little 
information. . . . 

TO MR. A. DONALD * 

Paris, February 7, 1788 

.... I wish with all my soul, that the nine first conven- 
tions may accept the new constitution, because this will secure 
to us the good it contains, which I think great and important. 
But I equally wish, that the four latest conventions, which- 
ever they be, may refuse to accede to it, till a declaration of 
rights be annexed. This would probably command the offer of 
such a declaration, and thus give to the whole fabric, perhaps, 
as much perfection as any one of that kind ever had. By a 
declaration of rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom 
of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against 
monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the 
habeas corpus, no standing armies. These are fetters against 
doing evil, which no honest government should decline. There 
is another strong feature in the new Constitution, which I as 
strongly dislike. That is, the perpetual re-eligibility of the 
President. Of this I expect no amendment at present, because I 
do not see that anybody has objected to it on your side the 
water. But it will be productive of cruel distress to our coun- 
try, even in your day and mine. The importance to France 
and England, to have our government in the hands of a friend 
or a foe, will occasion their interference by mon'ey, and even 
by arms. Our President will be of much more consequence to 

i. Alexander Donald, a friend of Jefferson, was engaged in the tobacco 
trade in Richmond, Virginia. 

442 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

them than a King of Poland. We must take care, however, that 
neither this, nor any other objection to the new form, produces 
a schism in our Union. That would be an incurable evil, be- 
cause near friends falling out, never re-unite cordially ; whereas, 
all of us going together, we shall be sure to cure the evils of 
our new Constitution, before they do great harm. ... I do not 
see, at present, any symptoms strongly indicating war. It is 
true, that the distrust existing between the two courts of Ver- 
sailles and London, is so great, that they can scarcely do busi- 
ness together. However, the difficulty and doubt of obtaining 
money make both afraid to enter into war. The little prepara- 
tions for war, which we see, are the effect of distrust, rather 
than of a design to commence hostilities. And in such a state of 
mind, you know, small things may produce a rupture; so that 
though peace is rather probable, war is very possible. 

Your letter has kindled all the fond recollections of ancient 
times; recollections much dearer to me than anything I have 
known since. There are minds which can be pleas'ed by honors 
and preferments; but I see nothing in them but envy and en- 
mity. It is only necessary to possess them, to know how littlo 
they contribute to happiriess, or rather how hostile they are to 
it. No attachments soothe the mind so much as those contracted 
in early life; nor do I recollect any societies which have given 
me more pleasure, than those of which you have partaken with 
me. I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my 
books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple 
bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy 
the most splendid post, which any human power can give. . . . 

TO THE COUNT DE MOUSTIER 1 

Paris, May 27, 1788 

DEAR SIR, I have at length an opportunity of ac- 
knowledging the receipt of your favors of February, and March 

i. General and diplomat, Moustier was French Minister to the United 
States in 1787. 

443 



OF 

the 1 4th, and congratulating you on your resurrection from the 
dead, among whom you had been confidently entombed by the 
n'ewsdealers of Paris. I am sorry that your first impressions 
have been disturbed by matters of etiquette, where surely they 
should least have been expected to occur. These disputes are 
the most insusceptible of determination, because they have no 
foundation in reason. Arbitrary and senseless in their nature, 
they are arbitrarily decided by every nation for itself. These 
decisions are meant to prevent disputes, but they produce ten 
where they prevent one. It would have been better, therefore, 
in a new country, to have excluded etiquette altogether; or if 
it must be admitted in some form or other, to have made it 
depend on some circumstance founded in nature, such as thfe 
age or station of the parties. However, you have got over all 
this, and, I am in hopes, have been able to make up a society 
suited to your own dispositions. Your situation will doubtless 
be improved by the adoption of the new constitution, which 
I hope will have taken place before you receive this. I see in 
this instrument, a great deal of good. The consolidation of our 
government, a just representation, an administration of some 
permanence, and other features of great value, will be gained 
by it. There are, indeed, some faults, which revolted me a 
good deal in the first mom'ent; but we must be contented to 
travel on towards perfection, step by step. We must be con- 
tented with the ground which this constitution will gain for 
us, and hope that a favorable moment will come for correcting 
what is amiss in it. I view in the same light, the innovations 
making here. The new organization of the judiciary depart- 
ment is undoubtedly for the better. The reformation of the 
criminal code, is an immense step taken towards good. The 
composition of the Plenary court is, indeed, vicious in the ex- 
treme; but the basis of that court may be retained, and its 
composition changed. Make of it a representative of the peo- 
ple, by composing it of members sent from the Provincial As- 
semblies, and it becomes a valuable member of the constitution. 
But it is said, the court will not consent to do this; the court, 

444 



1HOMAS 

however, has consented to call the States General, who will 
consider the Plenary court but as a canvas for them to work 
on. The public mind is manifestly advancing on the abusive 
prerogatives of their governors, and bearing them down. No 
force in the government can withstand this, in the long run. 
Courtiers had rather give up power than pleasures; they will 
barter, therefore, the usurped prerogatives of the King, for 
the money of the people. This is the agent by which modern na- 
tions will recover their rights. I sincerely wish that in this 
country, they may be contented with a peaceable and passive 
opposition. At this moment, we are not sure of this, though as 
yet it is difficult to say what form the opposition will take. It 
is a comfortable circumstance, that their neighboring enemy is 
under the administration of a minister disposed to keep the 
peace. Engage in war who will, may my country long continue 
your peaceful residence, and merit your good offices with that 
nation, whose affections it is their duty and interest to culti- 
vate. 



TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL * 

Paris, May 27, 1788 

.... A riot has taken place in New York, which I will 
state to you from an eye witness. It has long been a practice 
with the surgeons of that city, to steal from the grave bodies 
recently buried. A citizen had lost his wife: he went the first 
or s'econd evening after her burial, to pay a visit to her grave. 
He found that it had been disturbed, and suspected from what 
quarter. He found means to be admitted to the anatomical 
lecture of that day, and on his entering the room, saw the 
body of his wife, naked and under dissection. He raised the 
people immediately. The body, in the meantime, was secreted. 
They entered into, and searched the hous'es of the physicians 

i. Carmichael was an American diplomat, at this time charge* d'affaires 
at the Court of Spain. 

445 



OF 

whom they most suspected, but found nothing. One of them, 
however, more guilty or more timid than the rest, took asylum 
in the prison. The mob considered this an acknowledgment of 
guilt. They attacked the prison. The Governor ordered militia 
to protect the culprit, and suppress the mob. The militia, think- 
ing the mob had just provocation, refused to turn out. Here- 
upon the p'eople of more reflection, thinking it more dangerous 
that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms 
of law, than that he should escape, armed themselves, and went 
to protect the physican. They were received by the mob with 
a volley of stones, which wounded several of them. They here- 
upon fired on the mob, and killed four. By this time, they re- 
ceived a reinforcement of other citizens of the militia horse, the 
appearance of which, in the critical moment, dispersed the 
mob. So ended this chapter of history, which I have detailed to 
you, because it may be represented as a political riot, when 
politics had nothing to do with it. Mr. Jay and Baron Steuben 
were both grievously wounded in the head by stones. The for- 
mer still kept his bed, and the latter his room, when the packet 
sailed, which was the 24th of April. . . . 



TO COLONEL CARRINGTON 

Paris, May 27, 1788 

I learn with great pleasure the progress of the new Con- 
stitution. Indeed I have presumed it would gain on the public 
mind, as I confess it has on my own. At first, though I saw that 
the great mass and groundwork was good, I disliked many ap- 
pendages. Reflection and discussion have cleared off most of 
thes'e. You have satisfied me as to the query I had put to you 
about the right of direct taxation. My first wish was that nine 
States would adopt it in order to ensyre what was good in it, 
and that the others might, by holding off, produce the neces- 
sary amendments. But the plan of Massachusetts is far prefer - 

446 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

able, and will, I hop'e, be followed by those who are yet to 
decide. There are two amendments only which I am anxious 
for: i. A bill of rights, which it is so much the interest of all 
to have, that I conceive it must be yielded. The ist amendment 
proposed by Massachusetts will in some degree answer this end, 
but not so well. It will do too much in some instances, and too 
little in others. It will cripple the Federal Government in some 
cases where it ought to be free, and not restrain in some others 
where restraint would be right. The 2d amendment which ap- 
pears to me essential is the restoring the principle of necessary 
rotation, particularly to the Senate and Presidency: but most 
of all to the last. Re-eligibility makes him an officer for life, 
and the disasters inseparable from an Elective monarchy, ren- 
der it preferable if we cannot tread back that step, that we 
should go forward and take refuge in an hereditary one. Of the 
correction of this article, however, I entertain no present hope, 
because 1 find it has scarcely excited an objection in America. 
And if it does not take place erelong, it assuredly never will. 
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and gov- 
'ernment to gain ground. As yet our spirits are free. Our jeal- 
ousy is only put to sleep by the unlimited confidence we all 
repose in the person to whom we all look as our president. After 
him inferior characters may perhaps succeed, and awaken us to 
the danger which his merit has led us into. For the present, 
however, the general adoption is to be prayed for, and I wait 
with great anxiety for the news from Maryland and South 
Carolina, which have decided before this, and with that Vir- 
ginia, now in session, may give the ninth vote of approbation. 
Ther'e could then be no doubt of North Carolina, New York, 
and New Hampshire. But what do you propose to do with 
Rhode Island? As long as there is hope we should give her time. 
I cannot conceive but that she will come to rights in the long 
run. Force, in whatever form, would be a dangerous prece- 
dent. . . . 



447 



OF 

TO MR. IZARD * 

Paris, July 17, 1788 

. , . . The war in Europe threatens to spread. Sweden, 
we suppose, has commenced hostilities against Russia, though 
we do not ye f certainly know it. I have hop'ed this country 
would settle her internal disputes advantageously and without 
bloodshed. As yet none has been spilt, though the British news- 
papers give the idea of a general civil war. Hitherto, I had sup- 
posed both the King and parliament would lose authority, and 
the nation gain it, through the medium of its States General 
and provincial Assemblies, but the arrest of the deputies of 
Brfetagne two days ago, may kindle a civil war. Its issue will 
depend on two questions, i. Will other provinces rise? 2. How 
will the army conduct itself? A stranger cannot predetermine 
these questions. Happy for us that abuses have not yet become 
patrimonies, and that every description of interest is in favor 
of national and moderate government. That we are yet able to 
send our v;ise and good men together to talk over our form of 
government, discuss its weaknesses and establish its rem'edies 
with the same sang-froid as they would a subject of agriculture. 
The example we have given to the world is single, that of 
changing our form of government under the authority of rea- 
son only, without bloodshed. . . . 

TO E. KUTLEDGE 2 

Paris, July 18, 1788 

.... We can surely boast of having set the world a 
beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, 
without bloodshed. But the world is too far oppressed, to profit 
by the example. On this side of the Atlantic, the blood of the 

1. Ralph Izard was a South Carolinian, 'pat riot, and diplomat. 

2. Edward Rutledge, South Carolina lawyer and statesman, had been, 
with Jefferson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 

448 



THOMAS jeFFSRSON 

people is become an inheritance, and those who fatten on it, 
will not relinquish it easily. The struggle in this country is, as 
yet, of doubtful issue. It is, in fact, between the monarchy and 
the parliaments. The nation is no otherwise concerned, but as 
both parties may be induced to let go some of its abuses, to 
court the public favor. The danger, is that the people, deceived 
by a false cry of liberty, may be led to take side with one party, 
and thus give the other a pretext for crushing them still more. 
If they can avoid the appeal to arms, the nation will be sure 
to gain much by this controversy. But if that appeal is made, 
it will depend entirely on the disposition of the army, whether 
it issue in liberty or despotism. Those dispositions are not as 
yet known. In the meantime, there is great probability that 
the war kindled in the east, will spread from nation to nation, 
and in the long run, become general. . . . 



TO MR. CUTTING 1 

Paris, July 24, 1788 

.... The internal affairs here do not yet clear up. Most 
of the late innovations have been much for the better. Two 
only must be fundamentally condemned; the abolishing, in so 
great a degree, of the parliaments, and the substitution of so 
ill-composed a body as the cour plcnihc. If the King has power 
to do this, the government of this country is a pure despotism. 
I think it a pure despotism in theory, but moderated in prac- 
tice by the respect which the public opinion commands. But 
the nation repeats, after Montesquieu, that the different bodies 
of magistracy, of priests, and nobles, are barriers between the 
King and the people. It would be easy to prove that these bar- 
riers can only appeal to public opinion, and that neither these 
bodies, nor the people, can oppose any legal check to the will 

i. Mr. John B. Cutting later earned Jefferson's appreciation for his 
efforts in liberating American seamen who had been impressed in British 
ports. 

449 



OF 

of the monarch. But they are manifestly advancing fast to a 
constitution. Great progress is already made. The provincial 
assemblies, which will be a very perfect representative of the 
people, will secure them a great deal against the power of the 
crown. The confession lately made by the government, that it 
cannot impose a new tax, is a great thing: the convocation of 
the States General, which cannot be avoided, will produc'e a 
national assembly, meeting at certain epochs, possessing at 
first probably only a negative on the laws, but which will grow 
into the right of original legislation, and prescribing limits to 
the expens'es of the King. These are improvements which will 
assuredly take place, and which will give an energy to this coun- 
try they have never yet had. Much may be hoped from the 
States General, becaus'e the King's dispositions are solidly 
good; he is capable of great sacrifices; all he wants to induce 
him to do a thing, is to be assured it will be for the good of the 
nation. He will probably believe what the States General shall 
tell him, and will do it. It is supposed they will reduce the par- 
liament to a mere judiciary. I am in hopes all this will be ef- 
fected without convulsions. . . . 



TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, July 51, 1788 

I sincertely rejoice at the acceptance of our new constitu- 
tion by nine States. It is a good canvas, on which some strokes 
only want retouching. What these are, I think are sufficiently 
manifested by the general voice from north to south, which calls 
for a bill of rights. It seems pretty generally understood, that 
this should go to juries, habeas corpus, standing armies, print- 
ing, religion and monopolies. I conceive there may be difficulty 
in finding general modifications of these, suited to the habits of 
all the States. But if such cannot be found, then it is better to 
establish trials by jury, the right of habeas corpus, freedom of 
the press and freedom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish 

450 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

standing armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, 
than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these things 
may do evil, cannot be weighed against the multitude wherein 
the want of them will do evil. In disputes between a foreigner 
and a native, a trial by jury may be improper. But if this 
exception cannot be agreed to, the remedy will be to model the 
jury, by giving the mediatas linguce, in civil as well as criminal 
cases. Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and re- 
bellions? The parties who may be arrested, may be charged in- 
stantly with a well-defined crime; of course, the judge will 
remand them. If the public safety requires that the government 
should have a man imprisoned on less probable testimony, in 
those than in other emergencies, let him be taken and tried, re- 
taken and retried, while the necessity continues, only giving 
him redress against the government, for damages. Examine the 
history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension 
of the habeas corpus law, have been worthy of that suspension. 
They have been either real treason, wherein the parties might 
as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was 
shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the 
few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done 
real good, that operation is now become habitual, and the 
minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant 
suspension. A declaration, that the federal government will 
never restrain the presses from printing anything they please, 
will not take away the liability of the printers for false facts 
printed. The declaration, that religious faith shall be unpun- 
ished, does not give impunity to criminal acts, dictated by re- 
ligious error. The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens 
the incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope 
of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen years; but the 
benefit of even limited monopolies is too doubtful, to be op- 
posed to that of their general suppression. If no check can be 
found to keep the number of standing troops within safe 
bounds, while they are tolerated as far as necessary, abandon 
them altogether, discipline well the militia, and guard the 



OF 

magazines with them. More than magazine guards will be use- 
less, if few, and dangerous, if many. No European nation can 
ever send against us such a regular army as we need fear, and 
it is hard, if our militia are not equal to those of Canada or 
Florida. My idea then, is, that though proper exceptions to 
these general rules ai^e desirable, and probably practicable, yet 
if the exceptions cannot be agreed on, the establishment of the 
rules, in all cases, will do ill in very few. I hope, therefore, a 
bill of rights will be formed, to guard the people against the 
federal government, as they are already guarded against their 
State governments, in most instances. The abandoning the prin- 
ciple of necessary rotation in the Senate, has, I see, been dis- 
approved by many; in the case of the President, by none. I 
readily, therefore, suppose my opinion wrong, when opposed 
by the majority, as in the former instance, and the totality, as 
in the latter. In this, however, I should have done it with more 
complete satisfaction, had we all judged from the sam'e posi- 
tion. . . . 

TO JAMES MADISON 

Paris, November 18, 1788 

.... With respect to the Federalist, the three authors 
had been named to me. I read it with care, pleasure and im- 
provement, and was satisfied there was nothing in it by one of 
those hands, and not a great deal by a second. It does the 
highest honor to the third, as being, in my opinion, the best 
commentary on the principles of government, which ever was 
written. In some parts, it is discoverable that the author means 
only to say what may be best said in defence of opinions, in 
which he did not concur. But in general, it establishes firmly 
the plan of government. I confess, it has rectified me on sev- 
eral points. As to the bill of rights, however, I still think it 
should be added; and I am glad to see, that three States have 
at length considered the perpetual re-eligibility of the Presi- 
dent, as an article which should be amended. . . . 

452 



THOMAS J8FF8RSON 
TO DR. PRICE 

Paris, January 8, 1789 

DEAR SIR, I was favored with your letter of October 
26th, and far from finding any of its subjects uninteresting as 
you apprehend, they were to me, as everything which comes 
from you, pleasing and instructive. I concur with you strictly 
in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and de- 
monism, and really see nothing but the latter in the Being 
worshipped by many who think themselves Christians. Your 
opinions ar/1 writings will have effect in bringing others to rea- 
son on thi r j subject. Our new Constitution, of which you speak 
also, has ^-dcceeded beyond what I apprehended it would have 
done. I <Jid not at first believe that eleven States out of thir- 
teen weald have consented to a plan consolidating them as 
much ir/to one. A change in their dispositions, which had taken 
place since I left them, had rendered this consolidation neces- 
sary, that is to say, had called for a federal government which 
could walk upon its own legs, without leaning for support on 
the State legislatures. A s'ense of necessity, and a submission 
to it, is to me a new and consolatory proof that, whenever the 
people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own 
government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to at- 
tract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights. 
You say you are not sufficiently informed about the nature 
and circumstances of the present struggle hefe. Having been on 
the spot from its first origin, and watched its movements as 
an uninterested spectator, with no other bias than a love of 
mankind, I will give you my ideas of it. Though celebrated 
writers of this and other countries had already sketched good 
principles on the subject of government, yet the American war 
seems first to have awakened the thinking part of this nation 
in general from the sleep of despotism in which they wfere 
sunk. The officers too who had been to America, were mostly 
young men, less shackled by habit and prejudice, and more 

453 



OF 

ready to ass'ent to the dictates of common sense and common 
right. They came back impressed with these. The press, not- 
withstanding its shackles, began to disseminate them; conver- 
sation, too, assumed new freedom; politics became the thfeme 
of all societies, male and female, and a very extensive and zeal- 
ous party was formed, which may be called the Patriotic 
party, who, s'ensible of the abusive government under which 
they lived, longed for occasions of reforming it. This party 
comprehended all the honesty of the kingdom, sufficiently at 
its leisure to think; the men of letters, the easy bourgeois, the 
young nobility, partly from Reflection, partly from mode; for 
those sentiments became a matter of mode, and as such united 
most of the young women to the party. Happily for the na- 
tion, it happened that, at the same moment, the dissipations of 
the court had exhausted the money and credit of the State, and 
M. de Calonnes found himself obliged to appeal to the nation, 
and to develop to it the ruin of their finances. He had no idea 
of supplying the deficit by economies, he saw no m'eans but 
new taxes. To tempt the nation to consent to these some 
douceurs were necessary. The Notables were called in 1787. 
The leading vices of the constitution and administration were 
ably sketched out, good remedies proposed, and under thfe 
splendor of the proposition, a demand for nore money was 
couched. The Notables concurred with the n.inister in the ne- 
cessity of reformation, adroitly avoided the demand of money, 
got him displaced, and one of their leading men placed in his 
room. The archbishop of Thoulouse, by the aid of the hopes 
formed of him, was able to borrow some money, and he re- 
formed considerably the expenses of the court. Notwithstanding 
the prejudices since formed against him, he appeared to me 
to pursue the reformation of the laws and constitution as stead- 
ily as a man could do who had to drag the court after him, and 
even to conceal from them the consequences of the measures 
he was leading them into. In his time the criminal laws were 
reformed, provincial assemblies and States established in most 
of the provinces, the States General promised, and a solemn 

454 



THOMAS J8FFSRSON 

acknowledgment made by the King that he could not impose 
a new tax without the consent of the nation. It is true he was 
continually goaded forward by the public clamors, excited by 
the writings and workings of the Patriots, who were able to 
keep up the public fermentation at the exact point which bor- 
ders on resistance, without entering on it. They had taken into 
their alliance the Parliaments also, who were led, by Very 
singular circumstances, to espouse, for the first time, the rights 
of the nation. They had from old causes had personal hostility 
against M. de Calonnes. They refus'ed to register his laws or 
his taxes, and went so far as to acknowledge they had no power 
to do it. They persisted in this with his successor, who there- 
fore exiled them. Seeing that the nation did not interest them- 
selves much for their recall, they began to fear that the new 
judicatures proposed in their place would be established and 
that their own suppression would be perpetual. In short, they 
found their own strength insufficient to oppose that of the 
King. They, therefore, insisted that the States General should 
be called. Here they became united with and supported by the 
Patriots, and their joint influence was sufficient to produce the 
promise of that assembly. I always suspected that the arch- 
bishops had no objections to this force under which they laid 
him. But the Patriots and Parliament insisted it was their ef- 
forts which extorted the promise against his will. The re-fes- 
tablishment of the Parliament was the effect of the same 
coalition between the Patriots and Parliament; but, once re- 
established, the latter began to see danger in that very power, 
the States General, which they had called for in a moment of 
despair, but which they now foresaw might very possibly 
abridge their powers. They began to prepare grounds for ques- 
tioning their legality, as a rod oVer the head of the States, and 
as a refuge if they should really extend their reformations to 
them. Mr. Neckar came in at this period and very dexterously 
disembarrassed the administration of these disputes by calling 
the Notables to advise the form of calling and constituting the 
States. The court was well disposed towards the people, not 

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OF 

from principles of justice or love to them; but they want 
money. No more can be had from the people. They are squeezed 
to the last drop. The clergy and nobles, by their privileges and 
influence, have kept their property in a great measure untaxed 
hitherto. They then remain to be squeezed, and no agent is 
powerful "enough for this but the people. The court therefore 
must ally itself with the people. But the Notables, consisting 
mostly of privileged characters, had proposed a method of 
composing the States, which would have rendered the voice of 
the people, or Tiers fitats, in the States General, inefficient for 
the purpose of the court. It concurred then with the Patriots 
in intriguing with the Parliament to get them to pass a vote in 
favor of the rights of the people. This vote, balancing that of 
the Notables, has placed the court at liberty to follow its own 
views, and they have determined that the Tiers fitat shall have 
in the States General as many votes as the clergy and nobles 
put together. Still a great question remains to be decided, that 
is, shall the States General vote by orders, or by persons? prece- 
dents are both ways. The clergy will mov'e heaven and earth to 
obtain the suffrage by orders, because that parries the effect of 
all hitherto done for the people. The people will probably s'end 
their deputies expressly instructed to consent to no tax, to no 
adoption of the public debts, unless the unprivileged part of thfe 
nation has a voice equal to that of the privileged; that is to 
say, unless the voice of the Tiers fitat be equalled to that of 
the clergy and nobles. They will have the young noblesse in 
general on their side, and the King and court. Against them 
will be the ancient nobles and the clergy. So that I hope, upon 
the whole, that by the time they me'et, there will be a majority 
of the nobles themselves in favor of the Tiers fitat. So far his- 
tory. We are now to come to prophecy; for you will ask, to 
what will all this lead? I answer, if the States General do not 
stumble at the threshold on the question before stated, and 
which must be decided before they can proceed to business, 
then they will in their first session easily obtain, i. Their fu- 
ture periodical convocation of the States. 2. Their exclusive 

456 



THOMAS 

right to raise and appropriate money which includes that of es- 
tablishing a civil list. 3. A participation in legislation; probably 
at first, it will only be a transfer to them of the portion of it 
now exercised by parliament, that is to say, a right to propose 
amendments and a negative. But it must infallibly end in a 
right of origination. 4. Perhaps they may make a declaration 
of rights. It will be attempted at least. Two other objects will 
be attempted, viz., a habeas corpus law and a free press. But 
probably they may not obtain these in the first session, or with 
modifications only, and the nation must be left to ripen itself 
more for their unlimited adoption. Upon the whole, it has ap- 
peared to me that the basis of the present struggle is an il- 
lumination of the public mind as to the rights of the nation, 
aided by fortunate incidents; that they can never retrograde, 
but from the natural progress of things, must press forward to 
the establishment of a constitution which shall assume to them 
a good degree of liberty. They flatter themselves they shall 
form a better constitution than the English. I think it will be 
better in some points worse in others. It will be better in the 
article of representation, which will be more equal. It will be 
worse, as their situation obliges them to keep up the danger- 
ous machine of a standing army. I doubt, too, whether they 
will obtain the trial by jury, because they are not sensible of 
its value. 

I am sure I have by this time heartily tired you with this 
long epistle, and that you will be glad to see it brought to an 
end, with assurances of the sentiments of esteem and respect 
with which I have the honor to be, dear Sir, your most obe- 
dient, and most humble servant. 



TO JOHN JAY 

Paris, January n, 1789 

.... As the character of the Prince of Wales is becom- 
ing interesting, I have endeavored to learn what it truly is, 

457 



OF 

This is less difficult in his case, than in that of other persons 
of his rank, because he has taken no pains to hide himself from 
the world. The information I most rely on, is from a person 
here with whom I am intimate, who divides his time between 
Paris and London, an Englishman by birth, of truth, sagacity 
and science. He is of a circle, when in London, which has had 
good opportunities of knowing the Prince; but he has also, him- 
self, had special occasions of verifying their information, by 
his own personal observation. He happened, when last in Lon- 
don, to be invited to a dinner of three persons. The Prince 
came by chance, and made the fourth. He ate half a leg of 
mutton; did not taste of small dishes, because small; drank 
Champagne and Burgundy, as small beer during dinner, and 
Bordeaux after dinner, as the rest of the company. Upon thie 
whole, he ate as much as the other three, and drank about two 
bottles of wine without seeming to feel it. My informant sat 
next him, and being till then unknown to the Prince, person- 
ally (though not by character), and lately from France, the 
Prince confined his conversation almost entirely to him. Ob- 
serving to the Prince that he spoke French without the least 
foreign accent, the Prince told him, that when very young, his 
father had put only French servants about him, and that it 
was to that circumstance he owed his pronunciation. He led 
him from this to give an account of his education, the total of 
which was the learning a little Latin. He has not a single ele- 
ment of Mathematics, of Natural or Moral Philosophy, or of 
any other science on earth, nor has the society he has kept 
been such as to supply the void of education. It has been that 
of the lowest, the most illiterate and profligate persons of the 
kingdom, without choice of rank or mind, and with whom the 
subjects of conversation are only horses, drinking-matches, 
bawdy houses, and in terms the most vulgar. The young no- 
bility, who begin by associating with him, soon leave him, dis- 
gusted with the insupportable profligacy of his society; and 
Mr. Fox, who has been supposed his favorite, and not over-nice 
in the choice of company, would never keep his company habit- 

458 



THOMAS JSFFSRSON 

ually. In fact, he never associated with a man of sense. He has 
not a single idea of justice, morality, religion, or of the rights 
of men, or any anxiety for the opinion of the world. He carrie? 
that indifference for fame so far, that he would probably not 
be hurt were he to lose his throne, provided he could be assured 
of having always meat, drink, horses, and women. In the ar- 
ticle of women, nevertheless, he is become more correct, since 
his connection with Mrs. Fitzherbert, who is an honest and 
worthy woman: he is even less crapulous than he was. He had 
a fine person, but it is becoming coarse. He possesses good na 
tive common sense; is affable, polite, and very good humored. 
Saying to my informant, on another occasion, "your friend, 
such a one, dined with me yesterday, and I made him damned 
drunk;" he replied, "I am sorry for it; I had heard that your 
royal highness had left off drinking:" the Prince laughed, 
tapped him on the shoulder very good naturedly, without say- 
ing a word, or ever after showing any displeasure. . . . 



TO FRANCIS HOPKINSON 3 

Paris, March 13, 1789 

DEAR SIR, Since my last, which was of December the 
2ist, yours of December the gth and 2ist are received. Accept 
my thanks for the papers and pamphlets which accompanied 
them, and mine and my daughter's, for the book of songs. I 
will not tell you how much they have pleased us, nor how well 
the last of them merits praise for its pathos, but relate a fact, 
only, which is, that while my elder daughter was playing it on 
the harpsichord, I happened to look towards the fire, and saw 
the younger one all in tears. I asked her if she was sick? She 
said "no; but the tune was so mournful." 

The Editor of the Encyclopedic has published something as 
to an advanced price on his future volumes, which, I under- 

i. Francis Hopkinson, accomplished statesman, musician, and author? 
frequently corresponded with Jefferson. 

459 



LETTERS OF 

stand, alarms the subscribers. It was in a paper which I do not 
take, and therefore I have not yet seen it, nor can T say what 
it is. I hope that by this time you haVe ceased to make wry 
faces about your vinegar, and that you have received it safe 
and good. You say that I have been dished up to you as an 
anti-federalist, and ask me if it be just. My opinion was never 
worthy enough of notice to m'erit citing; but since you ask it, I 
will tell it to you. I am not a federalist, because I never sub- 
mitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any 
party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics 
or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for my- 
self. Such an addiction, is the last degradation of a free and 
moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I 
would not go there at all. Therefore, I am not of the party of 
federalists. But I am much farther from that of the anti-fed- 
ralists. I approved, from the first moment, of the great mass 
of what is in the new Constitution; the consolidation of the 
government; the organization into executive, legislative, and 
judiciary; the subdivision of the legislative; the happy com- 
promise of interests between the great and little States, by the 
different manner of voting in the different Houses; the voting 
by persons instead of States; the qualified negative on laws 
given to the executive, which, however, I should have liked 
better if associated with the judiciary also, as in New York; 
and the power of taxation. I thought at first that the latter 
might have been limited. A little reflection soon convinced 
me it ought not to be. What I disapproved from the first mo- 
ment also, was the want of a bill of rights, to guard liberty 
against the legislative as well as the executive branches of the 
government; that is to say, to secure freedom in religion, free- 
dom of the press, freedom from monopolies, freedom from un- 
lawful imprisonment, freedom from a permanent military, and 
a trial by jury, in all cases determinable by the laws of the 
land. I disapproved, also, the perpetual re-eligibility of the 
President. To these points of disapprobation I adhere. My first 
wish was, that the nine first conventions might accept the con- 

460 



fHOMAS JEFFERSON 

stitution, as the means of securing to us the great mass of good 
it contained, and that the four last might reject it, as the means 
of obtaining amendments. But I was corrected in this wish, the 
moment I saw the much better plan of Massachusetts, and 
which had never occurred to me. With respect to the declara- 
tion of rights, I suppose the majority of the United States are 
of my opinion; for I apprehend, all the anti-federalists and a 
very respectable proportion of the federalists, think that such 
a declaration should now be annexed. The enlightened part of 
Europe have given us the greatest credit for inventing the in- 
strument of security for the rights of the people, and have been 
not a little surprised to see us so soon give it up. With respect 
to the re-eligibility of the President, I find myself differing 
from the majority of my countrymen; for I think there are but 
three States out of the eleven which have desired an alteration 
of this. And indeed, since the thing is established, I would wish 
it not to be altered during the life of our great leader, whose 
executive talents are superior to those, I believe, of any man 
in the world, and who, alone, by the authority of his name and 
the confidence reposed in his perfect integrity, is fully quali- 
fied to put the new government so under way, as to secure it 
against the efforts of opposition. But, having derived from our 
error all the good there was in it, I hope we shall correct it, thfe 
moment we can no longer have the same name at the helm. 

These, my dear friend, are my s'entirnents, by which you will 
see I was right in saying I am neither federalist nor anti-fed- 
eralist; that I am of neither party, nor yet a trimmer between 
parties. These, my opinions, I wrote within a few hours after 
I had read the Constitution, to one or two friends in America, 
t had not then read one single word printed on the subject. I 
never had an opinion in politics or religion, which I was afraid 
to own. A costive reserve on thes'e subjects might have pro- 
cured me more esteem from some people, but less from myself. 
My great wish is, to go on in a strict but silent performance of 
my duty; to avoid attracting notice, and to keep my