THOMAS JEFFERSON – IN BRIEF;
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SAGES AND HEROES
IN TWO PARTS
INCLUDING THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY THREE OF THE SAGES AND
HEROES ARE PRESENTED IN DUE FORM
AND MANY OTHERS ARE NAMED INCIDENTALLY.
BY L. CARROLL JUDSON,
AUTHOR OF A BIOGRAPHY OF THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,
MORAL PROBE, ET CET. ET CET.
MOSS & BROTHER.
GENUINE moral courage is a sterling virtue—the motive power of the true dignity of man.
It invigorates the mind like a refreshing dew falling gently on the flowers of spring. It is
a heavenly spark—animating the immortal soul with the fire of purity that illuminates
the path of rectitude. It is an attribute that opposes all wrong and propels its possessor
right onward to the performance of all right. Based on virtue and equity, it spurns vice in
all its borrowed and delusive forms. It courts no servile favors—fears no earthly
scrutiny. No flattery can seduce it—no eclat allure—no bribe purchase—no tyrant awe
—no misfortune bend—no intrigue corrupt—no adversity crush—no tortures can
subdue it. On its breastplate is inscribed in bold relievo—Fiat justitia—ruat calum. [Let
justice be done though the heavens fall.] Without it, fame is ephemeral—renown
transient. It is the saline basis of a good name that gives enduring richness to its
memory. It is a pillar of light to revolving thought—the polar star that points to duty,
secures merit and leads to victory. It is the soul of reason—the essence of wisdom—the
crowning glory of mental power. It was this that nerved the leaders of the American
Revolution to noble and god-like action.
In the front rank of this band of patriots stood Thomas Jefferson, who was born at
Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, on the 24th of April 1743. His ancestors were
among the early pioneers of the Old Dominion and highly respectable. They were
Republicans to the core—in affluent circumstances and exercised an extensive and
Thomas was the son of Peter Jefferson, a man much esteemed in public and private life.
The liberal feelings imbibed from him by this son were conspicuous at an early age.
From his childhood the mind of Thomas Jefferson assumed a high elevation took a
broad and expansive view of men and things.
He was educated at the college of William and Mary and was always found at the head
of his class. Untiring industry in the exploration of the fields of science marked his
collegiate career. He analyzed every subject he investigated, passing through the
opening avenues of literature with astonishing celerity. His mind became enraptured
with the history of classic Greece and republican Rome. Improving upon the suggestions
of liberal principles found in the classics, he early matured his political creed and
opposed every kind of government tinctured with the shadow of monarchy, hierarchy or
After completing his collegiate course he commenced the study of law under Chancellor
Wythe, whose liberal views were calculated to mature and strengthen those already
preponderating in the mind of Jefferson. With regard to the oppressions of the mother
country—the justice and necessity of resistance by the Colonies, their kindred hearts
beat in unison. By a thorough investigation of the principles of law and government,
Jefferson became rapidly prepared to enter upon the great theatre of public life—the
service of his injured country. Planting himself upon the broad basis of Magna Charta—
encircling himself within the pale of the British Constitution—he demonstrated most
clearly that the ministry of the crown had long been rapidly advancing beyond the
bounds of their legitimate authority—exercising a tyranny over the Colonies not
delegated to them by the constitution of the monarchy they represented. So luminous
were his expositions of chartered rights on the one hand and accumulating wrongs on the
other, that he became the nucleus of a band of patriots resolved on LIBERTY OR DEATH.
At the age of twenty-two he was elected to the legislature which enabled him to
disseminate his liberal principles throughout the Colony. He proclaimed himself the
unyielding advocate of equal rights and had engraved upon his watch seal—"Resistance
to tyrants is obedience to God." By his eloquence and unanswerable arguments he
kindled the flame of opposition in old Virginia which increased as tyranny advanced. In
1769 a resolution was passed by the legislature—not to import a single article from
Great Britain. In the advocacy of this proposition by Mr. Jefferson, the adherents of the
crown were astonished at the boldness and firmness with which he exposed and laid bare
the venal corruption of the British cabinet. It gave a fresh impetus to the cause of Liberty
just bursting into life.
With ample pecuniary means—with talents equal to the work he had undertaken, his
soul illuminated with the fire of patriotism—his indignation roused against the hirelings
of the king—his sympathies excited by the sufferings of his country—his moral courage
raised to the zenith of its glory—Mr. Jefferson was amply armed for the conflict and
became one of the master spirits of the Revolution—a gigantic champion of universal
freedom—a pillar of fire, flashing terror and dismay into the ranks of the foe.
He wrote "A Summary View of the Rights of British America"—addressed it to the king
respectfully but very plainly pointed to the true position of the two countries and the
final result of the policy of ministers. The following is an extract. "Open your breast,
sire, to liberal and expanded thought. It behooves you to think and act for your people.
The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader. To perceive them
needs not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of
being honest." The art of being honest in matters of government is a knotty problem for
some modern politicians to solve. Were they all honest a political millennium would
illuminate our country—bring us back to primitive tangible landmarks and unmask
multitudes of political wolves cunningly dressed in sheep's clothing.
So exasperated was Lord Dunmore on perusing this article from the pen of Jefferson that
he threatened to arrest him for high treason. Finding most of the members of the
legislature, then in session, quite as treasonable in their views he at once dissolved that
The following year the British ministry, in answer to petitions for redress of grievances,
sent to the legislature of the Old Dominion a series of propositions that they termed
conciliatory but which added insult to injury. Their fallacy was exposed by Mr. Jefferson
in such a masterly strain of eloquent burning logic and sarcasm, that conviction was
carried to a large majority of his colleagues. They were referred to a committee which
reported an answer written by him and was very similar to the Declaration of
Independence. This reply was immediately adopted. The ball of resistance was put in
motion—the electric fluid of patriotism commenced its insulating powers in the north
and south—extending from sire to son, from heart to heart, until the two streams of fire
met in the centre—then rising in grandeur, formed the luminous arch of Freedom—its
chord extending from Maine to Georgia—its versed sine resting on the city Penn.
Under its zenith at Philadelphia, Mr. Jefferson took his seat in the Continental Congress
on the 21st of June 1775. Although one of the youngest members of that venerated
assembly of patriotic sages, he was hailed as one of its main pillars. Known as a man of
superior intelligence, liberal sentiments, strict integrity, stern republicanism and
unbending patriotism—his influence was strongly felt and judiciously exercised.
From the beginning he advocated a separation from the mother country and ably met
every objection urged against it. In his view, oppression, not recognised by Magna
Charta, had dissolved all allegiance to the crown—that the original contract had been
cancelled on the heights of Lexington by American blood. Submission was no longer a
virtue—the measure of wrongs had been overflowing for years—public sentiment
demanded the sundering of the Gordian knot—a voice from Heaven proclaimed in tones
of thunder—"Let my people go."
The following year the Declaration of Independence was proposed. Mr. Jefferson was
appointed chairman of the committee to prepare this momentous document. The work
was assigned to him by his colleagues. He performed the task with a boldness of design
and beauty of execution before unknown and yet unrivalled. The substantial result of his
labor has long been before the world. Admiring nations have united in bestowing the
highest encomiums upon this sacred instrument. As a masterpiece of composition—a
lucid exposition of the rights of man—the principles of a free government—the
sufferings of an oppressed people—the abuses of a corrupt ministry and the effects of
monarchy upon the destinies of man—it stands unequalled. Pure in its origin—graphic
in its delineations—benign in its influence and salutary in its results—it has become the
chart of patriots over the civilized world. It is the ne plus ultra [nothing more beyond] of
a gigantic mind raised to its loftiest elevation by the finest touches of creative Power—
displaying its noblest efforts—brightest conceptions—holiest zeal—purest desires—
happiest conclusions. It combines the attributes of justice—the flowers of eloquence—
the force of logic—the soul of wisdom. It is the grand palladium of equal rights—the
polar star of rational LIBERTY—the Magna Charta of universal FREEDOM and has crowned
its author with laurels of enduring fame.
In the autumn of 1776 Mr. Jefferson was appointed a commissioner to the court of
France in conjunction with Messrs. Franklin and Deane for the purpose of forming a
treaty of alliance. Ill health of himself and family and an urgent necessity for his services
in his native state, induced him to decline the proffered honor and resign his seat in
He was immediately elected to the first legislature of his state convened under the new
Constitution. On taking his seal in that body his attention was at once directed to the
demolition of the judicial code which had emanated from the British Parliament. The
work of rearing a new superstructure was mostly performed by him. The first bill he
introduced was aimed at the slave trade and prohibited the farther importation of negroes
into Virginia. This is a triumphant refutation of the accusation often reiterated against
Mr. Jefferson—that he was an advocate of slavery. To its principles he and a large
majority of the South were always opposed and submitted to it practically by ENTAIL. It is
a fact beyond dispute that he struck the first blow in the Colonies at the unhallowed
trade of importing human beings for the purpose of consigning them to bondage. That
this was the first great step to towards a correction of the most cruel feature of this
system, originated by philanthropic England, is equally true. To transfer those negroes,
born in the United States, from one section of this country to another, bears no
comparison in cruelty to the heart-rending barbarity of forcing the African from his
native home—even should he fall into the hands of those emancipators who, instead of
returning him to his native shores—put him an"APPRENTICE" to hard labor on their own
plantations. Consistency thou art a jewel rather rare. Common humanity forbids the
sudden emancipation of the slaves as proposed by emissary Thompson and his converts.
Mr. Jefferson next effected the passage of bills destroying entails—primogeniture—the
church as established by England and various others—assimilating the entire system of
jurisprudence in the state to its republican form of government. He reported one hundred
and twenty-six bills, most of which were passed and constitute the present much
admired statutory code of Virginia.
In 1779 Mr. Jefferson was called to the gubernatorial chair of his native state, then
surrounded by perils. The British troops, led on by the proud Tarleton and the traitor
Arnold, were spreading death and devastation over the Old Dominion and contemplated
the capture of the governor. Terror seized the more timid patriots—the boldest were
alarmed at the approach of the merciless foe. The energy of the governor was equal to
the emergency. He rallied the bone and sinew of old Virginia, who "with hearts of oak
and nerves of steel," checked the enemy in their bold career of indiscriminate slaughter.
He imparted confidence and vigor to the desponding and roused them to bold and noble
action. He dispersed the black cloud that hung over his bleeding state and inspired the
friends of liberty with cheering hopes of ultimate success. So highly were his services
appreciated during the eventful term of his administration that the legislature entered
upon their records a unanimous vote of thanks to him for the able and efficient manner
he had discharged his public duties—highly complimenting his talents, rectitude, moral
courage and stern integrity.
In 1783 he again took his seat in Congress—one of the brightest luminaries in the galaxy
of statesmen. The chaste and moving address to Washington when he surrendered his
commission, was from the soul-stirring pen of Jefferson. He was chairman of the
committee to form a territorial government for the extensive regions of the then far west.
True to his long cherished desire to ultimately emancipate the negro, he introduced a
clause prohibiting slavery in any of the territories or the states that should be formed
from them after 1800.
In May, 1784, he was a minister plenipotentiary in conjunction with Dr. Franklin and
John Adams, with power to negotiate treaties of commerce with several European
nations. In July he embarked for France and arrived in Paris on the 6th of August.
During his absence he visited several foreign courts but spent most of his time in France.
He commanded the highest respect and was made a welcome guest in the halls of
literature, legislation and jurisprudence. Kings and courtiers treated him with profound
deference and were convinced intelligence and talent were not exclusively confined to
the old world.
He was in Paris when the French Revolution commenced and was often consulted by the
leading members of the national convention relative to the best course to be pursued in
order to establish their government upon the Republican basis. So far as was proper he
gave his opinions freely in favor of rational Liberty.
He returned on the 23d of November 1789 and was received with great enthusiasm and
kindness by his fellow citizens. Soon after his arrival he resigned his ministerial
commission and became Secretary of State under President Washington. The
appointment was a compliment to the matured judgment of the chief magistrate and
proved a lasting benefit to our country. Familiar with every principle of government—
comprehending the requisites necessary to perfect and perpetuate the new confederation
—he proposed amendments to the constitution, which, with some suggested by John
Adams and others, were adopted. He did much towards reducing the new order of things
to harmonious system. Well versed in diplomacy, international law and the policy of
European courts—he was prepared to plant the permanent land marks of foreign
intercourse which stand as beacon lights to guide our nation safely in its onward career.
A reciprocity of commerce and honorable peace with other governments—a rigid
neutrality with belligerents—a careful avoidance of entangling alliances were some of
his leading principles. To submit to nothing that was clearlywrong—to ask for nothing
that was not clearly right—was a doctrine of Jefferson forcibly inculcated in his able
correspondence with the French ministers during the brief period of their Republic. This
motto has been handed down from sire to son and is firmly nailed to the flag staff of the
star spangled banner.
To the domestic concerns of our country he devoted a laudable and laborious attention.
He recommended the adoption of a uniform system of currency, weights, measures and
many other things designed to advance the best interest of the infant Republic. He urged
the importance of protecting our fisheries and of encouraging enterprise in all the
branches of industry. He demonstrated the advantages of every species of commerce and
the necessity of preventing others from monopolizing the sources that legitimately
belonged to the United States. He exhibited a masterly exposition of existing facts,
showing the increasing policy of European courts to restrict the inter course of America
that they might engross trade. He submitted to Congress an elaborate and able report
relative to the privileges and restrictions of the commercial intercourse of this with other
countries, which showed great foresight, close observation and thorough investigation. It
received great attention and was the foundation of a series of resolutions introduced by
Mr. Madison, embracing the doctrines it contained—forming the great line of
demarkation between the old school federal and democratic parties. It would require a
skilful engineer to trace the original line now in consequence of the rapid growth of
Having served his country long and faithfully and contributed largely in placing her on
the great highway of FREEDOM and prosperity, Mr. Jefferson retired from public life on the
31st of December 1793 enjoying for a season the more peaceful and substantial comforts
of life at Monticello. He imparted comfort to all around him—treated his slaves in the
kindest manner, reducing to practice the mode of treatment he always recommended to
others. The education of his children—the cultivation and improvement of his land and
the resumption of his scientific researches, gave to him an exhilarating consolation he
had long desired and could never enjoy in the arena of public business and political
turmoil. His manner of life at the time alluded to is happily described by the Duke de
Liancourt who visited him during his brief time of repose.
"His conversation is of the most agreeable kind. He possesses a stock of information not
inferior to any other man. In Europe he would hold a distinguished rank among men of
letters and as such he has already appeared there. At present he is employed with activity
and perseverance in the management of his farms and buildings and he orders, directs
and pursues, in the minutest detail, every branch of business relating to them. I found
him in the midst of harvest from which the scorching heat of the sun does not prevent
his attendance. His negroes are nourished, clothed and treated as well as white servants
could be. Every article is made on his farm—his negroes being cabinet makers,
carpenters and masons. The children he employs in a nail manufactory and the young
and old negresses spin for the clothing of the rest. He animates them all by rewards and
distinctions. In fine, his superior mind directs the management of his domestic concerns
with the same ability, activity and regularity, which he evinced in the conduct of public
affairs and which he is calculated to display in every situation of life."
During his recess from the toils of public life Mr. Jefferson was unanimously elected
President of the American Philosophical Society with which he was highly gratified. It
afforded him much pleasure to occupy the chair which had been ably filled by his
revered friends—the illustrious Franklin and philosophic Rittenhouse.
After a repose of three years he was again called to the theatre of public action.
President Washington had announced his determination to retire to the peaceful shades
of Mount Vernon. The people had become divided in two political parties, each
determined to nominate a candidate for the high and responsible office about to become
vacant. The federalists nominated John Adams—the democrats Thomas Jefferson. The
former was elected President—the latter Vice President of the United States. As the
presiding officer of the Senate Mr. Jefferson discharged his duty with dignity and
impartiality. Familiar with parliamentary rules, he was prepared to decide questions
promptly and uniformly to the satisfaction of members.
At the next Presidential Election he was again opposed to Mr. Adams. The mountain
waves of party spirit rolled over the United States like a sweeping torrent. Each party
presented a bold front regardless of danger pressed on by a rear rushing to conflict. The
two candidates were bosom friends. Honest political differences did not interrupt their
private good feelings. Not a word fell from the lips of either disparaging to his opponent.
They regretted the fever heat of their partisans during the canvass but could not allay it.
The Democrats carried the election and returned an equal number of votes for Mr.
Jefferson as President and Col. Burr as Vice President. This singular circumstance
imposed the election of the Chief Magistrate upon the House of Representatives. To
defeat the election of the great leader of the popular party, several of his opponents voted
for Col. Burr. A very spirited contest ensued. Thirty-five ineffectual ballotings were
made. The ambition of Burr for promotion induced him to omit doing at once what
propriety dictated and that which would have rendered him popular and perhaps saved
him from the vortex of disgrace into which he subsequently plunged—the immediate
withdrawal of his name. This he was finally compelled to do and on the thirty-sixth
ballot Mr. Jefferson was duly elected President by a majority of eight votes and Col.
Burr Vice President.
I have long been convinced that the Federal Constitution should be amended with
reference to the election of these two officers. The votes for each should be confined to
each office independent of the other. The election should never go to the House of
Representatives, especially as political honesty is constantly deteriorating. The history of
all time shows clearly, that as a government grows older corruption increases until it
finally dissolves the state. Let the President be elected for four years and until another
shall be elected in his place and let this be done directly by the PEOPLE. Reckless party
management would then be stripped of half its horrors. Better pay the expense of two
elections than have one unworthy incumbent in the Presidential Chair. The following
extract from the Inaugural Address of Mr. Jefferson should be committed by every man
and boy in our country—the principles would then be better understood and perhaps
more generally exemplified in practice.
"Equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion—religious or
political—peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances
with none—the support of the state governments 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 government in its whole
constitutional vigor as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad—a
zealous care of the right of election by the people—a mild and safe corrective of abuses
which are lopped by the sword of revolution when 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 till regulars may relieve them—the supremacy of the civil over the
military authority—economy in public expenses that labor may be lightly burthened—
the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith—
encouragement of agriculture and of commerce as its handmaid—the diffusion of
information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason—freedom of
religion, freedom of the press and freedom of the person under the protection of
the habeas corpus and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the
bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of
revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been
devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of
civic instruction, the touch stone by which to try the service of those we trust 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."
Here is a statesman's chart drawn by one of the ablest, navigators that ever stood at the
helm of government. His soundings were frequent—his observations were made with
mathematical precision—he combined science and experience and traced his lines with
boldness and truth. To follow its directions is to ensure safety. Its delineations are not
designed for partisan use but for our whole country and the freemen of the world
through all time.
Based upon these principles practically, the administration of Jefferson became popular,
peaceful and prosperous. He understood the reasonable desires of the people and exerted
his noblest powers to gratify them.
He knew that the art of governing harmoniously consisted in HONESTY and governed
himself accordingly. He anticipated the future wants of the rising and expanding
Republic and proposed in his annual and special messages to Congress wise and politic
measures to meet them. So fully was his course approved that he was re-elected by a
majority of one hundred and forty-eight. His second inaugural address reiterated the
same magnanimous principles of his first, manifesting a deep and growing interest in the
prosperity and welfare of our common country.
As he has been repeatedly charged with infidelity by those who descend so low as to
desecrate the ashes of the illustrious dead and the charge repeated but a few days ago in
a prominent print in the city of New York, I insert the following extract from his annual
message, which sentiment is found in all his writings where the subject is alluded to. I
have recently read two of his unpublished letters to a gentleman who is now a member
of the New Jersey Senate, in which the same view is expressed.
"I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our
forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing
with all the necessaries of life—who has covered our infancy with his Providence and
our riper years with his wisdom and power." Washington and Adams said no more.
If all who profess the religion of the Cross discarded sectarianism and honored
unsophisticated practical religion as much as did Thomas Jefferson, the prospect of
christianizing the world would burst upon us with refulgent brightness. The partition
walls of various creeds, claimed to be drawn from the same pure fountain, would be
dissolved by heaven-born Charity and the superstructure of the Redeemer's kingdom
would rise in majesty sublime.
Soon after Mr. Jefferson entered upon the duties of his second term, a portentous storm
darkened the horizon of our country, charged with the lightning of discord. In
consequence of being disappointed in riding into the presidency on the whirlwind of
confusion he created at the time he was made Vice President and at the end of four years
—dropped like a traitor as he was, Aaron Burr mounted upon the tornado of his wild
ambition and attempted the formation of a new Republic in the Spanish Provinces on the
Mississippi, aiming at an ultimate division, if not dissolution of the Union. He was
arrested and tried for high treason but being a man of great foresight, consummate
genius and deep cunning—no overt act could be proved against him within the technical
meaning of the law and he was acquitted—yet the dark stigma is marked upon the
splendor of his brilliant talents in traces so deep, that time nor angels' tears can ever
remove it. Like a comet propelled by its own centrifugal force from its constitutional
orbit, he fell to rise no more—our country was saved from his Cataline grasp by the
Cicero of our nation.
About the same time France and Great Britain were at war—both of whom and more
especially the latter—had repeatedly insulted the American flag under various but false
pretences. Redress was promptly demanded and measures pursued to obtain it. Anxious
to preserve peace but determined to vindicate our rights and dignity—Mr. Jefferson
simultaneously prosecuted a negotiation and prepared for war. He well understood the
importance of the importing and exporting trade to England. Among the means used to
bring her to honorable terms, he recommended to Congress the embargo law which was
passed on the 22d Dec. 1807. This measure was violently assailed by those opposed to
his administration. As he anticipated, it had a salutary effect upon the British
government and caused propositions to be made by England for an honorable adjustment
of all differences.
Thus were the foreign relations of the United States situated when the second term of
Mr. Jefferson closed. He then bid a final farewell to public life and consigned the
destinies of his beloved country into other hands. He had been an efficient and faithful
laborer in the vineyard of American Liberty nearly forty years. He left it richly covered
with green foliage and fruit—in the full vigor of health—enclosed by the palisades of
truth and honesty—adorned with the crowning glories of philanthropy and patriotism.
From that time he declined all public honors and remained in peaceful retirement to the
day of his death—seldom leaving his sweet home—the beautiful Monticello. Unlike too
many with ample means he did not lead a life of inglorious ease. The same innate
activity that had marked his bright career from youth—the same nobleness of mind and
energy of character that raised him to the loftiest pinnacle fame could rear, still
promoted him to action. He reduced his time to a harmonious arrangement—his
business to perfect system. He uniformly rose before the sun and held a supervision over
all the concerns of his plantation. The various productions of his pen during the period
of his retirement, show that he labored arduously in the fields of science and philosophy.
For the promotion of literature and general intelligence, he opened an extensive
correspondence with men of letters in this country and Europe. He considered the
diffusion of knowledge among the great mass of the human family the greatest safeguard
against tyranny and oppression—the purest source of earthly bliss—the surest passport
to freedom and happiness.
Acting from this impulse, he submitted the plan of a University to the legislature of
Virginia to be erected at Charlottesville, situated at the foot of the romantic mountain in
front of his mansion. It was to be built with funds raised by donations from individuals
in the state, himself to be a liberal contributor. The plan of the buildings and course of
instruction were drawn by him and so much admired and approved by the members of
the legislative body that an act was passed to carry into effect the design and Mr.
Jefferson was appointed Rector. For the completion of this object he spent all necessary
time and more money than strict justice called for. It became the doating object of his
old age. His best efforts were exerted in its accomplishment, which were crowned with
success and the University filled with students to whom he paid great attention. The
course of instruction was designed to prepare youth for the general routine of business,
public and private and was not strictly classical. The library was selected by him with
great care, being composed entirely of solid useful books, treating on subjects important
to every citizen in preparing him to discharge properly the duties he owes to his God, his
family, his country and himself. A catalogue, written by Jefferson, is still there in a good
state of preservation. He exercised a parental care over this institution until his physical
Much of his time was devoted to visitors to whom he was hospitable and kind.
Thousands of his own countrymen paid their grateful respects to him—Europeans of
distinction thought their tour in this country incomplete until they took by the hand the
patriot, sage, philosopher and philanthropist of Monticello. He was ever anxious to
please, delight and instruct. He was familiar with every subject. His mind united the
vigor of youth with the experience of age. The broad expanse of the universe—the
stupendous works of nature—the Pierian fields of science—the deep recesses of
philosophy and labyrinthian avenues of the intellect of man—seemed spread before him
like the map of the world. He was an encyclopædia of the age he adorned—a lexicon of
the times he enlightened—one of the brightest diadems in the crown of his country's
With a calm and peaceful quietude Mr. Jefferson glided down the stream of time toward
the ocean of eternity until he reached the eighty-fourth year of his age. Forty-four years
had passed away since his amiable companion had been laid in the tomb. She was the
daughter of Mr. Wayles, an eminent lawyer of Virginia. One of two interesting daughters
was also resting in the grave. The charms of earth were receding from him—he felt
sensibly that he stood on the confines of another and a better world. The physical powers
and mechanical structure of his frame were fast decaying—the canker worm of disease
was doing its final work—the angel of death hovered over him with a keen blade
awaiting Jehovah's signal to cut the silver cord of life and set the prisoner free.
Early in the spring of 1826 his bodily infirmities increased. From the 26th of June to the
time of his death he was confined to his bed. He then remarked to his attending
physician—"My machine is worn out and can go no longer." His friends who attended
him thought he would again recover but he was convinced that his voyage of life was
about to close and that he would soon cast his anchor in the haven of rest. To those
around him he said—"Do not imagine that I feel the smallest solicitude as to the result. I
do not indeed wish to die but I do not fear to die." Do infidels die thus calm and
resigned? Echo answers—Do infidels die thus?
On the second day of July his body became extremely weak but his mental powers
remained as clear as a crystal fountain. He called his family and friends around him and
with a cheerful countenance and calm dignity gave direction for his funeral obsequies.
He requested that he might be interred at Monticello without pomp or show and that the
inscription on his tomb should only refer to him as "The author of the Declaration of
Independence—of the Statutes of Virginia securing religious Freedom and the Father of
the University." He then conversed separately with each of his family. To his surviving
daughter, Mrs. Randolph, he presented a small morocco case which he requested her not
to open until after his death. It was found to contain a beautiful and affectionate poetic
tribute to her virtues.
The next day, being told it was the 3d of July, he expressed a desire that he might be
permitted to inhale the atmosphere of the fiftieth anniversary of our national freedom.
His prayer was granted—the glorious 4th of July 1826 dawned upon him—he took an
affectionate leave of those around him and then raising his eyes upward articulated
distinctly, "I resign myself to God and my child to my country"—and expired as calmly
as an infant sleeps in its mother's arms. Thus lived and thus died THOMAS JEFFERSON,
universally esteemed in life—deeply mourned in death by a nation of freemen—
sincerely lamented by every patriot in the civilized world.
In person he was slender and erect—six feet two inches in height—light and intelligent
eyes—noble and open countenance—fair complexion—yellowish red hair and
commanding in his whole appearance. In all the relations of public and private life he
was the model of a great and good man. His whole career was calm and dignified. Under
all circumstances his coolness, strong moral courage—deliberation and equanimity of
mind, placed him on a lofty eminence and enabled him to preserve a perfect equilibrium
amidst all the changing vicissitudes and multiform ills flesh is heir to. He kept his
passions under complete control and cultivated richly the finer qualities of his nature.
His charity, the brightest star in the Christian diadem, was as broad as the human family
—his sympathies co-extensive with the afflictions of Adam's race. He was created for
usefulness—nobly did he fulfil the design of his creation. If his were not the fruits
of practical Christianity, the immaculate Redeemer and the Apostles did not truly
describe them. You who basely charge THOMAS JEFFERSON with infidelity, remember—O!
remember, that his last words were those uttered by many of the martyrs—"I RESIGN
MYSELF TO GOD AND MY CHILD TO MY COUNTRY."