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We do not propose to follow Mr. Jefferson step by step through his eminently conspicuous political career. In 1779 he was elected Governor of Virginia as successor to Patrick Henry, in the most trying period of the war; and satisfied that the executive power could be administered with more energy, promptitude, and effect by an officer trained to military command, he resigned at the end of his second year, and was succeeded by General Nelson in the Spring of 1781.
In June, 1781, he was appointed by the General Congress one of the commissioners to negotiate treaties of peace, as he had been before in 1776—which in both instances he declined; but on a renewal of the appointment in 1782, he accepted, only to make preparations for his departure. In November be took his seat in Congress, taking an active part in settling our present decimal system of Federal currency, and in providing a Committee of States, to act for Congress in the recess.
The result of this experiment, and the experience of the French Directory, satisfied him of the futility of a dual executive.
In May, 1783, Mr. Jefferson was added to the Ministers Pleni. potentiary to negotiate treaties of commerce with foreign nations. On his arrival in Paris, to save his literary reputation, he had to make a hasty revision of a French translation of his Notes on Virginia; they were also issued in English at London, in the same year. In 1785, on permission being given to Dr. Franklin to return to America, Mr. Jefferson became his successor at Paris. In 1789, he received from President Washington the appointment of Secretary of State ; in 1796, he was elected Vice-President of the United States; and in March, 1801, he took his seat as Chief Magistrate of the nation--and after eight years in that office, he retired from public life. In every position in which he was placed, he proved himself an intelligent, considerate, and economical administrator-meeting the exigencies of a new government with general preparedness and prompt decision, acting at all times with a keen perception of the popular will, and without leaving even a suspicion of any pecuniary advantage to himself. In fact, he retired from political office poorer than when he entered, and the hospitalities of his house were such as to exhaust his estate from year to year, until he was glad to get temporary relief by the sale of his library to Congress for the sum of $25,000. Before giving an account of his educational labors for Virginia, we will introduce an interesting survey of his public life, made by himself, only one year before his death.
Enumeration of Mr. Jefferson's Public Services. In 1826, Mr. Jefferson was driven to the necessity of an appeal to the Legislature for permission to sell by lottery a portion of his lands for the purpose of paying his debts. To justify this application for special legislation in his behalf,
at a time when land in the public market would not sell for more than a third or fourth of the price it would have brought at the time the debts were contracted, and all agricultural produce was selling below the cost of production—Mr. Jefferson drew up a paper from which the following summary of his official life is taken :
I came of age in 1764, and was soon put into the nomination of Justice of the county in which I live, and at the first election following, I became one of the representatives in the Legislature.
I was thence sent to the old Congress.
Then employed two years with Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Wythe, on the revisal and reduction to a single code of the whole body of the British Statutes, the Acts of our Assembly, and certain parts of the Common Law.
Then elected Governor.
President. And lastly, a Visitor and Recorder of the University. In these different offices, with scarcely any interval between them, I have been in the public service now sixty-one years; and during the far greater part of the time, in foreign countries or in other States. Every one knows how inevitably a Vir. ginia estate goes to ruin, when the owner is so far distant as to be unable to pay attention to it himself; and the more especially, when the line of his employment is of a character to abstract and alienate his mind entirely from the knowledge necessary to good, and even to saving management. If it were thought worth while to specify any particular service rendered, I would refer to the specification of these made by the Legislature itself in their Farewell Address, on my retiring from the Presidency, February, 1809.
There is one, however, not therein specified, the most important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life; to wit, the head I personally made against the Federal principles and proceedings, during the administration of Mr. Adams. Their usurpations and violations of the constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the Republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective Legislatures, embody whatever resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch. All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives and myself in the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept the mass of Republicans in phalanx together, until the Legislature could be brought up to the charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office of Vice-President at the head of the Republicans, had given way, and withdrawn from my post, the Republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair, and the cause would have been lost forever. By holding on, we obtained time for the Legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the constitution at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the affecting persecutions and personal indignities we had to brook. They saved our country, however. The spirits of the people were so much subdued and reduced to despair by the X Y Z imposture, and other stratagems and machinations, that they would have sunk into apathy and monarchy, as the only form of government which could maintain itsell
. If Legislative services are worth mentioning, and the stamp of liberality and equality, which was necessary to be imposed on our laws in the first crisis of our birth as a nation, was of any value, they will find that the leading and most important laws of that day were prepared by myself, and carried chiefly by my efforts; supported, indeed, by able and faithful coadjutors from the ranks of the House, very effective as seconds, but who would not have taken the field as leaders.
The prohibition of the further importation of slaves was the first of these measures in time.
This was followed by the abolition of entails, which broke up the hereditary and high-handed aristocracy, which, by accumulating immense masses of property in single lines of families, had divided our country into two distinct orders, of nobles and plebeians.
But further, to complete the equality among our citizens, so essential to the maintenance of Republican government, it was necessary to abolish the principle of primogeniture. I drew the law of descents, giving equal inheritance to sons and daughters, which made a part of the revised code.
The attack on the establishment of a dominant religion, was first made by myself. It could be carried at first only by a suspension of salaries for one year, by battling it again at the next session for another year, and so from year to year, until the public mind was ripened for the bill for establishing religious freedom, which I had prepared for the revised code also. This was at length established permanently, and by the efforts chiefly of Mr. Madison, being my. self in Europe at the time that work was brought
forward. To these particular services, I think I might add the establishment of our University, as principally my work; acknowledging, at the same time, as I do, the great assistance received from my able colleagues of the Visitation. But my residence in the vicinity threw, of course, on me the chief burden of the enterprise, as well of the buildings as of the general organization and care of the whole. The effect of this institution on the future fame, fortune, and prosperity of our country, can as yet be seen but at a distance. But a hundred well educated youths, which it will turn out appually, and ere long, will fill all its offices with men of superior qualifications, and raise it from its humble state to an eminence among its associates which it has never yet known; no, not in its brightest days. That institution is now qualified to raise its youth to an order of science unequaled in any other state; and this superiority will be the greater from the free range of mind encouraged there, and the restraint imposed at other seminaries by the shackles of a domineering hierarchy, and a bigoted adhesion to ancient habits. Those now on the theater of affairs will enjoy the ineffable bappiness of seeing themselves succeeded by sons of a grade of science beyond their own ken. Our sister States will also be repairing to the same fountains of instruction, will bring hither their genius to be kindled at our fire; and will carry back the fraternal affections which, nourished by the same alma mater, will knit us to them by the indissoluble bonds of early personal friendship. The good Old Dominion, the blessed mother of us all, will then raise her head with pride among the nations, will present to them that splendor of genius which she has ever possessed, but has too long suffered to rest uncultivated and unknown, and will become a center of radiance to the States whose youth she has instructed, and, as it were, adopted.
I claim some share in the merits of this great wo of regeneration. My whole labors, now for many years, have been devoted to it, and I stand pledged to follow it up through the rempant of life remaining to me. And what remuneration do I ask? Money from the Treasury? Not a cent. I ask nothing from the earnings or labors of my fellow-citizens. I wish no man's comforts to be abridged for the enlargement of mine. For the services rendered on all occasions, I have been always paid to my full satisfaction. I never wished a dollar more than what the law bad fixed ou.
It is painful to think that the evening of such a life should have been clouded by hopeless pecuniary embarrassment, and that Thomas Jefferson, who had filled in succession the highest offices in the State and Nation, and retired from each position without having used his power of appointment to the pecuniary gain of any member of his own family, near or remote, and without the suspicion of having diverted one dollar of all the public funds that passed through his hands, to his own uses, or speculated on his knowledge of the policy of the government which he administered, for the benefit of himself or friends-should have been brought face to face with actual want, and had to contemplate the stern necessity of seeing the home which he had planned in his youth and built as the shelter of his old age, and made the seat of the most bountiful hospitality, pass into the hands of strangers. There is some consolation in the fact, that when his situation became known, there were such immediate demonstrations of grateful recognition of his past services out of the State as to relieve his pressing necessities, and to fill his heart with the assurances that all would end well. In that assurance, he died on the 4th of July, 1826—and such a death—as associates his name for ever with the great historic event of his age and country-it was given only to himself and John Adams, to die.
Among his papers there were found written on the torn back of an old letter the following directions for his monument and its inscription >
Could the dead feel any interest in monuments or other remembrances of them, when, as Anacreon says,
'Ολίγη δε κεισόμεθα
Κδνίρ, οστέων λυθέντων, the following would be to my manes the most gratifying : on the grave a plain die or cube of three feet without any moldings, surmounted by an obelisk of six feet height, each of a single stone; og the faces of the obelisk the following inscription, and not a word more :
HERE WAS BURIED
And Father of the University of Virginia ; because by these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered. (It) to be of the coarse stone of which my columns are made, that no one might be tempted hereafter to destroy it for the value of the materials. My bust, by Ceracchi, with the pedestal and truncated column on which it stands, might be given to the University, if they would place it in the dome room of the Rotunda. On the die of the obelisk might be engraved :
Born Apr. 2, 1743, 0. S.
Died His grandson, Colonel Randolph, followed his directions in erecting the monument which is placed over him. He lies buried between his wife and his daughter, Mary Eppes ; across the head of these three graves lie the remains of his eldest daughter, Martha Randolph. This group lies in front of a gap in a high brick wall which surrounds the whole graveyard, the gap being filled by a high iron grating, giving a full view of the group.
JEFFERSON'S EDUCATIONAL POLICY FOR VIRGINIA. At the request of the Law Revisers, in 1777, Mr. Jefferson, drafted three bills relating to Education, viz. :
1. For the more General Diffusion of Knowledge by means of Common Schools, and Grammar Schools.
2. For Amending the Constitution of William and Mary College, and substituting more certain revenues for its support. 3. For establishing a Public Library.
1. Common Schools. The Preamble of the Bill for the more General Diffusion of Knowledge reads as follows:
Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience has shown, that even under the best forms, those intrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this, would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes : And whereas it is generally true that the people will be happiest whose laws are best, and are best administered, and that laws will be wisely formed, and honestly administered, in proportion as those who form and administer them are wise and honest; whence it becomes expedient for promoting the public happiness, that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to regard the sacred deposits of the rights and liberties of their fellow.citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth, or other accidental condition or circumstance; but the indigence of the greater number disabling them from so educating, at their own expense, those of their children whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public, it is better that such should be sought for, and educated at the common expense of all, than that the happiness of all should be confided to the weak or wicked.
This Preamble recognizes the right and duty of the State to secure the great mass of the people from the abuses of government by popular intelligence, and to bring the advantages of liberal education within the reach of those who can profit by the same without regard to wealth, birth, or other accidental condition. For these purposes the bill provides for the establishment of an Elementary School in each Hundred-into which each county was to be divided by their county officers, designated Aldermen,' who were charged with erection and repair of a suitable house on a site selected by the inbabitants of the Hundred. In these schools all free children were entitled to receive tuition gratis, for three years, and as much longer as desired at the expense of their parents. Reading, writing, and common arithmetic were to be taught in them; and the reading of books were to be such as would, at the