NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES
3 3433 08237690
LIFE AND LETTERS
AUTOBIOGRAPHY AXl) SELECT COKRESPONDEXCE,
FROM ORIGIXAL MANUSCRIPTS
WITH EXI'LAXATOUY X0TE3, TABLES 01" CON'TENT.-, AND A COI'IOLS IXIJEX.
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Mr, Jefferson having, by his last will and testament, bequeathed to
Ms grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, all his manuscript papers,
Congress, by an act of the 12th of April, 1848, made an appropriation
for the purpose of purchasing them for the Government ; and, by the
same act, an additional appropriation was made to print and publish
them under the direction and supervision of the Joint Committee on
the Library. It is under the authority of this act that the present pub-
lication is made. The immense mass of manuscript left by Mr. Jefferson
having been deposited with the Editor, he has carefully gone through tho
whole, and selected from it, for the present publication, everything which
possesses permanent public interest either on account of its intrinsic
value, or as matter of history, or as illustrating the character of the dis-
tinguished Author, or as embodying his views upon the almost infinite
variety of topics, philosophical, moral, religious, scientific, historical, and
political, so ably discussed by him â€” thus making this work a complete
depository of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Under the view which the
Editor has taken of his editorial duties, and the instructions of the Li-
brary Committee, he has not felt himself at liberty to encumber the pub-
lication with matter of his own farther than is necessary to illustrate the
text. Such notes as have been appended will, therefore, be found to be
purely explanatory and historical in their character. Under the impress-
ion that the value of such publications as the present depends much
upon facility of reference, a particular Lidex has been apjjeuded to each
volume as well as a general Index to the whole.
CONTENTS TO VOL. L
^Â« Â» Â«^
Appendix to Autobiography, 111.
Part I â€” Letters "written before his Mission to Europe â€” (1773-
Part II â€” Letters written while in Europe â€” (1784-1790), 338.
Adams, John, letters written to, 205, 356, 358, 865, 370, 376, 378, 416,
436, 437, 460, 486, 492, 497, 510, 501, 511, 529, 569, 584, 591.
Aranda, Count de, letter written to, 470.
Auberteuil, Hilliard d', 535.
Bancroft, Dr., letter written to, 535.
Bannister, J. Jr., letter written to, 466.
Bellini, Mr., letter written to, 443.
Buchanan and Hay, letter written to, 578.
Campbell, Colonel, letter written to, 295.
Carmiehael, William, letters written to, 392, 469, 473, 551, 579.
Carr, Peter, letter written to, 395.
Cary, Colonel A., letters written to, 197, 507.
Castries, Monsieur de, letters written to, 361, 374.
Cathalan, Monsieur, letter written to, 600.
Chastellux, Chevalier de, letters written to, 321, 339.
Commissioners of the French Treasury, letter written to, 519.
Crevecoeur Monsieur de, letter written to, 594.
CONTENTS TO VOL. I.
Delegates in Congress, from Georgia, letter written to, 500.
Â» 'â€¢ from Vircrinia, letters written to, 287, 30.7.
Desbordes, Monsieur, letter written to, 4G2.
Dravton, William, letter written to, 554.
Dumas, W. F., letters written to, 528, 552.
Dumas and Short, letter written to 416.
Forrest, Colonel Uriah, letter written to, 338.
Franklin, Dr. Benjamin, letters written to, 204, 448, 525.
Franklin, W. T., letter written to, 555.
French and Nephew, letter written to, 362.
Gates, Major General, letters written to, 238, 251, 254, 260, 2G2, 266, 268,
275, 294, 314.
Geisner, Baron, letter written to, 427.
Gerry, Eldridge, letters written to, 454, 556.
Governor of Georgia, letter written to, 499.
" Maryland, letter written to, 343.
" Virginia, letters written to, 402, 513, 599.
Greene, Major General, letter written to, 509.
Hartley, David, letter written to, 422.
Henry, Patrick, letter written to, 212.
Ilogendorp, letter written to, 463.
Uopkinson, F., letters written to, 440, 503.
Humphreys, Colonel, letters written to, 496, 559.
Izard, 11., letter written to, 441.
Jay, John, letters written to, 332, 339, 344, 380, 384, 403, 408, 452, 457,
522, 537, 538, 543, 545, 571, 573, 574, 582, 602.
Jones, John Paul, letters written to, 391, 594.
Jones, Joseph, letter written to, 353.
La Fayette, letters written to, 311, 579, 596.
La Luzerne, Chevalier de, letter written to, 326.
Lambe, Mr., letter written to, 581.
La Morlfine, Monsieur, letter written to, 578.
Langdon, John, letter written to, 428.
La Valee, Monsieur de, letter written to, 429.
CONTENTS TO VOL. I. vii
La Roucne, Marquis de, letter written to, 512.
Lee, Richard Ileurv, letters written to, 204, 540.
Livingston, Robert R. letters written to, 320, 327, 330, 33L
From, 329, 331.
Madison, James, letters written to, 315, 324, 412, 431, 446, 531.
Marbois, Monsieur de, letter written to, 297.
Mathews, Colonel, letter written to, 233.
McPherson, Charles, letter written to, 195.
Monroe, James, letters written to, 317, 345, 358, 405, 526, 564, 586, 605.
O'Bryan, Richard, letter written to, 477.
Osgood, Samuel, letter written to, 450.
Otto, Mr. letter written to, 558.
Page, John, letters written to, 181, 184, 186, 188, 189, 190, 191, 193, 210,
Pleasants, T., letter written to, 563.
Poncens, Marquis de, letter written to, 430.
Portail, Monsieur du, letter written to 357,
President of Congress, letters written to, 285, 287, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303,
Price, Dr., letter written to, 376.
Randolph, Edmund, letters written to, 312, 433.
Randolph, John, letters written to, 200, 202.
Riedesel, General de, letter written to, 240.
Rittenhouse, David, letters written to, 210, 515.
Ross, James, letter written to, 560.
St. Victour and Bettinger, letter written to, 570.
Seward, W. W., letter written to, 478.
Short, William, letter written to, 372.
Small, Dr. William, letter written to, 198.
Steptoe, Mr., letter written to, 323.
Stevens, General Edward, letters written to, 244, 250, 252, 253, 274, 2l8.
Stewart, A., letter written to, 517.
Style, Dr., letter written to, 363.
viii CONTENTS TO VOL. I.
Thompson, Charles, letters written to, 354, 542.
Tliulenioyer, Baron de, letters written to, 3G8, 469.
Trist, Mrs., letter written to, 394.
linger, John Louis de, letter written to, 278.
Van Staphorst, N. & J., letters written to, 369, 461, 471.
Vergennes, Count de, letters written to, 385, 456, 479, 490, 537, 547, 577.
Washington, George, letters written to, 221, 225, 2 30, 231, 232, 235, 237,
239, 24], 243, 249, 255, 257, 265, 267, 268, 270, 271, 276, 279, 282,
291, 292, 296, 297, 304, 305, 309, 313, 325, 333.
Wythe, George, letter written to, 211.
* (address lost), 207, 246, 272, 289.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, WITH APPENDIX.
INTRODUCTORY TO BOOK I.
In the arrangement -which has been adopted, Book I. comprises the Autobiography
and Appendix. The Autobiography extends to the 21st of March, 1790, -when Mi-.
Jefferson arrived iu New York to enter upon the duties of the Department of State,
and embraces a variety of important subjects, such as the rise and progress of the
difficulties between Great Britain and her North American Colonies â€” the circum-
stances connected with the Declaration of Independence â€” the debates in Congress
upon the adoption thereof, as reduced to writing by Mr. Jefferson at the time â€” the
history of the Articles of Confederation â€” early stages of the French Revolution â€” re-
vision of the Penal Code of Virginia â€” abolition of her laws of Primogenitureâ€” over-
throw of her Church Establishment â€” Act of Religious Freedom, &c. â€” all matter
interesting in itself, but rendered particularly so by the fact that it comes from one
who was himself a chief actor in the scenes which he describes.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, WITH APPENDIX.
January 6, 1821. At the age of 77, I begin to make some
memoranda, and state some recollections of dates and facts con-
cerning myself, for my own more ready reference, and for the
information 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 in-
stajaces in which I have met with the name in that country. I
have fomid it in our early records ; but the first particular infor-
mation 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 father,
who settled on the lands I still own, called Shadwell, adjoining
my present residence. He was born February 29, 1707-8, and
intermarried 1739, with Jane Randolph, of the age of 19, daugh-
ter 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 wliich let every
one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses,
VOL. I. 1
2 JEFFERSON'S WORKS.
My father's education had been quite neglected ; but being of
a strong mind, sound judgment, and eager after information, he
read much and improved himself, insomuch that he was chosen,
witli Joshua Fry, Professor of Mathematics in VVilham and Mary
college, to continue the boundary line between Virginia and North
Carolina, which had been begun by Colonel Byrd ; and -was af-
terwards 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 possessed 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, August 17th, 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 Snowden, after the supposed birth-place of
the family : to myself, 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 mitil his death. My
teacher, Mr. Douglas, a clergyman from Scotland, with the ru-
diments 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 William
and Mary college, where I continued two years. It was my
great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destinies of my
life, 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 commmiication, correct and gen-
tlemanly 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 I got my first views of the expansion of science,
and of the system of things in which we are placed. Fortu-
nately, the philosophical chair became vacant soon after my ar-
rival at college, and he was appointed to fill it -per interim : and
he was the first who ever gave, in that college, regular 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 intimate 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 om-
nium horarum, and myself, formed a partie quarree, and to the
habitual conversations on these occasions I owed much instruc-
tion. INIr. Wythe continued to be my faithful and beloved men-
tor in youth, and my most affectionate friend through life. In
1767, he led me into the practice of the law at the bar of the
General court, at which I continued until the Revolution shut up
the com-ts 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 chcimiscribed within narrow
limits, by an habitual belief that it was our duty to be subordi-
nate to the mother country in all matters of government, to di-
rect all our labors in subservience to her interests, and even to
observe a bigoted intolerance for all religions but hers. The dif-
ficulties 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 another house
of legislatm-e, held their places at will, and were in most humble
obedience to that will : the Governor too, who had a negative on
oiu" laws, held by the same tenure, and with still greater de-
votedness to it : and, last of all, the Royal negative closed the
last door to every hope of amelioration.
* [See Appendix, note lA..]
4 , JEFFERSON'S WORKS.
On the 1st of January, 1772, 1 was married to Martha Skelton,
widow of Bathurst Skelton, and daughter of John Wayles, then
twcnty-tln-ec years old. Mr. AV'ayles was a lawyer of much prac-
tice, to which he was introduced more by his great industry,
punctuality, and practical readiness, than by eminence in the
science of his profession. He was a most agreeable companion,
full of pleasantry and good hmnor, and welcomed in every so-
ciety. He acquired a handsome fortune, and died in May, 1773,
leaving three daughters : the portion Avhich came on that event
to Mrs. Jetferson, after the debts should be paid, which were very
considerable, was about equal to my own patrimony, and conse-
quently doubled the ease of our circumstances.
When the famous Resolutions of 1765, against the Stamp-act,
were proposed, I was yet a student of law in Williamsburgh. I
attended the debate, however, at the door of the lobby of the
House of Burgesses, and heard the splendid display of Mr. Hen-
ry'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 maintained.
My recollections of these transactions may be seen page 60 of
the life of Patrick Henry, by Wirt, to whom I furnished 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 resolutions and ad-
dress 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 op-
position, and a spirit manifestly displayed itself of considering the
the cause of ]\Iassachusetts as a common one. The Governor
dissolved us : hnt we met the next day in the Apollo* of the
Raleigh tavern, formed om-selves into a voluntary convention,
drew up articles of association against the use of any merchan-
dise imported from Great Britain, signed and recommended them
[* The name of a public room iu the Ruleigh.]
to the people, repaired to our several counties, and were re-elected
without any other exception than of the very few who had de-
clined assent to our proceedings.
Nothing of particular excitement occurring for a considerable
time, om- coimtrymen seemed to fall into a state of insensibility
to om- situation ; the duty oh tea, not yet repealed, and the decla-
ratory act of a right in the British Parliament to bind us by their
laws in all cases whatsoever, still suspended over us. But a coiurt
of inquiry held in Rhode Island in 1762, with a power to send
persons to England to be tried for offences committed here, was
considered, at oiu- session of the spring of 1773, as demanding
attention. Not thinking our old and leading members up to the
point of forwardness and zeal which the times required, Mr.
Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Francis L. Lee, Mr. Carr and my-
self 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 measures 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 corre-
spondence in each colony would be the best instrument for inter-
communication : and that their first measure would probably be,
to propose a meeting of deputies from every colony, at some cen-
tral place., who should be charged with the direction of the meas-
ures which should be taken by all. We, therefore, drew up the
resolutions which may be seen in Wirt, page 87. The consult-
ing members proposed to me to move them, but I lu-ged that it
should be done by Mr. Carr, my friend and brother-in-law, then
a new member, to whom I wished an opportimity should be given
of rnaking known to the house his great worth and talents. It
was. so agreed ; he moved them, they were agreed to iiem. con.,
and a committee of correspondence appointed, of whom Peyton
Randolph, the speaker, was chairman. The Governor (then Lord
Dunmore) dissolved us, but the committee met the next day, pre-
pared a circular letter to the speakers of the other colonies, in-
6 JEFFERSON'S WOPwKS.
closing to each a copy of the resolutions, and left it in charge
with their chairman to forward them hy 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, although the very note of his
appendix to which he refers, shows that their establishment
was confined to their own towns. This matter will be seen
clearly stated in a letter of Samuel Adams Wells to me of April
2nd, 1819, and my answer of May 12th. I was coiTCcted by the
letter of Mr. Wells in the information I had given Mr. Wirt, as
stated in his note, page 87, that the messengers of Massachusetts
and Virginia crossed each other on the way, bearing similar propo-
sitions ; for Mr. Wells shows that Massachusetts did not adopt the
measme, 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 weh remember Peyton Ran-
dolph's informing me of the crossing of our messengers.f
The next event which excited our sympathies for Massachu-
setts, was the Boston port bill, by which that port was to be shut
up on the 1st 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 Massachusetts,
determined to meet and consult on the proper measures, in the
council-chamber, for the benefit of the library in that room. We
were under conviction of the necessity of arousing om- 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 existed since the days of
oiu: distresses in the war of ^55, since which a new generation
had grown up. With the help, therefore, of Rushworth, whom
we nmimaged over for the revolutionary precedents and forms of
* Life of Washington, vol. ii., p. 151. [f See Appendix, note B.]
the Puritans of that day, preserved by him, we cooked up a reso-
hition, somewhat modernizing their phrases, for appointing the
1st day of June, on which the port-bih was to commence, for a
day of fasting, humihation, 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 moderation 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 imison
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 1st 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 committee of correspondence to propose to the corresponding
committees of the other colonies, to appoint deputies to meet in
Congress at such place, anniialli/, as should be convenient, to di-
rect, from time to time, the measures required by the general in-
terest : and we declared that an attack on any one colony, should
be considered as an attack on the whole. This was in May. We
further recommended to the several counties to elect deputies to
meet at Williamsbm-gh, the 1st of August ensuing, to consider
the state of the colony, and particularly to appoint delegates to a
general Congress, should thp.t measure be acceded to by the com-
mittees of correspondence generally. It was acceded to ; Phila-
delphia 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 1st of June, to perform the ceremonies of the day, and to ad-
dress to them discourses suited to the occasion. The people met
generally, with anxiety and alarm in their countenances, and the
eifect of the day, through 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 con-
vention. Being elected one for my own county, I prepared a
draught of instructions to be given to the delegates whom we
8 JEFFERSON'S. WORKS.
should send to the Congress, 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 ex-
actly the same as that of England and Scotland, after the acces-
sion of James, and mitil the union, and the same as her present
relations with Hanover, having the same executive chief, but no
cither necessary political connection ; and that our emigration
from England to this country gave her no more rights over us,
than the emigrations of the Danes and Saxons gave to the present
authorities of the mother comitry, over England. In this doc-
trine, 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
England ? Our other patriots, Randolph, the Lees, Nicholas, Pen-