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“His conversation is of the most agreeable kind, and he possesses a stock of information, not inferior to
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 attend
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, a circumstance that was highly gratifying to him. It afforded him much pleasure to occupy the chair that had been long and ably filled by his revered friends, the illustrious Franklin and the philosophic Rittenhouse. He proved himself, in every way, worthy of the honour conferred. After a repose of three years, Mr. Jefferson was again called upon by his fellow citizens to mount the theatre of public action. President Washington had proclaimed his determination to retire to the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, and leave the presidential chair to a new incumbent. The people had become divided politically, and each party determined to nominate a candidate for the high and responsible station about to become vacant. Mr. Jefferson was selected by the democrats, and Mr. Adams by the federalists. The election resulted in the choice of Mr. Adams for President, and of Mr. Jefferson for Vice President. As the presiding officer of the Senate, he discharged his duty with dignity and impartiality. Familiar with parliamentary rules, he was uniformly prepared to decide such questions as came before him, promptly, and generally to the satisfaction of the members.
At the next presidential election, he was again a candidate in opposition to Mr. Adams. The mountain waves of party-spirit rolled over the United States like a mighty torrent. Each party presented a bold front regardless of danger, pressed on by a rear rushing to conflict. The political campaign terminated in favour of the democrats, who returned an equal number of votes for Mr. Jefferson as President, and Aaron 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, some of his opponents voted for Mr. Burr. A most spirited contest ensued, and thirty-five ineffectual ballotings were made. The ambition of the latter gentleman for promotion, at last so much subsided, as to induce him to withdraw from a farther contest with the man of the people's choice; and, on the thirty-sixth ballot, Mr. Jefferson was duly elected President, and Mr. Burr Vice President; the former by a majority of eight votes.
The following extract from his inaugural address will show with what sentiments he entered upon the performance of his arduous duties.
“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 vigour, 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 where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principles 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 the public expense, that labour 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 touchstone by which to try the service of those we trust, and should we wander from them in moments of error or of 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 exactness; he combined experience with science, and traced his lines with boldness and precision. To follow its directions is to ensure safety.
Based upon these principles, practically carried out, the administration of Jefferson became popular, peaceful, and prosperous. He knew the reasonable desires of the people, and exerted his noblest energies to provide for them. He knew that the art of governing harmoniously, consisted in an enlightened honesty, and acted accordingly. He anticipated the future wants of the rising and expanding republic over which he presided, and proposed, in his annual and special messages to congress, wise and politic measures to meet them. So satis
factory was his course to his fellow citizens, that he was re-elected to a second term, by a majority of one hundred and forty-eight.
His inaugural address, on that occasion, enforced the same principles contained in his first, and manifested a deep and growing interest in the welfare and prosperity of his country. As his belief in a Supreme Power has been questioned by some, the following extract, containing the same sentiment found in all his writings where this subject is alluded to, may correct those who are labouring under an error on this important point. Hear him, after invoking the aid of congress in the affairs of the nation: “I shall need, too, the favour 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."
If all who profess the religion of the cross, discarded sectarianism and honoured unsophisticated practical piety as much as did Thomas Jefferson, the prospect of christianizing the world would soon burst upon us with refulgent brightness. The partition walls of various creeds, drawn from the same pure fountain, and coloured by fancy and construction, would
be dissolved by heaven-born charity, and the superstructure of the Redeemer's kingdom would rise from their mouldering ruins in majesty sublime.
Soon after Mr. Jefferson entered upon the duties of his second term, a portentous storm darkened the horizon of his country, charged with the forked lightning of discord. In consequence of being disappointed in obtaining the presidential chair amidst the confusion he created when Mr. Jefferson was first elected, and superseded by Mr. Clinton as vice president at the expiration of four years, Aaron Burr mounted upon the whirlwind of his wild ambition, and attempted the formation of a new republic in the Spanish provinces on the Mississippi; apparently aiming at an ultimate division, if not dissolution of the United States. Although he was acquitted, after being tried for high treason, owing to his deep cunning in not committing the overt acts necessary to convict, yet the dark stigma of a traitor is marked upon the splendour of his brilliant talents, in traces so deep, that time, nor angels' tears, can never remove it. Like a comet, propelled by its own centrifugal force from its constitutional orbit, he fell to rise no more, and our country was preserved from his Catiline grasp.
About the same time, France and Great Britain were at war, both of which, and more especially the latter, had repeatedly insulted the American flag under various but unwarranted pretences. Redress was promptly demanded, and measures pursued to obtain it. Anxious to preserve the peace of his country, but determined to vindicate her rights and maintain her dignity, Mr. Jefferson, whilst he prosecuted a vigorous negociation for the arrangement of a friendly intercourse and the adjustment of existing differences, prepared for the final alternative of war. He knew well the importance to England of the importing and exporting trade, and as a means of bringing her to honourable terms, recommended to congress the embargo law, which was passed on the 22nd of December, 1807. This measure was vio. lently assailed by the opponents of the administration. It, however, had a salutary effect upon the British government, and caused a relinquishment of the most odious features of the assumptions of power that had been set up, followed by more conciliatory propositions on the part of England, for a final settlement of all difficulties and wrongs. Thus situated were the foreign relations of the United States when the second term of Mr. Jefferson expired, at which time he bid a final farewell to public life, and left the destinies of his beloved country in other hands. He had been an efficient and faithful labourer in the vineyard of American liberty for nearly forty years; he left it richly covered with foliage and fruit; in the full bloom of its vigour and health; enclosed by the palisades of honesty and truth; and adorned with the crowning glory of patriotism and philanthropy.
On the 3d of March, 1809, Thomas Jefferson surrendered the responsibilities of chief magistrate, ceased to be the active statesman, withdrew from the political arena, and again became a private citizen, surrounded by the halo of his country's gratitude, consoled by the approbation of a pure conscience, and cheered by the plaudits of admiring millions.
From that time forward, he declined all public honours, and remained in peaceful retirement till the day of his death, seldom leaving his favourite Monticello. But he did not enter upon a life of inglorious ease. The same innate activity that had marked his brilliant career from his youth, the same nobleness of mind and
of character that had raised him to the loftiest pinnacle fame could rear, still prompted him to action. He immediately reduced his time to a harmonious
arrangement, and his whole business to the most perfect system. He uniformly rose before the sun, and held a supervision over all the concerns of his plantation. The various publications from his pen, during the period of his retirement, show that he laboured arduously in the fields of science and philosophy. For the promotion of literature and general intelligence he opened an extensive corre. spondence with men of letters, in this country and in 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, and 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, a town situated at the foot of the mountain that reared its romantic scenery in front of his mansion. It was to be built with funds raised by donations from individuals and from the state, himself to be a liberal contributor. The plan of the buildings, the course of instruction, the mode of discipline, the duties and accountabilities of the officers and instructors, were all devised and drawn by Mr. Jefferson, and were so much admired and approved by the members of that legislative body, that they passed an act authorizing its adoption, and appointed its author Rector, to carry the design into effect. Upon the completion of that object he then devoted all necessary time, and more money than strict prudence called for. It became the doating object of his old age, and his strongest efforts were exerted in its accomplishment. These were crowned with success, and he had the happiness to live and see the University completed and filled with students. The course of instruction was designed to prepare the scholars for the general routine of business, both public and private, without being strictly classical. The library was selected by him with great judgment and care, and was confined to what may be termed useful books, treating upon subjects necessary to be understood by every citizen, to prepare him to discharge properly the duties he owes to himself, his family, his country, and his God. A catalogue, written by the hand of Jefferson, is still there, and carefully preserved. He exercised a pa. rental care over this institution as long as his physical powers would permit; and was often seen viewing it with an exquisite pleasure and an honest pride. Much of his time was devoted to visiters, to whom his hospitality was liberally and kindly extended. Thousands of his own countrymen paid their grateful respects to him, and Europeans of distinction thought their tour in the United States incomplete, until they took by the hand the PATRIOT, the sage, the PHILOSOPHER, and the PhiLANTHROPIST of Monticello. To delight, to instruct, and to please, he was peculiarly calculated. He was familiar with every subject; his mind united the vigour of youth with the experience of age; the strength of a giant with the innocence of a babe. The broad expanse of the universe, the stupendous works of nature, the Pierian fields of science, the deep recesses of philosophy, and the labyrinthian avenues of the intellect of man, seemed spread before him like a map of the world. He was an encyclopedia of the age he adorned, a lexicon of the times he enlightened, and one of the brightest diadems in the crown of his country's glory.
With calm dignity and peaceful quietude, Mr. Jefferson glided down the stream of time towards the ocean of eternity, until he reached the eighty-fourth year of his age. Forty-four years had rolled over his head, since his amiable companion, the daughter of Mr. Wayles, an eminent lawyer of Virginia, had slumbered beneath the clods of the valley. One of two interesting daughters, the only children he ever had, was also resting in the silent grave.
The charms of earth began to fade before him, and he felt sensibly that he was fast approaching 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; and the angel of death stood over him with a keen blade, awaiting Jehovah's signal to cut the thread of life, and set the prisoner free. Early in the spring of 1826, his bodily infirmities increased, and from the 26th of June to the time of his decease, he was confined to his bed. He then remarked to his physician, “my machine is worn out and can go no longer." His friends who attended him, flattered themselves that 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 feur to die.” To his last moments, he manifested a pe