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wrongs inflicted on America, and the sort of redress she would demand. “ Open your breast, sire," he says, addressing the king, to liberal and expanded thought. It behoves you to think and act for your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to peruse them, requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” For this publication, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor, threatened to prosecute him on a charge of high treason, and dissolved the legislature who had by their resolutions sustained the same doctrines. When the conciliatory propositions of the British ministry were sent out in the following year, the legislature was again assembled, and they were referred to a committee, who immediately presented a reply from the pen of Mr. Jefferson. This document, which is to be found in the histories of that period, has ever been considered as a state paper of the highest order ; and it announced, in a great degree, the same sentiments as those which its author after wards promulgated in the declaration ol indepependence. It was hardly drawn up, when he was called to a wider scene. The colonies had determined to unite together, and send delegates to a general congress. In this body, then in session at Philadelphia, Mr. Jefferson took his seat on the 21st of June, 1775, and became immediately, what he always continued to he, one of its most distinguished members. In the following summer, the deba tes of congress, and the various expressions of public sentiment, showed that the time had arrived for a finai and encire separation from Great Britain ; and a committee was appointed to draft a declaration to that effect. Of this, Mr. Jefferson was the chairman, and prepared, in conformity to the instructions of congress, the declaration of independence, which, after a lew alterations, was adopted on the 4th of July, 1776.
During the summer of this year, Mr. Jefferson took an active part in the public deliberations and business. Being obliged, however, in the autumn, to return to Virginia, he was during his absence appointed, in conjunction with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane, a commissioner to the court of France, for the purpose of arranging with that nation a measure now become of yital necessity, the formation of treaties of alliance and commerce. Owing to his ill health, tlie situation of his family, and the state of public affairs in his own state, he considered it more uselul for him to remain in America, and therefore declined the appointment.
He also, shortly afterwards, resigned his situation in : Congress, and, being elected to the first legislature
assembled under the constitution in Virginia, seized that favorable occasion to introduce changes and amendments in the laws and institutions, founded on the just and great principles of the social compact. He was supported by able coadjutors, it is true; but the leading and most important laws were prepared by him, and carried chiefly by his own efforts. The first of these measures was to introduce a bill preventing the importation of slaves ; this he followed up by destroying entails, and abolishing the rights of primogeniture: the overthrow of the church estabJishment, which had been introduced in imitation o that of England, was a task of less ease, but effected, at length by his continued efforts. To these four cardinal measures is to be added his labor in revising and reducing to system the various and irregular enactments of the colonial government and the mo
ther country. It was, perhaps, the most severe of his public services. It consisted of a hundred and twenty-six bill, comprising and remodelling the whole statuary law; and though not all enacted as he contemplated, so as to make a single and complete code, they have formed the admirable basis of the jurisprudence of Virginia.
In June, 1779, he was elected governor of Virginia and re-elected the next year. This was a season of imminent peril: the state was invaded at once on the north and the south, ravaged by the troops of Tarleton and Arnold, and he himself made the object of particular pursuit. Amid all these difficulties, he conducted the affairs of the state with a prudence and energy, the more to be appreciated and honored, from the unpropitious circumstances under which they were displayed. The legislature, after the expiration of his term, passed a unanimous resolution expressing to him their thanks for his services, and their high opinion of his ability, rectitude, and integrity.
In June, 1783, Mr. Jefferson was again elected a delegate to congress from the state of Virginia, and, while in that body, was intrusted with preparing the beautiful address made by congress to General Washington, when he surrendered his commission, and took leave of public life. He was also the chairman of a committee appointed to form a plan for a temporary government in the vast territorý yet unsettled, west of the mountains. Never forgetting his purpose, to provide for the ultimate emancipation of the negroes, he introduced a clause forbidding the existence of slavery in it, after the year 1800.
On the 7th of May, 1784, congress decided that a minister plenipotentiary should be appointed, in addition to Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin, for the purpose of negotiating treaties of commerce. To this honorable office Mr. Jefferson was immer diately elected, and in the month of July.sailed for France, where he arrived on the 6th of August. He remained in Europe till the 23d of November, 1789, visiting, during that period, Holland, the northern párls of Italy, and the principal seaports on the southern and western coasts of France. He also crossed over to England, and endeavored, in concert with Mr. Adams, to effect a commercial treaty. Their efforts, however, were unavailing; and after a fruitless visit of seven weeks in London, he returned to Paris.
While Mr. Jefferson resided in France, he was engaged in many diplomatic negotiations of considerable importance to his own country. He induced the government to abolish several monopolies; he secured the free admission of tobacco, rice, whale-oil, salted fish, and four ; and he obtained the right of exporting the two latter articles to the West Indies. Among men of letters, science, and high political distinction, he was received with marked kindness, and soon regarded as no unworthy successor of the illustrious Franklin, The Abbe Morrellet translated his little work on Virginia ; Condorcet and D'Alembert claimed him as their friend, and he was invited and welcomed among the literary institutions, and the most brilliant social assemblies of Paris. During the remainder of his stay there, he was an eye-withess too of the extraordinary occurrences in public affairs which took place in rapid suecession. As the representative of a nation which had given a brilliant example of free institutions, he was himself an object of interest and attention to the actors of these new
scenes. He was, from circumstances, much 'ac: quainted with the leading patriots of the national assembly, and they were naturally disposed to seek his advice, and place confidence in his opinions. These he never hesitated to avow, so far as his po: sition, as a public functionary, admitted him with propriety to do. His stay did not extend to the fatal period which was marked by the horrible excesses of popular frenzy; and the interest he took in the French revolution was warmed by the hope that a noble people were to be redeemed from despotism 10 rational liberty.
In November, 1789, he obtained leave of absence, and returned to the United States on a teniporary visit. He found the new federal government in operation, and, alter some hesitation, accepted the office of secretary of state, which was offered him by Gen. eral Washington, instead of returning, as he had intended, to his post of minister to France. Though absent when the constitution was adopted, he had seen too glaringly the inefficiency of the former imperfect confederation, not to rejoice at its formation. Ot the great mass ul it he approved, though there were points in which he thought there was not ade. quate security for individual rights. Most of these were alterwards provided for, in amendments ratified by the state. In his practical interpretations of that instrument, and the various powers it conters, he at once adopted the more popular view; and in the course of those political contests which soon asterward arose on this subject, he became the head of the party which sustained it. While in the department of state, he laid down the great maxims relative to our foreign intercourse which were ever after regarded as the true ones by the American people.