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Thomas Jefferson by Edward S. Ellis

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about cotemporary with our government under the present constitution, which
so entirely shocked all Europe, and disturbed our relations with her leading
powers, should be thought, by different men, to have different bearings on
our own prosperity; and that the early measures adopted by our government,
in consequence of this new state of things, should be seen in opposite
lights. It is for the future historian, when what now remains of prejudice
and misconception shall have passed away, to state these different opinions,
and pronounce impartial judgment. In the mean time, all good men rejoice,
and well may rejoice, that the sharpest differences sprung out of measures
which, whether right or wrong, have ceased with the exigencies that gave
them birth, and have left no permanent effect, either on the constitution or
on the general prosperity of the country. This remark, I am aware, may be
supposed to have its exception in one measure, the alteration of the
constitution as to the mode of choosing President; but it is true in its
general application. Thus the course of policv pursued toward France in
1798, on the one hand, and the measures of commercial restriction commenced
in 1807, on the other, both subjects of warm and severe opposition, have
passed away and left nothing behind them. They were temporary, and whether
wise or unwise, their consequences were limited to their respective
occasions. It is equally clear, at the same time, and it is equally
gratifying, that those measures of both administrations which were of
durable importance, and which drew after them interesting and long remaining
consequences, have received general approbation. Such was the organization,
or rather the creation, of the navy, in the administration of Mr. Adams;
such the acquisition of Louisiana, in that of Mr. Jefferson. The country,
it may safely be added, is not likely to be willing either to approve, or to
reprobate, indiscriminately, and in the aggregate, all the measures of
either, or of any, administration. The dictate of reason and justice is,
that, holding each one his own sentiments on the points in difference, we
imitate the great men themselves in the forbearance and moderation which
they have cherished, and in the mutual respect and kindness which they have
been so much inclined to feel and to reciprocate.

No men, fellow-citizens, ever served their country with more entire
exemption from every imputation of selfish and mercenary motives, than those
to whose memory we are paying these proofs of respect. A suspicion of any
disposition to enrich themselves, or to profit by their public employments,
never rested on either. No sordid motive approached them. The inheritance
which they have left to their children is of their character and their fame.

Fellow-citizens, I will detain you no longer by this faint and feeble
tribute to the memory of the illustrious dead. Even in other hands,
adequate justice could not be performed, within the limits of this occasion.
Their highest, their best praise, is your deep conviction of their merits,
your affectionate gratitude for their labors and services. It is not my
voice, it is this cessation of ordinary pursuits, this arresting of all
attention, these solemn ceremonies, and this crowded house, which speak
their eulogy. Their fame, indeed, is safe. That is now treasured up beyond
the reach of accident. Although no sculptured marble should rise to their
memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their
remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored. Marble columns may,
indeed, moulder into dust, time may erase all impress from the crumbling
stone, but their fame remains; for with AMERICAN LIBERTY it rose, and with
AMERICAN LIBERTY ONLY can it perish. It was the last swelling peal of
EVERMORE. I catch that solemn song, I echo that lofty strain of funeral

Of the illustrious signers of the declaration of independence there now
remains only Charles Carroll. He seems an aged oak, standing alone on the
plain, which time has spared a little longer after all its cotemporaries
have been leveled with the dust. Venerable object! we delight to gather
round its trunk, while yet it stands, and to dwell beneath its shadow. Sole
survivor of an assembly of as great men as the world has witnessed, in a
transaction one of the most important that history records, what thoughts,
what interesting reflections, must fill his elevated and devout soul! If he
dwell on the past, how touching its recollections; if he survey the present,
how happy, how joyous, how full of the fruition of that hope, which his
ardent patriotism indulged; if he glance at the future, how does the
prospect of his country's advancement almost bewilder his weakened
conception! Fortunate, distinguished patriot! Interesting relic of the
past! Let him know that, while we honor the dead, we do not forget the
living; and that there is not a heart here which does not fervently pray
that Heaven may keep him yet back from the society of his companions.

And now, fellow-citizens, let us not retire from this occasion without a
deep and solemn conviction of the duties which have devolved upon us. This
lovely land, this glorious liberty, these benign institutions, the dear
purchase of our fathers, are ours; ours to enjoy, ours to preserve, ours to
transmit. Generations past and generations to come hold us responsible for
this sacred trust. Our fathers, from behind, admonish us, with their
anxious paternal voices; posterity calls out to us, from the bosom of the
future; the world turns hither its solicitous eyes; all, all conjure us to
act wisely, and faithfully, in the relation which we sustain. We can never,
indeed, pay the debt which is upon us; but by virtue, by morality, by
religion, by the cultivation of every good principle and every good habit,
we may hope to enjoy the blessing, through our day, and to leave it
unimpared to our children. Let us feel deeply how much of what we are and
of what we possess we owe to this liberty, and to these institutions of
government. Nature has indeed given us a soil which yields bounteously to
the hands of industry, the mighty and fruitful ocean is before us, and the
skies over our heads shed health and vigor. But what are lands, and seas,
and skies to civilized man, without society, without knowledge, without
morals, without religious culture; and how can these be enjoyed, in all
their extent and all their excellence, but under the protection of wise
institutions and a free government? Fellow-citizens, there is not one of
us, there is not one of us here present, who does not, at this moment, and
at every moment, experience in his own condition, and in the condition of
those most near and dear to him, the influence and the benefits of this
liberty and these institutions. Let us then acknowledge the blessing, let
us feel it deeply and powerfully, let us cherish a strong affection for it,
and resolve to maintain and perpetuate it. The blood of our fathers, let it
not have been shed in vain; the great hope of posterity, let it not be

The striking attitude, too, in which we stand to the world around us, a
topic to which, I fear, I advert too often, and dwell on too long, cannot be
altogether omitted here. Neither individuals nor nations can perform their
part well, until they understand and feel its importance, and comprehend and
justly appreciate all the duties belonging to it. It is not to inflate
national vanity, nor to swell a light and empty feeling of self-importance,
but it is that we may judge justly of our situation, and of our own duties,
that I earnestly urge this consideration of our position and our character
among the nations of the earth. It cannot be denied, but by those who would
dispute against the sun, that with America, and in America, a new era
commences in human affairs. This era is distinguished by free
representative governments, by entire religious liberty, by improved systems
of national intercourse, by a newly awakened and unconquerable spirit of
free inquiry and by a diffusion of knowledge through the community, such as
has been before altogether unknown and unheard of. America, America, our
country, fellow-citizens, our own dear and native land, is inseparably
connected, fast bound up, in fortune and by fate, with these great
interests. If they fall, we fall with them; if they stand, it will be
because we have upholden them. Let us contemplate, then, this connection,
which binds the prosperity of others to our own; and let us manfully
discharge all the duties which it imposes. If we cherish the virtues and
principles of our fathers, Heaven will assist us to carry on the work of
human liberty and human happiness. Auspicious omens cheer us. Great
examples are before us. Our own firmament now shines brightly upon our
path. WASHINGTON is in the clear, upper sky. These other stars have now
joined the American constellation; they circle round their center, and the
heavens beam with new light. Beneath this illumination let us walk the
course of life, and at its close devoutly commend our beloved country, the
common parent of us all, to the Divine Benignity.

*Extract of a letter written by John Adams, dated at Worcester,
Massachusetts, October 12, 1755.

"Soon after the Reformation, a few people came over into this New World, for
conscience' sake. Perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the
great seat of empire into America. It looks likely to me; for, if we can
remove the turbulent Gallios, our people, according to the exactest
computations, will, in another century, become more numerous than England
itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval
stores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain a mastery of
the seas; and then the united forces of all Europe will not be able to
subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to
disunite us.

"Be not surprised that I am turned polititian. The whole town is immersed
in politics. The interests of nations, and all the dira of war, make the
subject of every conversation. I sit and hear, and after having been led
through a maze of sage obversations, I sometimes retire, and, laying things
together, form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of
these reveries you have read above."

**This question. of the power of parliament over the colonies, was discussed
with singular ability by Governor Hutchinson on the one side, and the house
of representatives of Massachusetts on the other, in 1773. The argument of
the house is in the form of an answer to the governor's message, and was
reported by Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Hawley, Mr. Bowers, Mr.
Hobson, Mr. Foster, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Thayer. As the power of the
parliament had been acknowledged, so far, at least, as to affect us by laws
of trade, it was not easy to settle the line of distinction. It was
thought, however, to be very clear that the charters of the colonies had
exempted them from the general legislation of the British parliament. See
Massachusetts State Papers, p. 351


Each numbered paragraph is to be given to a pupil or member to read, or to
recite in a clear, distinct tone.

If the school or club is small, each person may take three or four
paragraphs, but should not be required to recite them in succession.

1. Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743. His home was among the
mountains of Central Virginia on a farm, called Shadwell, 150 miles
northwest of Williamsburg.

2. His father's name was Peter Jefferson. His ancestors were Welsh people.
Like George Washington, he learned the art of surveying. He was a superb
specimen of a Virginia landholder, being a giant in frame, and having the
strength of three strong men.

3. One of his father's favorite maxims was, "Never ask another to do for
you what you can do for yourself."

4. His mother's name was Jane Randolph. She was a noble woman. Thomas
Jefferson derived his temper, his disposition, his sympathy with living
nature from his mother.

5. He was very fond of the violin, as were a great many of the Virginia
people. During twelve years of his life, he practiced on that instrument
three hours a day.

6. He early learned to love the Indians from his acquaintance with many of
their best chiefs. He held them in great regard during his life.

7. His father died in 1757, when Thomas was but fourteen years of age. The
son always spoke of his father with pride and veneration.

8. He entered William and Mary College in the spring of 1760, when he was
seventeen years old.

9. After two years of college life he began the study of law in 1763.

1O. When he came of age in April, 1764, he signalized the event by planting
a beautiful avenue of trees near his house.

11. While studying law he carried on the business of a farmer, and showed
by his example, that the genuine culture of the mind is the best preparation
for the common, as well as the higher, duties of life.

12. When he was elected to the Virginia Assembly, and thus entered upon the
public service, he avowed afterwards to Madison, that "the esteem of the
world was, perhaps, of higher value in his eyes than everything in it."

13. His marriage was a very happy one. His wife was a beautiful woman, her
countenance being brilliant with color and expression.

14. Six children blessed their marriage, five girls and a boy. Only two of
them, Martha and Mary, lived to mature life.

15. Monticello, the home of Jefferson, was blessed at every period of his
long life with a swarm of merry children whom, although not his own, he
greatly loved.

16. Mrs. Jefferson once said of her husband, who had done a generous deed
for which he had received an ungrateful return, "He is so good himself that
he cannot understand how bad other people may be."

17. In his draft of instructions for Virginia's delegates to the Congress
which was to meet in Philadelphia in September, 1774, he used some plain
language to George III.

18. The stupid, self-willed and conceited monarch did not follow his
advice, and so lost the American Colonies, the brightest jewels in England's

19. Sixty gentlemen, in silk stockings and pigtails, sitting in a room of
no great size in a plain brick building up a narrow alley in Philadelphia,
composed the Continental Congress.

20. Thomas Jefferson was one of the members most welcome in that body. He
brought with him "a reputation," as John Adams records, "for literature,
science, and a happy talent for composition."

21. As late as Nov. 29,1775, Jefferson clung to the idea of connection with
great Britain.

22. He wrote his kinsman, John Randolph, that there was not a man in the
British Empire who more cordially loved a union with Great Britain than he

23. He said: "It is an immense misfortune to the whole empire to have such
a king at such a time. We are told, and everything proves it true, that he
is the bitterest enemy we have."

24. When the draft of the Declaration was submitted to the Congress it made
eighteen suppressions, six additions and ten alterations; and nearly every
one was an improvement.

25. It should be a comfort to students who have to witness the corrections
of their compositions to know, that this great work of Jefferson, which has
given him immortal fame had to be pruned of its crudities, redundancies and

26. They should be as ready as he was to submit to criticisms and to profit
by them as he did, in their future efforts.

27. Daniel Webster shall tell in his own language the remainder of this
story of Jefferson's life.

28. "In 1781 he published his notes on Virginia, a work which attracted
attention in Europe as well as America, dispelled many misconceptions
respecting this continent, and gave its author a place among men
distinguished for science.

29. "With Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams, in 1784, he proceeded to France, in
execution of his mission as Minister plenipotentiary, to act in the
negotiation of commercial treaties.

30. "In 1785 he was appointed Minister to France.

31. "Mr. Jefferson's discharge of his diplomatic duties was marked by great
ability, diligence and patriotism.

32. "While he resided in Paris, in one of the most interesting periods, his
love of knowledge, and of the society of learned men, distinguished him in
the highest circles of the French capital.

33. "Immediately on his return to his native country he was placed by
Washington at the head of the department of State.

34. "In this situation, also, he manifested conspicuous ability.

35. "His correspondence with the ministers of other powers residing here,
and his instructions to our own diplomatic agents abroad are among our
ablest State papers.

36. "In 1797 he was chosen Vice President. In 1801 he was elected
President in opposition to Mr. Adams, and reelected in 1805, by a vote
approaching towards unanimity.

37. "From the time of his final retirement from public life Mr. Jefferson
lived as becomes a wise man.

38. "Surrounded by affectionate friends, his ardor in the pursuit of
knowledge undiminished, with uncommon health and unbroken spirits, he was
able to enjoy largely the rational pleasures of life, and to partake in that
public prosperity which he had so much contributed to produce.

39. "His kindness and hospitality, the charm of his conversation, the ease
of his manners, and especially the full store of revolutionary incidents
which he possessed, and which he knew when and how to dispense, rendered his
abode in a high degree attractive to his admiring countrymen.

40. "His high public and scientific character drew towards him every
intelligent and educated traveler from abroad.

41. "Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the pleasure of knowing that the
respect which they so largely received was not paid to their official

42. "They were not men made great by office; but great men, on whom the
country for its own benefit had conferred office.

43. "There was that in them which office did not give, and which the
relinquishment of office did not and could not take away.

44. "In their retirement, in the midst of their fellow citizens, themselves
private citizens, they enjoyed as high regard and esteem as when filling the
most important places of public trust.

45. "Thus useful and thus respected passed the old age of Thomas Jefferson.

46. "But time was on its ever-ceaseless wing, and was now bringing the last
hour of this illustrious man.

47. "He saw its approach with undisturbed serenity. He counted the moments
as they passed, and beheld that his last sands were falling.

48. "That day, too, was at hand which he had helped make immortal. One
wish, one hope—if it were not presumptuous —beat in his fainting breast.

49. "Could it be so ---might it please God—he would desire once more to see
the sun—once more to look abroad on the scene around him, on the great day
of liberty.

50. "Heaven in its mercy fulfilled that prayer. He saw that sun—he enjoyed
that sacred light—he thanked God for this mercy, and bowed his aged head to
the grave."


1. Vocal Solo—"Star Spangled Banner."
2. Recitation—One of Jefferson's Speeches.
3. Description of Jefferson's Home, Illustrated by Pictures.
4. Recitation—Declaration of Independence.
5. Recitation—"Battle of the Kegs," by Francis Hopkinson, ("Progress," Vol.
2, page 761).
6. Instrumental Music—"Yankee Doodle."
7. Home Life of the Statesman. (Paper or Address.)
8. Anecdotes of Jefferson.
9. Question Box Concerning the Politics of the Time.
10. Vocal Solo—"My Country, 'Tis of Thee."


When and where was Thomas Jefferson born? What was his height? What was
the color of his hair and eyes? What can you say of his literary ability?
What of his scholarship? What of his moral character? To which of his
teachers was he especially indebted? When was his public career begun?
What resolution was then taken? What effect would this resolution have upon
modern politicians, if it were made and faithfully kept? Upon what subject
was his first important speech made? With what result? Whom did Jefferson
marry? What was the reception given Jefferson and his bride? What
important public document did he prepare in connection with the Revolution?
When did he take his seat in Congress? In what way was he connected with
the Declaration of Independence? Who were his associates on the Committee?
Give a brief history of the events connected with the signing of the
Declaration of Independence? How much time passed before the Articles of
Confederation were formally signed by the States? What were the overt acts
of opposition by the various States? What was the Alien act? What was the
Sedition act? What instances can you give of the prompt punishment of
seditious utterances? When were the Alien and Sedition acts repealed? What
important measures did Jefferson succeed in passing in his own State? When
did he become Governor of the State? What were his duties in relation to
foreign treaties? What were his impressions concerning the French
government? What was his influence upon educational work? What was the
character of the Barbary States? Why were they permitted to hold Americans
as captives? What was Jefferson's opinion on the subject? When did he
enter Washington's Cabinet, and what position did he fill? What was his
relation to Alexander Hamilton? Who were the other members of the Cabinet?
What led Jefferson to resign from the Cabinet? When did he become Vice
President? How did President Adams treat him? What have you to say about
Jefferson's "Manual of Parliamentary Practice?" Who were the Federal
nominees for President and Vice President in 1800? What was the note of
alarm sounded by Hamilton? What was the attitude of the clergy towards
Jefferson, and why? Who were the Federalists? Who were the Republicans?
What name did the Republicans afterwards take? What were some of the
exciting incidents connected with the vote for President? What was the
number of ballots cast for President? Who was the Vice President elected
with Jefferson? What was the character of his administration? Who were the
members of his Cabinet? Did Jefferson turn men in a wholesale way out of
office? What was his attitude towards ceremonies? How did he dress? When
was he re-elected? What was the most important result of his influence?
What great purchase of territory was made? What States and Territories have
been carved out of it? Who explored the upper Missouri and Columbia River
country, and when? What steamboat made her maiden trip, and when? When was
the first boat load of anthracite coal shipped to Philadelphia? What
pirates were snuffed out, and when? Why did John Quincy Adams resign his
seat in the United States Senate? What was the Non-Intercourse act? What
was the condition of our commerce at this time? What Act proved to be one
of his greatest mistakes? When was it passed? When repealed? What was his
financial condition? What were the results of his efforts for education?
What did Congress pay for his library? When did he die? Who died on the
same day that Jefferson did? What did Horace Greeley say about the
coincidence? What was the character of Jefferson as a slave-holder? Why is
there a difference in Jefferson's portraits? What was Daniel Webster's
statement regarding, his countenance? What was his opinion of slavery?
What was Jefferson's opinion concerning happiness? What did he say of
resignations? What is the epitaph on Jefferson's tomb? What was
Jefferson's statement regarding promises for the Presidency? What is the
story of the Mould Board of Least Resistance? What is the story of
Jefferson as an inventor? What is the story of Jefferson and the horse
jockey? What was the peculiar relationship between Jefferson and Patrick
Henry? Who were some of the brilliant members of the Virginia assembly?
What are the main features of Henry's famous speech before that assembly?
What were the treasures Jefferson bequeathed to his country and his State?
What did Jefferson say of titles of honor and office? What was his opinion
of a third term? What were his views regarding lawyers in Congress? What
is the true history of the Mecklenburg Declarations of lndependence? What
were Jefferson's oratorical powers?


1. The Declaration of Independence as a literary production.
2. The Declaration of Independence as apparently founded in Acts xvii, 26.
3. General condition of the Country at the time of Jefferson's election to
the Presidency.
4. Leading events connected with his administration.
5. General results of his political influence.
6. Leading characteristics of the man.
7. Jefferson and Hamilton. Littell's Age, Vol. 81, p. 613.
8. College Days of Jefferson. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 29, p, 16.
9. Family of Jefferson. Harpers Mag., Vol. 43, p. 366.
1O. Jefferson in Continental Congress. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 29, p. 676.
11. Jefferson in the War of the Revolution. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 29, p.
12. Jefferson and nullification. See Lives of Jefferson.
13. Jefferson and Patrick Henry. See Lives of Jefferson..
14. Pecuniary Embarrassments of Thomas Jefferson. See Lives of Jefferson.
15. Religious Opinions of Jefferson. See Lives of Jefferson.
16. Jefferson a Reformer of Old Virginia. Atlantic Monthly Vol 30, p. 32


For those who wish to read extensively, the following works are especially

Life of Thomas Jefferson. By James Parton. Jas. R. Osgood & Co., Boston,

Life of Thomas Jefferson. By Henry S. Randall, LL. D. J. B. Lippincott &
Co., Philadelphia.

Life of Thomas Jefferson. John Robert Irelan, M. D., Chicago.

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson, the Man of Letters. Lewis Henry Routell, Chicago.
Privately printed.

Biography of Thomas Jefferson. Cyclopedia of American Biography. D.
Appleton & Co.

History of the People of the United States. John Bach McMaster. Vols. I and
II. D. Appleton & Co.

Lives of the Presidents. John Frost, LL. D. Phillips & Sampson, Boston.

Eulogy on Adams and Jefferson. Daniel Webster, Faneuil Hall, Aug. 2, 1826.

Character of Thomas Jefferson. North American Review, Vol. 91, p. 107.

Jefferson's Opinions on Slavery. Andrew D. White, Atlantic Mag., Vol. 9, p.

Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Littell's Living Age. Vol. 81, p. 273.

War of Independence. John Fiske. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston and New

The Critical Period of American History. John Fiske. Houghton, Mifflin &
Co., Boston and New Yorok.[sic]

CHRONOLOGICAL EVENTS In the Life of Jefferson.

1743 Born Albemarle County, Virginia, April 2.
1760 Entered William and Mary College.
1764 Admitted to the bar of the General Court of Virginia when 21 years of
1769 Chosen Representative in the Provincial Legislature.
1772 Married Mrs. Martha Skelton, January 21st.
1773 Appointed Member of the First Committee of Correspondence established
by the Colonial Legislature, March 12th.
1774 Published the "Summary View of the Rights of British America."
1776 Chosen to a Seat in the Continental Congress. Appointed Chairman of
the Committee to prepare the Declaration of Independence.
1779 Elected to the Virginia Legislature. Helped alleviate the condition of
the British Prisoners sent from Saratoga to Charlottesville, Va.
Elected by the Legislature to succeed Patrick Henry as Governor of Virginia,
June 1.
1781 Elected to the Legislature of Virginia after serving as Governor two
"Notes of Virginia" written.
1782 Appointed by Congress to serve with the American Negotiators for Peace.
1783 Elected Delegate to Congress.
Wrote Notes on the Establishment of a Coinage of the United States.
1784 Appointed by Congress as Minister Plenipotentiary, with John Adams and
Benjamin Franklin, to negotiate Treaties of Commerce with Foreign Nations, May.
1785 Succeeded Franklin as Minister to France.
1789 Appointed Secretary of State by Washington.
1793 Resigned the position of Secretary of State, December 31.
1796 Elected Vice-President of the United States.
1800 Eletced [sic] President of the Untied States.
1803 Louisiana Purchase.
1804 Northwestern Exploring Expedition under Lewis and Clark.
Re-Elected President of the United States.
1807 Passage of The Embargo Act, December 22.
1818 University of Virginia founded, of which Jefferson was Rector
until his death.
1826 Died on the same day that John Adams expired, July 4th.

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