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Thomas Jefferson   By:

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First Page:

The Riverside Biographical Series

NUMBER 5

THOMAS JEFFERSON

BY

HENRY CHILDS MERWIN

[Illustration: Th. Jefferson]

THOMAS JEFFERSON

BY

HENRY CHILDS MERWIN

[Publisher's emblem]

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY Boston: 4 Park Street; New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street Chicago: 378 388 Wabash Avenue The Riverside Press, Cambridge

COPYRIGHT, 1901, BY HENRY C. MERWIN

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE I. YOUTH AND TRAINING 1 II. VIRGINIA IN JEFFERSON'S DAY 16 III. MONTICELLO AND ITS HOUSEHOLD 28 IV. JEFFERSON IN THE REVOLUTION 36 V. REFORM WORK IN VIRGINIA 45 VI. GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA 59 VII. ENVOY AT PARIS 71 VIII. SECRETARY OF STATE 82 IX. THE TWO PARTIES 98 X. PRESIDENT JEFFERSON 114 XI. SECOND PRESIDENTIAL TERM 130 XII. A PUBLIC MAN IN PRIVATE LIFE 149

THOMAS JEFFERSON

I

YOUTH AND TRAINING

Thomas Jefferson was born upon a frontier estate in Albemarle County, Virginia, April 13, 1743. His father, Peter Jefferson, was of Welsh descent, not of aristocratic birth, but of that yeoman class which constitutes the backbone of all societies. The elder Jefferson had uncommon powers both of mind and body. His strength was such that he could simultaneously "head up" that is, raise from their sides to an upright position two hogsheads of tobacco, weighing nearly one thousand pounds apiece. Like Washington, he was a surveyor; and there is a tradition that once, while running his lines through a vast wilderness, his assistants gave out from famine and fatigue, and Peter Jefferson pushed on alone, sleeping at night in hollow trees, amidst howling beasts of prey, and subsisting on the flesh of a pack mule which he had been obliged to kill.

Thomas Jefferson inherited from his father a love of mathematics and of literature. Peter Jefferson had not received a classical education, but he was a diligent reader of a few good books, chiefly Shakespeare, The Spectator, Pope, and Swift; and in mastering these he was forming his mind on great literature after the manner of many another Virginian, for the houses of that colony held English books as they held English furniture. The edition of Shakespeare (and it is a handsome one) which Peter Jefferson used is still preserved among the heirlooms of his descendants.

It was probably in his capacity of surveyor that Mr. Jefferson made the acquaintance of the Randolph family, and he soon became the bosom friend of William Randolph, the young proprietor of Tuckahoe. The Randolphs had been for ages a family of consideration in the midland counties of England, claiming descent from the Scotch Earls of Murray, and connected by blood or marriage with many of the English nobility. In 1735 Peter Jefferson established himself as a planter by patenting a thousand acres of land in Goochland County, his estate lying near and partly including the outlying hills, which form a sort of picket line for the Blue Mountain range. At the same time his friend William Randolph patented an adjoining estate of twenty four hundred acres; and inasmuch as there was no good site for a house on Jefferson's estate, Mr. Randolph conveyed to him four hundred acres for that purpose, the consideration expressed in the deed, which is still extant, being "Henry Weatherbourne's biggest bowl of Arrack punch... Continue reading book >>




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