Thomas Jefferson1The Art of Power
by Jon Meacham Summarized by Walter Antoniotti
Video Meacham examines the need for citizenship in a Republic.
PART II THE REVOLUTION SPRING 1774 TO SUMMER 1776                  


PART V A MAN OF THE WORLD 1785-1789        

 Part I  The Scion   Beginning to Spring 1774

ONE  A Fortunate Son

Family Members


Great Grandfather Jefferson Immigrated to the new colony in 1612 and by 1619 the Jamestown Assembly known as the House of Burgesses had its first Jefferson.                        Read Horizontally   He married the daughter of a justice of the peace and died leaving an estate of land, slaves, furniture and livestock.
Grandfather Jefferson  Rose further in colonial society owning race horses. He served as sheriff and justice of the peace.
Father Peter Jefferson thrived as a planter and surveyor.  A tall strong man among men who was noted for his strength and bravery. Married Jane Randolph the daughter of a prominent planter and sea captain.  Jane was 14 fourteen Peter died. Jane Randolph Hamilton was age 37 with eight children, sixty slave and 2,750 acre plantation.
Thomas was born in 1743 At age 10 he survived alone in the wood staying out until he could returned with a turkey. At nine he schooled away for five years returning only for summers. He later boarded at Reverend James Murray who fostered in Tom a love of the classics


Life as a Student 

Tom enrolled at William and Mary College in the colonial capita of Williamsburg at 17 staying until 19. He then spent five years in and out of Williamsburg while studying law.  Life was about "reading books, enjoying the company of the  like-minded, and savoring teachers who seemed to be ambassadors from other richer, brighter worlds." p17 He enjoyed morning lectures and afternoon seminars with Professor Small who taught ethics, rhetoric and belles letters, science and mathematics. Dr. William Small's guidance led  him to share Immanuel Kant's definition of the spirit of the age. " 'Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity (guidance from another).' " p18 


"Jefferson could play as hard as he worked" to the extent that after year one of college he worried he had spend too much on a " 'a little too showy style of living--particularly in the style of fine horses' "  but the guardian of his side of the estate said not to worry. p19  Jefferson learned the art of living well in terms of elegance and conversation at the Governor's Palace.
" Later in life, Jefferson wrote 'I was often thrown into the society of horse racers, and card players, fox hunters, scientific and professional men...' " p 19

The Law

In 1767 prominent Virginia lawyer George Wythe introduced Tom to the practice of law. George had befriended Tom at Governor Francis Fauquier's musical evening where the younger Jefferson played the violin. Tom's successful nine year law career ended when the Revolution drew him into politics and diplomacy.

Small, Wythe, Fauquier and brother-in lay Peyton Randolph set the standards by which Jefferson measured everyone else.


 Immanuel Kant

Morality is not the doctrine of how wemay make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.  



Peyton Randolph

Kant on Philosophy





George Wythe


This id Wren Building (rear), College of William & Mary, where Jefferson studied

William Small

THREE   Roots of Revolution

The French and Indian War had resulted in a "cold war over money and power between the Old and New Worlds." p 39 Colonialist from 1864 to 1874 were  "guarding against the abridgement of the persona liberties or of the representation Englishman had won for themselves as a result of the  Glorious Revolution." p39  

The Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 were attempts to raise revenue as maintaining the British domain  was expensive because ten-thousand troops were stationed the Colonies. he duty on Madeira wine affected Jefferson. Strict control over the sale of western lands anger speculators from Virginia and shippers, especially in Boston, were not happy with the increased enforcement of the Navigation Act.  James Otis, Jr's' Rights of the British Colonies was popular reading. Patrick Henry's eloquent speech and the discussions over how the Virginia House of Burgesses should react to the Stamp Act gave Jefferson, only twenty-one, "...a tutorial in the intricacies of power." p34

"Group portrait of the Seven Bishops whom James-II ordered imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1688, but who were acquitted of charges of seditious libel."

Patrick Henry in the House
of Burgesses
by Peter F. Rotherme


Innocence of Promiscuous Love

When it came to the wife of his good friend John Walker who had followed a similar path by attending James Maury's boarding school and William and Mary, Tom "...wanted what he wanted and did not give up easily." In 1768 John had to leave for New York for Indian negations so he made Tom his first executor. While Elizabeth Walker's husband was away Tom became infatuated with this wife of his good friend and mother of a child and let her know on a number of occasions. She resisted but he contused his pursuit though quietly for a few years. When words failed he even tried an " 'argued love letter-- one attempting to change her mind, 'to convince her'-- was in character." P42 Decades later Walker said he had found out about Hamilton's pursuit of his wife and Tom said it had been the wrong thigh to do.


At 25 Tom was elected to the House of Burgesses which would soon support Massachusetts in her protest of the taxes and duties of the Townshend Acts. " I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected."  p48  It would of replaced the governor and council with plantations owners. In Howell vs. Netherland Tom argued that the grandson slave with a white grandmother should not have to wait until thirty-one for his freedom. Tom lost. While he thought of slavery as an open question, he felt "...abolition was always to be an eventuality for future generations,..." p49. During his ten-year as a politician and in retirement ...Jefferson was to embody the slave-owning interests.

Family Homes

In February of 1770 the family home Shadwell burned and most of Tom's books and legal papers were lost.  Monticello had been under construction since 1767. Tom would own over 600 slaves.



Martha (Patty) Wayles Jefferson

Sally Heming

Martha Wayles Jefferson  was a rich widow five and one-half years younger than Jefferson who shared Tom's love of literature and wide ranging conversation music, and fine wine. Her father  John Wayles  was a lawyer, planter, slave trader and debt collector which was an occupation frowned upon by planters who were often  arrears in their debts. Patty never knew her mother and grew up in a uncertain household run by two stepmothers supported by the income of her father whose income depended upon the "precariousness" of others. Tom at 28 married Patty who was 23 on January 1, 1772.



"Around 1735 a white English captain of a trading ship named Hemings fathered a daughter with a 'full-blooded African' women". The daughter, Martha Eppes Elizabeth Hemings known as Betty became the concubine of John Wayles (Jefferson's father-in law) in 1761. Beginning in 1773 she bore him six children the last of which Sarah who became known as Sally. By 1773 John Skelton had died so Thomas Jefferson now found himself responsible for a wife and daughter, a widowed sister Martha with six children and Elizabeth Heming with children the youngest of which was Sally Hemings.



Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale

Thomas Jefferson

Colonial House of Burgesses where Jefferson served 1769-1775

Part II The Revolutionary SPRING 1774- SUMMER 1776


For the elite, the revolution was a shrewd economic choice as Britain had recently deprived them of buying western lands. Also Virginia's public finances were a mess as paying off debt caused by the French and Indian War  was proving difficult as planters owed Britain a bundle. The revolution had philosophical side. "Jefferson was both elite and philosophical. "... the middle and lower classes were slower to follow the lead of men like Jefferson." p 70  Twenty percent still sided with England.








Click to Enlarge
Map showig British territorial gains following the Treaty of Paris in pink, and Spanish territorial gains after the Treaty of Fontainebleau in yellow.



The Boston Tea Party resulted in the Boston Port Act. It closed the port of Boston and people were becoming lethargic. They needed to be aroused. Some emotions were needed.  John Walker (Virginia politician) and Thomas  Jefferson announced a Day of Fasting and Prayer with a letter pointing out the danger to British America and the possibility of civil war. This idea "offered Jefferson an opportunity to  "manage and marshal the American mind." p71 He hoped the power of spiritual appeal would be difficult to combat. At services on prayer day Jefferson was struck that  " 'The people met generally, with anxiety and alarm in their countenances, and the effects of day through the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man and placing him erect and solidly on his center.' " p73  Virginia had called for a boycott of British imports in eighteen months  and Jefferson wrote  A Summary View of the Rights of British America stating the colonies were still loyal but these are our demands. This 6,700 word essay put Jefferson at the front of a declaration that was still twenty-three months away.




On March 23 1775 Patrick Henry called for Virginia to move its militia into a position of defense. Jefferson noted Henry's ..." ' eloquence was peculiar; if indeed it should be called eloquence, for it was impressive and sublime beyond what can be called imagined.' "  p79  New York had voted not to send anyone to the  Second Continental Congress. The First Continental Congress had been called in response to the Boston Port Act, the most recent of the Coercive Acts and shortly after Jefferson's Summary View. The congress issued a list of grievance and called for a continued boycott of British goods. London's response to General Thomas Gage  was " ' 'Force' ..." ' should be repelled by force.' " p80  April 19 brought the Battles of Lexington and Concord. In Virginia, planters were dealing with rumored and real slavedddzzz violence as Governor Dunmore seized the gunpowder stored in Williamsburg. Governor Dunmore had decided slaves were their natural allies and he announce on April 22 that he would declare slaves free." Colonists with slaveholder sympathies either began or accelerated their preparations for War, Jefferson was among them." p82 In June Jefferson responded to a London consolatory proposal by stating events ..."only changes the form of oppression..." and he left for the Second Continental Congress. p83

The Assembly Room in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.


In Philadelphia "... Jefferson effortlessly entered the flow of things. ...He looked over Benjamin Franklin's proposal for 'Articles of confederation and perpetual union.' " p85  He recorded the 'Financial and military Estimates for Continental Defense.' " p85 "Samuel Ward of Rhode Island recorded seeing the 'famous Mr. Jefferson.' "  p85

John Dickerson, author of the 1765-6 Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania which united the colonists against the Townshend Acts and Jefferson together wrote a Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for taking Up Arms which the Congress adopted.

Adams and Jefferson were not alike. John was eight years older, much shorter, and as much a New Englander

 as Tom was a Virginian but they both had a father that loomed larger than the son. Both worked well together until political difference during the Washington administration caused an long estrangement.

Loyalist cousin John Randolph  was leaving America for England. Thomas asked John to end misunderstandings in England which depicted that only a few elite Americas were discontent and that Americans were cowards and would easily surrender to an armed force. He hoped for success by beginning and ending the letter with a conciliatory approach worked as the Jefferson's letter found it way to William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, the British secretary of state for the colonies.


Portrait of John Dickinson

John Dickerson

William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth.jpg

William Legge


Jefferson's fifty-five year old mother Jane Randolph Jefferson died on March 31, 1765. The disoriented Jefferson added this to the burden of a revolution and building a new government. Turning away from her grave he suffered one of his periodical  migraine headache. These often " '...obliged him to avoid  reading, writing and almost thinking' " p99

He left for Philadelphia on May 7 and in early June he  joined discussions on a motion by Virginia's Richard Henry Lee that the colonies absolve from all allegiances to the British Crown.

Adams and Jefferson continued a two-year-old discussion of which of them should draft a declaration of independence and three points by Adams made the decision clear. " ' Reason first, you are a Virginian and a Virginia ought to appear to be at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason three, you can write ten times better than I can.' " p103

Not wanting to add new principals or arguments to the declaration, he wanted ' 'to place before the mankind the common sense of the subject; in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we ware compelled to take.' " p103
Using Enlightenment vision of the sanctity and centrality of the individual, he argued that self-government was part of the nature of things.

He was influenced by John Locke, Montesquieu, and the philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment. James Wilson's Considerations on the Nature and of the Authority of the British Parliament and George Mason's Declaration of Rights which was written for the Virginia Constitution. Franklin and Adams were also consulted.

The declaration was introduce on June 28. Editing by the convention infuriated Jefferson and his liberal stance on the denunciation of slavery and the reprobation the enslaving of the inhabitants of Africa were also eliminated. Adopted on July forth it was printed the next day and appeared on the front page of the Philadelphia Evening Post on July 6.


Great Scottish Thinkers


David Hume and Adam Smith on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery


The pull on Jefferson between the need for him in Philadelphia and demands home in Virginia was immense. Polities was fraught with danger as Loyalists plotted against those at the Continental Congress. Indians attacked on he frontier with Virginia's Cherokees being bothersome. While thinking Indians were a noble race, like most he wanted them push West. Especially now that many tribes were allied to Brittan. An attempt was made within the Continental Army on Washington's life resulted in one of his personal bodyguard being condemned to death. In congress rules had to be drafted and Adams and Jefferson disagreed the call for a day of prayer. Jefferson didn't like the frequent political retorts to orthodox beliefs. Editors Note: See. Founding fathers whose skepticism about Christianity would make them unelectable today

Click to enlarge.

Many land speculators disliked  changes and restrictions made to the 1863 Proclamation Line by the 1768 Treaty of Hard Labor. It changed the demarcated  border with the Cherokee nation running across southwestern Virginia. They also disliked the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in which the Iroquois Six Nations formally sold the British all their claim west of the Alleghenies, and south of the Ohio.  Source Native American tribes in Virginia
The American Revolution not only separated neighbors and friends, it devastated many families, including the Franklins. William Franklin, pictured here, a Loyalist, after the war rarely, if ever, spoke  to his Patriot father Ben. William Franklin

Part III Reformer and Governor LATE 1776-1782


America needed France to win the war and Jefferson was asked to accept a mission to France.  Jefferson agonized over family needs (wife Patty would soon  be pregnant again) and state needs and the needs of his country. He finally turned down the mission and began the pursuit of bring a remarkable legislative agenda for liberty in Virginia.

First was a fight to end primogeniture in Virginia even though he had benefited from the law. Then there was a bill to end the harsh penalties including the death penalty except in cases involving murder and treason. There were bills to enhance general public education and to decrease to two years the time required to become a citizen.

James Madison was a young newcomers to Virginia politics with a "luminous and discriminating mind joined Thomas in a battle for freedom of religion. Jefferson was a reader of Enlightenment Era religious skeptics and both he and Madison felt a need for freedom of consciousness. In Notes on the State of Virginia Jefferson depicted the state's dismal record on liberty of conscious with examples like it being illegal to baptize a child in the Anglican church and people who did so were denied civil and military office and parents who did not profess the proper creed could lose their children. "The cries for religious liberty, Jefferson recalled. 'brought on the severest contests in which I have ever engaged.' "  p 123  He again  tried and was unable to move public opinion on slavery. But the war was moving south with Thomas Wilson of Baltimore writing of the ferocity of British solders who "... play the very Devil with girls and even older women to satisfy their libidinous appetites " p 126


Click on graph to enlarge.
Source is an interesting slide show


Jefferson's two-year term as governor of Virginia began in June of 1779 with the threat of a British invasion. The war had moved south. Georgia had collapsed because Savanna. South Carolina was next. His ambivalence concerning executive power created during his ten-year as a legislator was about to change with a more deeper appreciation of the "perils and possibilities of command." p130

Jefferson's willingness top preserve security first appeared in 1778 when he drafted a bill of attainder  for Josiah Phillips who was murdering and burning farms in western Virginia. This meant if the man didn't turn himself in, he would be found guilty. He sent 

George Rogers Clark to the South Western frontier to end an insurrection by some discontented inhabits (Loyalists). He could use both diplomacy and strength. Charleston fell to the British in May of 1780 and there was another Tory uprising in Montgomery county.

Benedict Arnold had joined the British and began an invasion on 29 December. Governor Jefferson was slow to mobilizes the militia. A series of unneeded mobilizations because of  rumors had caused popular decent and ambivalence to a calls to arm. Richman quickly fell quickly on January 5 as all white men fled to an the safety of nearby American solders.  Listening to the will of the people may have caused his slow reaction to invasion news. He had failed to lead and was learning about the use of power.

Battle of Shallow Ford




An  1865 political cartoon depicting Benedict Arnold and Jefferson Davis in Hell. Click to enlarge and see a slide show.


Spring of 1781 brought fears of invasion and the capital was moved again this time from Richmond  to Charlottesville. Death of another child brought Jefferson grief. It was their third tragic loss. Riots over a draft caused Jefferson to write Washington asking him to visit and show support. He also mention his plan to relinquish the governorship to  " 'abler hands' " and return to private life p139 Electing his successor was set for June 4.

Jefferson had failed in his two-year attempt to defense of Virginia from the British. Warned that the redcoats were coming he fled Monticello to Poplar Forest, the family Bedford County estate. He and his family were safe but his reputation was tattered.

The legislator discussed  the idea of an inquiry into the Jefferson's conduct as state governor. Nothing could be worse for Jefferson. They later discussed  whether that a lack of power given the Chief  Executive's office and not the Executive was the problem. Patrick Henry was for the " 'dictator' " measure to provide more power too the governor. Eventually the governorship and not the governor were blamed and the assembly ended up commending not condemning Jefferson. Jefferson decided he needed to stay to clear his name. Washington's triumph at Yorktown meant the war had essentially ended.

Capitol at Williamsburg Jefferson elected Governor





From: Monticello, 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902 To: Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, 1542 Bateman Bridge Rd, Forest, VA 24551

Poplar Forest  Editors Note 78.6 miles


Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was dying from  her sixth child within ten years, exhaustion from the war and the family's evacuation from Monticello were too much for her thirty-three year old body.  Tom kept vigil close by and James Monroe sensed the depth of his patron's despair and feared  " '... that the report of each succeeding day would inform him that she was no more.' "

Monticello tradition meant that house servants including half sister nine-year old Sally Hemming were with her when she passed.  They heard Patty state to Tom that she could not die happily if she though the children would have a step mother. An unknown mistress would be too much for the children. The grief was immense and creating a lifelong  bond between father and daughter Pasty.

Martha Jefferson Randolph

Martha Jefferson

Image result for James Monroe

James Monroe



His failure to defend Virginia from the British and the death of his beloved wife caused an abrupt turn in what had been the  remarkably successful life of the thirty-nine year old Jefferson. He knew that "Anguish was the price a public man paid for adulation"p154  but he was not used to being disliked. He had difficulty with a request from the Congress that he serve in Paris but with the help of friends he chose not to retreat but advanced and a change in scenery would be appropriate.

Leaving his two youngest with relatives he left with Pasty on December 15, 1982. Delayed from sailing because of a frozen Baltimore harbor they stayed at Mary House's boarding house where he made connection with her daughter Elizabeth  House Trist who was  the kind of sympathetic women he was used to and which his sister Jane has always provided. There he played a role in the domestic drama as thirty-two-year-old James Madison began wooing fifteen-year-old Catherine "Kitty" Floyd the beautiful daughter of NY congressman William Floyd. She would later brake their engagement leaving a distraught Madison with the need for a friend like Jefferson.. Thomas also got to

Presidential Dollar of
 James Madison 



read correspondence between the Congress and Franklin in France, Jay in Spain, and Adams in Holland. Jay completed a draft of the Treaty of Paris with Brittan to end the Revolutionary War so he returned to Virginia where he was soon elected to Congress. 

The Articles of Confederation had given Congress little power as it could not tax, regulate trade or create an army. Could America become a sovereign power? Jefferson was afraid of anarchy and was unable to convince a committee to appoint a visible leader when Congress was not in session. Some questioned the need for a confederation. Madison published anonymously a passionate plea for a strong national government.


Articles of Confederation


Meeting in Philadelphia and planning to move to Annapolis in late 1983, the Congress was driven out  after only a few weeks when three hundred Continental solders mutinied over not being paid back wages. Philadelphia officials failed to act so Congress evacuated to Princeton, New Jersey.

Jefferson's experiences as Governor of Virginia had made him believe that whoever was in charge of government needed to be in command and that " 'their body collectively and their President individually should be should all occasions have prescient [over] all other bodies and persons.' " P162 Doubts in Europe over the stability of the confederacy bothered Jefferson and time was running short on the six months allowable to ratify the Treaty of Paris.

Time was getting short as nine votes were needed and Congress did not even have a ratification quorum. The treaty had ten major provisions with the generous granting of territory and the return of confiscate property (slaves included) were important to Jefferson who knew the treaty would have important consequences. Eventually Connecticut and New Jersey arrived and the treaty was ratified.  Jefferson happily issued a proclamation affirming the national not sectional identity of the country. Now he hoped Britain would make extensive trade concession though he new she was  not "afraid of retaliation' p164 and he feared she had an eye of western territories not under the new nation's control.

Maryland State Capitol Annapolis, Maryland

The Treaty of Paris was ratified here,
 at the Maryland State Capitol

Exterior view of Independence Hall (circa 1770s).jpg

Philadelphia Independence Hall (circa 1770s)


Jefferson's continuing interest in science was perked when James Madison told him of an ancient subterranean city discovered in Siberia that appears to have been populous and magnificent.

Jefferson not only gave Patsy books to read but also personally chose her tutors along with those of nephew Peter Carr for whom he had large ambitions. He told Peter "...  that religion required careful thought,  not reflexive acceptance." p168

Congress was such a mess that achieving a quorum was difficult and payment for expenses was so slow that some found their horses turned out of the livery stable. Nova Scotia a British colony made encroachments on Massachusetts and Jefferson warmed Washington that "... they have made peace with us, they are not reconciled to us nor to the loss of us. p171

Virginia finally ceded the northwest territory to the United States and Tom already had names chosen for the new states. He sponsored a vision of the northwest Ordinance of 1784 that banned slavery but it lost by one vote when a delegate from New Jersey was to ill to attend. Jefferson soon decided that he was not going to risk everything over an issue whose time had not come.

Jefferson was soon added to delegates Adams and Franklin going to Europe to establish alliances for the new nation. He asked Madison to keep him informed as to government activities, politics, and information on individuals. Information would be entertaining and useful and news was his "daily bread" p 174   On July 5, 1784, Jefferson daughter  Patsy and James Jennings who Tom wanted trained as a French cook "...left Boston Harbor on the Cares, a man of the New World bound for the Old." p175,


Jefferson was determined to " ...create a balance of global power in which France would help the United States resist  commercial and possible military threats from the British." p179 Most of his time was spent negotiating commercial treaties to build commerce and wealth. With the French Revolution of 1789 he hoped for an increase in exports especially foodstuffs and for the of opening of Saint Domingue for US trade. 

Muslim Barbary Coast Pirates attacking US vessel and demanding tribute caused him to request action even war rather than pay tribute. Britan used pirate actions as a reason for high ship cargo insurance.

January of 1785 brought bad news as two-year-old Lucy and her cousin died a terrible death from whooping cough. This made the difficult winter season even worse and it took spring and walking eight miles per day to begin the healing process.

Abigail Adams was enjoying Tom's company in France and unhappy to leave for England where John as minister to Britan hoped to heal degenerating  relation between Britain and the U.S. Jefferson was now sole minister with France and he feared  lack of revenue would make it difficult for government efforts to solve the Mediterranean pirate problem.








The work of the Mercenaries was in ransoming Christians slaves held in Muslim hands, Histoire de Barbarie et de ses Corsaires, 1637 /wiki/Barbary pirates

Captain William Bainbridge  paying tribute to the 
of Algiers, circa 1800

Image result for saint domingue

Click for more maps of Saint Dominique



Jefferson found shopping in France wonderful, twice went to masquerade balls at the Opera, and tried chess but didn't like to lose and was ambivalent to the tension he found between the vices and virtue observed in French politics and culture. He was an advocate for America when abroad and of Europe when at home. He eventually procured a house, enjoyed gardening and was admired by everyone who met him. He felt European politics required we appear to be



Jefferson"... mused about the relationship between the individual and the state."  Thomas Paine who was born in Norfolk England visited. His Common Sense  galvanized America in 1776 and in 1871 Rights of Man was an assault on monarchy and his The Age of Reason  was an "assault on organized religion." 

Jefferson joined Adams for a short time in London where he was bothered because he found politicians felt that America was not worth much of a bother. He was struck by the vitriol he found about America in the press.


Commonsense.jpg A caricature showing the world in flames, people hanged in the background, people burning and attacking a crucifix, a sign reading "No Christianity, No Religion, No King", and scores of people standing upside down.

A George Cruikshank cartoon attacking Paine; The caption reads: "The Age of Reason; or, the World turned Topsy-turvy exemplified in Tom Paine's Works!"


Maria Louisa Catherine Cecilia Hadfield was " '...a golden-haired, languishing Angel-Italian...and highly accomplished, especially in music." p197 Suffused with money, art , and religious fervor growing up she married fellow  "painter Richard Cosway, an eccentric ,charming and successful miniaturist." Jefferson, then forty-three was enchanted by the twenty-seven year old. No one knows if Richard new or even cared. Flirtation was part of the Conway and Jefferson worlds. According to James Boswell, Maria treated ..." 'men like dogs.' " Not Jefferson. The days of summer gave way to fall and Maria and Tom were in their own private world and treated Paris as their own. Hearing she would soon be leaving he wrote the head and heart letter. Maria did not no how to react but she responded she could write volumes. The two "...corresponded for the rest of their lives." p204 In the letter Jefferson tries to compare reason with emotions. " 'We have no rose without its thorn...' " he wrote in the letter. p204


Richard Cosway's self-portrait in miniature, c. 1770

Engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi of Maria Cosway's painting The Hours, described by Jacques-Louis David as "ingenious"


France of the 1780's was debt ridden partly because of helping with the American Revolution. Wealth was concentrated in the hands of the few as nobles and the clergy were mostly exempt from taxes. France was an authoritarian state while the  U.S. had littler central government to solve problems. The Constitutional Convention was about to take place and John Jay wrote wondering whether "... wisdom or passion ..." would prevail? p206 Shay's Rebellion initiated by war veterans looking for relief from taxes used to pay Massachusetts deb. This happened because states with high tariff revenue didn't distribute revenue equally and didn't want to federal control of tariff revenue.  Adams was sure the crisis would pass and the nation would be stronger for the turmoil. People of Virginia were also not happy with the recent drought and high state taxes and Jefferson as usual was fearing the hereditary monarchy.

America was trying to decide between little government like the Indians where everyone has influence and a monarchy. Jefferson though of the Constitutional Convention as an assembly of demigods. Debate centered on the inclusion of a Declaration of Rights which Jefferson favored. He liked the separation of powers but feared the new constitution was too dependent on a strong President.


Mary Poly Jefferson Eppes arrived from Virginia with Sally Hemming as a companion. Sally was beautiful with many of the characteristics of her half sister Mrs. Thomas Jefferson. Captain Ramsey who had brought the two young girls lobbied for the young 15 or 16 year old to return with him but she stayed to help Polly.

Polly Jefferson

Mary Polly Maria <i>Jefferson</i> Eppes

Shays' Rebellion




Adams and Jefferson were able to secure enough credit from Dutch bankers to repay the French and to support the U.S. establishment of diplomatic relations in Europe. Jefferson also negotiated the first treaty ratified under the new constitution. It defined diplomatic relations between U.S. and France thus crating a new found respect in Europe for the emerging nation.

May 1989 riots in Paris killed about 100 people and by June the French Revolution had begun with a Reign of Terror which Jefferson described as " '...a more dangerous scene of war I never saw in America.' " p323  Jefferson counseled General Lafayette on his writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which was passed in August by France's National Constituent Assembly.

Tom, his two daughters, the pregnant Sally, and her French cooking older brother left for America in September. Sally Hemings would stay in service to the Jefferson until his death "...thirty-seven summers..." later.  p236

The Women's March on Versailles

Heads of Aristocrats, on spikes (pikes).

Editor's Note: Judging Hamilton toward slavery while difficult to judge by today's standards are tempered when one considers that the term Racism as used today didn't even exist until the 1930's.


It took James Madison a while to convince Thomas Jefferson to accept George Washington's appointment as secretary of State because Tom thought  "...'criticism and censure of a public just indeed in their intentions, but sometimes misinformed and mislead, are always too respectable to be neglected.' " p231

Jefferson met daily with Washington, his friend of many years. He was impressed by the President's control over personal fear and his sound judgment though he felt the President's brain was slow in operation with little invention or imagination.

Patsy marriage to her third cousin she hardly knew soon after returning from France may ,some feel,  have been caused by her father's relationship with Sally who did not travel to the nation's capital in New York.

The quasi-regal air around President Washington bothered Jefferson as did John Adams writing about  the unnatural nature of a  pure democracy. " 'One question only


 shall be respectfully insinuated: whether equal laws , the result only of balanced government, can ever be obtained and preferred without some signs or other of distinction and degree?' " p239 The revolution in France had cause the elimination of all distinctions and Adams wondered "Have they made all men and women equally wise, elegant and beautiful' " p239

Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton plans for a national financial system which would assume all national and state debt caused much turmoil as many southern states had paid their debt and many of the national and state bonds had been sold at a discount by veterans to wealthy easterner speculators who would earn a substantial profit on the bonds and tobacco speculation. Hamilton, who wanted to put the federal government at the center of nation's financial system and further secure the federal establishment standing. Hamilton got Madison to end his disapproval of Hamilton's debt plan by agreeing with  Madison's desire to move the nation's capital to a Virginia site along the Potomac River. The debt assumption caused some in Virginia to charge Congress with an unconstitutional act. Editors note: What goes around comes around.

Statue of Hamilton outside Hamilton Hall overlooking Hamilton Lawn at his alma mater, Columbia University in New York City. Click to enlarge.

Alexander Hamilton is one of the few American figures featured on U.S. Currency who was never president. He was killed in 1804 in a duel with Aaron Burr. An immigrant, he lost the country's first immigration battle as residency requirements for congress became part of the constitution.


Being secretary of state was not easy as a 1979 seizer of two English ships at Nootka Sound off the west coast of Vancouver caused a threat of war. Fur trade made the area of interest to Spain, Russia and Great Britan. Jefferson feared encirclement by Britan who might send troops from Canada to Florida and Louisiana, both controlled by Spain. There were many American including Hamilton who would give England whatever information needed should war come but Spain backed down.

slave rebellion in St. Domingue (now Haiti) against the French caused U.S. slave owners to fear similar uprisings. This trouble would eventually lead France to reconsider her involvement in the New World.

Hamilton's tax on spirits easily passes congress as Jefferson belief in a strong well finance government took precedence over free trade. Debate over a national bank for the United States  was much more spirited as both Madison and Jefferson feared speculators would gain from government expenditures. Jefferson advised Washington that because bank power was not assigned by the consecution to the federal government, they belonged to the states. But again Jefferson being a pragmatist and nationalist let the bank act to pass by a very close vote. Unlike Hamilton, Jefferson feared monarchy and dictatorship but like Hamilton, he wanted a strong federal government.

A slave rebellion of 1791. Click on picture.

FirstBankofUS00 crop.jpg

Click to enlarge.


John Adams felt that with a few tweaks the British form of constitution would lead to the best government devised by man  Hamilton thought it was the best form of government that could be formed. Jefferson listened in horror to this dinner conversation while Washington was away. Jefferson felt both men's thoughts were '... unsettling, disturbing-- and dangerous" p260. Jefferson's most important people were Sir Francis Bacon, John Lock and Sir Isaac Newton while Hamilton thought Julius Cesar was the greatest man who ever lived. Washington expressed his concern over discontent within government and Jefferson responded that  excess money supplied by Hamilton to encourage speculators rather than useful industry was the only real problem. Jefferson felt debt, paper money, excise taxes and governmental corruption would lead to consummate betrayal. What goes around comes around. He feared Monarchial Federalist could lead to southern secession. Hamilton had his own problems as his affair with married Maria Reynolds whose husband colluded in the seduction of the Treasury secretary. Blackmail and rumors of financial improprieties led some lawmakers to investigate. Congressman William Branch Gail of Virginia was forced to tone down his resolution to exclude that the President of the United States fire Hamilton but even this leaser resolution did not pass. Federalist felt this was a partisan attack and Hamilton was privately frustrate with the whole affair and felt the House was made-up of ..."1 bank directors. 2. Holders of bank stock. 3. Stock jobbers. 4. Blind devotees. 5. ignorant persons who did not comprehend [the resolutions]. 6. Lazy and Good-humored persons...." p268




John Lock


Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon

Image result for isaac newton

Sir Isaac Newton


As Washington's second inauguration approached Jefferson lamented that "... it is the President's character, and not the written constitution, that keeps us together." p272 The battle between the two cabinet members Jefferson and Hamilton was unending and some urged Jefferson not to resign. His love for Monticello and being "out of sync with Washington, Adams, and Hamilton..." were the cause of consternation.

The 1793 execution of Louis XVI and the declaration of war on England resulted in a proclamation by Washington of U.S. neutrality. The pro British neutrality draft written by Hamilton was disliked by Jefferson and some Republicans question its constitutionality because war and peace were vested in the Legislature. Matters weren't help by the French envoy Edward-Charles Genet organizing privateers to help France and Hamilton asked the Cabinet to ask France to recall him which they did and Jefferson knew he had lost the battle to Hamilton concerning his defense of France.


Madison saw Jefferson's impatience with public service and tried to encourage him to continue but he also told Jefferson that "... America was being 'torn to pieces as we are, by a malignant monarchy faction.' " p275 What goes around comes around.

Democratic-Republican groups had formed in New York to show dissatisfaction with Federalist leadership.  Rhetoric from these groups concerning republicanism and the threat from an aristocracy enraged the President.

Adding to Jefferson woes the summer of 1793 was yellow fever striking  Philadelphia  with many dying at first though as time passed deaths decreased. Jefferson handed in his resignation as Secretary of State on New Year's Eve, 1973.

Editors note: Federal elections are held in years devisable by 20 so this resignation was one year into Washington's second term with a Presidential election coming the end of 1796.




The Arch Street wharf, where the first cluster of cases were identified[1]

Antoine-François Callet - Louis XVI, roi de France et de Navarre (1754-1793), revêtu du grand costume royal en 1779 - Google Art Project.jpg

Louis XVI

Madison reported political events to Jefferson during his two-year stay at Monticello. President Washington dispatched chief justice John Jay to London to settle disputes that occurred after the Revolutionary War. The spirit of war was growing stronger Jefferson reported to Monroe in April of 1794. Monroe then  reported on a politics discourse to Jefferson concerning a legislative fight over Jefferson's commerce report and the Senate's attempt to expel Pennsylvania Republican Albert Gallatin because upon election he had not been a U.S citizen for nine years. Both Madison and Jefferson were against a bill creating a 15,000 man army because the hostility with England had passed and both feared the army would be used by Federalists to "...undermine the constitution in a time of crisis. p288 The Whiskey Rebellion against Hamilton's excise tax angered Washington to the extent that his annual message was  " unapologetic attack on the Democratic-Republican societies." 288

Aaron Burr's fall visit to Monticello resulted in Federalist charges they were plotting a Republican agenda for the new congress. The charming, handsome, adventurous ambitious and younger Burr was the architect of New York Republic politics.

The Jay Treaty  was very pro British and there was talk of impeaching President Washington. The treaty was ratified by a small margin and signed by Washington who did not want war!

Approached about running for President Jefferson said he did not have the arrogance to refuse though he wrote "For 'well I know that no man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it.' " p298 


Alexander Hamilton fights his fatal duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. Click on painting.
See Famous Duels from American History



















Jefferson, like all interested candidates, did not campaign but let like minded people put together a ticket. Campaign literature from New Hampshire read " ' Thomas Jefferson is a REPUBLICAN -- John Adams is an avowed MONARCHIST' " p300 Adams won 71 to 68 with Federalist Pinckney getting 59. Jefferson was not overly disappointed as "The vice presidency was a better place to be." p302 " 'The second office of the land is honorable and easy.' Jefferson said. 'The first is but a splendid misery.' " p305

A large source of election tension was the constitutional provision that a slave counted as three-fifth  of a vote when determining the number of congressman and presidential electors. When Jefferson won in 1900, Federalists called him the " 'Negro President .' "

The new President and vice president got along well; though Republicans demonstrating the virulence  of the day thought a Jefferson speech too conciliatory. 

War with France was a key issue and both Adams and the vice president wanted to avoid it. What became known as the " 'Quasi-War' " with France involved a number of expensive nave battles. p306 Adams having kept Washington's cabinet proved problematic as said members thought of themselves as autonomous of the Presidency. The constant threat of war with one European power than another had everyone uneasy. "In the broad public discourse, driven by partisan editors publishing newspapers, there seemed to be no middle ground., only extremes of opinion or of outcome."...."The passions are too high at present to be cooled in our day." p309. What goes around comes around.

On Christmas day of 1789 Madison expressed the worries of many that felt a new yellow fever epidemic would result in Adams seizing additional power by delaying the meeting of Congress.

USS Constellation

The fight between the USS Constellation and L'Insurgente (William Bainbridge Hoff)


Jefferson's tenure as VP was a fevered period. Republican  Matthew Lyon felt insulted by Federalist  Roger Griswold and spit in his face. Matthew fought back with a cane, Roger grabbed a fireplace tongs and they brawled on the house floor.

Much of the period's turmoil was cause by the Alien and Sedition Act which gave the President Adams  extraordinary power Federalist felt was needed because of turmoil over the Jay Treaty many felt gave Great Britan a trading advantage. People could be imprisoned for speaking their mind with fines up to $2,000 and jail of up to two years. Washington agreed with the acts, Hamilton felt they were unconstitutional and represented the end of American liberty. Violence broke out in Philadelphia between Federalist and Republicans

The treaty ticked off the French whose political response angered many Americans. Known as the XYZ Affair, the turmoil caused Adams to spend much of his Presidency avoiding war with France. 

Personally life was not easy as Hamilton needed money and his sister was married to a alcoholic abuser. His two-year old daughter by Sally Hemings died.

Because of the Alien and Sedition Act Hamilton secretly drafted a Kentucky resolution  for nullification of said laws which meant if a state didn't like a Federal law it didn't comply with them. There was becoming a little more settle with political factions. " 'In every free a deliberate society, there must from the nature of man be opposite parties, and violent dissensions and discord, and one of these must prevail over the other for a longer or shorter time.' " p319 The public was on Tom's side and he could do only so much as vice president. Political cartoon of Lyon (holding tongs) brawling with Roger Griswold. Click to enlarge.

See caption.

The XYZ Affair resulted in a British political cartoon depicting the affair: America is represented by the woman, who is being plundered by five Frenchmen. The figures grouped off to the right are other European countries; John Bull, representing Great Britain, sits laughing on a hill. Click to enlarge.

Home at Monticello during the spring of 1799"Jefferson worried that Adams was going to raise a 'Presidential militia' the formation of which would 'leave me without a doubt that force on the Constitution was intended.' " p321 The approaching election would be a battle of ideas and personalities in the politics of America.

Federalist felt Jefferson was a dangerous infidel, an atheist for whom a vote for was a vote for no god even though his views appealed to many because they were not anti catholic or anti Jew. Supreme court justice Samuel Chase stated he would not let an atheist testify in court. Reverend Cotton Mather Smith  said "Jefferson had obtained property by fraud and robbery..."  p315  Republican counted by insisting people of differing opinions were being attack.


John Cotton Smith engraving.png

Cotton Mather Smith

A failed rebellion led by slave Gabriel Prosser had Jefferson exploring whether a foreign country would be open to slaves as he felt that in America there was no sustainable future for slaves and owners.

Unhappy that the Republicans were dong well in New York, Hamilton tried o get Governor John Jay to change the election laws before a Republican majority could take over. He want to " 'prevent an atheist and a fanatic from..."  power. p327 The governor was not moved.

The election of 1800 ended in a tie!

John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait).jpg



Governor John Jay







U.S Slave Revolts provided by editor
1712 New York Slave Revolt

(New York City, Suppressed)
1739 Stono Rebellion
(South Carolina, Suppressed)
1741 New York Conspiracy
(New York City, Suppressed)
1800 Gabriel Prosser
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1805 Chatham Manor
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1811 German Coast Uprising
(Territory of Orleans, Suppressed)
1815 George Boxley
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1822 Denmark Vesey
(South Carolina, Suppressed)
1831 Nat Turner's rebellion
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1842 Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation
(Southern U.S., Suppressed)
1859 John Brown's Raid
(Virginia, Suppressed)


" Jefferson's enemies were indeed at work, open to considering any scenario to keep him out of power."  p333 Adams told Jefferson the election was his if he would commit to certain Federal policies. Federalist James Bayard tried to get General Samuel Smith to vote for Burr by offering him the Secretary of the Navy. When that failed James said all Jefferson had to do was not dismiss all Federalist office holder, keep  the navy and the public debt.  Hamilton denied yielding to these bribes so who knows, maybe Bayard gave up though he did later say New England was preparer to go without a constitution and risk a civil war.

Hamilton preferred Jefferson to Burr as " ' He is by far not so dangerous a man and he has pretensions to character." He is also as likely as anyone to " '...promote his own reputation and advantage...' " which should preserve the systems in place. p338

Federalist passed the Judiciary Act of 1801 in early February with Congress to elect The President on February 11. Signed by Adams, the bill increase federal judicial officers, strengthened and expanded the circuit court system and reduced Supreme Court justice from six to five. Adams then appointed John Marshall as chief Justice of the United States.

Through all this Adams, Jefferson, and their wives remand friends continued friends.

BayardJames ASr.jpgJames Bayard United States Senator
from Delaware
General Samuel Smith Rembrandt Peale.jpegGeneral Samuel Smith United States Senator
from Maryland



Jefferson's welcome to power was not the warmest as he felt it necessary to write cousin Federalist John Marshall who had been a rival for the presidency and request he would be on time for the inauguration as both houses had been notified. Marshall wrote Back saying he would be punctual. Adams grieving the November death of son Charles did not attend leaving Washington never to return. Jefferson had a Republican congress with the Senate increasing the lead from 17 to 15 in 1801-1803 and then to 28 to 6 in his last year. "It is not too much to say that Jefferson used Hamiltonian means to pursue Jeffersonian ends. He embraced ultimate power subtly but surely." p352 What goes around comes around. Foes would learn that his preference for individual freedom over Hamiltonian authority did not mean he would be a weak president.

The idealist in Jefferson made him marvel at the Republic being created but he was a realist understanding that changing society was a slow process requiring prudence. He was not however slow at repealing Sedition Act. He would be a hands on manager knowing all that was happening

His shrewdest appointment Treasury Secretary was the learned  Albert Gallatin who had been a key Republican leader in the House of Reprehensive. He and his second wife Hannah got along well with Jefferson and Albert served from 1801-1814. During Jefferson's eight years the national debt fell from $83 million to $57 million as military spending, especially for the navy,  decrease because Jeffersonian had no desire to compete on the seas with European powers.

Albert Gallatin is honored with a statue in front of the northern entrance to the United States Treasury Building in Washington Click to enlarge.


Jefferson worked about fourteen hours a day and spent four hours dining and unbending. He dressed plainly often greeting guests in slippers. To some the atmosphere represented the " 'leveling spirit' of republicanism" p365 The Madison's and Gallatin's were familiar faces in Jefferson's circle.

He was a hands on manager who felt access to the President could make the difference in statecraft so Republicans were often invited to dinner.

The Barbary pirates were a problem and at a cabinet meeting the decision was made to send Commander Richard Dale as a show of power and discourage further piracy against U.S. shipping. Jefferson felt it important that navel force was authorized to destroy the enemy was not from congress but by the executive branch.  Jefferson reported to congress that Tripolitan pirate vessel Tripoli had been sunk and then asked them for authorization. As he often did, Jefferson was "... definitively bending the world to his will as much as he could." p364 What goes around comes around.

His campaign promises to lower taxes and spending and leave domestic policy to the states was a turn from the direction of both Washington and Adams. Federalist were as turned off by the lack of pomp and circumstance as they were by policy. Federalist George Cabot of Massachusetts feared ..."the terrible evils of democracy," and felt Jefferson was unstoppable p368.

Like many of his day, the President wanted the country to expand westward and avoid being encircled and dominated by France, Spain, and Britan. Area for expansion was to be explored during the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the West Coast.


Click on both to enlarge and view a slide show..

George Cabot.jpg

George Cabot



Washington had warned against the partisan spirit  and Jefferson tried to work as one nation but after a while partisan wars made him take a more realistic approach to governing. Jefferson became "...relentless in pursuing and putting down threats to his vision of a republican nation." p373 The people had moved on from Federalism and Jefferson had the votes to do what he wanted. Early in 1802 the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed and the Judiciary Act of 1802 was passed. It, among other things remove the circuit judgeships created near the end of the Adams presidency..  Jefferson moved slowly on the treacherous issue of federal appointments but still removed about 46% of the incumbent officeholders during 1801.

There were scathing newspaper attacks on Jefferson's administration. Some publishers came to his defense but one got the final word by reporting that Tom's concubine was one his slaves. Jefferson never responded to the charge. Irish poet Thomas Moore's poetic reference in 1806  to his relationship with Sally Hemings were  laughed off by Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson liked being president in spite of the attacks, loneliness of the mansion and the heavy toll of governing.

Click to enlarge

The weary statesman for repose hath fled

From halls of council to his negro’s shed,

Where blest he woos some black Aspasia’s grace,

And dreams of freedom in his slave’s embrace!

Thomas Moore

See President Toms Cabin NYT



Jefferson was concerned when ambitious dictator Napoleon of France got a larger foothold in North America by receiving fading power Spain's territory of Louisianan because almost half US territorial goods passed through the port of New Orleans. France's rival Great Britan with her large navy could be key to protecting U.S. interests.

James Madison was chosen to visit France and communicate that the U.S would not suffer France's tampering with our interior. Madison would get advice from our incumbent minister to France on how to deal with Napoleon who felt maintaining a large land so far from France was expensive. In 1803 Napoleon agreed to sell the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for $15 million. This more than doubled the size of the United States. Horatio Gates wrote of the purchase " 'It must . . . strike the mind of every true friend to freedom in the United States, as the greatest and most beneficial event that has taken place since the as the Declaration of Independence.' " p 387

Jefferson soon wrote Meriwether Lewis to begin planning an expedition to discover the course and source of the Mississippi River.

Jefferson at first thought the purchase might require a constitutional amendment. He feared the process would be too lengthy and his concerns were amplified when a letter from France indicated they were getting uncomfortable with the sale. Eventually Jefferson's practical side won over his philosophical side even though this power grab by another man would have really bothered him.

Jefferson's popularity was not sitting well with Federalists. " 'The people of the East can not reconcile their habits, views, and interest of those of the South and West' said Pickering." p393

Location of Louisiana Purchase

The modern United States, with Louisiana Purchase overlay (in green). Click to enlarge.

Editor's Note: The Louisiana Purchase cot 4 cents an acre at a tine land was selling for $2 an acre. Opposition was from those who felt added territory would add to slave states.


On most days people invited to dine at the White House arrived around 4PM. Jefferson believed Republicanism required sociability so that participate understood the sacrifice of opinions required for governing.  His disliking of confrontation required him to separate parties from attending the same dinner. Architect Benjamin H. Latrobe loved the food and the wide variety of wine from sherry to campaign. Some like Federalist William Plummer of New Hampshire opinion of Jefferson changed from hostility to partial respect.

Federalist Senator Timothy Pickering was not as cordial toward the president. " Asked if there were a remedy to Republicanism "Secession. Pickering believed, could be the one way 'to resist the torrent' of Jefferson's government." p399 Massachusetts was most likely to leave followed by Connecticut and then the rest of New England and New York provided she would be the center of the new nation.

Civil war might follow as Jefferson had no reason to let the Northeast leave. Federalist George Cabot agreed though he felt the time was not quite right. In the Federalist view, according to Rufus King, " ' the  shortest and beaten road of Tyranny is that which leads through democracy.' " p400  See New England Secession Movement

Jefferson made an anonymous gift of $200 to help Norfolk Virginia recover from a devastating fire, Jefferson's decision to send the Decatur to Tripoli and solve a  naval problem brought respect from Europe and the entire country was enthralled by reports from the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the upper west. Burr was on the run from the law and rumors of his planned empire west of the United States worried Jefferson.

Jefferson returned from Virginia in severe morning as Polly had died leaving him only Patsy from his first marriage.

Decatur Burns Philadelphia
 in Tripoli Click for slide show.


Pickering, 3rd  Secretary of State

Republican John Randolph of Virginia was at odds with Jefferson over the President's failed attempt to affect a compromise over land fraud associated with the Yazoo land scandal. Disagreement with the president worsened as Jefferson wanted to limit or even ban on British imports because they were searching American Vessels looking for British seaman. The HMS Leander accidently killed an American soldier causing Jefferson to order three British ships out of U.S. waters and the arrest of the Leader's captain.

Randolph eventually became the leader of the " 'Quids' " p 416(Latin for third something)  also called Old Republicans. They were " ... a manifestation of purer, simpler Republican principles."  who felt Jefferson had moved to far in a Federalist direction. Examples included the expander power Jefferson wanted related to his constitutional  amendment authorizing federal financing of public works for roads, cannels, education and rivers. What goes around comes around.


Reports that Aaron Burr was again causing trouble continued with rumors that he was traveling west looking for states to succeed and join in a western empire. Another rumor had him wanting to lead an independent strike into Mexico. March of 1807 brought his arrest for treason. John Marshal presided over a trial held at the Eagle Tavern. Early on the case against Burr looked weak. Prosecuting attorney U.S Attorney George Hay subpoenaed President Jefferson who replied that his office had a higher obligation to the common good than that of answering the "...importunings of the legal system."  p422  What goes around comes around.
Burr's acquittal enraged the president.

Writing Patty, Jefferson reported being in the seventh day of one of his periodic head-aches and he wrote revolutionary colleague John Dickerson ' "I am tired of an office where I can do no more good than many others who would be glad to be employed in it.' "

p423 What goes around comes around.

Aaron Burr  death mask      

See Burr's Trial for Treason


On June 22, 1807 the British HMS Leopard while looking for deserters attacked the USS Chesapeake off Cape Henry, Virginia killing three and wounding seventeen. Jefferson went on a war footing and cabinet members were told to feel  free to give opinions to Jefferson. Federalist made an attempt to show unity at 4th of July festivities. Telling Congress after the fact, the President requested states to prepare to supply their militia quotes for war. Congress agreed to this increase in the use of Presidential power.

"Anti-British feeling were certainly acute." p427 Jefferson was open to and preparing for war and on July 31 he scheduled an October special session of Congress. He believed Congress would prefer an embargo to war as building a competitive Navy would be a difficult task. 

Napoleon banned British shipments to all nations increasing pressure on the U.S. and Jefferson proposed that all U.S ships to stay in port. Emotions faded and an 1807 Embargo was declared as a substitute to war though Secretary Gallatin felt the embargo cost would be heavy and if peace were not declared soon then war would be necessary to stop British hostilities. Jefferson was biding for time to prepare for war or for the war threat to end.

Jefferson felt "...war led to anarchy and autocracy evils that tended to destroy liberty of many while empowering the few." p429 This war threat turned American politic upside down as Republic Jefferson wanted more federal government power and Federalist Connecticut "... became the bastion of state rights." p431

History shows the embargo only delayed war and weakened America. Many were hurt. Lane Jones of Boston called him a devil and felt the embargo hurt poor people. He declared that one of his children had starved to death and feared for his three remaining children. Senator Pickering used public letters to attack the embargo and the Massachusetts governor mentioned a new form of government center on Britan was in order. Most Federalist waited for the election of 1808 when Republican Madison would take on a Federalist candidate. The tension between social harmony and the demands of politics was not one that Jefferson--or anyone else--could ever resolve, It could only be managed."  p434






USS Chesapeake, depicted in a c.1900 painting by F. Muller

Click on pictures.

A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the "Ograbme", which is "Embargo" spelled backwards. The embargo was also ridiculed in the New England press as Dambargo, Mob-Rage, or Go-bar-'em.
A day before James Madison inauguration,  Samuel Harrison Smith of the National Intelligencer  paid tribute to the retiring President. " 'Never will it be forgotten as long as liberty is dear to men," the paper said, 'that it was on this day that Thomas Jefferson retired from the supreme magistracy amidst the blessings and regrets of millions.' " p438 

Others were not as friendly.  Jefferson entered in 1801 with those leaving power wanting an English government. Jefferson felt they "...had blown all their designs, and they found themselves and their fortress of power and profit put in a moment into the hands of other trustees.' " p437

His entrance to the presidency had caused division and so did his exit. " 'Thou strange inconsistent man.' " p437 wrote a New Yorker. Time will pass and looking back " '.. will be seized with wonder and astonishment at the strange contrariety of opinions, the strange bickering we have fallen into, and the unaccountable distrust that seems to exist.' " wrote an Allegany County citizen. Of the Madison inauguration Adams said " 'The crowd was excessive--the heat oppressive, and the entertainment bad. p439 What goes around comes around!

Jefferson would stay close to home but his mind would not rest!

Relationship of Madison Jefferson

The unfinished United States Capitol was set ablaze by the British on August 24, 1814 Click for Madison slide show.



Monticello had grown into a eleven thousand square-foot home with thirty-three rooms plus ten-rooms in the south terrace/pavilions.  It was filled with the portraits and statues of people worth remembering such as Jesus and St. Jerome, discoverers Vesuvius and Columbus, philosophers Voltaire and Turgot, the Founding Fathers and many others.

Life was good. Overhearing a granddaughter lament she had never had a silk dress he had one delivered to her from Charlottesville. It arrived the next day. He enjoyed letters with the political, scientific, educational and philosophical greats of the day.

Many of his slave children from Sally Henning waited on him and many marveled that he made no attempt to hide them from society.

 " What suited Jefferson was the code of denial that  defined life in the slave-owning states. It was his plantation, his world, and he would live as he wished." p455

In 1811 Benjamin Rush began a quiet campaign to reunite Jefferson with Adams. It took about a year but Adams answered a letter from Jefferson as if nothing had happened. Debate by letter raged over the nature of democracy, the value of the aristocracy... Over the last 15 or so years of their lives they exchanged 158 letters making the lifetime total three hundred and twenty-nine.



The King's armies were on the move. "...from the Stamp Act to imprisonments at sea, the British had never wholly accepted the idea that America was truly a sovereign power. "p463

The War of 1812 found America with few early successes and in 1814 the British burned Washington. Then U.S. victories in Baltimore and Pittsburg resulted in the Treaty of Ghent which brought many years of peace between the U.S and Britain and an end of Federalist attempts to join Northeast colonies to Britan.

Friends including Abigail Adams were passing and adding to his anxiety was family problems. Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. was always in financial trouble. Charles L. Bankhead, husband of his beloved granddaughter Ann Carey Randolph had  a tendency toward drinking and violence. Despite these problems Jefferson was optimistic. Samuel Adams on the other hand was always less positive.  " ' I do not look beyond my nose into Futurity' he wrote Jefferson. 'Our money, our commerce, our religion, our national and states constitutions, even our arts and sciences, are so many seedpods of division, fracture, sedition, and rebellion. Everything is transmuted into an instruments of electioneering.' " p467 What goes around comes around! He was an instrumental figure in founding the University of Virginia. His first appointment , Unitarian minister Thomas Cooper to a professorship, fell victim to the wrath of Virginia's more traditional religions. Two years later criticism continued because the faculty did not have a professor of divinity. Jefferson solved the problem by stating all they had to do is fund a school of divinity. They decline.


Click to enlarge and more pictures.

Signing of the Treaty of Ghent. Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier is shaking hands with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Quincy Adams. Also, the British Undersecretary of State for War and the Colonies, Henry Goulburn, is carrying a red folder.


Rapid westward expansion resulted in Eastern states fearing expanding slave holdings and the power of southern states. "Now slavery was the explicit issue---and slavery was the highest order of problem. Missouri Jefferson said, was " 'like a fire in bell in the night ,,, the knell of the union.' " p475 The Missouri Comprise solved the passions of men for a while. Jefferson believed slavery was a " 'hideous blot' " and only the removable of blacks from the country would work but this would be a larger undertaking then driving the Indians from eastern lands. Making moral judgments over time can  be dangerous but some members of Virginia's of Jefferson's class beginning with Robert Carter in 1791, emaciated their slaves.


A 1823 letter seeking counsel from James Madison concerning the idea of joining British efforts to oppose Spanish attempts to retain their revolting South American colonies. First we should "... never... entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe and second we should " '--- never...suffer Europe to intermeddle with [cross]- Atlantic affairs.' " p482 The sitting President soon issued the Monroe Doctrine

The eighty-one-year-old Jefferson's health problems continued to determinate as a fall broke his left arm which because of a fall in France years earlier meant both arms were difficult to use. Debts as usually were too high because he borrowed to maintain his southern lifestyle and help friends.




John Quincy Adams,
author of the Monroe Doctrine
Robert "Councillor" Carter III


1Summarized with editor comments in red by Walter Antoniotti of 21st Century Learning Products.  
Editors Purpose is to inform about the many misconceptions that have aris
en in the popular media about the actions and politics of the Founding Father. Those interested in Jefferson's use of power so well depicted by Jon Meacham  should Buy the Book.