« PreviousContinue »
alone, America, in the nature of human affairs, can be secure against the craft and insidious designs of her enemies who think her prosperity and power already by far too great. In a word, our piety and political safety are so blended, that to refuse our labours in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy people!
And now having left the important alternative, political happiness or wretchedness, under God, in a great degree in your own hands; I pray the supreme Arbiter of the affairs of men, so to direct your judgment, as that you may act agreeable to what seems to be his will, revealed in his miraculous works in behalf of America, bleeding at the altar of liberty!
THOMAS JEFFERSON, the "Sage of Monticello," and founder of the University of Virginia, was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia. He was educated at William and Mary College, and early developed a rare taste for study, music, and general culture. His is one of the greatest and most interesting figures in our history. He received and adorned all the positions in the gift of his fellowcitizens, from that of member of the State Legislature to that of President of the United States, which office he twice filled. He is considered the founder of the present Democratic party in politics; and he gained imperishable fame as the author of the Declaration of Independence. He spent five years in France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin as minister to that country, and he introduced into the United States the decimal system of currency.
His love for country life induced him to retire to Monticello, his place in Albemarle County, where he spent his declining years in planning and establishing the University of Virginia. His love of freedom in every possible form is shown in his plan for the University, which was, unlike most colleges of the times, to be under the patronage of no church, and the students were to be controlled like any community of citizens. He was also opposed to slavery. (See his Notes on Virginia.)
He died at Monticello, July 4, 1826, on the same day with John Adams, just fifty years after the great event of their lives, the declaration of independence of the United States.
The following inscription was at his own request put upon his tombstone :
Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.
Reports, Messages, and
Jefferson's style as a political writer is considered a model : and every citizen of the United States should be well acquainted with the Declaration of Independence, which has been called by competent critics the most remarkable paper of its kind in existence.
His writings show a well trained mind, accustomed to observe closely and to delight in thought and truth and freedom. See under George Tucker. Consult also his Life, by Tucker, by Morse, by Sarah N. Randolph, his great-grand-daughter, Memoirs by Thos. J. Randolph
Government has nothing to do with opinion. Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. (Motto on his seal.)
Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with
RELIGIOUS OPINIONS AT THE AGE OF TWENTY.
Perfect happiness, I believe, was never intended by the Deity to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I have steadfastly believed. The most fortunate of us, in our journey through life, frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes, which may greatly afflict us; and, to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives. The only method of doing this is to assume a perfect resignation to the Divine will, to consider whatever does happen must happen; and that by our uneasiness, we cannot prevent the blow before it does fall, but we may add to its force after it has fallen. These considerations, and others such as these, may enable us in some measure to surmount the difficulties thrown in our way; to bear up with a tolerable degree of patience under this burthen of life; and to proceed with a pious and unshaken resignation, till we arrive at our journey's end, when we may deliver up our trust into the hands of him who gave it, and receive such reward as to him shall seem proportioned to our merit. Such, dear Page, will be the language of the man who considers his situation in this
life, and such should be the language of every man who would wish to render that situation as easy as the nature of it will admit. Few things will disturb him at all; nothing will disturb him much.
SCENERY AT HARPER'S FERRY AND AT THE NATURAL
(From Notes on Virginia, written in 1781, published in 1801 ̧)
The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been damned up by the Blue ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that continuing to rise they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsion from their beds by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate the impression. But the distant finishing which nature has given to the picture, is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the foreground. It is as placid and delightful, as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountain being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye,