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the same regret as is caused by Dr. Franklin's unfinished sketch of his own life--so captivating by its frankness and simplicitythat the author had not completed what he had so happily begun. It is a mere outline of the first forty-seven years of the author's life; yet brief as the chronicle is, it has great merit. Its details, confined principally to his public acts, are given with great perspicuity and precision; and the part he bore in them is stated without too visible a self-complacency on the one hand, or an affectation of humility on the other. The style is always smooth and flowing, often strong and felicitous, but now and then marked by some quaintness of expression, seldom exceeding a single word. This peculiarity often furnished the small critics among his opponents, with the materials of attack, and as it was at variance with the general purity and elegance of his writings, some of his admirers, who could " in every fault a beauty spy,' supposed that like Alcibiades, when he cut off his dog's tail, he purposely provoked small attacks, to escape the annoyance of greater. But, in truth, he was a friend to neology, which he formally defends in a letter to Mr. Adams, (in August, 1820) and these ininute blemishes, as we must consider them, had no doubt the sanction of his deliberate judgment. · Of the early part of his life he has related nothing except what concerns the cultivation of his mind, and of that he says very little. He was born April 2, 1743, in Albermarle, not far from Monticello, where he died. He was placed at an English school when he was five years of age, and at the age of nine, was sent to a Latin school, where he continued until he was fourteen, when death deprived him of his father. He then was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Maury, the father of the late consul at Liverpool; a good classical teacher, with whom he continued two years, and at the age of seventeen, he entered William and Mary College, where he remained two years longer. Of what he owes to a Professor of that institution he thus gratefully speaks:
" It was my great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destinies of my life, that Ďr. William Small of Scotland, was then Professor of Mathematics, a man profound in most of the useful branches of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and geutlemanly manners, and an enlarged and liberal mind. He, most happily for me, became soon attached to me, and made me his daily companion, when not engaged in the school; and from his conversation, I got my first views of the expansion of science, and of the system of things in which we are placed. Fortunately, the philosophical chair became vacant soon after my arrival at college, and he was appointed to fill it per interim : and be was the first who ever gave in that college, regular lectures in etbics, rhetoric, and belles lettres. He returned to Europe
in 1762, having previously filled up the measure of his goodness to me, by procuring for me from his most intimate friend George Wythe, a reception as a student of law, under his direction, and introduced me to the acquaintance and familiar table of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who had ever filled that office. With him, and at his table, Dr. Small and Mr. Wythe, his amici omnium horarum, and myself, formed a partie quarrée, and to the habitual conversations on these occasions, I owed much instruction. Mr. Wythe continued to be my faithful and beloved mentor in youth, and my most affectionate friend through life. In 1767 he led me into the practice of the law at the bar of the general court, at which I continued until the revolution shut up the courts of justice."-vol. 1, p. 2.
In 1769, Mr. Jefferson, then twenty-six years of age, became a member of the House of Burgesses, for bis native county, and so continued until the revolution. Three years afterwards, he married Mrs. Martha Skelton, by the death of whose father soon afterwards, he acquired a considerable accession to his estate.
While Mr. Jefferson was a student of law, he attended the debate in the House of Burgesses, on the resolutions against the stamp act, and there first heard that remarkable self-educated orator, Patrick Henry, whose eloquence made a strong impression on his youthful mind, being such he says, “as he never heard from any other man, and who appeared to him to speak as Homer wrote." We see in this enthusiastic admiration the first dawning of that resistance to lawless power and zeal for civil liberty, which never deserted him through life. The very first year he entered the legislature, he met the other members, the day after the governor had dissolved them, and entered into an association against the use of British merchandize. After a short cessation to the spirit of resistance, it broke out again in 1773, when Mr. Jefferson says that Mr. Henry, himself, and a few others, “not thinking the old and leading members up to the point of forwardness and zeal which the times required, met in a private room at the Raleigh, to consult on the state of things. At this meeting originated the plan of those committees of correspondence, which so contributed to a barmony of feeling and action among the colonies before they entered into articles of confederation. The resolutions in the House of Burgesses, proposing them, occasioned another dissolution by the Governor. Massachusetts had previously made use of similar committees, for producing concert among her several towns.
From this time we find Mr. Jefferson among the foremost and boldest, in all measures which concerned the rights of the colonies. After a third dissolution, in 1774, for offensive resolu
tions proposed by him and a few others, the members assembled immediately at the Raleigh, then, as we believe it still is, the principal tavern in Williamsburg, and proposed a convention for Virginia, and to the other colonies, an annual Congress. On his return home, Mr. Jefferson prepared a draft of instructions for the deputies from Virginia, in which he took the bold ground, that the relation between Great Britain and her colonies “was exactly the same as that of England and Scotland, after the accession of James, and until the Union; and the same as her. present relations with Hanover ; having the same executive chief, but no other political connexion." But in this doctrine, he remarks, I had been able to get no one to agree with me but Mr. Wythe. “Our other patriots, Randolph, the Lees, Nicholas, and Pendleton, stopped at the half way house of John Dickinson, who admitted that England had a right to regulate our commerce, and to lay duties on it for the purpose of regulation, but not of raising revenue.”
Mr. Jefferson was elected to the Convention, chosen by the people, in pursuance of the recommendation of the assemblage at the Raleigh; but being unable to attend by illness, he sent duplicates of the instructions he had prepared, to Mr. Henry, and Peyton Randolph the presumed chairman. And, although they were not adopted, “ as being too bold for the present state of things,” they were printed in the form of a pamphlet, under the title of " a summary view of the rights of British America." This pamphlet was reprinted in England, with some interpolations by Edmund Burke, ran through several editions, and procured for the author, as he thinks, the honour of having his name inserted, with about twenty other Americans, in a bill of attainder, which he learnt was introduced into Parliament, but "suppressed in embryo by the hasty step of events.” A copy of these instructions is inserted in the appendix. It is a cogent piece of reasoning, expressed in clear and forcible language, and resting on the same liberal principles as would be assuined at the present day.
In the following year, 1775, Mr. Jefferson was appointed a delegate to the second Congress, held at Philadelphia, in the place of Peyton Randolph. Though then but thirty-two years of age, he seems at once to have been ranked among the leading members of that body; for he took his seat on the twentyfirst of June, and on the twenty-third, he and John Dickinson were added to the committee for preparing “ a declaration of the causes of taking up arms”--the first report of the same committee not having been approved. He prepared a draft of the declaration, but it being “too strong for Mr. Dickinson,"
VOL. V.-.No. 9.
that gentleman was requested to prepare a new one, which was adopted-and again, on the twenty-second of July, he was appointed with Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Richard Henry Lee, to consider and report on Lord North's “conciliatory resolutions," and he, by request, prepared the report.
The Convention of Virginia having on the 15th of May, 1776, instructed their delegates in Congress to declare the Colonies independent of Great-Britain, and appointed a committee to prepare a plan of government for that State, her delegates in Congress accordingly made the motion on the 7th of June, and on the debate to which it gave rise the next day, and which continued for two days, it appeared that New York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South-Carolina were “not yet matured for falling from the parent stem.” It was therefore thought prudent to defer the decision of the question, until the 1st of July; but, to prevent unnecessary delay, a committee, consisting of Mr. Jefferson, John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, was appointed to prepare, in the interval, a Declaration of Independence. Mr. Jefferson, the chairman of the committee, was requested by them to draw the Declaration, and thus he became the author of that instrument, which will be dear to the affections of the American people, so long as they set a value on political liberty, or take an interest in their national history; and which must ever be inseparably connected with his name. It was reported to the house on the 28th of June; laid on the table; considered in committee of the whole on the 1st of July, was agreed to by the house, after some amendments, on the 4th, and signed by every member present, except Mr. Dickinson.
As this Declaration cut the last ligament which held this country in colonial dependence, and was its first solemn act as a nation, Mr. Jefferson, knowing the curiosity and interest with which every thing is regarded concerning it, has given the document in its original form, with its subsequent alteratious. And as there have been inconsistent accounts published of the votes and proceedings on that memorable occasion, he details them with great minuteness in the Memoir, and still more in a letter to Mr. Sainuel A. Wells, of Boston, in the appendix; for the truth of which, he says, “he pledges himself to heaven and earth; having, while the question of Independence was under consideration before Congress, taken written notes, in his seat, of what was passing, and reduced them to form, on the final conclusion."
Mr. Jefferson's detail of the proceedings has the higher claim to our confidence in its accuracy, as it carefully distinguishes between the votes on the proposition from Virginia, and those on the Declaration of Independence, reported by the committee, which others having confounded in their recollections, their accounts may thus have varied from the fact, and from each other.
According to Mr. Jefferson's statement, the facts appear to be as follow : on the motion made by the delegates from Virginia, on the 1st of July, Pennsylvania and South-Carolina voted in the negative; Delaware was divided; and the members from NewYork, being restricted by their instructions (dated twelve months before) from voting for the proposition, withdrew, declaring at the same time that they and their constituents were in favour of it.
On the next day, July 2d, the members from South-Carolina, though not approving of the measure, voted for it, “ for the sake of unanimity.” . A third member baving also appeared on that day from Delaware (Mr. Rodney) decided her vote in its favour. Members from Pennsylvania of a different sentiment from those who voted before, attending that morning, her vote was also changed, so that, on that day twelve of the colonies voted in favour of the motion.
On the same day, the Declaration (referred the day before to a committee of the whole) was taken up; discussed on that and the two following days, and on the evening of the last day, the 4th, passed by twelve states, New-York being absent as before, and signed by all the members present, except one.
But of the Pennsylvanian delegation, consisting of seven members, only three had signed, these were Dr. Franklin, John Morton, and James Wilson. Morris was accidently absent; Willing and Humphreys had withdrawn,and Dickinson refused to sign. The convention of Pennsylvania, then in session, therefore on the 20th of July, appointed a new delegation, consisting of the three members who had signed, Morris, and five new members, to wit, Rush, Clymer, Smith, Taylor, and Ross; all of whom were permitted to sign.
The delegates from New-York received authority from their convention to sign on the 9th, and they signed on the 15th. Mr. Thornton, of New-Hampshire, who had been appointed in September, was permitted to sign on the 4th of November, but wherefore, it does not appear. The original Declaration of Independence which had been thus signed, was afterwards engrossed on parchment and signed again on the 2d of August. The preceding account, it will be perceived, differs in several particulars from that given in Saunderson's Biography of the Signers.