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habit of bathing my feet in cold water every morning, for sixty years past. A fever of more than twenty-four hours I have not had above two or three times in my life. A periodical headache has afflicted me occasionally, once, perhaps, in six or eight years, for two or three weeks at a time, which seems now to have left me; and, except on a late occasion of indisposition, I enjoy good health; too feeble, indeed, to walk much, but riding without fatigue six or eight miles a day, and sometimes thirty or forty. I may end these egotisms, therefore, as I began, by saying that my life has been so much like that of other people, that I might say with Horace, to every one “nomine mutato, narratur fabula de te.” I must not end, however, without due thanks for the kind sentiments of regard you are so good as to express towards myself; and with my acknowledgments for these, be pleased to accept the assurances of my respect and esteem.
The book oftenest chosen for reading for an hour or half an hour before going to bed was a collection of extracts from the Bible. During the year 1803, while Mr. Jefferson was in Washington, “overwhelmed with other business,” he spent two or three nights “after getting through the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day,” “ in cutting such passages from the evangelists as he believed emanated directly from the lips of the Saviour, and he arranged them in an octavo volume of forty-six pages. This selection is thus described by him to his Revolutionary friend, Charles Thompson, January 9th, 1816:"
“I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials,” which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves” Christians and preachers of the Gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. If I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin, and French texts, in columns side by
It was in the winter of 1816–17, it is believed, that Mr. Jefferson carried out the design last expressed. In a handsome
inorocco-bound volume, labelled on the back, “Morals of Jesus,” .
he placed the parallel texts in four languages. The first collec
1 See letter to Mr. Short, October 31st, 1819; and to Mr. Wanderkemp, April 25th,
1816. * The letter was in acknowledgment of a presentation by Mr. Thompson of his Har
mony of the Four Gospels. - -
tion of English texts, mentioned in the letter to Thompson, is not preserved in Mr. Jefferson’s family, but his grandson, Mr. George Wythe Randolph, has obtained for us a list of its contents.' That, in different languages, is in the possession of his oldest grandson, Colonel Thomas Jefferson Randolph. A full citation of the passages in both volumes will be given in the Appendix. It is remarkable that neither of these collections were known to Mr. Jefferson's grandchildren until after his death. They then learned from a letter addressed to a friend that he was in the habit of reading nightly from them before going to bed.”
In a reply to Mr. Spafford, who had requested materials for writing his life, Mr. Jefferson stated (May 11th, 1819), that he had kept no narrative of the public transactions in which he had borne a part with a view to history—that a life of constant action had left him no time for recording—that he had always been thinking of what was next to be done—and that what was done was then dismissed and obliterated from memory. He added :
“Numerous and able coadjutors have participated in these efforts, and merit equal notice. My life, in fact, has been so much like that of others, that their history is my history, with a mere difference of feature.”
After mentioning a few authorities, he continued:
“These publications furnish all the details of facts and dates which can interest anybody, and more than I could now furnish myself from a decayed memory, or any notes I retain. While, therefore, I feel just acknowledgments for the partial selection of a subject for your employment, I am persuaded you will perceive there is too little new and worthy of public notice to devote to it a time which may be so much more usefully employed.”
On the 9th of July he made the memorable answer to John Adams in regard to the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence,” which has drawn out so much discussion, and which has already been noticed in this work."
* This is sometimes mentioned as Mr. Jefferson’s “Collection for the Indians,” it being understood that he conferred with friends on the expediency of having it published in the different Indian dialects as the most appropriate book for the Indians to be instructed to read in.
* See APPENDIx No. 30.
* This is stated in a letter to us from Colonel Randolph, which will appear in this volume.
* See APPENDIX No. 2.
Judge Marshall, presiding in the United States Circuit Court in Richmond, this year, held that in suits brought by a foreigner against the citizen of a State, the federal courts possessed a controlling power over the State courts. The opinion was ably controverted by Judge Roane in a series of articles published in the Richmond Enquirer over the signature of Hampden. Roane forwarded these to Mr. Jefferson, who replied (September 6th) fully concurring in his views on the question decided by the court and advancing beyond them in others. Understanding Roane to admit that the judiciary was the last resort for explaining the Constitution “in relation to the other departments of the Government,” he earnestly reasserted what had been a standing doctrine of his own Administration, that “each department was truly independent of the others, and had an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action.” His letter contains several interesting arguments and citations on this important question. Mr. Jefferson had two brief but serious attacks of disease in 1819. The first terminated near the beginning of autumn. The second, a spasmodic stricture of the ilium, came upon him on the 7th of October, and threatened his life. The crisis was favorably passed on the fourth day, but a dose of calomel produced salivation, and he suffered much from its disagreeable consequences. He was on horseback again, however, before the close of the month. Several literary and critical letters during the year, show that his mental activity was unimpaired, and that it was kept in constant exercise. We find Mr. Jefferson's first allusion to the “Missouri question ” in a letter to Mr. Adams of December 10th. Missouri had applied for the usual permission to form a State constitution, at the preceding session of Congress. A motion by a northern member to insert a clause in the act, prohibiting the further introduction of slaves into the new State, and granting freedom to the children of slaves already there, on reaching the age of twenty-five, had prevailed in the House, but had been struck out in the Senate. The House refused to concur, and the Senate to recede; and so the bill was lost. Menaces of disunion were freely thrown out in the debate. The next Congress was to assemble on the 6th of December (1819), and in the meantime, this agitating question spread to the State legislatures and popular masses, producing that excitement which would be expected where political and social feelings so deep, and interests so important were brought into collision."
Four days after the meeting of Congress, Jefferson wrote to Adams:
“The banks, bankrupt law, manufactures, Spanish treaty, are nothing. These are occurrences which, like waves in a storm, will pass under the ship. But the Missouri question is a breaker on which we lose the Missouri country by revolt,” and what more, God only knows. From the Battle of Bunker's Hill to the treaty of Paris we never had so ominous a question. It even damps the joy with which I hear of your high health, and welcomes to me the consequences of my want of it. I thank God that I shall not live to witness its issue. Sed haec hactenus.” "
It is not necessary to record here the various propositions
1 The interests which the southern States had involved in the settlement of the
.." are too obvious to require mention. Those in the northern States are thus escribed by an anti-slavery writer:
“The late discussions on the extension of slavery beyond the Mississippi, had roused up, as if from a long sleep, the anti-slavery sentiment of the North. The American convention for promoting the abolition of slavery, in abeyance since the abolition of the slave trade, revived, and reassembled once more at Philadelphia. But these speculative philanthropists, few and weak, would have been able to accomplish little had not the politicians come to their aid. Jealousy of southern domination had, as we have seen, made the northern Federalists dissatisfied with the purchase of Louisiana; it had led them to protest against the erection of the territory of Orleans into a State, and had Inoved the Hartford Convention to propose the abolition of the slave representation—a proposal quite as much, perhaps, as any suspected plots against the Union, the unpardonable sin of that body. This feeling had been shared, and, on more than one occasion, exhibited by the northern Democrats also, especially those of New York, who had reflected, not without some bitterness, on the political insignificance in which they had so long been held. The keeping out of new States, or the alteration of the Constitution as to the basis of representation—to which proposal of Massachusetts, reechoed from Hartford, the other northern States had returned no answers at all, or unfavorable ones— were projects too hopeless, as well as too unpopular in their origin, to be renewed. The extension to the new territory, west of the Mississippi of the ordinance of 1787 against slavery, seemed to present a much more feasible method of accomplishing substantially the same object. This idea spreading with rapidity, still further obliterated old, party lines, tending to produce at the North, a political union, for which the Federalists had so often sighed, similar to that which, prevailing throughout the South for the last twenty years, had given to that section so entire a control over the !". of the General Goyernment, both foreign and domestic.”—(Hildreth's Hist. of U. S. 2d Ser., vol. iii.
“Otis of Massachusetts, who, at the last session, as well as on several occasions before, had exhibited his strong sympathy for the slaveholders, of which, indeed, he lived to give still further proofs, now on behalf of a northern ascendency and with the prospect of a new political party on that basis, exerted all his eloquence against them.”—(Ih., p. 688.)
* The delegate of Missouri had intimated this solution at the preceding session.
* Mr. Adams's answer to this, was as follows:
!" The Missouri question, I hope, will follow the other waves under the ship, and do no harm. I know it is high treason to express a doubt of the o duration of our vast American Empire, and our free institutions; and I say as devotedly as Father Paul, esto perpetua, but I am sometimes Cassandra enough to dream that another Härnilton and another Burr, might rend this mighty fabric in twain, or perhaps into a leash; and a few more choice spirits of the same stamp, might produce as many nations in North America as there are in Europe.”
and counter propositions, which preceded the final action of
“Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, that in all the territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and is hereby, forever prohibited : Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed, in any State or territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service, as aforesaid.”
The bill passed the Senate and was approved on the 6th of
tion clause of the bill—and equally so to the establishment of the “Missouri Compromise line,” as it was called. We present his expressions on the subject together. He wrote to
J. C. Cabell, January 22d, 1820:
“If our Legislature does not heartily push our University, we must send our children for education to Kentucky or Cambridge. If, however, we are to go a begging anywhere for our education, I would rather it should be to Kentucky than to any other State, because she has more of the flavor of the old cask than any
other. All the States but our own are sensible that knowledge is power. The
Missouri question is for power.”
“I thank you, dear sir, for the information in your favor of the 4th instant, of the settlement, for the present, of the Missouri question. I am so completely withdrawn from all attention to public matters, that nothing less could arouse me than the definition of a geographical line, which on an abstract principle is to become the line of separation of these States, and to render desperate the hope that man can ever enjoy the two blessings of peace and self-government. The question sleeps for the present, but is not dead.”
To Mark Langdon Hill, April 5th:
* The letter containing this is in neither edition of Mr. Jefferson's works. We find it in the History of the University of Virginia, soon to be more particularly noticed.