Thomas Jefferson: A Biography

By Nathan Schachner | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 32 War with Hamilton

ON November 8, 1790, Jefferson left Monticello for Philadelphia and the resumption of his duties. During his absence the capital had been moved thence in accordance with the bargain over assumption. Arriving on November 21st, his first days were occupied with getting his new house into order. The place he had rented from Thomas Leiper was situated at 274 High Street (now known as Market); while his office was a short distance away on the same street.

To his dismay, the workmen had been exceedingly dilatory about the remodeling job and, on December 7th, it still was not ready for occupancy, except for one room which they promised for the end of the week. That room, wrote Jefferson ruefully, "will be my bed-room, study, diningroom, and parlor."1 To add to his discomfort, his French furniture and belongings, amounting in all to 86 packing cases, had only just arrived and, besides the staggering freight bill of $544.53 which he had to pay, there was no place as yet to unpack them.

But all things, even house alterations, finally come to an end, and Jefferson duly ensconced himself in his new quarters, spread his prized French possessions around, and found himself quite comfortable. It was here that he first installed, in a recess between the library and breakfast room, his bed worked by pulleys so that it could be hoisted into the ceiling during the day and let down into position at night. That feature, later duplicated at Monticello, never fails to evoke the exclamations of visitors.

During the interim between sessions of Congress, and of the vacation of the principal officers of government, the climate of opinion had definitely shifted. The discontent with Hamilton's policies had deepened, and Virginia had uttered defiance, much to Jefferson's embarrassment. He had thus far worked with some semblance of amicability with Hamilton; but from now on they were to diverge more and more until the gap became unbridgeable, and the future of America became involved in the struggle.

The definitive break came with Hamilton's historic report to Congress, submitted on December 14, 1790, advocating the establishment of a National Bank. The bank was to be both public and private; public in the sense that the government would subscribe to twenty per cent of the stock and have the right to borrow up to the full amount of its investment, private m that it would be controlled by the votes of the private stock


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Thomas Jefferson: A Biography
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