Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography

By Merrill D. Peterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
War Governor

Certainly it must be a happy Climate, since it is very near the same Latitude with the Land of Promise. Besides, as Judea was full of Rivers, and Branches of Rivers; so is Virginia: As that was seated upon a great Bay and Sea, wherein were all the conveniences for Shipping and Trade; So is Virginia. Had that fertility of Soil? So has Virginia, equal to any Land in the known World. In fine, if any one impartially considers all the Advantages of this Country, as Nature made it; be must allow it to be as fine a Place, as any in the Universe; but I confess I am asham'd to say any thing of its Improvements, because I must at the same time reproach. my Country-Men with a Laziness that is unpardonable. If there be any excuse for them in this Matter, 'tis the exceeding plenty of good things, with which Nature has blest them; for where God Almighty is so Merciful as to work for the People, they never work for themselves.

Robert Beverley, The History of the Present State of Virginia, 1705.

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY elected Jefferson Governor of Virginia on June 1, 1779. John Page, then at the head of the Council of State, was his principal rival for the office, though as Jefferson hastened to assure his old friend, "it was their competition, not ours," and the margin of victory was "too insignificant to give you a pain or me a pleasure had our dispositions toward each other been such as to have admitted those sensations." Nor were Page's feelings any different. His political strength lay in the tidewater, where he was a prince among planters; while Jefferson succeeded to Patrick Henry's

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