Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Excerpt

byDumas Malone

I N Virginia, Lord Dunmore, the British Governor, ushered in the year 1776 by threatening Norfolk. Jefferson was on the homeward road by that time but before he left Philadelphia he knew that war had actually begun in his own Province, and, like practically everybody else, he placed the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Governor. That dour Scot, after flitting from one ship to another, had issued an emancipation proclamation from the William early in November. It was not destined to rank with Lincoln's. Despite the fact that he retained only the shadow of authority he had declared martial law; and he had summoned the slaves to revolt and join his banner. There was some fighting in the coastal country but he did not have enough troops to make much of a showing. He attracted some runaway slaves and encouraged a few Loyalists, but he served chiefly to infuriate the Virginians and to drive them along the road to independence.

Luckily, Jefferson and his family were remote from the scene of Dunmore's activities, and he reflected that only such places as lay on the water's edge were actually endangered. John Page, the companion of his youth and young manhood, was much concerned about his house in the Tidewater county of Gloucester, but Monticello was still a haven of peace and the contemporary records of its master reflect little consciousness of a state of war. As county lieutenant he had duties to perform, and it may have been at this time that he carefully listed the volunteers from Albemarle; but he also broached a pipe of Madeira of the vintage of 1770, began to stock his park with deer, and welcomed to his stable another foal of the proud line of Fearnought. For four months he lived as a country gentleman in virtual retirement.

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