JEFFERSON had come into his office with the greatest reluctance; and the longer he remained the greater became his anxiety to get out. He hated the political passions that had been aroused and which spilled over into private relations; he loathed the constant strife with Hamilton, the Federalists in Congress and their massed cohorts; he was unutterably weary of battling unsuccessfully and in vain against measures he was certain were tending to ruin the country.
It was true he was not alone in the struggle. A substantial party was gradually building up around him and looking to him for leadership; but as yet he did not view it as a party, nor do anything to solidify it as a workable instrument, as a tool in the struggle for power. That would come later.
In the meantime, he wished merely to be rid of it all; to retire to his tents in Monticello and bask in the bosom of his family. Every letter, every utterance, breathes the desperate sincerity of this longing. He panted, he exclaimed to his daughter Martha, to exchange "labor, envy, and malice for ease, domestic occupation, and domestic love and society; where i may once more be happy with you, with Mr. Randolph and dear little Anne [his granddaughter], with whom even Socrates might ride on a stick without being ridiculous."1
He had a sufficient sense of his obligations, however, to realize that it would be unfair to resign until at least the end of the Presidential term, and he very early made his wishes confidentially known to Washington. The President had attempted to dissuade him; but his resolve was fixed, he said, and unalterable. This was at the beginning of 1792; but already he was looking forward to the day of his release. "The ensuing year," he told Martha, "will be the longest of my life, and the last of such hateful labors; the next we will sow our cabbages together."2
If Washington had tried to dissuade him, it was not because he was not sympathetic. In fact, Washington himself was looking forward to the end of his term as the last of his adventures in public office, just as Monticello beckoned to Jefferson, so did Mount Vernon possess irresistible attractions for Washington. Barely had Jefferson made clear his own determination when Washington informed him that he too intended to retire.
Jefferson let it pass at the moment but, as domestic and foreign affairs took a turn for the worse, he became convinced that the one man who might be able to ride out the storm, hold the contending factions together