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to tyranny mattered little. “God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion !” he cried. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." We should not take these "wild and whirling words” more seriously perhaps than Jefferson himself took Shays's Rebellion. They were rather a philosophical dogma with him (after the manner of the political theorists of the eighteenth century) than a sober plan of public conduct. At any rate, in his long life of service to his State and nation, which covered not one but three spans of "twenty years,” Jefferson never planned or sustained any “rebellion” except the great revolution which accomplished the inevitaable political severance with Great Britain.
Neither did Jefferson learn his radicalism in France. To represent him, as William E. Curtis does, for example, as returning from Paris infected by the “frenzy of Jacobinism," is a grotesque perversion of the truth. There were no "Jacobins” in evidence in France when Jefferson was there. The Reign of Terror was as undreamed of in 1789 as the despotism of Napoleon. Jefferson's associations were all with the moderate liberals whom the Jacobins later sent to the guillotine when they could catch them. Camille Desmoulins, who let loose the fury of the people of Paris on the Bastile, declared in 1789 that there were not ten republicans in
France besides himself. Jefferson's radicalism was far more advanced than that of his Parisian friends, and if there was any “infection" it was rather they who got it from him. We cannot imagine Mounier or Lafayette talking of kings the way Jefferson did. If he had learned such language from anybody it was from Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine, and perhaps those hardy Puritan adversaries of the Stuart "man of blood” a hundred years before. Jefferson's "democracy” was based less on the reading of Rousseau than on the behavior of George III.
In the summer of 1789, while Mirabeau was laboring with voice and pen to guide the titanic forces of the French Revolution into the channels of broad national reform, Jefferson asked for leave of absence to return to America for private and domestic reasons. He had left Monticello intending to be absent for two years, and had been away five. His affairs needed his personal attention, and he wanted to have his daughters back among American companions especially as the elder, Martha, had expressed the desire to take the veil and spend her life in a French convent. Jefferson's request was granted, and he left Havre on October 8, 1789, sending back to Necker from the deck of his ship, like a Parthian shot, his last plea for the admission of American salted meats into the French kingdom. He landed at Norfolk on November 23, after the exciting dangers of storm, collision, and fire within the capes of Chesapeake Bay. After a short visit with his brother-in-law, Mr. Eppes, at his countryseat in Chesterfield, Jefferson was back at Monticello, amid jubilant demonstrations of welcome from his slaves and household, to celebrate the festivities of the Christmas season.
IN WASHINGTON'S CABINET
Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. ... And I do verily believe that if the principle were to prevail of a common law being in force in the U.S. ... it would become the most corrupt government on the earth. (Jefferson to Gideon Granger, August 13, 1800.)
DURING the early summer days of 1789, while Jefferson was intently following the debates of the National Assembly of France from the galleries of the hall at Versailles, George Washington and the first Congress of the United States under the new Constitution were setting in motion the wheels of government of the American Republic.
For the important post of secretary of state Washington's choice fell on Jefferson. “When I arrived in Norfolk," writes the latter to the chargé d'affaires left behind at Paris, "I saw myself in the newspapers nominated to that office.” The personal letter of the President reached him at Eppington, on his way to Monticello, in December. “I received it with real regret," says Jefferson in his Memoir; "my wish was to return to Paris when I had left my household establishment as if there myself, and to see the end of the Revolution, which I then thought would be certainly and happily closed within less than a year. ... In my answer of December 15, I expressed these dispositions candidly to the President ... but assured him that if it was believed I could be more useful in the administraation of the government, I would sacrifice my own inclination without hesitation." A second letter from Washington, strongly urging the acceptance of the nomination, overcame Jefferson's reluctance. He only asked to be allowed to remain at Monticello long enough to attend to the affairs which had brought him over from Paris. On March 1, 1790, he left Monticello, and, after pausing in Philadelphia to visit the venerable Franklin, who was then on his death-bed, he reached the seat of government in New York on the 21st of March. The second session of Congress was already over two months old. John Jay, the foreign secretary of the old Congress of the Confederation, who had agreed to hold over until Jefferson's arrival, had a large mass of accumulated business waiting for him.
The State Department was not then the highly organized and complex institution that it is to-day, with its four assistant secretaries, its thousands of clerks, its law counsellor, its diplomatic and consular bureaus, its divisions of citizenship, appointments, trade relations, archives, rolls, and library. One assistant and one translator were all the secretary's staff in Jefferson's day. There was considerable