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ferson were added to the committee. “I prepared a draft,” says Jefferson in his Memoir, “of the Declaration committed to us. It was too strong for Mr. Dickinson. ... We therefore requested him to take the paper and put it into a form that he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and half the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress, who accepted it.”
Now the last four and a half paragraphs of this famous Declaration on the Colonists Taking up Arms are worth all the rest of the paper. They are nervous, forceful, and thoroughly radical. It is from them that the epigrammatic phrases are often quoted: “Our cause is just, our union is perfect,” "resolved rather to die free than live slaves," "we fight not for glory or conquest," "against violence actually offered we have taken up arms, we shall lay them down when hostilities cease on the part of the aggressor.” It was these sentiments that were received with "thundering huzzas" by the soldiers encamped around Boston. They are sentiments we should expect from Jefferson, but not at all from the conservative John Dickinson. Yet, in spite of their Jeffersonian style, our documentary evidence seems to prove that they were written by Dickinson. The manuscript of Jefferson's rejected draft of the Declaration is among the original Jefferson papers in
the Department of State at Washington. In 1882 Doctor George H. Moore, of the New York Historical Society, found among its papers a draft of the entire Declaration, with corrections and interlinings in the handwriting of John Dickinson. A comparison of these two documents shows that Dickinson embodied several of Jefferson's ideas and even kept some of his phrases (as he would naturally do, being asked to "amend” Jefferson's draft). But there is no more, or very little more, of Jefferson's draft in the last four and a half paragraphs than in the rest of the paper. We are at a loss to explain Jefferson's explicit statement in the Memoir.1
On the day before Congress adjourned (July 31, 1775) it adopted a reply to Lord North's conciliatory resolution. Jefferson, having written the reply of the Virginia Burgesses, which was approved by Congress, was asked to draft the paper. It embodied, “in statelier form,” the resolutions of the Virginia House which we have already analyzed. On the adjournment of Congress till the fifth of the following September, Jefferson returned with Henry, Harrison, and Lee to the Virginia Convention at Richmond. He remained here only ten days, but before he returned to Monticello he had the satisfaction of being re-elected to Congress by a very large majority, and of seeing the first breach made in the exclusive privilege of the Anglican establishment in Virginia. Baptist and Congregationalist patriots, with the reverend John Clay, father of the great Henry, among their leaders, secured the passage of a resolution by the convention allowing the dissenting ministers to preach in camp, "for the ease of such consciences as may not chuse to attend divine service as celebrated by the chaplain.” We shall see in later pages with what zeal Jefferson threw himself into the struggle for complete religious freedom in Virginia.
1 Still we object to the tone of censorious hostility to Jefferson in the address of Doctor Moore, as printed in Stillé's Life and Times of John Dickinson: “If any man can discover any good, honest reason why Mr. Jefferson wrote such a story (of the last four and a half paragraphs) in his Autobiography, he will render a seasonable and important service to the much exalted reputation of the author.” (P. 361.) The innuendo and the sneer are both undeserved. No one believes that Thomas Jefferson deliberately lied. There may have been consultations and tentative drafts in which both Jefferson and Dickinson had a part, leaving on the former the distinct impression that the closing paragraphs were his suggestion primarily. At any rate, Doctor Moore goes beyond the warrant of the evidence when he asserts in italics that the draft in Dickinson's handwriting " proves that the author of any part was the author of every part, and that there was but one hand in the work, and that the hand of John Dickinson.” It proves no such thing, as every historical student knows.
While Peyton Randolph was being returned to Congress at the head of the poll, his brother John was making his preparations to emigrate to England, for he adhered to the royal cause. Jefferson wrote him a letter from Monticello in August, 1775, begging him to make the true sentiments of the Americans understood in England. It is one of the most valuable letters we have from Jefferson's pen, describing both his own and his countrymen's feelings at a most critical moment in our history. He voices the hope that “the returning wisdom of Great Britain will ere long put an end to this unnatural contest.” He professes the sincere preference “to be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any other nation upon earth or than on no nation.” He fears that the King's ministers have been deceived by their officials on this side of the water, who represent the American opposition as a small faction, and as cowards who will surrender at discretion to a small force. He insists that the Americans are in earnest, and that “no partial concessions of right will be accepted.” He warns the men who are directing the policy of the British Empire that it is "the most critical time certainly that it has ever seen,” a crisis which will determine "whether Britain shall continue the head of the greatest empire on earth, or shall return to her original station in the political scale of Europe.” And he adjures the ministry not "to trifle with accommodation till it shall be out of their power forever to accommodate.” There is little probability that John Randolph urged these “instructions” on the British ministry, but the writing of them in the quiet of Monticello, after the stirring scenes of the summer, must have been a kind of mental stocktaking for Jefferson, still further clarifying his ideas and fortifying his convictions on the rights of “British America.”
Jefferson returned to Congress late in September with a heavy heart. His second child, Jane, had just died at the age of eighteen months, his mother was failing fast, and his wife's health was very poor. He was sorely needed at Monticello for comfort, protection, and support. Lord Dunmore was engaged in the dastardly policy of revenge by inciting the slaves to revolt and offering them arms. Although the merest handful replied to his solicitation, the anxiety on the farms and plantations of Virginia was great; for the slightest rumor of a slave insurrection always caused a panic in the Old Dominion. Jefferson had over eighty slaves at Monticello, and a "family” of thirty-four whites. There was no man capable of caring properly for the estate but himself. His letters from Philadelphia to his brother-in-law, Francis Eppes, betray his anxiety. On November 7 he writes that he has not heard a word from any mortal in Virginia during the seven weeks since he left home: “The suspense under which I am is too terrible to be endured; if anything has happened, for God's sake let me know it.” Finally, toward the close of December, he left Philadelphia, the rules requiring only that a majority of the delegation from the State be present at Congress. The next four and a half months he spent at Monticello.
The irony of our protestations of allegiance to Great Britain and the futility of any hopes for a