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hard fortune is no disgrace. He was a man of peace called to preside over a State inevitably exposed to the most exasperating form of war. He was a man of extreme sensitiveness subjected to a criticism from old friends which was no less galling because it was undeserved. His domestic life was saddened by the death of an infant daughter in April, 1781, and the steady deterioration of his frail wife's health. Not all of his measures as governor may have been the wisest. He might, as Eckenrode suggests, have requisitioned tobacco, flour, and beef in the State, to purchase arms and ammunition in France. But when British cruisers were swarming in Chesapeake Bay and hovering over the shores of Virginia with menace of fire and plunder, it is difficult to see how Jefferson could have either got the tobacco to France or the arms into Virginia. The French fleet could not be enlisted in any permanent defense of our shores. At most they would come up from the West Indies to participate in some strategic move against the British. They hardly helped us at all until the Yorktown campaign-but there their help meant victory.
The single official act of his governorship that gave Jefferson unalloyed satisfaction was the signing of the resolution of the Virginia Legislature transferring the western territory, which was Virginia's by the double claim of charter and conquest, to the government of the United States. On January 2, 1781, the very day that the definite news of Arnold's approach reached Richmond, the legislature, before its hasty adjournment, ceded the territory north of the Ohio to the United States, on condition that the States should ratify the Articles of Confederation. Jefferson transmitted the resolution to the president of Congress, expressing the hope that "the other States of the Union, equally impressed with the necessity of that important convention [the Articles of Confederation) shall be willing to sacrifice equally to its completion. This single event [confederation), could it take place shortly, would overweigh every success which the enemy have hitherto obtained, and render desperate the hopes to which those successes have given birth.” Virginia's splendid example won the cause. Within two months the last State, Maryland, signed the Articles, and the United States had its first Constitution in black on white.
The Northwest Territory thus ceded by Virginia was the beginning of the magnificent public domain of the United States, which, during the next two generations, through cessions by the States, purchase from France, treaty with England, conquest from Mexico, was extended to the Pacific coast; and whose political organization, economic development, and social amalgamation have exercised the most potent influence on the course of American history. By the transfer of the Northwest Territory, as governor of Virginia, and the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, as President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson set his seal to the acquisition of a national domain imperial in extent and exhaustless in wealth; by his plan of government for the territory west of the Alleghanies in 1784 and his despatch of Lewis and Clark to the Pacific coast twenty years later, he stamped his name on our great Western wilderness and his ideas on all our subsequent territorial policy.
Jefferson retired from the governorship in the midsummer of 1781 under the double cloud of official criticism and domestic anxiety. He was a man singularly free his life long from feelings of resentment or revenge. Yet the sense of his imputed failure in the highest office within the gift of his “countrymen” lingered for many months to embitter a heart racked with the pain of watching its dearest treasure slowly stolen away by the inexorable hand of death. He believed that he had done with public life forever. The thought of office almost sickened him. He declined an appointment by Congress in June, 1781, to join Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens in Europe to represent the United States in a proposed peace congress at Vienna. He refused an election to Congress by the Virginia legislature in December. To his kinsman, Edmund Randolph, he wrote from Monticello: "I have retired to my farm, my family, and my books, from which I think nothing will evermore separate me. A desire to leave public office with a reputation not more blotted than it has deserved will oblige me to emerge at the next session of our assembly and perhaps to accept a seat in it, but as I go with a single object I shall withdraw when that shall be concluded."'i His intimate friends, Madison and Monroe, both tried to coax him from the tent of Achilles. The former thought that his "keen sensibility” (sensitiveness) was not "dictated either by philosophy or patriotism,” and Monroe frankly told him that his conduct was provoking murmurs. But still Jefferson persevered in his course of "obstinate condolement.” He could have comforted himself, he writes Monroe, “under the disapprobation of the well-meaning but uninformed people,” but the mistrust of their enlightened representatives, letting him "stand for months arraigned of treason of the heart” as well as “weakness of the head,” was a "wound in his spirit which could only be cured by the all-healing grave." This distressing period of morbid reflection on past chagrin and mortal anxiety for what the next day might bring forth passed with the death of Mrs. Jefferson, early in September, 1782. That great baptism of sorrow swept away all lesser memories of ill, and Jefferson was ready when his country called him a few weeks later to a post of honor and service.
1 Referring, of course, to the proposed examination of his conduct by the legislature, set for December 19, 1781. Jefferson's letter to Randolph was written in September.
THE MISSION TO FRANCE
I do love this people with all my heart, and think that with a better religion, a better form of Government and their present governors their condition and Country would be most enviable. (Jefferson to Mrs. John Adams, June 21, 1785.)
The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown put an end to the American Revolution. On March 5, 1782, the British Parliament authorized the ministry to make peace, and a fortnight later Lord North, who had been at the head of the government for twelve years, resigned the seals to the Marquis of Rockingham, the liberal Whig under whom the Stamp Act had been repealed in 1766. Rockingham died in July, but his successor, Lord Shelburne, carried on his policy of a friendly consideration of American claims. Benjamin Franklin was at the head of our peace commission in Paris, with Jay, Adams, and Laurens as his colleagues. They were all able men, but the negotiations halted a bit. Franklin was seventy-six years old and not in the best of health. Jay and Adams had to leave their respective diplomatic posts in Madrid and Amsterdam to take part in the discussions in Paris, while Laurens was captured by the English on the voyage to Europe and held a prisoner in the Tower of London until the