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A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 3: Thomas Jefferson

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 3: Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson
March 4, 1801, to March 4, 1809
Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Va., on April 2 (old style), 1743. He was the
oldest son of Peter Jefferson, who died in 1757. After attending private schools, he entered William and Mary
College in 1760. In 1767 began the practice of the law. In 1769 was chosen to represent his county in the
Virginia house of burgesses, a station he continued to fill up to the period of the Revolution. He married Mrs.
Martha Skelton in 1772, she being a daughter of John Wayles, an eminent lawyer of Virginia. On March 12,
1773, was chosen a member of the first committee of correspondence established by the Colonial legislature.
Was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775; was placed on the Committee of Five to prepare
the Declaration of Independence, and at the request of that committee he drafted the Declaration, which, with
slight amendments, was adopted July 4, 1776. Resigned his seat in Congress and occupied one in the Virginia
legislature in October, 1776. Was elected governor of Virginia by the legislature on June 1, 1779, to succeed
Patrick Henry. Retired to private life at the end of his term as governor, but was the same year elected again to
the legislature. Was appointed commissioner with others to negotiate treaties with France in 1776, but
declined. In 1782 he was appointed by Congress minister plenipotentiary to act with others in Europe in
negotiating a treaty of peace with Great Britain. Was again elected a Delegate to Congress in 1783, and as a
member of that body he advocated and had adopted the dollar as the unit and the present system of coins and
decimals. In May, 1784, was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Europe to assist John Adams and Benjamin
Franklin in negotiating treaties of commerce. In March, 1785, was appointed by Congress minister at the
French Court to succeed Dr. Franklin, and remained in France until September, 1789. On his arrival at
Norfolk, November 23, 1789, received a letter from Washington offering him the appointment of Secretary of
State in his Cabinet. Accepted and became the first Secretary of State under the Constitution. December 31,
1793, resigned his place in the Cabinet and retired to private life at his home. In 1796 was brought forward by
his friends as a candidate for President, but Mr. Adams, receiving the highest number of votes, was elected
President, and Jefferson became Vice-President for four years from March 4, 1797. In 1800 was again voted
for by his party for President. He and Mr. Burr received an equal number of electoral votes, and under the
Constitution the House of Representatives was called upon to elect. Mr. Jefferson was chosen on the
thirty-sixth ballot. Was reelected in 1804, and retired finally from public life March 4, 1809. He died on the
4th day of July, 1826, and was buried at Monticello, Va.

Thomas Jefferson

Mr. Pinckney, from the committee instructed on the 18th instant to wait on the President elect to notify him of
his election, reported that the committee had, according to order, performed that service, and addressed the
President elect in the following words, to wit:

The committee beg leave to express their wishes for the prosperity of your Administration and their sincere
desire that it may promote your own happiness and the welfare of our country.
To which the President elect was pleased to make the following reply:

I receive, gentlemen, with profound thankfulness this testimony of confidence from the great representative
council of our nation. It fills up the measure of that grateful satisfaction which had already been derived from
the suffrages of my fellow-citizens themselves, designating me as one of those to whom they were willing to
commit this charge, the most important of all others to them. In deciding between the candidates whom their
equal vote presented to your choice, I am sensible that age has been respected rather than more active and
useful qualifications.

I know the difficulties of the station to which I am called, and feel and acknowledge my incompetence to
them. But whatsoever of understanding, whatsoever of diligence, whatsoever of justice or of affectionate
concern for the happiness of man, it has pleased Providence to place within the compass of my faculties shall
be called forth for the discharge of the duties confided to me, and for procuring to my fellow-citizens all the
benefits which our Constitution has placed under the guardianship of the General Government.

Guided by the wisdom and patriotism of those to whom it belongs to express the legislative will of the nation,
I will give to that will a faithful execution.

I pray you, gentlemen, to convey to the honorable body from which you are deputed the homage of my
humble acknowledgments and the sentiments of zeal and fidelity by which I shall endeavor to merit these
proofs of confidence from the nation and its Representatives; and accept yourselves my particular thanks for
the obliging terms in which you have been pleased to communicate their will.

FEBRUARY 20, 1801.
The President laid before the Senate a letter from the President elect of the United States, which was read, as
WASHINGTON, March 2, 1801.
The Project Gutenberg eBook of Messages and Papers Of The Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, by James D. Richardson.

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