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have done right: but it was to consign them to inevitable death from the smallpox and putrid fever, then raging in his camp. This I knew afterwards to be the fate of twenty-seven of them. I never had news of the remaining three, but presume they shared the same fate. When I
that Lord Cornwallis did all this, I do not mean that he carried about the torch with his own hands, but that it was all done under his own eye; the situation of the house in which he was, commanding a view of every part of the plantation, so that he must have seen every fire. I relate these things on my own knowledge, in a great degree, as I was on the ground soon after he left it. He treated the rest of the neighbourhood somewhat in the same style, but not with that spirit of total extermination with which he seemed to rage over my plantation. Whereever he went, the dwelling houses were plundered of every thing which could be carried off. Lord Cornwallis's character in England would forbid the belief that he shared in the plunder; but that his table, was served with the plate thus pillaged from private houses, can be proved by many hundred eye-witnesses. From an estimate I made at that time, on the best information I could collect, I suppose the state of Virginia lost under Lord Cornwallis's hands, that year, about thirty thousand slaves; and that of these, about twenty-seven thousand died of the smallpox and camp fever, and the rest were partly sent to the West Indies, and exchanged for rum, sugar, coffee, and fruit, and partly sent to New York, from whence they went at the peace, either to Nova Scotia or England. From this last place, I believe they have latěly been sent to Africa. History
will never relate the horrours committed by the British army
in the southern states of America. They, raged in Virginia six months only, from the middle of April to the middle of October, 1781, when they were all taken prisoners; and I give you a faithful specimen of their transactions for ten days of that time, and on one spot only. Ex pede Herculem. I suppose their whole devastations during those six months amounted to about three millions sterling."
In times of difficulty and danger, it is seldom that the actions of the wisest and the best can escape without censure. Where they are not the marks of malevolence, they are yet dwelt on with morbid distrust by the discontented and the timid; they are contrasted by every speculative reasoner with the farciful schemes which his own imagination has suggested; and if they do not chance to be crowned with unexpected success, the failure is attributed to intrinsick weakness, rather than to unavoidable accident. In the preceding pages a rapid sketch has been recorded of the publick acts of Mr. Jefferson during the singularly eventsul period in which he was placed at the head of the government in Virginia, The truth of those facts may be relied on. From them, a reader of the present day, far removed from the bustle and feelings of the times, may form a calm judgement of the principles and talents of the man, when placed in this station of unexpected difficulty. There is little danger in asserting, that such a judge* ment will be as favourable to the zeal and talents of the statesman, as it will be honourable to the feelings and patriotism of the man. It would, therefore, seem almost useless to record imputed errours and unfounded char
ges with regard to him, which have passed into oblivion by the lapse of years, were it not in some degree a duty, not to pass unnoticed, events which, in their own day at least, excited considerable attention.
The meeting of the legislature at Staunton was attended by several members who had not been present at Richmond at the period of Arnold's incursion. One of these, Mr. George Nicholas, actuated, it is said, by no unkind feelings, yet, it must be acknowledged, with a patriotism somewhat too ardent, accused the late Goyernour of great remissness in his measures on that occasion, and moved for an inquiry relative to them. To this Mr. Jefferson nor his friends had the least objection, nor did they make the slightest opposition. The ensuing session of the legislature was the period fixed for the investigation, but before it arrived, Mr. Nicholas, convinced that the charges were unfounded, in the most honourable and candid manner declined the farther prosecution of the affair. In the mean time, that he might be placed on equal grounds for meeting the inquiry, one of the representatives of his county resigned his seat, and Mr. Jefferson was unanimously elected in his place. When the house assembled, no one appeared to bring forward the investigation ; he, however, rose in his place, and recapitulating the charges which had been made, stated in brief terms his own justification. His remarks were no sooner concluded, than the house passed unanimously the following resolution:
Resolved, That the sincere thanks of the General Assembly be given to our former Governour, Thomas Jefferson, for his impartial, upright, and attentive ad
ministration whilst in office. The Assembly wish, in the strongest manner, to declare the high opinion they entertain of Mr. Jefferson's ability, rectitude, and integrity, as chief magistrate of this commonwealth, and mean, by thus publickly avowing their opinion, to obviate and to remove all unmerited censures."
It is due to Mr. Nicholas to state, that in a publication some time afterwards, he made an honourable acknowledgment of the erroneous views he had entertained on the subject. The same candour has not marked all the opponents of Mr. Jefferson; but we are not, however, now to learn, that in the violence of political asperity, circumstances long proved, and generally acknowledged to be incorrect, are brought forward with no inconsiderable effrontery, and the mild and virtuous must be content to wait until time has swept away
the fabrications and assertions of faction, and confirmed that which is founded in honesty and truth.
On the 15th June, 1781, Mr. Jefferson was appointed, with Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Laurens, a Minister Plenipotentiary for negotiating peace, then expected to be effected through the mediation of the Empress of Russia; but such was the state of his family, that he could neither leave it nor expose it to the dangers of the sea, and was consequently obliged to decline. In the autumn of the next year, Congress having received assurances that a general peace would be concluded in the winter and spring, renewed his appointment on the 13th November of that year. Two months before the last appointment, he had lost the cherished companion of his life, in whose affections, unabated on both sides, he had lived the last ten
years in unchequered happiness. With the publick interests, the state of his mind concurred in recommending the change of scene proposed; he accordingly accepted the appointment, and left Monticello on the 19th of December, 1782, for Philadelphia, where he arrived on the 27th. The minister of France, Luzerne, offer. ed him a passsage in the Romulus frigate, and which was accepted; but she was then lying a few miles below Baltimore, blocked up in the ice. Mr. Jefferson remained, therefore, a month in Philadelphia, looking over the papers in the office of state, and possessing himself
of the general situation of our foreign relations, and then went to Baltimore, to await the liberation of the frigate from the ice. After waiting there nearly a month, information was received, that a provisional treaty of peace had been signed by our Commissioners on the 3d of September, 1782, to become absolute on the conclusion of peace between France and Great Britain. Considering his proceeding to Europe as now of no utility to the publick, he returned immediately to Philadelphia, to take the orders of Congress, and was excused by them from further proceeding. He there fore returned home, and arrived there on the 15th of May, 1783
On the sixth of June, 1783, Mr. Jefferson was again elected a delegate to Congress, the appointment to take place on the 1st of November ensuing, when that of the existing delegation would expire. He accordingly left home on the 16th of October, arrived at Trenton, where Congress was sitting, on the 30 November, and took his seat on the 4th, on which day Congress adjourned, to meet at Annapolis on the 26th.