The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 343
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has been neglected, yet it thoroughly proves the versatility of
his interests and the compass of his achievements in almost the
whole gamut of the life of man, nature, and the mechanical world.
We have been told before that Jefferson was the "prince of
dabblers," but the student who has restricted his interest to Jeffer-
son's contribution to American politics and to the development
of our political, economic, and educational institutions has little
or no conception of his special interests in which he was more
deeply concerned than in the field of politics from which he was
constantly trying to withdraw himself. He was never so happy as
when he was with his family at Monticello, gathering botanical
and mineralogical data from his experiments and from his friends
on almost all phases of nature.
We know that Jefferson was an able lawyer, that he studied
law for five years under George Wythe after graduating from
William and Mary College, that he actively practiced law from
1767 to 1774, that he was almost the father of American archi-
tecture, being responsible for the introduction of the classical
element into this field, that he was a great dancer, horseman,
violinist, linguist, philosopher, and statesman, but prior to this
publication we did not know that as a scientist he ranks next to
Ben Franklin among the forefathers in this field of research and
In reply to a series of questions made by secretary of the Amer-
ican legation, Jefferson prepared a voluminous manuscript
later published in several languages as Notes on the State of
Virginia, which was the first natural history of American life,
and which has become almost a classic of American literature.
Jefferson explained how he was able to produce this work as
I had always made it a practice whenever an opportunity occurred
of obtaining any information of our country which might be of use
to me in any station, public or private, to commit it to writing. These
memoranda were on loose papers, bundled up without order, and
difficult of recurrence when I had occasion for a particular one. I
thought this a good occasion to embody their substance, which I did
in the order of Mr. Marbois' queries, so as to answer his wish and
to arrange them for my own use.
Undoubtedly, Jefferson's recent election to membership in the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/389/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.