Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas. Page: 25 of 1,110
young widow, who owned 40,000 acres of
land and I30 slaves; yet he labored assiduously
for the abolition of slavery. For his
new home he selected a majestic rise of
land upon his large estate at Shadwell,
called Monticello, whereon he erected a
mansion of modest t et elegant architecture.
Here he lived in luxury, indulging his taste
in magnificent, high-blooded horses.
At this period the British Government
gradually became more insolent and oppressive
toward the American colonies,
and Mr. Jefferson was ever one of the most
foremost to resist its encroachments. From
time to time he drew up resolutions of remonstrance,
which were finally adopted,
thus proving his ability as a statesman and
as a leader. By the year I774 he became
quite busy, both with voice and pen, in defending
the right of the colonies to defend
themselves. His pamphlet entitled: "A
Summary View of the Rights of British
America," attracted much attention in England.
The following year he, in company
with George Washington, served as an executive
committee in measures to defend
by arms the State of Virginia. As a Member
of the Congress, he was not a speechmaker,
yet in conversation and upon
committees he was so frank and decisive
that he always made a favorable impression.
But as late as the autumn of 1775 he remained
in hopes of reconciliation with the
At length, however, the hour arrived for
draughting the "Declaration of Independence,"
and this responsible task was devolved
upon Jefferson. Franklin, and
Adams suggested a few verbal corrections
before it was submitted to Congress, which
was June 28, 1776, only six days before it
was adopted. During the three days of
the fiery ordeal of criticism through which
it passed in Congress, Mr. Jefferson opened
not his lips. John Adams was the main
champion of the Declaration on the floor
of Congress. The signing of this document
was one of the most solemn and momentous
occasions ever attended to by man. Prayer
and silence reigned throughout the hall,
and each signer realized that if American
independence was not finally sustained by
arms he was doomed to the scaffold.
After the colonies became independent
States, Jefferson resigned for a time his seat
in Congress in order to aid in organizing
the government of Virginia, of which State
he was chosen Governor in 1779, when he
was thirty-six years of age. At this time
the British had possession of Georgia and
were invading South Carolina, and at one
time a British officer, Iarleton, sent a
secret expedition to Monticello to capture
the Governor. Five minutes after Mr.
Jefferson escaped with his family, his mansion
was in possession of the enemy! The
British troops also destroyed his valuable
plantation on the James River. "Had they
carried off the slaves," said Jefferson, with
characteristic magnanimity, " to give them
freedom, they would have done right."
The year I78I was a gloomy one for the
Virginia Governor. While confined to his
secluded home in the forest by a sick and
dying wife, a party arose against him
throughout the State, severely criticising
his course as Governor. Being very sensitive
to reproach, this touched him to the
quick, and the heap of troubles then surrounding
him nearly crushed him. He resolved,
in despair, to retire from public life
for the rest of his days. For weeks Mr.
Jefferson sat lovingly, but with a crushed
heart, at the bedside of his sick wife, during
which time unfeeling letters were sent to
him, accusing him of weakness and unfaith.
fulness to duty. All this, after he had lost
so much property and at the same time
done so much for his country! After her
death he actually fainted away, and remained
so long insensible that it was feared
he never would recover! Several weeks
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Lewis Publishing Company. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas., book, 1892; Chicago, Illinois. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20932/m1/25/ocr/: accessed July 26, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Public Library.