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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


194 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Shortly after the termination of hostilities, Mr. Jefferson was despatched as envoy to France, where he remained for a considerable time ; and in his negotiations displayed much ability as a diplomatist. Having visited England, he returned to America in 1789, and was speedily thereafter appointed Secretary of State. This office he resigned in 1794, retiring to his seat at Monticello; and from that period was regarded as the chief of the Opposition. In a few years he was called from his obscurity to fill, under Mr. Adams, the chair of the Vice-President ; and in 1801 was elected the successor of that gentleman. Being re-chosen, he held the Presidency until 1809. When solicited to accept the office a third time, he peremptorily declined ; and, retiring into private life, the evening of his days was devoted to the calm pursuits of agriculture and the enjoyments of literature. In his public character President Jefferson displayed uncommon activity and zeal for the public service, though probably too much of the philosopher and speculatist to be practically wise in his deliberations.’ The extensive improvements introduced into almost every department of Government, while he held the reins of power, were effected too summarily; and though in themselves well calculated to work beneficially, the country was injured by being kept in a state of continual transition. Mr. Jefferson first appeared as an author in 1774, when he published “A Summary View of the Rights of British America.” In 1781 his “Notes on Virginia ” were given to the public ; and among the scientific he is known as the writer of a work entitled “ Memoirs on the Fossil Bones found in America.” It may not be out of place here briefly to notice a circumstance connected with the history of Washington, by which it has been attempted to fasten on that illustrious man a charge of selfishness, totally at variance with his character. We allude to the site of the federal city. At the period when it was fixed upon, in the district of Columbia, at the junction of the Potomac and the eastern branch of that river, this territory was situated on the great post road, exactly equidistant from the northern and southern extremities of the Union, and nearly so from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ohio, upon the best navigation, and in the midst of the (then) richest commercial compass in the States, commanding the most extensive internal resources, and was by far the most eligible situation for a capital and the meetings of Congress. Part of Columbia lies in Virginia, and was the property of General Washington’s family. That its value would naturally become enhanced by the proposed bounds of the dwamt-of city, there is no doubt ; and that Washington gave his powerful influence in seconding the plan is true; but that the President either conceived the idea, or did more than sanction the palpable propriety of the site, is contrary to fact. A young man had left Scotland for America before the breaking out of the war, in which he bore ultimately a commission. After his return, and when the freedom of the During the short misunderstanding with Great Britain in 1807, his plan for preserving the shipping and commerce of the States from the cruisers of France and England, by an embargo on all the porta of the Republic, was not less extraordinary than effectual.
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