Appreciation of Thomas Jefferson by his Contemporaries   

   Personal appearance and bearing   

“[Jeffers0n’s] charm of manner and conversation that passes all description—so cheerful—so unassuming—so free, and easy, and frank, and kind, and gay—that even the young, and overawed, and embarrassed visitor at once forgot his fears, and felt himself by the side of an old and familiar friend. There was no effort, no ambition in the conversation of the philosopher. It was as simple and unpretending as nature itself. And while in this easy manner he was pouring out instruction, like light from an inexhaustible solar fountain, he seemed continually to be asking, instead of giving information. The visiter felt himself lifted by the contact, into a new and nobler region of thought…being astounded, now and then, at those transcendant leaps of the mind, which he saw made without the slightest exertion…there seemed to be no end to his knowledge. He was a thorough master of every subject that was touched. From the details of the humblest mechanic art, up to the highest summit of science, he was perfectly at his ease, and, every where at home…so that he won every heart that approached him, as certainly as he astonished every mind.”William Wirt, October 10, 1826

“Let me describe to you a man, not yet forty, tall, and with a mild and pleasing countenance, but whose mind and understanding are ample substitutes for every exterior grace. An American, who without ever having quitted his own country is at once a musician, skilled in drawing, a geometrician, an astronomer, a natural philosopher, legislator, and statesman.”— Marquis de Chastellux , December 27, 1784

“no object had escaped Mr. Jefferson; and it seemed as if from his youth he had placed his mind, as he has done his house, on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.”
Marquis de Chastellux, 1780-82

“I found his first appearance serious; nay, even cold; but before I had been two hours with him, we were as intimate as if we had passed our whole lives together.” — Marquis de Chastellux, 1780-82

“Mr. Jefferson is in his person tall and slender, of a fresh complexion, clear, penetrating eyes, his hair inclining to red and of a deportment modest, affable and engaging. In early youth…he was in every Circle its ornament, instructor and pride.” – John Wood, 1802

“Mr. Jefferson was six feet two and a half inches high, well proportioned, and straight as a gun barrel. He was like a fine horse—he had no surplus flesh, lie had an iron constitution, and was very strong. He had a machine for measuring strength. There were very few men that I have seen try it, that were as strong in the arms as his son-in-law, Col. Thomas Mann Randolph; but Mr. Jefferson was stronger than he. He always enjoyed the best of health. I don’t think he was ever really sick, until his last sickness. His skin was very clear and pure—-just like he was in principle. He had blue eyes. His countenance was always mild and pleasant. You never saw it ruffled. No odds what happened, it always maintained the same expression. When I was sometimes very much fretted and disturbed, his countenance was perfectly unmoved.”– Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“When it is recollected how much the life of Jefferson has been devoted to mankind, and how useful it has been, one feels penetrated with a kind of veneration for him. But this sentiment is soon combined with that of confidence and friendship, after being a few hours in his company. It is difficult I think to find a man, whose conversation is at once more agreeable and instructive. Endowed with a memory which easily recurs to any event of his life, familiar with almost all the arts and all the sciences, his conversation easily satisfies all the wishes of a mind desirous of instruction.”– August Levasseur, 1829

“…his miscellaneous reading was truly remarkable for which he derived leisure from a methodical and indefatigable application of the time required for indespensable objects; and particularly from his rule of never letting the sun rise before him. His relish for Books never forsook him; not even in his infirm years…He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a “Walking Library”, and what can be said of but few such prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him.” – James Madison, November 4, 1826

“…a friendship was formed, which was for life, and which was never interrupted in the slightest degree for a single moment.”– James Madison, September, 1830

“…He was always very neat in his dress, wore short breeches and bright shoe buckles” –Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“Mr. Jefferson was very liberal and kind to the poor.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“Mr. Jefferson was the most industrious person I ever saw in my life.” –Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“I am now (1862) in my seventy-seventh year. I have seen a great many men in my day, but I have never seen the equal of Mr. Jefferson. He may have had the faults that he has been charged with, but if he had, I could never find it out. I don’t believe that, from his arrival to maturity to the present time, the country has ever had another such a man.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“He was an old man of eighty-six [sic] years of age, of tall stature, plain appearance, and long white hair…In conversation he was very lively, and his spirits, as also his hearing and sight, seemed not to have decreased at all with his advancing age. I found in him a man who retained his faculties remarkably well in his old age, and one would have taken him for a man of sixty.”–His Highness, Bernhard, duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach. 1825 and 1826

“In his character were admirably blended, simplicity and dignity of manners, philanthropy and integrity of heart — with an intellect acute and discriminating, grand and comprehensive.”–C. C. Cambreleng, 1826

Taken as a whole, history presents nothing so grand, so beautiful, so peculiarly felicitous in all the great points, as the life and character of Thomas Jefferson.”–Judge Dabney Carr (Jefferson’s nephew) to Nicholas Phillip Trist, July 12, 1826

“His reputation as a writer was unrivalled ; in consultation, he was ‘ prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive.”–Caleb Cushing, July 15, 1826

“His whole life was nothing but good,” said he,”it was his meat and drink, all he thought of and all he cared for, to make every body happy. Yes, the purest body.” He was sure nobody could know without loving and blessing him.”
–Joseph Dougherty (Jefferson’s servant in Washington D.C.) as related by Margaret Bayard Smith, March 31st, 1830

“…the venerable ex President presented himself and welcomed us with dignity and kindness for which he was celebrated. He was then eighty-two years old, with his intellectual powers unshaken by age; and the physical man so active, that he rode to and from Monticello and took exercise on foot with all the activity of one 20 or 30 years younger.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“he was one of the most attentive and respectful of patients. He bore suffering inflicted upon him for remedial purposes with fortitude; and in my visits shewed me by memoranda the regularity with which he had taken the prescribed remedies at the appointed times. From the very first. indeed, he kindly gave me his entire confidence and at no time wished to have anyone associated with me.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“At all times dignified and by no means easy of approach to all, he was generally communicative to those on whom he could rely; and in his own house was occasionally free in his speech even to imprudence to those of whom he did not know enough to be satisfied that an improper use might not be made of his candour.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“I had the curiosity to ask Mrs. Randolph what was the largest number of persons for whom she had been called upon unexpectedly to prepare accommodations for the night, and she replied fifty. In a country like our own, there is a curiosity to know personally those who have been called to fill the highest office in the republic; and he who has attained this eminence must have formed a number of acquaintances, who are eager to visit him in his retirement, so that when his salary as first oflicer of the state ceases, the duties belonging to it do not cease simultaneously; and I confess I have no sympathy with the feeling of economy—political or social-which denies to the Ex-President a retiring allowance, which may enable him to pass the remainder of his days in that useful and dignified hospitality which seems to be demanded by the citizens of one who has presided over them.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“Mr. Jefferson is tall, and of slender make, fresh complexion, clear penetrating eyes, hair inclining to red, and of very modest and affable deportment…In private life in his younger days (the only days which fortune seems to have allotted to him for an uninterrupted social intercourse with the world) he was, in every circle, (and all of the first were competitors for his presence) its ornament, instructor and pride.”–Alexander Stephens and Sir Richard Phillips, 1801

“In private life Mr. Jefferson displays a mild, easy and obliging temper, though he is somewhat cold and reserved. His conversation is of the most agreeable kind, and he possesses a stock of information not inferior to that of any other man. In Europe he would hold a distinguished rank among men of letters.”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancort, 1796

“…no man can be personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson and remain his personal enemy.”–Judge Patterson of the Supreme Court (and a Federalist)

“In December, 1800, a few days after Congress had for the first time met in our new Metropolis, I was one morning sitting alone in the parlour, when the servant opened the door and showed in a gentleman who wished to see my husband. The usual frankness and care with which I met strangers, were somewhat checked by the dignified and reserved air of the present visitor; but the chilled feeling was only momentary, for after taking the chair I offered him in a free and easy manner, and carelessly throwing his arm on the table near which he sat, he turned towards me a countenance beaming with an expression of benevolence and with a manner and voice almost femininely soft and gentle, entered into conversation on the commonplace topics of the day, from which, before I was conscious of it, he had drawn me into observations of a more personal and interesting nature. I know not how it was, but there was something in his manner, his countenance and voice that at once unlocked my heart, and in answer to his casual enquiries concerning our situation in our new home, as he called it, I found myself frankly telling him what I like or dislike in our present circumstances and abode. I knew not who he was, but the interest with wheich he listened to my artless details, induced the idea he was some intimate acquaintance or friend of Mr. Smith’s and put me perfectly at my ease; in truth so kind and conciliating were his looks and manners that I forgot he was not a friend of my own, until on the opening of the door, Mr. Smith entered and introduced the stranger to me as Mr. Jefferson… I had long participated in my husband’s political sentiments and anxieties, and looked upon Mr. Jefferson as the corner stone on which the edifice of republican liberty was to rest, looked upon him as the champion of human rights, the reformer of abuses, the head of the republican party, which must rise or fall with him, and on the triumph of the republican party I devoutly believed the security and welfare of my country depended….and was therefore equally awed and surprised, on discovering the stranger whose deportment was so dignified and gentlemanly, whose language was so refined, whose voice was so gentle, whose countenance was so benignant, to be not other than Thomas Jefferson…The revolution of feeling was complete and from that moment my heart warmed to him with the most affectionate interest and I implicityly believed all that his friends and my husband believed…Yes, not only was he great, but a truly good man!

…He shook hands cordially with us both when he departed, and in a manner which said as plain as words could do, “I am your friend.” – Margaret Bayard Smith, December, 1800 (written in her notebook in 1837)

“And is this,” said I, after my first interview with Mr. Jefferson, “the violent democrat, the vulgar demagogue, the bold atheist and profligate man I have so often heard denounced by the federalists? Can this man so meek and mild, yet dignified in his manners, with a voice so soft and low, with a countenance so benignant and intelligent, can he be that daring leader of a faction, that disturber of the peace, that enemy of all rank and order?” –Margaret Bayard Smith , December 1800 (written in her notebook in 1837)

“I have seen, I have listened to, one of the greatest and best of men. He has passed through the tempestuous sea of political life, has been enveloped in clouds of calumny, the storms of faction, assailed by foreign and domestic foes, and often threatened with a wreck, of happiness and fame. But these things are now all passed away, and like the mountain on which he stands, fogs and mists and storms, gather and rage below, while he enjoys unclouded sunshine. How simple and majestic is his character, my affection for him is weighed with much veneration, that, meek, humble, gentle and kind, as he is in his manners, I cannot converse with him, with ease. My mind is busied in thinking of what he is, rather than listening to what he says.”–Margaret Bayard Smith, August 1, 1809

“…there is a tranquility about him, which an inward peace could alone bestow… his countenance is so full of soul and beams with such benignity…”–Margaret Bayard Smith

“Mr. Jefferson was constitutionally calm, circumspect, and philosophic. His views were clear and comprehensive. He investigated closely and reflected much before he proceeded to action, and having marked out his course with extensive knowledge and deep thought, advanced in it with undeviating step.”–Peleg Sprague, July, 1826

“Of manners simple, affable and winning, and with an understanding penetrating and perspicacious, he had long commanded in the wide circle of his friends a respect softened by affection. Even his enemies, notwithstanding their dislike of his political opinions and actions, acknowledged their love for the man.”–Curtius (John Taylor), 1804

The favourable terms in which you speak of Mr. Jefferson gives me great pleasure: he is a man of whom I early imbibed the highest opinion.”–George Washington, May 10, 1786

“His correspondence, and excellent feeling to the last, with the elder Adams, sufliciently exhibited that differences in political sentiment did not preclude a warm appreciation of the man.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1856

“he was of commanding aspect, dignified, and would have been striking to anyone not knowing in whose presence and company he was… His examination of any subject that engaged his attention for the time was full.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, June 1, 1856

“I had the most exalted opinion of him. I believe him essentially a philanthropist, anxious for the greatest good to the greatest number, a distinguished patriot, whose love of country was not dimmed by any consideration of self; who was eminently virtuous, with fixed and honorable principles of action not to be trammelled by any unworthy consideration; and whose reputation must shine brighter and brighter, as he is more and more justly judged and estimated.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison June 1, 1856

“It would be difficult to find another political character of equal distinction…”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“we see through the lucid current of his language the beds of gold over which it flowed…”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“His correspondence, which often found its way into the newspapers, presented a beautiful image of a mind at peace with itself and the world.”– Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“…you, Sir, have likewise lost a friend who held your virtues and talents in the highest estimation!”–William Temple Franklin, April 27th, 1790

“In person he was six feet two inches high, erect and well formed, though thin ; his eyes were light, and full of intelligence; his hair very abundant, and originally of a yellowish red, though in his latter years, silvered with age. His complexion was fair and his countenance remarkably expressive; his forehead broad, the nose not larger than the common size, and the whole face square and expressive of deep thinking. In his conversation he was cheerful and enthusiastic ; and his language was remarkable for its vivacity and correctness. His manners were extremely simple and unaffected, mingled however with much native, but unobtrusive dignity.”–Henry D. Gilpin, 1828

“Mr. Jefferson, with more than Parisian politeness, waited on me at my chamber this morning.”–Senator William Maclay, 1789-1791

“I thank you very sincerely for the copy of your “Eulogium on Thomas Jefferson”. I have derived from it the peculiar pleasure which so happy a portraiture could not fail to afford one, who intimately knew and feelingly admired the genius, the learning, the devotion to public liberty, and the many private virtues which characterized the distinguished Original [Jefferson].”–James Madison, May 17, 1827

“His capacity embraced so many objects, that in city or country, alone or in company, at home or abroad, there was always something upon which it might be exercised…It could scarcely be supposed by those who did not know him, how much paper he covered with manuscript…though always occupied, he was seldom or never in a hurry. He was easy of approach; and rarely secluded himself from the visits of those who wished to see him. He kept his work so much a-head, that he could patiently hear communications at full length, and either answer them, or put them in a train for consideration. His topics of knowledge were so ample and various that he could converse agreeably on almost any subject. On those of which he had acquired the mastery, it was instructive to listen to him ; where his attainments were less, he was still a pleasing colloquist’, and if he sought information, no one knew better the art of listening and inquiring than he. His faculty of recollection was very ready ; and that which he did not instantly call to mind he knew where to go and find. I have known one of his political adversaries, during the rage of the bitterness and violence which prevailed during his administration, enter into his presence with a sentiment formed from the Opposition gazettes, as if he was going to see a fury or a monster, and return from the interview undeceived and disappointed, praising him as a wellbred and well-informed gentleman”–Samuel Latham Mitchill, October 11, 1826

“In the character of this extraordinary man, as well as in the events of his life, we are presented with a combination of philosophical attainments, and political talents, of benevolent feelings, and ambitious aspirations, rarely found united in the same individual…”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“One of the most efficient virtues, as well as chief beauties of the character of Mr. Jefferson, consisted in the simplicity of his mind, that influenced him to avoid ostentation, pomp, ceremony, and vain parade, and inclined him to give a preference to every mode of performing an action, which combined the greatest convenience, and avoided the least display.”–Stephen Simpson, 1833


“[At Mr. Madison’s inauguration] Mr. Jefferson; unattended by even a servant, undistinguished in any way from his fellow citizens. Arrived at the Capitol he dismounted and “Oh! shocking,” as many, even democrats, as well as the British minister Mr. Foster, might have exclaimed, he hitched his own horse to a post, and followed the multitude into the Hall of Representatives. Here a seat had been prepared for him near that of the new President, this he declined, and when urged by the Committee of arrangement, he replied, “This day I return to the people and my proper seat is among them.”–Margaret Bayard Smith

“…in his personal habits he was fastidiously neat; and if in his manners he was simple, affable and unceremonious, it was not because he was ignorant of, but because he despised the conventional and artificial usages of courts and fashionable life…there was a natural and quiet dignity in his demeanour…His external appearance had no pretentions to elegance, but it was neither coarse nor awkward, and it must be owned his greatest personal attraction was a countenance beaming with benevolence and intelligence… He was called even by his friends, a national man…”–Margaret Bayard Smith

“Born to an inheritance, then deemed immense, and with a decided taste for literature and science, it would not have been surprising if he had devoted himself, exclusively, to the luxury of his studies, and left the toils and the hazards of public action to others…he could no more have stood still while his country was agitated, than the war horse can sleep under the sound of the trumpet.”–William Wirt, October 9, 1826

“He was endowed with an extraordinary power of intense reflection — a spirit of profound and patient investigation — an acuteness in the discovery of truth, and a perspicuity in its developement, of which the world has witnessed but few examples…Free from all tincture of envy, hatred, or malice — he delighted in the prosperity of his companions, and in the fame, even of those, who, by the world, were considered his rivals.”–William Thornton, August 10, 1826

“[To] The president of the United States-uncontaminated by power-uninfluenced by intrigye-unsullied by slander-first elected in confidence-re-elected by experience-under whose administration our taxes and debt have been diminished and our territory and security doubled.”–Toast by a number of republicans desirous of celebrating the re-election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency of the U.S., Dean’s head tavern, Dock Street, Philadelphia, March 8, 1805

“I have had the good fortune to see the first Magistrate of this great republic living with the simplicity of a philosopher who received me with that profound kindness that makes for a lasting friendship.”–Alexander von Humboldt, June 27, 1804

“His powers of conversation were unequalled. He fascinated all who approached him, and such was the magic power he possessed over men’s minds, that whilst they were imbibing his opinions, they imagined he was advocating theirs.”–Joseph E. Sprague, August 10, 1826

   Declaration of Independence   

“Mr. Jefferson came into Congress, in June, 1775, and brought with him a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent of composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression. Though a silent member in Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees and in conversation, not even Samuel Adams was more so, that he soon seized upon my heart”–John Adams to Timothy Pickering, August 6, 1822

“you [Jefferson] can write ten times better than I can.”–John Adams to Timothy Pickering, August 6, 1822

“There was nothing equal to it, there was nothing like it in all the revolutions resembling our own… the declaration of independence is among the noblest productions of the human intellect… it embodies the eternal truths which lie at the foundation of all free governments…it is impossible even at this distant day to hear it without a thrill to the soul.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“It was from the elegant pen of Mr. Jefferson, who was first named on the committee, that this instrument proceeded, which so long as the records of time shall endure, will perpetuate the fame of its author.”–John Wood, 1802

“I was delighted with its [Declaration’s] high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose.”–John Adams, August 6, 1822

“I have long wondered that the original draught [of the Declaration] has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehement phillipic against negro slavery.”–John Adams, August 6, 1822

“…to him it was assigned to set the fortunate seal of his own genius and sensibility to that great solemn act of separation from the mother country…”–Charles Stewart Daveis, August 9, 1826

Never was public trust more ably or more satisfactorily performed. The Declaration thus produced, established the lasting fame of its author, as a scholar, a statesman, and a patriot : for its principles were sound and enlightened ; its statements forcible and clear ; its style animated, nervous, and impressive ; its tone calm, dignified and firm ; and above all, it responded in language and sentiment to the voice and feelings of the nation.–William Alexander Duer, July 31st 1826

“About seven o’clock in the evening of that day [July 3], he awoke, and seeing me standing at his bedside, exclaimed “Ah! Doctor are you still there ?” in a voice, however that was husky and indistinct. He then asked “Is it the 4th?”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1826

“Mr. Jefferson…was looked up to by the friends of reform as a sort of oracle.”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

If our hopes are realized, the Declaration of Independence will be acknowledged hereafter as the GREAT CHARTER OF HUMAN LIBERTY AND HAPPINESS.”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“To frame such a document [Declaration of Independence], was the effort of no common mind. That of Mr. Jefferson proved fully equal to the task.”–Henry D. Gilpin, 1828

…”that august assemblage [Continental Congress]; which in 1776, adopted his draft of a Declaration of Independence; a composition no less remarkable for its depth of thought, than for the clearness, dignity, and energy of its style, and which would of itself have been sufficient to render its author illustrious forever.”–August Levasseur, 1829

“His life, his fortune, and his sacred honour, were pledged to support the independence of America — and he most faithfully redeemed the pledge.”–Henry Potter, July 20, 1826

“…with herculean vigour, he shook to fragments the mighty pillars of the British constitution, causing the throne to tremble, and the brightest jewel in the diadem of the British king to fall from his brow: there is something in the achievement, at once so simple in its progress and yet so sublime in its effects, as to cause an involuntary emotion of astonishment at the daring of the attempt, as well as the power required for its performance…”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“His distinction as a writer, his fine acquirements, his zealous patriotism, the active part which he had taken in arousing the country to the present feeling, all marked Mr. Jefferson for the author of the great Charter of our Liberties, the Declaration of our Independence. Immortal man! thou hast indissolubly united thine and thy country’s honor! Thy fame is so closely interwoven with her’s, that she cherishes it as her own ! … The name of its immortal author —of our beloved Jefferson, shall go down with it to posterity, and become familiar to future generations as the great benefactor of mankind.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 20, 1826

“To him is justly due the merit of preparing a paper, which has elevated the national character, and furnished a perpetual source of instruction and delight.”–Sheldon Smith, July 22, 1826

“The Declaration is his draft, without material alteration ; and this charter of our liberties, which announces to the world the commencement of the American era, will wreathe his brow with imperishable lustre.”–Joseph E. Sprague, August 10, 1826

“Among [portions of the Declaration] was a most eloquent and impressive invective against the king, for having introduced negro slavery into the Colonies, and still continuing the slave trade ; which Mr. Jefferson’s friends would not permit to remain, but they could not deprive him of the honor of having proposed it.”–Peleg Sprague, July, 1826

“In 1774, he appeared as an author. The elegance of his periods, the boldness of his conceptions, and his zeal for his country, commanded universal admiration.”–William Staughton, July 16, 1826

“Hence, to the pen of a Jefferson is the world indebted for that master-piece of human skill.”–William Thornton, August 10, 1826

“…this Native of Virginia, rising above the prejudices that surrounded him, and generously alive to the sufferings of man, of whatever complexion, under what ever pretext, was the first known writer in the English language who denounced the African Slave trade as a piratical warfare against human nature: and by inserting the sentiment in the Declaration of Independence, he would have sanctioned it among the original principles of our government.”–Joseph L. Tilinghast, July 17, 1826

“…how transcendantly bright was that halo of glory by which he was surrounded on the Fourth of July, 1776!–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“[The Declaration] was drawn by the elegant and energetic pen of Jefferson, with that correct judgment, precision, and dignity, which have ever marked his character…The declaration of independence, which has done so much honor to the then existing congress, to the inhabitants of the United States, and to the genius and heart of the gentleman who drew it, in the belief, and under the awe, of the Divine Providence, ought to be frequently read by the rising youth of the American states, as a palladium of which they should never lose sight, so long as they wish to continue a free and independent people.”–Mercy Otis Warren, 1805

“…he so discharged the duty assigned him, that all Americans may well rejoice that the work of drawing the title-deed of their liberties devolved upon him.”–Daniel Webster, August 2, 1826

“It was he who was charged with drawing up this masterpiece [Declaration] of dignified wisdom and patriotic pride.”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancourt, 1796

   Continental Congress   

“This [A Summary View of the Rights of British America] was the first work of Jefferson, then a youth of twenty-one years [thirty-one] of age, and is so characteristic of its author, that it contains all the germs of those principles and modes of thought and even of expression which his subsequent life developed and matured… But its most striking peculiarity is its general tone and spirit, which make it the natural precursor of the declaration of independence.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“They found him fearless in temper, fertile in resources, prompt in pouring out the stores of his accumulated knowledge, and, though indisposed for public speaking, distinguished above them all for the energy of style in which he could convey his and their own strong conceptions.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“He came into Congress on the eve of independence, with a distinguished reputation for the power of his pen, the purity and vigour of his patriotism. His alacrity, ingenuousness, decisiveness, at once seized upon all hearts, and inspired entire confidence.”–Charles Stewart Daveis, August 9, 1826

“He appeared in that august body with the character of an able writer, a profound politician — whose whole soul was devoted to the cause of his country.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 20, 1826

“He soon acquired a great reputation in that august assemblage [Continental Congress]…”–August Levasseur, 1829

“In this Congress [Continental Congress] he sustained a character which will stand dignified to the end of time.”–Alexander Stephens and Sir Richard Phillips, 1801

“in the famous congress…he displayed a boldness and firmness of character, a fund of talents and knowledge, and a steadiness of principles, which will hand down his name to posterity with glory, and ensure to him for ever the respect and gratitude of all friends of liberty…”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancourt, 1796


“He always knew all about every thing in every part of his grounds and garden. He knew the name of every tree, and just where one was dead or missing.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“How often I have seen him walking over these grounds, and his grandchildren following after him as happy as they could be.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“I have rode over the plantation, I reckon, a thousand times with Mr. Jefferson, and when he was not talking he was nearly always humming some tune, or sing-ins: in a low tone to himself.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“…he was sought out in his retirement by strangers from every foreign nation, who had heard of and admired him ; and by the natives of every corner of his own country, who looked upon him as their guide, philosopher, and friend. His home was accordingly the abode of hospitality, and the seat of dignified retirement.”–Henry D. Gilpin 1828

“There, on the top of a hill, which far overlooks a smiling and fertile valley, under a simple roof raised with good taste under his direction, and, so to speak, his own hands, amidst his children and grand children, by whom he is idolized, he still devotes all his time and powers to the improvement and happiness of his fellow men… it was always open, not only to a great number of visitants from its environs, but also to all foreign travellers, who are attracted by curiosity or by the very natural desire of seeing the sage of Monticello.”–August Levasseur, 1829

“Monticello, according to its first plan, was infinitely superior to all other houses in America, in point of taste and convenience…”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancourt, 1796

“…his superior mind directs the management of his domestic concerns with the same abilities, activity, and regularity, which he evinced in the conduct of public affairs, and which he is calculated to display in every situation of life.”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancort, 1796

‘The great lama [Jefferson] of the mountains.”–John Marshall to Joseph Story, September 18, 1821

“Mr. Jefferson is the first American who had consulted the fine arts to know how he should shelter himself from the weather.”–Marquis de Chastellux, 1780-82

“I looked upon him as he walked, the top of this mountain, as a being elevated above the mass of mankind, as much in character as he was in local situation…He had been a faithful labourer in the harvest field of life, his labours were crowned with success, and he had reaped a rich harvest of fame and wealth and honor…In him I perceive no decay of mind or debility of frame and to all the wisdom and experience of age, he adds the enthusiasm and ardour of youth…If full occupation of mind, heart and hands, is happiness, surely he is happy. The sun never sees him in bed, and his mind designs more than the day can fulfil, even his long day. The conversation of the morning, the letters I had read, and the idea that this was the last day I was to spend in his society, the last time I was ever to see him, filled my heart with sadness. I could scarcely look at or speak to him without tears.”–Margaret Bayard Smith

“Monticello shall catch the eye of the way-farer and arrest his course. — There shall he draw the inspirations of liberty, and learn those great truths which nature destined him to know.”–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“My thoughts dwell often in Monticello and it is then that I picture the statesman, who established the welfare of an entire continent, among his magnolia trees. Tears come to my eyes when i imagine the most virtuous of men living in such happiness. How worth while it must be, Sir, to live in the society of enterprising citizens, active for the sake of liberty which you have achieved and preserved.”–Alexander von Humboldt, September 23, 1810

“From this summit [Monticello], the patriot could look down, with uninterrupted vision, upon the wide expanse of the world around, for which he considered himself born; and upward, to the open and vaulted Heavens which he seemed to approach, as if to keep him continually in mind of his high responsibility…It is a scene fit to nourish those great and high-souled principles which formed the elements of his character, and was a most noble and appropriate post, for such a sentinel, over the rights and liberties of man.”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826


“Mr. Jefferson was perfectly devoted to his grandchildren, and they to him. They delighted to follow him about over the grounds and garden, and he took great pleasure in talking with them, and giving them advice, and directing their sports”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“To me he has been more than a father, and I have ever loved and revered him with my whole heart.”–Judge Dabney Carr (Jefferson’s nephew) to Nicholas Phillip Trist, July 12, 1826

“It was impossible for anyone to be more amiable in his domestic relations; and it was delightful to observe the devoted and respectful attention that was paid him by all the family. In the neighborhood too he was greatly revered.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, published 1963

“He was kind, courteous, hospitable to all; sincerely attached to the excellent family that were clustered around him; sympathizing with them in their pleasures; deeply distressed in their afliictions.”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, June 1, 1856

“Mr. Jefferson’s philosophic turn of mind, his love of study, his excellent library, which supplies him with the means of satisfying it, and his friends, friends, will undoubtedly help him to endure this loss [death of his daughter, Mary or “Maria” known as Polly]…”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancort, 1796

“The children ran to him and immediately proposed a race; we seated ourselves on the steps of the Portico, and he after placing the children according to their size one before the other, gave the word for starting and away they flew; the course round this back lawn was a qr. of a mile, the little girls were much tired by the time they returned to the spot from which they started and came panting and out of breath to throw themselves into their grandfather’s arms, which were opened to receive them; he pressed them to his bosom and rewarded them with a kiss; he was sitting on the grass and they sat down by him, untill they were rested; then they again wished to set off; he thought it too long a course for little Mary and proposed running on the terrace…They now called on him to run with them, he did not long resist and seemed delighted in delighting them. Oh ye whose envenomed calumny has painted him as the slave of the vilest passions, come here and contemplate this scene! The simplicity, the gaiety, the modesty and gentleness of a child, united to all that is great and venerable in the human character. His life is the best refutation of the calumnies that have been heaped upon him and it seems to me impossible, for any one personally to know him and remain his enemy.”–Margaret Bayard Smith

“His grand-children would steal to his side, while he was conversing with his friends, and climb his knee, or lean against his shoulder, and he without interrupting the flow of conversation would quietly caress them…”–Margaret Bayard Smith

   Slaves and Slavery   

“I was delighted with its [Declaration of Independence) high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose.”–John Adams to Timothy Pickering, August 6, 1822

“I have long wondered that the original draught [Declaration of Independence] has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehement phillipic against negro slavery.”–John Adams to Timothy Pickering, August 6, 1822

“[In the Declaration] a passage on the slave trade, eminently beautiful in itself, was retrenched by the severer judgment of congress, as calculated to excite unnecessary irritation in the south”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“His plan for their gradual emancipation was this : — All slaves born after the establishment of the law were to be free, to continue with their parents until a certain age, then to be brought up to useful callings at the public expense until the age of eighteen for females, and twenty-one for males, when they were to be sent with implements of war and husbandry to some colony, where they should be protected until able to defend themselves. In the same spirit, the [Virginia] constitution which he prepared in 1783 contained a provision against the introduction of slaves, and for the emancipation of all born after the year 1800. To estimate the merit of these enlightened views, it is not sufficient to remember that they were proposed in the bosom of a slave population by a statesman whose fortunes were to be affected by them

“Mr. Jefferson was always very kind and indulgent to his servants… He could not bear to have a servant whipped, no odds how much he deserved it.” –Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“Mr. Jefferson freed a number of his servants in his will. I think he would have freed all of them, if his affairs had not been so much involved that he could not do it. He freed one girl some years before he died, and there was a great deal of talk about it. She was nearly as white as anybody, and very beautiful. People said he freed her because she was his own daughter. She was not his daughter; she was ……’s daughter. I know that. I have seen him come out of her mother’s room many a morning, when I went up to Monticello very early. “When she was nearly grown, by Mr. Jefferson’s direction I paid her stage fare to Philadelphia, and gave her fifty dollars.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“No servants ever had a kinder master than Mr. Jefferson’s. He did not like slavery.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“To his humane and just principles are we indebted for the measure prohibiting the importation of slaves.”–C. Cambreleng, 1826

It was his principle (I knew that of my own knowledge) to allow such of his slaves as were sufficiently white to pass for white men, to withdraw quietly from the plantation; it was called running away, but they were never reclaimed. I remember four instances of this, three young men and one girl, who walked away and staid away—Their whereabouts was perfectly known but they were left to themselves—for they were white enough to pass for white.–Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, 24 October 1858

“He interested himself with all his heart for the relief of one unfortunate race, and the redemption of the other… His generous indignation upon this subject undoubtedly transported him to an excessive degree ; and the spirit of atonement towards that most injured class was probably carried by him to an extent, not surpassed by any follower of William Penn.”–Charles Stewart Daveis, August 9, 1826

“His negroes are nourished, clothed, and treated as well as white servants could be.”–Duke de La Rochefoucault Liancort, 1796

“The object of Mr. Jefferson, through life, was, therefore, as I have said, to increase and extend the influence of the great principle of Liberty, to which he had attached his faith, and which formed, as it were, his religion. In his first effort, when still a mere youth, he moved, as a Representative in the General Assembly of Virginia, the immediate emancipation of all the slaves…”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“The youth who could stand up in an assembly of slave-holding planters, with a proposal for immediate emancipation, the idea of which even now and in the free States curdles the blood of every judicious friend of humanity, was no selfish calculator, and, I may boldly say, could never have become one…”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“Jefferson was an ideal master. He was a democrat in practice as well as theory, was opposed to the slave trade, tried to keep it out o the Territories beyond the Ohio River and was in favor of freeing the slaves in Virginia. In 1787 he introduced that famous “Jefferson proviso” in congress, prohibiting slavery in all the Northwestern Territory comprising the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.”–Rev. Peter F. Fosset (Jefferson’s former slave), February 12, 1898

“As a master Jefferson was kind and indulgent. Under his management the slaves were seldom punished except for stealing and fighting. They were tried for any offense as at a court and allowed to make their own defense.”–Rev. Peter F. Fosset (Jefferson’s former slave), February 12, 1898

“Born and reared as free, not knowing that I was a slave, then suddenly at the death of Jefferson, put upon an auction block and sold to strangers. I then commenced an eventful life.”–Rev. Peter F. Fosset (Jefferson’s former slave), February 12, 1898

“…Mr. Jefferson allowed his grandson to teach any of his slaves who desired to learn, and Lewis Randolph first taught me how to read…Being with and coming from such a family as Mr. Jefferson’s, I knew more than they [Col. Jones’family] did about many things.”–Rev. Peter F. Fosset (Jefferson’s former slave), February 12, 1898

“The good condition and gaiety of the negroes at Monticello, would attest all that could be desired of the humanity of their master, if so noble a character needed attestation. All with whom I conversed assured me they were perfectly happy, that they were subject to no ill-treatment, that their tasks were very easy, and that they cultivated the lands of Monticello with the greater pleasure, because they were almost sure of not being torn away from them, to be transported elsewhere, so long as Mr. Jefferson lived.”–August Levasseur, 1829

While here [House of Burgesses, 1769], he made one strenuous but fruitless effort for the emancipation of the slaves: so early had a love of liberty and a detestation of tyranny been imprinted on his mind…The share of Mr. Jefferson in this great task was prominent and laborious. To him Virginia is indebted for the laws prohibiting the future importation of slaves.”–William Linn, 1834

“To his slaves he was an indulgent master, always sacrificing his own interests to their comforts.”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“…his [Jefferson’s] noblest effort, though unsuccessful, has been for the emancipation of slaves, and the abolition of this standing reproach to our country and human nature. Had his measures been successful, instead of numbering slaves by millions, they would now be reduced to a few thousands.”–Joseph E. Sprague, August 10, 1826

“In the same legislature, fifteen years before a voice had been raised in condemnation even of the slave trade his great and humane mind went so far beyond the age, as to lead him to make a proposition for the gradual extinction of domestic slavery.”–George Tucker, 1838

   University of Virginia   

“The University of Virginia, as a temple dedicated to Science & Liberty, was after his retirement from the political sphere, the object nearest his heart, and so continued to the close of his life. His devotion to it was intense, and his exertions unceasing. It bears the stamp of his genius, and will be a noble monument of his fame…For all the fine arts, he had a more than common taste; and in that of Artichecture, which he studied both in its useful, and its ornamental characters, he made himself an adept…”–James Madison, November 4, 1826

“There was no employment whatever in which he could have found such agreeable occupation, as in thus carrying into execution the long cherished schemes of his patriotism—in providing for the education of the youth of the country, and, at the same time, gratifying his taste, or rather his passion for architecture”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“[Jefferson] may be pronounced the ” auc” tor, promotor, et perfector Operis;” the man without whom, the undertaking [University of Virginia] would never have been begun, or, if commenced, would have incurred a failure.”–Samuel Latham Mitchill, October 11, 182

“Jefferson’s name is a synonyme of the University of Virginia…”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“I turned the conversation to subject of the university; he entertained very sanguine hopes as to the flourishing state of the university in the future, and believed that it, and the Harvard University near Boston, would in a very short time be the only institutions, where the youth of the United States would receive a truly classical and solid education.”—His Highness, Bernhard, duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach. 1825 and 1826

“…of all the services which he had rendered his country or State, he seemed to dwell upon none with more enthusiastic delight, than upon those connected with the University of Virginia… No man better knew than Mr. Jefferson the incalculable advantages of education. “–William Thornton, August 10, 1826

“This venerable statesman and philosopher, who had helped to lay the foundation of a mighty nation, thought the work but half accomplished, till the best means of education were made accessible to his countrymen.”–John A. Shaw, August 2, 1826

“It will be [University of Virginia], we may fondly hope, the perpetual nursery of those great principles which it was the businesss of his life to inculcate.”–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“This [University of Virginia] was the last and crowning labor of Mr. Jefferson’s life: a crown so poetically appropriate, that fancy might well suppose it to have been wreathed and placed on his brow by the hand of the epic muse herself.”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826

“He was fond of architecture and anxious that the Rotunda and the different pavilions should present specimens of the various orders…”–Dr. Robley Dunglison, 1824

“The last act of his life was the establishment of the University of Virginia, of which he was Rector. History affords no example of a private individual, by the force of his influence, having commenced and carried so near to perfection such an establishment. Such, fellow-citizens, was Thomas Jefferson, the statesman, the philosopher, and the patriot, the friend of his own country, and the benefactor of mankind.”–Joseph E. Sprague, August 10, 1826


“His kindness and hospitality, the charm of his conversation, the ease of his manners, the extent of his acquirements, and, especially, the full store of Revolutionary incidents which he had treasured in his memory, and which he knew when and how to dispense, rendered his abode in a high degree attractive to his admiring countrymen, while his high public and scientific character drew towards him every intelligent and educated traveller from abroad.”–Daniel Webster, August 2, 1826

“After Mr. Jefferson returned from “Washington, he was for years crowded with visitors, and they almost ate him out of house and home.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“He had a taste for the fine arts, and highly approved my intention of preparing myself for the accomplishment of a national work. He encouraged me to persevere in this pursuit, and kindly invited me to come to Paris, to see and study the fine works there, and to make his house my home, during my stay.”–John Trumbull

“One great reason why Mr. Jefferson built his house at Poplar Forest, in Bedford County, was that he might go there in the summer to get rid of entertaining so much company. He knew that it more than used up all his income from the plantation and every thing else, but he was so kind and polite that he received all his visitors with a smile, and made them welcome.”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

   Louisiana Purchase   

“The ordinary additions of territory among nations come in the train of conquest and are yielded with reluctance and humiliation. It was reserved for Jefierson by a simple act of honest policy, too distinguished for its rarity, by a negotiation destitute of all the common attractions of successful artifice or violence, to double the extent and to secure the tranquillity of his country.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“The crisis was over; the great event was consummated. Louisiana was acquired; the navigation of the Mississippi secured; the prosperity of the West established forever. The glory of Jefferson was complete. He had found the Mississippi the boundary, and he made it the centre of the Republic. He reunited the two halves of the Great Valley, and laid the foundation for the largest empire of freemen that Time or Earth ever beheld. He planted the seed of imperishable gratitude in the hearts of myriads of generations who shall people the banks of the Father of Floods, and raise the votive altar, and erect the monumental statue, to the memory of him who was the instrument of God in the accomplishment of so great a work.”–Thomas Hart Benton, January 12, 1803

“the most original and felicitous measure of Mr. Jefferson’s administration…was the purchase of Louisiana… the name of Jefferson shall flow, with the music of the vesper hymn, along the lovely valley of the Mississippi “–Charles Stewart Daveis, August 9, 1826

“…if Jefferson had been a great military commander, fond of the pomp, pride, and circumstance of war, Louisiana might not have been ours to this day.”–Samuel L. Knapp, August 2, 1826

“The purchase of Louisiana has passed the ordeal of severe party censure, yet the history of ancient and modern times, does not record an act of higher political wisdom…In a political view the advantages derived from this purchase transcend the conceptions of the boldest calculator.”–Gideon Granger, 1809

“…we called the SW fork that which we meant to ascend Jefferson’s River in honor of that illustrious personage Thomas Jefferson the author of our enterprize…and called the bold rapid and clear stream Wisdom 1 and the more mild and placid one which flows in from the SE Philanthrophy in commemoration of two of those cardinal virtues which have so eminently marked that deservedly selibrated character through life.”–Meriwether Lewis, July 28, 1805

“…the acquisition of Louisiana…he has thereby placed himself before the world as one of the most substantial promoters of statistical, natural, and physical science.”–Samuel Latham Mitchill, October 11, 1826

“…the purchase of Louisiana. He seized the lucky moment for its acquisition, which, had it been neglected, would never again have occurred. Had Mr. Jefferson done no other act, this great stroke of policy would have handed down his name to posterity as a great benefactor of his country.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 20, 1826

“Next to the liberty of his country, peace is certainly the dearest to his heart. How glad then must that heart be which with loving participancy in obtaining and securing the one, has placed the other on an impregnable basis. This mighty event [Louisiana Purchase] forms an era in our history, and of itself must render the administration of Jefferson immortal.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 5, 1803

“The acquisition of Louisiana is the most important measure since we became a nation. It would alone perpetuate the fame of any administration.”–Joseph E. Sprague, August 10, 1826

“Witness the purchase of Louisiana ; the greatest political event next to our revolution that our history will ever commemorate ; a bloodless conquest of a country exceeding in extent the greatest monarchy in Europe”–William Johnson, 1826

   Notes on the State of Virginia   

“I thank you kindly for your Book [Notes on the State of Virginia]. It is our Meditation all the Day long. I cannot now say much about it, but I think it will do its Author and his Country great Honour. The Passages upon Slavery, are worth Diamonds. They will have more effect than Volumes written by mere Philosophers.”– John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, May 22, 1785

“Constitutions, laws, the nature and consequences of domestic slavery, are all discussed with an impartiality which displays the independent spirit of the writer… It is difficult not to admire the perfectly respectful and modest tone in which he ventures to differ from the greatest naturalist of his day.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“In short, he may be considered as having obtained a glorious triumph over the prepossession and prejudice he combats.”–Samuel Latham Mitchell, October 11, 1826

“Before I conclude I must acknowledge the Pleasure which I have received in reading your Notes on Virginia. They do credit to your Understanding and your Heart.”–Edward Rutledge, October 14, 1786

“If Mr. Jefferson’s assertions are correct [in Notes on the State of Virginia], it is better to run the risque of national extinction, by liberating and fighting the blacks, than to live abhorred of God, and consequently hated of man. If they are erroneous, they ought not to be admitted as arguments for the emancipating policy.”–John Taylor, 1818

“The Notes on Virginia, honored its author abroad not less than at home”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826


“My mother has told me that on the day of her sister’s death, she left her father alone for some hours. He then sent for her, and she found him with the Bible in his hands. He who has been so often and so harshly accused of unbelief, he, in his hour of intense affliction, sought and found consolation in the sacred volume. The comforter was there for his true heart and devout spirit, even though his faith might not be what the world calls orthodox.”–Ellen Randolph Coolidge to Henry S. Randall, Boston, 5 January, 1856

“No two men in this, or any other country, have done so much for religious freedom as Adams and Jefferson—and, without this, all liberty is a mockery…Their characters should be traced on the walls of the house of God, and written on monuments of stone.”–Samuel L. Knapp, August 2, 1826

“The world is indebted to Mr. Jefferson for an argument, condensed into a law, and recorded for the use of posterity in the statute book of Virginia, which political atheism has never yet adventured to face [Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom].”–John C. Taylor, 1814

“I hesitate not to affirm that Mr. Jefferson is the man to whom the friends of religious society are more indebted than to any other in the United States..”–Samuel Knox, 1800

“Besides the great concern of civil liberty, his thoughts were bent upon the establishment of perfect liberty in the affairs of religion…”–Joseph Tillinghast, July 17, 1826

“Now if he was an atheist, what did he want with all those religious books, and why did he spend so much of his time reading his Bible ?”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“The animosity of Jefferson towards every thing in any manner connected with kingcraft, or priestcraft, was one of the ruling passions of his mind, that never suffered change, or underwent mitigation.”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“Mr. Jefferson was a decided enemy to religious intolerance —a champion for the inviolable rights of conscience. His correct feelings on this subject, revolted at the idea of the incorporation of Religion with Civil Government.”–William Staughton, July 16, 1826

“He who had so much contributed to the unbinding of the hands of his countrymen, would have left his work unfinished if he had not also unfettered their consciences.”–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“The preamble to the bill establishing religious freedom in Virginia, is one of the most morally sublime of human productions.”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826

“The internal divinity existed and was felt, though concealed under the finely harmonized form of the man.”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826

“His lofty and independent genius indited the preamble of that act which extinguished dominant religious establishments in the United States, forever…This act has justly procured for him the applause of the world. His argument is unanswerable, and the sentiment, and language will serve as a standard of excellence…remember with gratitude that we owe our religious freedom principally to Thomas Jefferson.”–Henry Potter, July 20, 1826

   Spreading Light   

“Mr. Jefferson didn’t care about making money from his imported stock. His great object was to get it widely scattered over the country…”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“He was always anxious to benefit the community as much as possible,”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“…He was very fond of vegetables and fruit, and raised every variety of them. He was very ingenious. He invented a plough that was considered a great improvement on any that had ever been used. He got a great many premiums and medals for it. He planned his own carriage, buildings, garden, fences, and a good many other things. He was nearly always busy upon some plan or model”–Captain Edmund Bacon to Rev. Hamilton W. Pierson

“Mr. Jefferson was communicative, free and generous in his disposition, and fascinating in his manners…he had the power of stamping his own impressions upon minds beyond any statesmen of the age in which he lived…”–Samuel L. Knapp, 1830

“I know and highly respect the great abilities of Mr. Jefferson.-Providence has, for the happiness of mankind, accompanied those abilities with a disposition to make use of them for the good of his fellow beings.”–Judge Pendleton, 1800

“The memory of Thomas Jefferson: He fell on the anniversary of his political meridian, and (like a falling star,) has left a train of light behind to guide the benighted pilgrim in pursuit of ” his long-lost liberty.”–Third toast proposed by 87 gentlemen at a public dinner at the Eagle Hotel, Charlottesville in Albemarle County, VA honoring William C. Rives, 19 ____, 1834

“You are so great a Friend to the Dignity of Man and so thoroughly convinced of its being nearly connected with an agricultural Life, that you must be pleased to hear how extensively your Countrymen have turned their Minds to rural Affairs.”–Edward Rutledge, October 14, 1786

“The talents of Mr. Jefferson were too prominent to be concealed; he rose like the etherial sun.”–William Staughton, July 16, 1826

“He has erected for himself a monument broader and more imperishable than the largest of Egypt’s kings. The Vandals of criticism cannot break it, nor stain its whiteness. It is in the hearts of millions of grateful people. His fame stands identified with the institutions of our country, and should they be destined to overshadow the earth, it will be coextensive. The grandeur of his genius is for ever blended with the majesty of that period in the history of the human mind, when the great truth of man’s capacity for self government was first discovered.”–George Tucker, 1838

“[no name is more indissolubly connected] than is that of Thomas Jefferson, with the proudest epoch in the history of human reason and human action. It stands, giving and taking light.”–George Tucker, 1838

“The devoted friend of man, he had studied his rights in the great volume of nature, and saw with rapture the era near at hand, when those rights should be proclaimed, and the world aroused from the slumber of centuries.”–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“…when the fires of Liberty shall be kindled on every hill and shall blaze in every valley, shall not the name of Jefferson be pronounced by every lip, and written on every heart ?”–John Tyler, July 11, 1826

“…my high admiration for your writings, your actions, and the liberalism of your ideas, which have inspired me from my earliest youth.”–Alexander von Humboldt, May 24, 1804

“Mr. Jefferson [in his writing], flowing with easy and careless melody, the language at the same time pruned of every redundant word, and giving the thought with the happiest precision, the aptest words dropping unbidden and unsought into their places, as if they had fallen from the skies; and so beautiful, so felicitious, as to fill the mind with a succession of delightful surprises…”–William Wirt, October 10, 1826

“This twig of my gratefulness towards Thomas Jefferson, I dedicate to my friend, whose extensive learning, and sound judgment, are adorned by a commanding genius…”–Edward L. Sears

   Library of Congress   

“…the whole nation knows how the destruction of the Congressional library at the Capitol by an incendiary enemy was repaired by the purchase of his rich and diversified collection. If his function in Europe had been confined to the accumulation of so much intellectual treasure, both the present and future generations ought to be thankful.”–Samuel Latham Mitchill, October 11, 1826

“It [Jefferson’s library] will prove a gain to them [Congress], if they have the wisdom to replace it by such a Collection as yours”–James Madison, October 10, 1814

   Service to his country   

“Our country is largely indebted to the illustrious Jefferson, for having guided its councils in peace, and for having administered its government upon constitutional principles ..He watched the growth of power with a jealous eye, and arrested its tide at the first flood..He retired from the councils of the nation with his principles unchanged — power could not corrupt the man — nor its selfish sophistries seduce the philosopher and statesman — he retired from public life with the same confidence in the people, the same jealousy of power and the same reverence for the constitution.”–C. Cambreleng, 1826

“as Mr. Jefferson has don so much for his Country and Particularly for his own state it appears to me that such a work [statue of Jefferson] would be very acceptable and in fact the apex of respect and gratitude for so much time, talent, and Virtue that has bestowed on the People of this Nation.”–William J. Coffee, 25 Jan. 1825

“To Jefferson’s wisdom must we, of the old confederation, attribute the security of our frontiers ; and him the cultivated millions of the West may bless, for the free privileges and prosperity they enjoy.”–Caleb Cushing, July 15, 1826

“The great value of the public services of Mr. Jefferson is generally acknowledged, but the full extent and variety of them can hardly be appreciated, except by those who have studied with some attention the course of his life.”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“He looked right onward, into the broad path of public duty; and if, in his way, he met the terrors of State collision and conflict, he was in no degree intimidated.”–Mr. Frelinghuysen, April 9, 1930

“In the account which Mr. Jefferson has given of this revisal of the laws of Virginia, he has, with the modesty of true greatness, suppressed every word which could indicate his own participation in an employment so highly honourable…Virginia owes to his enlightened mind alone, the most important and beneficial changes in her code. The laws forbidding the future importation of slaves; converting estates tail into fees simple; annulling the rights of primogeniture; establishing schools for general education; sanctioning the right of expatriation; and confirming the rights of freedom in religious opinion, were all introduced by him…”–Henry D. Gilpin, 1828

“Happy, in the possession of a citizen to whom, under God, America is principally indebted for that share of political well-being she now enjoys¾Jefferson, mild amiable, and philanthropic, refined in manners as enlightened in mind, the philosopher of the world, whose name adds lustre to our national character, and as a legislator and statesman, stands second to none…”–John Beckley, Address to the People of the United States; with an Epitome and Vindication of the Public Life and Character of THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1800

“…the talents of Mr. Jefferson became the property of his country… Not an improvement in agriculture, not an animal of value, not an article of cultivation came to his knowledge, that he did not seek to bestow upon his own country… It required a mind like Jefferson’s to bring home to us that kind of information which is acquired only by close and discriminating scrutiny.”–William Johnson, 1826

“…those political ties which bind together the republicans of the north and of the south, the east, and the west, and are consecrated by the recollection of times and events, dear to the democracy of the nation, which triumphed in the election and prospered under the administration of the illustrious Jefferson.”–New York Legislators, 1824

“He developed and modelled the genius and character of our free institutions, and gave practical illustrations and permanence to our republican government and principles ; and in the fulness of his benevolent heart he said ” all are Federalists, all are Republicans.”–Henry Potter, July 20, 1826

“[Jefferson] whose name is one of the brightest in the revolutionary galaxy.”–William Linn, 1834

“A mind thus elevated above the ordinary employments of its species is little susceptible of the dirty influence of party policy…When we find a man in recess from public duty, capable of exploring the wilds of nature, the connections of the human species, and the ancient intercourse of long lost nations with each other; when we find him attentive to painting, to literature and the fine arts, to the purity of metals, to the improvement of optics, of transposition by fac simile, and of science in general, we must allow him a grade above the tools of faction, admit him to a higher seat of dignity than the mere modeller of a national treaty about tobacco and rice and allow him fitting qualifications for the presidential chair of a new country which stands in need of expansive talents.”–Alexander Stephens and Sir Richard Phillips, 1801

“It was fortunate for the country and the cause, that we had Jefferson to move in the cabinet, and Washington to organize the field!”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“…the moral force of his character as a statesman, a man of science, a philosopher, and a sage, elevated the reputation of his country…”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“The Presidency could add nothing to the inherent greatness of Jefferson, but the genius of Jefferson ennobled with lustre the chair that had been consecrated to renown, by the virtues and greatness of Washington.”–Stepehen Simpson, 1833

“It required the bold and original genius of Jefferson, to break down a hierarchy supported upon the deep-rooted and strongest prejudices of man.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 20, 1826

“Your diplomats have shrunk before the reasonings of Jefferson”–T.C. (Tench Coxe or Thomas Cooper)

“What a fascinating example you have given of your energies, graciousness and depth of your tender affections, and what moderation and equanimity you have shown in the exalted position as magistrate of a powerful nation!”–Alexander von Humboldt, June 12, 1809

“Assembled in this holy temple, dedicated to the service of our god, let us fervently invoke his prescient spirit, so to consecrate this day [Jefferson’s Inauguration], and the purpose for which we are assembled, that the glad effusion of a nation’s joy may ascend in grateful orisons to the throne of heaven, and receive the approbation and blessing of the supreme ruler of the universe.”–John Beckley, March 4, 1801

“Mr. Jefferson’s discharge of his diplomatic duties was marked by great ability, diligence, and patriotism; and while he resided at Paris, in one of the most interesting periods, his character for intelligence, his love of knowledge and of the society of learned men, p. 48 distinguished him in the highest circles of the French capital. No court in Europe had at that time in Paris a representative commanding or enjoying higher regard, for political knowledge or for general attainments, than the minister of this then infant republic.”–Daniel Webster, August 2, 1826

“They [Adams and Jefferson] were not men made great by office ; but great men, on whom the country for its own benefit had conferred office.”–Daniel Webster, August 2, 1826

“He loved his own country with a passion not less intense, deep, and holy, than that of his great compatriot…He had all the attributes of the mind, and the heart and the soul, which are essential to eloquence of the highest order.”–William Wirt, October 19, 1826

“the polar star of his conduct was his country’s good…”–William Johnson, 1826

“The opinion universally entertained of the extraordinary abilities of Thos. Jefferson and the signal evidences lately given by his country of a profound sense of his patriotic services…”–James Madison, August, 1826

   Service to Humanity   

“the life of Jefferson was a perpetual devotion, not to his own purposes, but to the pure and noble cause of public freedom. From the first dawning of his youth his undivided heart was given to the establishment of free principles — free institutions—freedom in all its varieties of untrammeled thought and independent action. His whole life was consecrated to the improvement and happiness of his fellow men…”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

Among his contemporaries no one was more early or more deeply imbued with the spirit of his age, and few have contributed more to its diffusion.”–Nicholas Biddle, April 11, 1827

“The important services for which we are indebted to Mr. Jefferson, from the days of his youth, when he drew upon himself the resentment of Dunmore, to the present time, when, at the close of a long life, he is laboring to enlighten the nation which he has contributed to make free, place him in the highest rank of national benefactors, and eminently entitle him to the character of the people’s friend. “–Joseph C. Cabell and conference of citizens in Lovingston, June 26, 1826.

“he is the unquestioned ornament of his country… His services are written in the hearts of a grateful people… they entitle him to “the fairest page of faithful history;” and will be remembered as long as liberty and science are respected on earth.”–Joseph C. Cabell and conference of citizens in Lovingston, June 26, 1826

“the name of Jefferson will be known as the benefactor of the human race.”–C. Cambreleng, 1826

“a philosopher, in voluntary retirement from the world, and public business, because he loves the world; and the minds of his countrymen are not yet in a condition either to bear the light, or to suffer contradiction.”
–Marquis de Chastellux, 1780-82

“In the course of a Long, Honourable, and useful Life, your love for Mankind and their Rights, your Wisdom to discern, firmness to pursue, and solicitude to promote the true interests of the American Nation, have been eminently conspicuous… WE PRAY ALMIGHTY GOD, to prosper your administration, & extend to a Life so valuable, the particular patronage of HEAVEN.”–House of Representatives of the Mississippi Territory, January 20th, A. D. 1802

“…Jefferson’s was the unequalled skill, which embodied the principles of liberty in the language of inspiration, as an eternal monument and landmark for the guidance of posterity.”–Caleb Cushing, July 15, 1826

“He was curious, in short, in regard to every part of useful or elegant learning, and nothing that seemed likely to contribute to the general good escaped his attention.”–Alexander Hill Everett, July 4, 1836

“His was a life of no common character. It was one abounding in great events and extraordinary circumstances.”–Henry D. Gilpin, 1828

“His letters, written at this time to his friends in America, display the versatility of his genius, and the attention he constantly bestowed on whatever was calculated to embellish or benefit society.”–Henry D. Gilpin, 1828

“The love of liberty, the rights of man, was his ruling passion.”–Felix Grundy, August 3, 1826

“He regarded young men as the future actors upon the state of life, and therefore, entitled to respect¾hence his manners were to them always kind and conciliating.  The welfare of man was his great object, and he felt the pride of being his benefactor in a sufficient degree to make him so.”–Carter Henry Harrison, September 20, 1834

“…he surveyed for half a century the advance and prosperity of the people to whose welfare he was particularly devoted, notwithstanding his extended benevolence toward the entire family of man.”–Samuel Latham Mitchill, October 11, 1826

“Illustrious by an active life of great and consistent efforts to promote the universal establishment of republican liberty, and the permanent happiness of the great family of mankind, he will neither disappoint your hopes nor defeat your wishes…the pure virtues and pre-eminent talents of Jefferson stand reflected with the undiminished lustre, and present him to the world as the friend and benefactor of the human race.”–John Beckley, Address to the People of the United States; with an Epitome and Vindication of the Public Life and Character of THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1800

“In whatsoever he undertook, however, he succeeded to the public satisfaction, and displayed unequalled talent and application…as an historian he conveys abundant information; as a politician he dives to the bottom of causes and effects; as a calculator he shews himself skilled in arithmetic; as an American he recounts the advantages and inconveniences which relate to his country; and, as a statesman he developes the detail of every political disease with an ability that is only equalled by the excellence of his remedy which is very far above the latitude of a groveling party policy.”–Alexander Stephens and Sir Richard Phillips

“Such men are a loss to humanity and the glory of the human race.”–Emilie Pichon, April 12, 1828

“…his heart embraced the human family and his works were intended for the happiness of every people.”–Henry Potter, July 20, 1826

” …the benevolent Sage of Virginia…Inexhaustible in his schemes for the improvement of the human family…”–Stephen Simpson, 1833

“They [literati of Europe] were astonished to see a man from the wilds of America, perfectly acquainted with both ancient and modern literature, capable to meet them on any scientific subject, and to give them lessons on the true principles of well regulated liberty.”–Samuel Harrison Smith, July 20, 1826