#1222 First Retirement (Part Two)

We return to our “Jefferson 101” series with a continued discussion about Jefferson’s period of retirement after his term as Secretary of State ended in 1793 and he returned to Monticello. Subjects include Jefferson’s reasons for leaving Washington, the Jay treaty, slavery and a revealing letter Jefferson wrote to his daughter Maria.

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What Would Jefferson Do?

I’m a pacifist; I try to do as little damage to the rest of the world as possible.
— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

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From Thomas Jefferson to Peter Minor, 20 July 1822

Monticello July 20. 22.
Dear Sir
They tell us, and rightly, that one good turn deserves another. on this authority I ask the acceptance, by your son, of a keep-sake from me. it is an article of the tackle of a gun-man, offering the convenience of carrying the powder & shot together. I presume he is a gun-man, as I am sure he ought to be, and every American who wishes to protect his farm from the ravages of quadrupeds & his country from those of biped invaders. I am a great friend to the manly and healthy exercises of the gun. will you be so good as to be the channel of my conveying to him this offering, and of my thanks for the elegant and comfortable hat he was so kind as to send me, and to accept for yourself the assurances of my great friendship and respect
Th: Jefferson

Read the full letter on Founders Online.

From Thomas Jefferson to Mary Jefferson Eppes, 3 March 1802

I think I discover in you a willingness to withdraw from society more than is prudent. I am convinced our own happiness requires that we should continue to mix with the world, & to keep pace with it as it goes; and that every person who retires from free communication with it is severely punished afterwards by the state of mind into which they get, and which can only be prevented by feeding our sociable principles. I can speak from experience on this subject. from 1793. to 1797. I remained closely at home, saw none but those who came there, and at length became very sensible of the ill effect it had upon my own mind, and of it’s direct & irresistible tendency to render me unfit for society, & uneasy when necessarily engaged in it. I felt enough of the effect of withdrawing from the world then, to see that it led to an antisocial & misanthropic state of mind, which severely punishes him who gives into it: and it will be a lesson I shall never forget as to myself.

Read the full letter on Founders Online.

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