University of Virginia Library

Search this document 


Page 984


The “Valedictory Address of the General Assembly of Virginia”, which was agreed to on
the 7th of February, 1809, gives a good idea of the high estimation in which Jefferson was held
by his party, and the great majority of his countrymen, when he retired from the Presidency.
It is as follows:—

“Sir.—The General Assembly of your native State cannot close their session, without
acknowledging your services in the office which you are just about to lay down, and bidding
you a respectful and affectionate farewell.

“We have to thank you for the model of an administration conducted on the purest principles
of republicanism; for pomp and state laid aside; patronage discarded; internal taxes
abolished; a host of superfluous officers disbanded; the monarchic maxim that `a national debt
is a national blessing', renounced, and more than thirty-three millions of our debt discharged;
the native right to nearly one hundred millions of acres of our national domain extinguished;
and, without the guilt or calamities of conquest, a vast and fertile region added to our country,
far more extensive than her original possessions, bringing along with it the Mississippi and
the port of Orleans, the trade of the West to the Pacific ocean, and in the intrinsic value of
the land itself, a source of permanent and almost inexhaustible revenue. These are points in
your administration which the historian will not fail to seize, to expand, and teach posterity
to dwell upon with delight. Nor will he forget our peace with the civilized world, preserved
through a season of uncommon difficulty and trial; the good will cultivated with the unfortunate
aborigines of our country, and the civilization humanely extended among them; the lesson
taught the inhabitants of the coast of Barbary, that we have the means of chastising their
piratical encroachments, and awing them into justice; and that theme, on which, above all
others, the historic genius will hang with rapture, the liberty of speech and of the press, preserved
inviolate, without which genius and science are given to man in vain.

“In the principles on which you have administered the government, we see only the
continuation and maturity of the same virtues and abilities, which drew upon you in your
youth the resentment of Dunmore. From the first brilliant and happy moment of your resistance
to foreign tyranny, until the present day, we mark with pleasure and with gratitude the
same uniform, consistent character, the same warm and devoted attachment to liberty and the
Republic, the same Roman love of your country, her rights, her peace, her honor, her prosperity.

“How blessed will be the retirement into which you are about to go! How deservedly
blessed will it be! For you carry with you the richest of all rewards, the recollection of a life
well spent in the service of your country, and proofs the most decisive, of the love, the gratitude,
the veneration of your countrymen.

“That your retirement may be as happy as your life has been virtuous and useful; that
our youth may see, in the blissful close of your days, an additional inducement to form themselves
on your model, is the devout and earnest prayer of your fellow-citizens who compose the
General Assembly of Virginia.”—
Rayner's Life of Jefferson,p. 494.