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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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7475. REVOLUTION (American), Beginning of.—[further continued].
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7475. REVOLUTION (American), Beginning of.—[further continued].

A * * * misapprehension
of * * * a passage in Mr. [William] Wirt's book, for which I am quoted, has produced
a * * * reclamation of the part of Massachusetts,
by some of her most distinguished
and estimable citizens. I had been applied to
by Mr. Wirt for such facts respecting Mr.
[Patrick] Henry, as my intimacy with him and
participation in the transactions of the day,
might have placed within my knowledge. I accordingly
committed them to paper; and Virginia
being the theatre of his action, was the
only subject within my contemplation, while
speaking of him. Of the resolutions and
measures here, in which he had the acknowledged
lead, I used the expression that “Mr.
Henry certainly gave the first impulse to the
ball of revolution”. (Wirt, page 41.) The expression
is, indeed, general, and in all its extension,
would comprehend all the sister States;
but indulgent construction would restrain it,
as was really meant, to the subject matter under
contemplation, which was Virginia alone; according
to the rule of the lawyers and a fair
canon of general criticism, that every expression
should be construed secundum subjectam
Where the first attack was made,
there must have been, of course, the first act
of resistance, and that was in Massachusetts.
Our [Virginia's] first overt act of war was Mr.
Henry's embodying a force of militia from
several counties, regularly armed and organized,
marching them in military array and
making reprisal on the King's treasury at the
seat of government, for the public powder taken
away by his Governor. This was in the last
days of April, 1775. Your formal battle of
Lexington was ten or twelve days before that,
which greatly overshadowed in importance, as
it preceded in time, our little affray, which
merely amounted to a levying of arms against
the King; and, very possibly, you had had
military affrays before the regular battle of
To Samuel A. Wells. i, 116. vii, 120. Ford ed., x, 128.
(M. 1819)