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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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8768. VACATIONS, Health and.—

diseases of the season incident to most situations
on the tide waters, now begin to show
themselves here [Washington], and to threaten
some of our members [of the cabinet] together
with the probability of a uniform course of
things in the Chesapeake [affair], induce us
to prepare for leaving this place during the two
sickly months, as well for the purposes of health
as to bestow some little attention to our private
affairs, which is necessary at some time of
every year. Our respective stations will be
fixed and known, so that everything will find
us at them with the same certainty as if they
were here; and such measures of intercourse
will be established as that the public business
will be carried on at them, with all the regularity
and dispatch necessary.—
To W. H. Cabell. Washington ed. v, 144. Ford ed., ix, 91.
(W. July. 1807)

8769. VACATIONS, Health and.—[continued].

In consideration of the
unhealthy season now approaching at this as


Page 904
other places on the tide-waters, and which we
have always retired from about this time, the
members of the Administration, as well as myself,
shall leave this place [Washington] in
three or four days, not to return till the sickly
term is over, unless something extraordinary
should reassemble us.—
To Colonel Tatham. Washington ed. v, 145.
(W. July. 1807)

8770. VACATIONS, Presidential.—

consider it as a trying experiment for a person
from the mountains to pass the two bilious
months on the tide-water. I have not
done it these forty years, and nothing should
induce me to do it. As it is not possible but
that the Administration must take some portion
of time for their own affairs, I think it
best they should select that season for absence.
General Washington set the example of those
two months; Mr. Adams extended them to eight
months. I should not suppose our bringing
it back to two months a ground for grumbling,
but, grumble who will, I will never pass those
two months on tide-water.—
To Albert Gallatin. Ford ed., viii, 95.
(M. Sep. 1801)

8771. VACATIONS, Public officials and.—

One reason for suggesting the discontinuance
of the daily post was, that it was not kept up by contract, but at the expense of the
United States. But the principal reason was to
avoid giving ground for clamor. The general
idea is, that those who receive annual compensations
should be constantly at their posts. Our
constituents might not in the first moment consider
1st, that we have property to take care of,
which we cannot abandon for temporary salaries;
2nd, that we have health to take care of,
which at this season cannot be preserved at
Washington; 3d, that while at our separate
homes our public duties are fully executed, and
at much greater personal labor than while we
are together when a short conference saves a
long letter.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. v, 181. Ford ed., ix, 134.
(M. Sep. 1807)

8772. VACCINATION, Utility of.—

I am happy to see that vaccination is introduced,
and likely to be kept up, in Philadelphia; but
I shall not think it exhibits all its utility until
experience shall have hit upon some mark or
rule by which the popular eye may distinguish
genuine from spurious virus. It was with this
view that I wished to discover whether time
could not be made the standard, and supposed,
from the little experience I had, that matter,
taken at eight times twenty-four hours from the
time of insertion, could always be in the proper
state. As far as I went I found it so; but I
shall be happy to learn what the immense field
of experience in Philadelphia will teach us on
that subject.—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. iv, 425. Ford ed., viii, 126.
(W. Dec. 1801)

— VALUE, Intrinsic.—

See Dollar and Money.

8773. VANITY, Personal.—

I have not
the vanity to count myself among those whom
the State would think worth oppressing with
perpetual service.—
To James Monroe. Washington ed. i, 320. Ford ed., iii, 59.
(M. 1782)

8774. VAN RENSSELAER (General S.), Failure of.—

Will not Van Rensselaer be
broke for cowardice and incapacity? To advance
such a body of men across a river without
securing boats to bring them off in case of disaster,
has cost us seven hundred men; and to
have taken no part himself in such an action,
and against such a general could be nothing
but cowardice.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 370.
(M. Nov. 1812)

8775. VATTEL (Emmerich von), Character of.—

Let us appeal to enlightened and
disinterested judges. No one is more so than
To E. C. Genet. Washington ed. iii, 588. Ford ed., vi, 309.
(Pa., 1793)

8776. VATTEL (Emmerich von), Character of.—[continued].

Vattel is one of the most zealous and constant advocates for the preservation
of good faith in all our dealings.—
Opinion on French Treaties. Washington ed. vii, 620. Ford ed., vi, 228.

8777. VEGETABLES, Cultivating.—

The wealthy people [in Virginia] are attentive
to the raising of vegetables, but very little
so to fruits. The poorer people attend to neither,
living principally on milk and animal diet.
This is the more inexcusable, as the climate requires
indispensably a free use of vegetable
food, for health as well as comfort.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 393. Ford ed., iii, 257.

8778. VEGETABLES, Jefferson's diet.

—I live so much like other people, that I
might refer to ordinary life as the history of
my own. I have lived temperately, eating little
animal food, and that not as an aliment, so
much as a condiment for the vegetables, which
constitute my principal diet. I double, however,
the Doctor's [Rush's] glass and a half of wine,
and even treble it with a friend; but halve its
effects by drinking the weak wines only. The
ardent wines I cannot drink, nor do I use ardent
spirits in any form. Malt liquors and cider
are my table drinks, and my breakfast is of
tea and coffee. I have been blest with organs
of digestion which accept and concoct, without
ever murmuring, whatever the palate chooses
to consign to them, and I have not yet lost a
tooth by age.—
To Dr. Vine Utley. Washington ed. vii, 116. Ford ed., x, 125.
(M. 1819)

8779. VEGETATION, Electricity, light and.—

Dr. Ingenhouse, you know, discovered
as he supposed, from experiment, that vegetation
might be promoted by occasional streams
of the electrical fluid to pass through a plant,
and that other physicians had received and confirmed
this theory. He now, however, retracts
it, and finds by more decisive experiments that
the electrical fluid can neither forward nor retard
vegetation. Uncorrected still of the rage
of drawing general conclusions from partial
and equivocal observations, he hazards the
opinion that light promotes vegetation. I have
heretofore supposed from observation, that light
affects the color of living bodies, whether vegetable
or animal; but that either the one or the
other receives nutriment from that fluid, must
be permitted to be doubted of, till better confirmed
by observation. It is always better to
have no ideas than false ones: to believe nothing
than to believe what is wrong. In my mind,
theories are more easily demolished than rebuilt.—
To Rev. James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 430.
(P. 1788)

8780. VENISON, Philosophy and.—

have sent me a noble animal, legitimated by
superior force as a monarch of the forest; and
he has incurred the death which his brother
legitimates have so much more merited; like
them, in death, he becomes food for a nobler
race, he for man, they for worms that will revel
on them; but he dies innocent, and with death
all his fears and pains are at an end; they die
loaded with maledictions, and Iiable to a sentence
and sufferings which we will leave to the
justice of heaven to award. In plain English,
we shall heartily feast on him, and thank you
heartily as the giver of the feast.—
To John Fry. Ford ed., x, 284.
(M. 1823)


Page 905

8781. VERGENNES (Count de), Assistants.—

Reyneval and Hennin are the two eyes
of Count de Vergennes. The former is the
more important character, because possessing
the most of the confidence of the Count. He
is rather cunning than wise, his views of things
being neither great nor liberal. He governs
himself by principles which he has learned by
rote, and is fit only for the details of execution.
His heart is susceptible of little passions, but
not of good ones. He is brother-in-law to M.
Gerard, from whom he received disadvantageous
impressions of us, which cannot be effaced. He
has much duplicity. Hennin is a philosopher,
sincere, friendly, liberal, learned, beloved by
everybody; the other by nobody. I think it a
great misfortune that the United States are in
the department of the former.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 109. Ford ed., iv, 368.
(P. 1787)

8782. VERGENNES (Count de), Great and good.—

He is a great and good minister, and an accident to him might endanger the
peace of Europe.—
To Edward Carrington. Washington ed. ii, 99. Ford ed., iv, 359.
(P. 1787)

8783. VERGENNES (Count de), Great and good.—[continued].

His loss would at all
times have been great; but it would be immense
during the critical poise of European affairs
existing at this moment.—
To John Jay. Washington ed. ii, 113.
(P. 1787)

8784. VERGENNES (Count de), Monarchist.—

Vergennes is a great minister in
European affairs, but has very imperfect ideas
of our institutions, and no confidence in them.
His devotion to the principles of pure despotism
randers him unaffectionate to our governments.
But his fear of England makes him value us
as a make-weight. He is cool, reserved in political
conversations, but free and familiar on
other subjects, and a very attentive, agreeable
person to do business with. It is impossible
to have a clearer, better organized head, but
age has chilled his heart.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 108. Ford ed., iv, 366.
(P. 1787)

8785. VERGENNES (Count de), Reputation.—

The Count de Vergennes had the
reputation with the diplomatic corps of being
wary and slippery in his diplomatic intercourse;
and so he might be with those whom he knew
to be slippery and double-faced themselves. As
he saw that I had no indirect views, practiced
no subtleties, meddled in no intrigues, pursued
no concealed object, I found him as frank, as
honorable, as easy of access to reason, as any
man with whom I had ever done business; and
I must say the same for his successor, Montmorin,
one of the most honest and worthy of
human beings.—
Autobiography, Washington ed. i, 64. Ford ed., i, 90.
(M. 1821)

8786. VERMONT, Separation from New York.—

The four northernmost States wish
Vermont to be received into the Union. The
middle and southernmost States are rather opposed
to it. But the great difficulty arises with
New York which claims that territory. In the
beginning every individual of that State revolted
at the idea of giving them up. Congress,
therefore, only interfered from time to time to
prevent the two parties from coming to an open
rupture. In the meanwhile the minds of the
New Yorkers have been familiarizing to the
idea of a separation and I think it will not be
long before they will consent to it.—
Answers to M. de Meunier. Washington ed. ix, 284. Ford ed., iv, 140.
(P. 1786)

See Offices, Unconstltutional.

8787. VETERINARY COLLEGES, Advantages.—

The advantages of the veterinary
institution proposed, may perhaps be doubted.
If it be problematical whether physicians prevent
death where the disease, unaided, would
have terminated fatally,—oftener than they produce
it, where order would have been restored
to the system by the process, if uninterrupted,
provided by nature, and in the case of a man
who can describe the seat of his disease, its
character, progress, and often its cause, what
might we expect in the case of the horse, mule,
&c., yielding no sensible and certain indications
of his disease? They have long had these institutions
in Europe; has the world received as
yet one iota of valuable information from them?
If it has, it is unknown to me. At any rate,
it may be doubted whether, where so many
institutions of obvious utility are yet wanting,
we should select this one to take the lead.—
To Joel Barlow. Washington ed. v, 402.
(W. 1808)


I know nothing of the veterinary institution
of London * * *. I know well the Veterinary
school of Paris, of long standing, and
saw many of its publications during my residence
there. They were classically written, announced
a want of nothing but certainty as to
their facts, which granted, the hypotheses were
learned and plausible. The coach-horses of the
rich of Paris were availed of the institution;
but the farmers even of the neighborhood could
not afford to call a veterinary doctor to their
plough horses in the country, or to send them to
a livery stable to be attended in the city. On
the whole, I was not a convert to the utility of
the Institution.—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. vi, 105.
(M. 1813)

8789. VETERINARY COLLEGES, Utility.—[continued].

That there are certain
diseases of the human body, so distinctly pronounced
by well-articulated symptoms, and recurring
so often, as not to be mistaken, wherein
experience has proved that certain substances
applied, will restore order, I cannot doubt.
* * * But there are also a great mass of indistinct
diseases, presenting themselves under no
form clearly characterized, nor exactly recognized
as having occurred before, and to which
of course, the application of no particular substance
can be known to have been made, nor
its effect on the case experienced. These May
be called unknown cases, and they may in time
be lessened by the progress of observation and
experiment. Observing that there are in the
construction of the animal system some means
provided unknown to us, which have a tendency
to restore order, when disturbed by accident,
called by physicians the vis medicatrix naturœ, I think it safer to trust to this power in the
unknown cases, than to uncertain conjectures
built on the ever-changing hypothetical systems
of medicine. Now in the Veterinary department
all are unknown cases. Man can tell his physician
the seat of his pain, its nature, history,
and sometimes its cause, and can follow his
directions for the curative process; but the poor
dumb horse cannot signify where his pain is,
what it is, or when or whence it came, and resists
all process for its cure. If in the case of
man, then, the benefit of medical interference
in such cases admits of question, what must it
be in that of the horse? And to what narrow
limits is the real importance of the veterinary
art reduced?—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. vi, 105.
(M. 1813)

8790. VETO, Abuse of.—

He (George
III.) has endeavored to pervert the exercise
of the kingly office in Virginia into a detes


Page 906
table and insupportable tyranny, by putting
his negative on laws the most wholesome and
necessary for the public good.—
Proposed Va. Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 8.
(June. 1776)

8791. VETO, By council.—

The governor,
two councillors of State, and a judge from
each of the superior courts of chancery, common
law, and admiralty, shall be a council
to revise all bills which shall have passed both
houses of Assembly, in which council the governor,
when present, shall preside. Every bill,
before it becomes a law, shall be represented
to this council, who shall have a right to advise
its rejection, returning the bill, with
their advice and reasons in writing, to the
house in which it originated, who shall proceed
to reconsider the said bill. But if after
such reconsideration, two-thirds of the house
shall be of opinion that the bill should pass
finally, they shall pass it and send it, with
the advice and written reasons of the said
Council of Revision, to the other house,
wherein if two-thirds also shall be of opinion
it should pass finally, it shall thereupon
become law; otherwise it shall not.—
Proposed Va. Constitution. Washington ed. viii, 451. Ford ed., iii, 330.

8792. VETO, Congressional.—

The negative,
proposed to be given to Congress on all
the acts of the several legislatures, is now,
for the first time, suggested to my mind.
Primâ facie I do not like it. It fails in an
essential character, that the hole and the patch
should be commensurate. But this proposes
to mend a small hole by covering the whole
government. Not more than one out of one
hundred State acts concerns the Confederacy.
This proposition, then, in order to give them
one degree of power, which they ought to
have, gives them ninety-nine more which they
ought not to have, upon a presumption that
they will not exercise the ninety-nine. But
upon every act, there will be a preliminary
question, does this concern the Confederacy?
And was there ever a proposition so plain
as to pass Congress without a debate? Their
decisions are almost always wise; they are like
pure metal. But you know of how much dross
this is the result.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 152. Ford ed., iv, 390.
(P. June. 1787)

8793. VETO, Denial of.—

The Administrator
shall have no negative on the bills of
the Legislature.—
Proposed Va. Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 18.
(June. 1776)

8794. VETO, Discretion in use of.—

If the pro and con for and against a bill hang so
even as to balance the President's judgment,
a just respect for the wisdom of the Legislature
would naturally decide the balance in
favor of their opinion. It is chiefly for cases
where they are clearly misled by error, ambition,
or interest, that the Constitution has
placed a check in the negative of the President.—
National Bank Opinion. Washington ed. vii, 560. Ford ed., v, 289.

8795. VETO, Effects of non-use.—

non-user of his negative begins already to
excite a belief that no President will ever
venture to use it; and has, consequently, begotten
a desire to raise up barriers in the
State legislatures against Congress, throwing
off the control of the Constitution.—
Opinion on Apportionment Bill. Washington ed. vii, 601. Ford ed., v, 500.

8796. VETO, Executive.—

I like the negative
given [in the Federal Constitution] to
the Executive, with a third of either house;
though I should have liked it better had the
Judiciary been associated for that purpose, or
invested with a similar and separate power. [500]
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 329. Ford ed., iv, 475.
(P. 1787)


This extract from the Ford edition is in Jefferson's
own words. In the Congress edition, they are as follows:
“I like the negative given to the Executive,
conjointly with a third of either house; though I
should have liked it better had the judiciary been
associated for that purpose, or invested separately
with a similar power.”—Editor.

8797. VETO, First Presidential.—

[President Washington] sent it [veto of the
Apportionment bill] to the House of Representatives.
A few of the hottest friends of
the bill expressed passion but the majority
were satisfied and both in and out of doors
it gave pleasure to have at length an instance
of the negative being exercised.—
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 115.

8798. VETO, Inhuman.—

He [George
III.] has endeavored to pervert the exercise
of the kingly office in Virginia into a detestable
and insupportable tyranny * * * by
prompting our negroes to rise in arms among
us; those very negroes whom, by an inhuman
use of his negative, he had refused us permission
to exclude by law.—
Proposed Va. Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 11.
(June. 1776)

8799. VETO, King's.—

By the Constitution
of Great Britain, as well as of the several
American States, his Majesty possesses the
power of refusing to pass into a law, any bill
which has already passed the other two
branches of the legislature. His Majesty,
however, and his ancestors, conscious of the
impropriety of opposing their single opinion
to the united wisdom of two houses of Parliament,
while their proceedings were unbiased
by interested principles, for several
ages past have modestly declined the exercise
of this power, in that part of his empire
called Great Britain. But by change of circumstances,
other principles than those of
justice simply, have obtained an influence on
their determinations. The addition of new
States to the British Empire has produced an
addition of new, and, sometimes, opposite interests.
It is now, therefore, the great office
of his Majesty, to resume the exercise of his
negative power, and to prevent the passage of
laws by any one legislature of the Empire,
which might bear injuriously on the rights
and interests of another. Yet this will not
excuse the wanton exercise of this power,
which we have seen his Majesty practice on
the laws of the American legislatures. For
the most trifling reasons, and, sometimes for [501]


Page 130
no conceivable reason at all, his Majesty has
rejected laws of the most salutary tendency.
The abolition of domestic slavery is the great
object of desire [502] in those Colonies, where it
was, unhappily, introduced in their infant
state. But previous to the enfranchisement
of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude
all further importations from Africa.
Yet our repeated attempts to effect this, by
prohibitions, and by imposing duties which
might amount to a prohibition, have been
hitherto defeated by his Majesty's negative:
Thus preferring the immediate advantages of
a few British corsairs to the lasting interests
of the American States, and to the rights of
human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous
practice. Nay, the single interposition
of an interested individual against a law was
scarcely ever known to fail of success, though,
in the opposite scale were placed the interests
of a whole country. This is so shameful
an abuse of a power, trusted with his
Majesty for other purposes, as if not reformed,
would call for some legal restrictions.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 134. Ford ed., i, 439.


This was the first instance of the exercise of the
veto power under the Constitution.—Editor.


* “In asserting,” says Parton in his Life of Jefferson,
“that the great object of desire in the Colonies
was the abolition of slavery, he expressed rather the
feeling of his own set,—the educated and high-minded
young Whigs of the Southern Colonies, than the
sentiments of the great body of the slaveholders.
He could boast that the first act of his own life had
been an attempt in that direction.”—Editor.

8800. VETO, King's.—[continued].

The royal negative
closed the last door [in the Virginia House
of Burgesses] to every hope of amelioration.
[Regarding Slavery.]—
Autobiography. Washington ed. i, 3. Ford ed., i, 5.

8801. VETO, Prostituted.—

to keep open a market where
Men should be
bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative
for suppressing every legislative attempt
to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


Struck out by Congress.—Editor.

8802. VETO, Protection by.—

The negative
of the President is the shield provided
by the Constitution to protect against the invasions
of the Legislature: 1. The right of
the Executive. 2. Of the Judiciary. 3. Of
the States and State Legislatures.—
National Bank Opinion. Washington ed. vii, 560. Ford ed., v, 289.

8803. VETO, Qualified.—

I approved,
from the first moment, of the great mass of
what is in the new Constitution; * * * the qualified negative on laws given to the
Executive, which, however, I should have
liked better if associated with the judiciary
also, as in New York.—
To F. Hopkinson. Washington ed. ii, 586. Ford ed., v, 76.
(P. March. 1789)

8804. VETO, Satisfactory use.—

negative of the President can never be used
more pleasingly to the public than in the protection
of the Constitution.—
Opinion on Apportionment Bill. Washington ed. vii, 601. Ford ed., v, 500.

8805. VETO, Suspensive.—

The National
Assembly [of France] have determined that
the King shall have a suspensive and iterative
veto; that is, after negativing a law, it
cannot be presented again till after a new
election. If he negatives it then, it cannot
be presented a third time till after another
new election. If it be then presented, he is
obliged to pass it. This is perhaps justly
considered as a more useful negative than an
absolute one, which a King would be afraid
to use.—
To John Jay. Washington ed. iii, 115.
(P. 1789)

8806. VICE, Knowledge and.—

Although I do not, with some enthusiasts, believe that
the human condition will ever advance to such
a state of perfection as that there shall no
longer be pain or vice in the world, yet I believe
it susceptible of much improvement, and
most of all, in matters of government and religion;
and that the diffusion of knowledge
among the people is to be the instrument by
which it is to be effected.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. vi, 592. Ford ed., x, 25.

8807. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Acceptance of.—

The idea that I would accept the office of
President, but not that of Vice-President of
the United States, had not its origin with me.
I never thought of questioning the free exercise
of the right of my fellow citizens to
marshal those whom they call into their service
according to their fitness, nor ever presumed
that they were not the best judges of
that. Had I indulged a wish in what manner
they should dispose of me, it would precisely
have coincided with what they have done.—
To James Sullivan. Washington ed. iv, 168. Ford ed., vii, 116.
(M. Feb. 9, 1797)

8808. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Candidates for.—

I presume there will not be a vote
against General Washington [for President] in the United States. It is more doubtful
who will be Vice-President. The age of Dr.
Franklin, and the doubt whether he would
accept it, are the only circumstances that admit
a question, but that he would be the man.
After these two characters of first magnitude,
there are so many which present themselves
equally, on the second line, that we
cannot see which of them will be singled out.
John Adams, Hancock, Jay, Madison, Rutledge,
will all be voted for.—
To William Carmichael. Washington ed. ii, 465.
(P. Aug. 1788)

8809. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Ceremony and.—

I hope I shall be made a part of no
ceremony whatever. I shall escape into the
city as covertly as possible. If Governor
Mifflin should show any symptoms of ceremony,
pray contrive to parry them.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 167. Ford ed., vii, 116.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8810. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Duties of.

—As to duty, the Constitution will know me
only as the member of the Legislative body;
and its principle is, that of a separation of
Legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions,
except in cases specified. If this principle
be not expressed in direct terms, it is
clearly the spirit of the Constitution and it


Page 908
ought to be so commented and acted on by
every friend of free government.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 161. Ford ed., vii, 108.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8811. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Easy and honorable.—

The second office of the [504] government is honorable and easy; the first is
but a splendid misery.—
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 171. Ford ed., vii, 120.
(Pa., 1797)


“This” government in Ford Edition.—Editor.

8812. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Jefferson and.—

I was not aware of any necessity of
going on to Philadelphia immediately, yet I had
determined to do it, as a mark of respect to
the public, and to do away the doubts which
have spread, that I should consider the second
office as beneath my acceptance.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 161. Ford ed., vii, 107.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8813. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Jefferson and.—[continued].

I know not from what
source an idea has spread itself * * * that I would accept the office of President of
the United States, but not of Vice-President.
When I retired from the office I last held, no
man in the Union less expected than I did
ever to have come forward again; and, whatever
has been insinuated to the contrary, to
no man in the Union was the share which
my name bore in the late contest more unexpected
than it was to me. If I had contemplated
the thing beforehand, and suffered my
will to enter into action at all on it, it would
have been in a direction exactly the reverse
of what has been imputed to me; but I had
no right to a will on the subject, much less
to control that of the people of the United
States in arranging us according to our capacities.
Least of all could I have any feelings
which would revolt at taking a station secondary
to Mr. Adams. I have been secondary
to him in every situation in which we
ever acted together in public life for twenty
years past. A contrary position would have
been the novelty, and his the right of revolting
at it. Be assured, then, that if I had had
a fibre in my composition still looking after
public office, it would have been gratified precisely
by the very call you are pleased to announce
to me, and no other.—
To John Langdon. Washington ed. iv, 163. Ford ed., vii, 111.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8814. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Jefferson and.—[further continued].

Since I am called out,
an object of great anxiety to me is that those
with whom I am to act, shutting their minds
to the unfounded abuse of which I have been
the subject, will view me with the same candor
with which I shall certainly act.—
To John Langdon. Washington ed. iv, 164. Ford ed., vii, 112.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8815. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Notification of election.—

I suppose that the choice
of Vice-President has fallen on me * * * I believe it belongs to the Senate to notify
the Vice-President of his election. I recollect
to have heard, that on the first election
of President and Vice-President, gentlemen
of considerable office were sent to notify the
parties chosen. But this was the inauguration
of our new government, and ought not to be
drawn into example. At the second election,
both gentlemen were on the spot and needed
no messengers. On the present occasion, the
President will be on the spot, so that what
is now to be done respects myself alone; and
considering that the season of notification will
always present one difficulty, that the distance
in the present case adds a second, not inconsiderable,
and which may in future happen
to be sometimes much more considerable, I
hope the Senate will adopt that method of
notification, which will always be least
troublesome and most certain. The channel
of the post is certainly the least troublesome,
is the most rapid, and, considering also that
it may be sent by duplicates and triplicates,
is unquestionably the most certain. Enclosed
to the postmaster at Charlottesville, with an
order to send it by express, no hazard can
endanger the notification. Apprehending,
that should there be a difference of opinion
on this subject in the Senate, my ideas of
self-respect might be supposed by some to require
something more formal and inconvenient,
I beg leave to avail myself of your
friendship to declare, if a different proposition
should make it necessary, that I consider
the channel of the post-office as the most
eligible in every respect, and that it is to me
the most desirable; which I take the liberty
of expressing, not with a view of encroaching
on the respect due to that discretion which
the Senate have a right to exercise on the
occasion, but to render them the more free in
the exercise of it, by taking off whatsoever
weight the supposition of a contrary desire in
me might have on the mind of any member.—
To Henry Tazewell. Washington ed. iv, 160. Ford ed., vii, 106.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8816. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Oath of office.—

I have turned to the Constitution and
laws, and find nothing to warrant the opinion
that I might not have been qualified here
[Monticello] or wherever else I could meet
with a Senator; any member of that body
being authorized to administer the oath, without
being confined to time or place, and consequently
to make a record of it, and to deposit
it with the records of the Senate. However,
I shall come on, on the principle which
had first determined me—respect to the public.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 167. Ford ed., vii, 116.
(M. 1797)

8817. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Preference for.—

It seems possible * * * that you
may see me in Philadelphia about the beginning
of March, exactly in that character
which. if I were to reppear at Philadelphia,
I would prefer to all others; for I change the
sentiment of Clorinda to “L'alte temo,
l'humile non sdegno”.

To Mr. Volney. Washington ed. iv, 158.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8818. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Pride and.

—As to the second [office], it is the only office in the world about which I am unable to decide
in my own mind whether I had rather
have it, or not have it. Pride does not enter
into the estimate; for I think with the


Page 909
Romans that the general of to-day should be
a soldier to-morrow if necessary. I can particularly
have no feelings which would revolt
at a secondary position to Mr. Adams.
I am his junior in life, was his junior in Congress,
his junior in the diplomatic line, his
junior lately in the civil government.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 155. Ford ed., vii, 98.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8819. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Tranquil and unoffending.—

I thank you for your
congratulations on the public call on me to
undertake the second office in the United
States, but still more for the justice you do
me in viewing as I do the escape from the
first. I have no wish again to meddle in public
affairs, being happier at home than I can
be anywhere else. Still less do I wish to
engage in an office where it would be impossible
to satisfy either friends or foes, and
least of all at a moment when the storm is
about to burst, which has been conjuring up
for four years past. If I am to act, however,
a more tranquil and unoffending station
could not have been found for me, nor one
so analogous to the dispositions of my mind.
It will give me philosophical evenings in the
winter, and rural days in summer.—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. iv, 165. Ford ed., vii, 113.
(M. Jan. 1797)

8820. VICE-PRESIDENCY, Tranquil and unoffending.—[continued].

I am so much attached
to my domestic situation, that I would not
have wished to leave it at all. However, if
I am to be called from it, the shortest absences
and most tranquil station suit me best.—
To James Sullivan. Washington ed. iv, 168. Ford ed., vii, 117.
(M. 1797)

8821. VIGILANCE, Eye of.—

Be not
weary of well doing. Let the eye of vigilance
never be closed.—
To Spencer Roane. Washington ed. vii, 212. Ford ed., x, 189.
(M. 1821)

8822. VINCENNES, Danger from Indians.—

I have the pleasure to enclose you
the particulars of Colonel Clark's success
against Vincennes. * * * I fear it will be impossible
for Colonel Clark to be so strengthened
as to enable him to do what he desires. Indeed,
the express who brought this letter, gives us
reason to fear Vincennes is in danger from
a large body of Indians collected to attack it,
and said, when he came from Kaskaskias, to be
within thirty leagues of the place.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 221. Ford ed., ii, 240.
(Wg. 1779)

8823. VINCENNES, Loyalty of.—

I have
ever considered them as sober, honest, and orderly
citizens, submissive to the laws, and faithful
to the nation of which they are a part. And
should occasion arise of proving their fidelity in
the cause of their country, I count on their aid
with as perfect assurance as on that of any
other part of the United States.—
To William M'Intosh. Washington ed. v, 242.
(W. 1808)

8824. VINDICATION, Appeal for.—

should have retired at the end of the first
four years, but that the immense load of tory
calumnies which have been manufactured respecting
me, and have filled the European
market, have obliged me to appeal once more
to my country for justification. I have no
fear but that I shall receive honorable testimony
by their verdict on these calumnies. At
the end of the next four years I shall certainly
retire. Age, inclination, and principle
all dictate this.—
To Philip Mazzel. Washington ed. iv, 553. D. L. J., 310.
(July. 1804)

8825. VINDICATION, Seeking.—

A desire
to leave public office, with a reputation
not more blotted than it has deserved, will
oblige me to emerge at the next session of our
Assembly and, perhaps, to accept of a seat in
it. But as I go with a single object, I shall
withdraw when that shall be accomplished.—
To Edmund Randolph. Washington ed. i, 313. Ford ed., iii, 50.
(M. 1781)

8826. VINE, Cultivation of.—

The vine
is the parent of misery. Those who cultivate
it are always poor, and he who would employ
himself with us in the culture of corn, cotton,
&c., can procure, in exchange for them, much
more wine, and better, than he could raise by
its direct culture.—
To George Wythe. Washington ed. ii, 266. Ford ed., iv, 443.
(P. 1787)

See Wines.

8827. VIRGINIA, American Revolution and.—

An inquiry into the exertions of Virginia
in the common cause during the period of
her exemption from military invasion would be
proper for the patriotic historian, because her
character has been very unjustly impeached by
the writers of other States, as having used no
equal exertions at that time. I know it to be
false; because having all that time been a
member of the Legislature, I know that our
whole occupation was in straining the resources
of the State to the utmost, to furnish
men, money, provisions and other necessaries to
the common cause. The proofs of this will be
found in the journals and acts of the Legislature,
in executive proceedings and papers, and
in the auditor's accounts. Not that Virginia
furnished her quota of requisitions of either
men or money; but that she was always above
par, in what was actually furnished by the other
To Skelton Jones. Washington ed. v, 461.
(M. 1809)

8828. VIRGINIA, British invasion.—

On the 31st of December, a letter from a private
gentleman to General Nelson came to my hands, notifying, that in the morning of the preceding
day, twenty-seven sail of vessels had
entered the capes; and from the tenor of the
letter we had reason to expect, within a few
hours, further intelligence; whether they were
friends or foes, their force and other circumstances.
We immediately dispatched General
Nelson to the lower country, with powers to call
on the militia in that quarter, or to act otherwise
as exigencies should require; but waited
further intelligence before we would call for
militia from the middle or upper country. No
further intelligence came until the 2d instant,
when the former was confirmed; it was ascertained
they had advanced up James River in
Warrasqueak bay. All arrangements were immediately
taken for calling in a sufficient body
of militia for opposition. In the night of the
3d, we received advice that they were at anchor
opposite Jamestown. We then supposed Williamsburg
to be their object. The wind, however,
which had hitherto been unfavorable,
shifted fair, and the tide being also in their
favor, they ascended the river to Kennon's that
evening and, with the next tide, came up to
Westover, having on their way taken possession
of some works we had at Hood's by which two
or three of their vessels received some damage
but which were of necessity abandoned by the


Page 910
small garrison of fifty men placed there, on
the enemy's landing to invest the works. Intelligence
of their having quitted the station
at Jamestown, from which we supposed they
meant to land for Williamsburg, and of their
having got in the evening to Kennon's reached
us the next morning at five o'clock, and was the
first indication of their meaning to penetrate
towards this place (Richmond) or Petersburg.
As the orders for drawing militia here had been
given but two days, no opposition was in readiness.
Every effort was therefore necessary, to
withdraw the arms and other military stores,
records, &c., from this place. Every effort was,
accordingly, exerted to convey them to the
foundry five miles, and to a laboratory six
miles, above this place, till about sunset of that
day, when we learned the enemy had come to an
anchor at Westover that morning. We then
knew that this, and not Petersburg was their
object, and began to carry across the river
everything remaining here, and to remove what
had been transported to the foundry and laboratory
to Westham, the nearest crossing, seven
miles above this place, which operation was
continued till they had approached very near.
They marched from Westover at two o'clock in
the afternoon of the 4th, and entered Richmond
at one o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th.
A regiment of infantry and about thirty horse
continued on, without halting, to the foundry.
They burned that, the boring mill, the magazine
and two other houses, and proceeded to Westham;
but nothing being in their power there,
they retired to Richmond. The next morning,
they burned some buildings of public and private
property, with what stores remained in
them, destroyed a great quantity of private
stores and, about twelve o'clock, retired towards
Westover, where they encamped within the neck
the next day. The loss sustained is not yet
accurately known. As far as I have been able
to discover, it consisted, at this place, of about
three hundred muskets, some soldiers' clothing
to a small amount, some quartermaster's stores,
of which one hundred and twenty sides of
leather was the principal article, part of the
artificer's tools, and three wagons. Besides
which, five brass four pounders which we had
sunk in the river, were discovered to them,
raised and carried off. At the foundry we lost
the greater part of the papers belonging to the
Auditor's office, and of the books and papers
of the Council office. About five or six tons
of powder, as we conjecture, was thrown into
the canal, of which there will be a considerable
saving by remanufacturing it. The roof of the
foundry was burned, but the stacks of chimneys
and furnaces not at all injured. The boring
mill was consumed. Within less than fortyeight
hours from the time of their landing, and
nineteen from our knowing their destination,
they had penetrated thirty-three miles, done the
whole injury, and retired.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 282. Ford ed., ii, 405.
(M. 1809)

8829. VIRGINIA, British invasion.—[continued].

Their numbers, from the best intelligence I have had, are about fifteen
hundred infantry; and, as to their cavalry, accounts
vary from fifty to one hundred and
twenty; the whole commanded by the parricide
Arnold. Our militia, dispersed over a large
tract of country, can be called in but slowly.
On the day the enemy advanced to this place,
two hundred only were embodied. They were
of this town and its neighborhood and were
too few to do anything. At this time they are
assembled in pretty considerable numbers on
the south side of James River, but are not yet
brought to a point. On the north side are two
or three small bodies, amounting in the whole,
to about nine hundred men. The enemy were,
at four o'clock yesterday evening, still remaining
in their encampment at Westover and
Berkeley Neck. In the meanwhile, Baron Steuben,
a zealous friend, has descended from the
dignity of his proper command to direct our
smallest movements. His vigilance has in a
great measure supplied the want of force in preventing
the enemy from crossing the river,
which might have been very fatal. He has been
assiduously employed in preparing equipments
for the militia as they should assemble, pointing
them to a proper object, and other offices of
a good commander. Should they loiter a little
longer, and he be able to have a sufficient force,
I still flatter myself they will not escape with
total impunity. To what place they will point
their next exertions, we cannot even conjecture.
The whole country on the tide waters and
some distance from them is equally open to
similar insult.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 284. Ford ed., ii, 408.
(Jan. 1781)

8830. VIRGINIA, Conventions in.—

These were at first chosen anew for every particular
session. But in March, 1775, they recommended
to the people to choose a convention
which should continue in office a year. This
was done, accordingly, in April, 1775, and in
July following that convention passed an ordinance
for the election of delegates in the month
of April annually. It is well known, that in
July, 1775, a separation from Great Britain and
establishment of republican government, had
never yet entered into any person's mind. A
convention, therefore, chosen under that ordinance,
cannot be said to have been chosen for
the purposes which certainly did not exist in
the minds of those who passed it. Under this
ordinance, at the annual election in April, 1776,
a convention for the year was chosen. Independence,
and the establishment of a new form
of government, were not even the objects of the
people at large. One extract from the pamphlet
called Common Sense had appeared in the
Virginia papers in February, and copies of the
pamphlet itself had got in a few hands. But the
idea had not been opened to the mass of the
people in April, much less can it be said that
they had made up their minds in its favor. So
that the electors of April, 1776, no more than
the legslators of July, 1775, not thinking of
independence and a permanent republic, could
not mean to vest in these delegates powers of
establishing them, or any authorities other than
those of the ordinary legislature. So far as a
temporary organization of government was
necessary to render our opposition energetic,
so far their organization was valid. But they
received in their creation no powers but what
were given to every legislature before and since.
They could not, therefore, pass an act transcendent
to the powers of other legislatures.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 363. Ford ed., iii, 225.

See Virginia Constitution, Repealability.

8831. VIRGINIA, Division of counties.

—In what terms reconcilable to Majesty, and
at the same time to truth, shall we speak of a
late instruction to the Governor of the Colony
of Virginia, by which he is forbidden to assent
to any law for the division of a county, unless
the new county will consent to have no representative
in Assembly? That Colony has as yet
affixed no boundary to the westward. Their
western counties, therefore, are of an indefinite
extent. Some of them are actually seated
many hundred miles from their eastern limits.
Is it possible, then, that his Majesty can have
bestowed a single thought on the situation of


Page 911
those people, who, in order to obtain justice for
injuries, however great or small, must, by the
laws of that Colony, attend their county court,
at such a distance, with all their witnesses,
monthly, till their litigation be determined?—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 136. Ford ed., i, 441.

8832. VIRGINIA, Love for.—

My native
State is endeared to me by every tie which can
attach the human heart.—
R. to A. Virginia Assembly. Washington ed. viii, 148.

8833. VIRGINIA, Political opposition in.—

Better that any one [of the other States] take the lead [against consolidation] than Virginia,
where opposition is considered as commonplace,
and a mere matter of form and habit.—
To C. W. Gooch. Washington ed. vii, 430.
(M. 1826)

8834. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Amendments to.—

That it is really important to provide a constitution for our State cannot
be doubted; as little can it be doubted
that the ordinance called by that name has important
defects. But before we attempt it,
we should endeavor to be as certain as is
practicable that in the attempt we should not
make bad worse. I have understood that Mr.
Henry has always been opposed to this undertaking;
and I confess that I consider his
talents and influence such as that, were it
decided that we should call a convention for
the purpose of amending, I should fear he
might induce that convention either to fix
the thing as at present, or change it for the
worse. Would it not, therefore, be well that
means should be adopted for coming at his
ideas of the changes he would agree to, and
for communicating to him those which we
should propose? Perhaps he might find ours
not so distant from his, but that some mutual
sacrifices might bring them together. I shall
hazard my own ideas to you as hastily as my
business obliges me. I wish to preserve the
line drawn by the Federal Constitution between
the General and particular governments
as it stands at present, and to take every prudent
means of preventing either from stepping
over it. Though the experiment has not yet
had a long enough course to show us from
which quarter encroachments are most to be
feared, yet it is easy to foresee, from the nature
of things, that the encroachments of the
State governments will tend to an excess of
liberty which will correct itself (as in the late
instance), while those of the General Government
will tend to monarchy, which will
fortify itself from day to day, instead of
working its own cure, as all experience shows.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences
attending too much liberty than those
attending too small a degree of it. Then it is
important to strengthen the State governments;
and as this cannot be done by any
change in the Federal Constitution (for the
preservation of that is all we need contend
for), it must be done by the States themselves,
erecting such barriers at the constitutional
line as cannot be surmounted either
by themselves or by the General Government.
The only barrier in their power is a wise government.
A weak one will lose ground in
every contest. To obtain a wise and an able
government, I consider the following changes
as important. Render the Legislature a desirable
station by lessening the number of representatives
(say to 100) and lengthening
somewhat their term, and proportion them
equally among the electors; adopt, also, a
better mode of appointing senators. Render
the Executive a more desirable post to men
of abilities by making it more independent
of the Legislature; to wit, let him be chosen
by other electors, for a longer time, and ineligible
forever after. Responsibility is a
tremendous engine in a free government.
Let him feel the whole weight of it then, by
taking away the shelter of his executive
council. Experience both ways has already
established the superiority of this measure.
Render the Judiciary respectable by every
possible means, to wit, firm tenure in office,
competent salaries, and reduction of their
numbers. Men of high learning and abilities
are few in every country; and by taking in
those who are not so, the able part of the
body have their hands tied by the unable.
This branch of the government will have the
weight of the conflict on their hands, because
they will be the last appeal of reason. These
are my general ideas of amendments; but,
preserving the ends, I should be flexible and
conciliatory as to the means.—
To Archibald Stuart. Washington ed. iii, 314. Ford ed., v, 408.
(Pa., Dec. 1791)

8835. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Bill of rights.—

The fact is unquestionable
that the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution
of Virginia, were originally drawn by George
Mason, one of our really great men, and of
the first order of greatness.—
To Augustus B. Woodward. Washington ed. vii, 405. Ford ed., x, 341.
(M. 1825)

8836. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Equal rights and.—

The basis of our [Virginia] Constitution is in opposition to the
principle of equal political rights, refusing to
all but freeholders any participation in the
natural right of self-government. It is believed,
for example, that a very great majority
of the militia, on whom the burthen of
military duty was imposed in the late war,
were unrepresented in the legislature, which
imposed this burthen on them. However nature
may by mental or physical disqualifications
have marked infants and the weaker
sex for the protection, rather than the direction
of government, yet among the men who
either pay or fight for their country, no line
of right can be drawn. The exclusion of a
majority of our freemen from the right of
representation is merely arbitrary, and an
usurpation of the minority over the majority;
for it is believed that the non-freeholders
compose the majority of our free and adult
male citizens. And even among our citizens
who participate in the representative privilege,
the equality of political right is entirely
prostrated by our constitution. Upon which
principle of right or reason can any one justify
the giving to every citizen of Warwick
as much weight in the government as to


Page 912
twenty-two equal citizens in Loudon and
similar inequalities among the other counties?
If these fundamental principles are of
no importance in actual government, then no
principles are important.—
To John Hambden Pleasants. Washington ed. vii, 345. Ford ed., x, 303.
(M. 1824)

8837. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Improvements on.—

The other States, who
successively formed constitutions for themselves
also, had the benefit of our ( Virginia's )
outline, and have made on it, doubtless,
successive improvements. One in the very
outset, and which has been adopted in every
subsequent constitution, was to lay its foundation
in the authority of the nation. To our
convention no special authority had been delegated
by the people to form a permanent
Constitution, over which their successors in
legislation should have no powers of alteration.
They had been elected for the ordinary
purposes of legislation only, and at a time
when the establishment of a new government
had not been proposed or contemplated. Although,
therefore, they gave to this act the
title of a Constitution, yet it could be no more
than an act of legislation subject, as their
other acts were, to alteration by their successors.
It has been said, indeed, that the
acquiescence of the people supplied the want
of original power. But it is a dangerous lesson
to say to them, “whenever your functionaries
exercise unlawful authority over you, if
you do not go into actual resistance, it will
be deemed acquiescence and confirmation”
How long had we acquiesced under usurpations
of the British parliament? Had that
confirmed them in right, and made our
revolution a wrong? Besides, no authority
has yet decided whether this resistance must
be instantaneous; when the right to resist
ceases, or whether it has yet ceased? Of
the twenty-four States now organized,
twenty-three have disapproved our doctrine
and example, and have deemed the authority
of their people a necessary foundation for
a constitution.—
To John Hambden Pleasants. Washington ed. vii, 344. Ford ed., x, 302.
(M. April. 1824)

8838. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Preamble to.—

The history of the Preamble
to the [first] Constitution of Virginia is this:
I was then at Philadelphia with Congress;
and knowing that the convention of Virginia
was engaged in forming a plan of government,
I turned my mind to the same subject,
and drew a sketch or outline of a Constitution,
with a preamble, which I sent to Mr.
Pendleton, president of the convention, on
the mere possibility that it might suggest
something worth incorporation into that before
the convention. He informed me afterwards
by letter, that he received it on the day
on which the committee of the whole had reported
to the house the plan they had agreed
to; that that had been so long in hand, so
disputed inch by inch, and the subject of so
much altercation and debate; that they were
worried with the contention it had produced,
and could not from mere lassitude, have been
induced to open the instrument again; but that,
being pleased with the preamble to mine, they
adopted it in the house, by way of amendment
to the report of the committee; and thus my
preamble became tacked to the work of
George Mason. The Constitution, with the
preamble, was passed on the 29th of June,
and the Committee of Congress had only the
day before that reported to that body the
draught of the Declaration of Independence.
The fact is, that that preamble was prior in
composition to the Declaration; and both having
the same object, of justifying our separation
from Great Britain, they used necessarily
the same materials of justification, and hence
their similitude.—
To A. B. Woodward. Washington ed. vii, 405. Ford ed., x, 341.
(M. 1825)

8839. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Repealability of.—

If the present Assembly
pass an act, and declare it shall be irrevocable
by subsequent assemblies, the declaration
is merely void, and the act repealable, as other
acts are. So far, and no farther authorized,
they [the first Virginia convention] organized
the government by the ordinance entitled
a Constitution or form of government.
It pretends to no higher authority than the
other ordinances of the same session; it does
not say that it shall be perpetual; that it
shall be unalterable by other legislatures; that
it shall be transcendent above the powers of
those who they knew would have equal power
with themselves. Not only the silence of the
instrument is a proof they thought it would
be alterable, but their own practice also; for
this very convention, meeting as a House of
Delegates in General Assembly with the Senate
in the autumn of that year, passed acts of
assembly in contradiction to their ordinance
of government; and every assembly from that
time to this has done the same. I am safe,
therefore, in the position that the Constitution
itself is alterable by the ordinary legislature.
Though this opinion seems founded on the
first elements of common sense, yet is the
contrary maintained by some persons. First,
because, say they, the conventions were vested
with every power necessary to make effectual
opposition to Great Britain. But to complete
this argument, they must go on, and say
further, that effectual opposition could not
be made to Great Britain without establishing
a form of government perpetual and unalterable
by the Legislature; which is not
true. An opposition which at some time or
other was to come to an end, could not need
a perpetual constitution to carry it on; and a
government amendable as its defects should
be discovered, was as likely to make effectual
resistance, as one that should be unalterably
wrong. Besides, the assemblies were as much
vested with all powers requisite for resistance
as the Conventions were. If, therefore, these
powers included that of modelling the form
of government in the one case, they did so
in the other. The assemblies then as well as
the conventions may model the government;
that is, they may alter the ordinance of government.
Second, they urge, that if the convention
had meant that this instrument should


Page 913
be alterable, as their other ordinances were,
they would have called it an ordinance; but
they have called it a constitution, which,
ex vi termini, means “an act above the power
of the ordinary legislature.” I answer that
constitutio, constitutum, statutum, lex, are
convertible terms. * * * Thirdly. But, say
they, the people have acquiesced, and this
has given it an authority superior to the laws.
It is true that the people did not rebel against
it; and was that a time for the people to rise
in rebellion? Should a prudent acquiescence,
at a critical time, be construed into a confirmation
of every illegal thing done during
that period? Besides, why should they rebel?
At an annual election they had chosen delegates
for the year, to exercise the ordinary
powers of legislation, and to manage the
great contest in which they were engaged.
These delegates thought the contest would be
best managed by an organized government.
They, therefore, among others, passed an ordinance
of government. They did not presume
to call it perpetual and unalterable.
They well knew they had no power to make
it so; that our choice of them had been for
no such purpose, and at a time when we could
have no such purpose in contemplation. Had
an unalterable form of government been meditated,
perhaps we should have chosen a different
set of people. There was no cause,
then, for the people to rise in rebellion. But
to what dangerous lengths will this argument
lead? Did the acquiescence of the Colonies
under the various acts of power exercised
by Great Britain in our infant state, confirm
these acts, and so far invest them with the
authority of the people as to render them unalterable,
and our present resistance wrong?
On every unauthoritative exercise of power
by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion,
or their silence be construed into a
surrender of that power to them? If so,
how many rebellions should we have had
already? One certainly for every session of
assembly. The other States in the Union have
been of opinion that to render a form of government
unalterable by ordinary acts of Assembly,
the people must delegate persons with
special powers. They have accordingly
chosen special conventions to form and fix
their governments. The individuals then who
maintain the contrary opinion in this country,
should have the modesty to suppose it
possible that they may be wrong, and the rest
of America right. But if there be only a
possibility of their being wrong, if only a
plausible doubt remains of the validity of the
ordinance of government, is it not better to
remove that doubt by placing it on a bottom
which none will dispute? If they be right we
shall only have the unnecessary trouble of
meeting once in convention. If they be wrong,
they expose us to the hazard of having no
fundamental rights at all. True it is, this is
no time for deliberating on forms of government.
While an enemy is within our bowels,
the first object is to expel him. But when
this shall be done, when peace shall be established,
and leisure given us for intrenching
within good forms the rights for which we
have bled, let no man be found indolent
enough to decline a little more trouble for
placing them beyond the reach of question.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 364. Ford ed., iii, 226.

See Virginia, Conventions.

8840. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Representation under.—

The first Constitution
[of Virginia] was formed when we were
new and inexperienced in the science of government.
It was the first, too, which was
formed in the whole United States. No
wonder, then, that time and trial have discovered
very capital defects in it. The majority
of the men in the State, who pay and
fight for its support, are unrepresented in the
Legislature, the roll of freeholders entitled to
vote, not including generally the half of those
on the roll of the militia, or of the taxgatherers.
Among those who share the representation,
the shares are very unequal.
Thus the county of Warwick, with only one
hundred fighting men, has an equal representation
with the county of Loudon, which has
one thousand seven hundred and forty-six.
So that every man in Warwick has as much
influence as seventeen men in Loudon.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 359. Ford ed., iii, 222.

8841. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Republican heresies in.—

Inequality of representation
in both houses of our Legislature,
is not the only republican heresy in this first
essay of our revolutionary patriots at forming
a constitution. For let it be agreed that a
government is republican in proportion as
every member composing it has his equal
voice in the direction of its concerns (not
indeed in person, which would be impracticable
beyond the limits of a city, or a small
township, but) by representatives chosen by
himself, and responsible to him at short periods,
and let us bring to the test of this canon
every branch of our Constitution. In the
Legislature, the House of Representatives is
chosen by less than half the people, and not
at all in proportion to those who do choose.
The Senate are still more disproportionate,
and for long terms of irresponsibility. In the
Executive, the Governor is entirely independent
of the choice of the people, and of their
control; his Council equally so, and at best
but a fifth wheel to a wagon. In the Judiciary,
the judges of the highest courts are dependent
on none but themselves. In England,
where judges were named and removable at
the will of an hereditary executive, from
which branch most misrule was feared, and
has flowed, it was a great point gained, by
fixing them for life, to make them independent
of that executive. But in a government
founded on the public will, this principle
operates in an opposite direction, and against
that will. There, too, they are still removable
on a concurrence of the executive and legislative
branches. But we have made them independent
of the nation itself. They are irremovable,
but by their own body, for any de


Page 914
pravities of conduct, and even by their own
body for the imbecilities of dotage. The justices
of the inferior courts are self-chosen,
are for life, and perpetuate their own body in
succession forever, so that a faction once
possessing themselves of the bench of a
county, can never be broken up, but hold
their county in chains, forever indissoluble.
Yet these justices are the real executive as
well as judiciary, in all our minor and most ordinary concerns. They tax us at will; fill
the office of sheriff, the most important of all
the executive officers of the county; name
nearly all our military leaders, which leaders,
once named, are removable but by themselves.
The juries, our judges of all fact, and of law
when they choose it, are not selected by the
people, nor amenable to them. They are
chosen by an officer named by the court and
executive. Chosen, did I say? Picked up by
the sheriff from the loungers of the court
yard, after everything respectable has retired
from it. Where, then, is our republicanism to
be found? Not in our Constitution certainly,
but merely in the spirit of our people. That
would oblige even a despot to govern us republicanly.
Owing to this spirit, and to nothing
in the form of our Constitution, all things
have gone well. But this fact, so triumphantly
misquoted by the enemies of reformation,
is not the fruit of our Constitution, but
has prevailed in spite of it. Our functionaries
have done well, because generally honest men.
If any were not so, they feared to show it—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 10. Ford ed., x, 38.
(M. 1816)

8842. VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION, Revision of.—

Let us [Virginia] provide in
our Constitution for its revision at stated periods.
What these periods should be, nature
herself indicates. By the European tables of
mortality, of the adults living at any one moment
of time, a majority will be dead in about
nineteen years. At the end of that period,
then, a new majority is come into place; or,
in other words, a new generation. Each generation
is as independent of the one preceding,
as that was of all which had gone before.
It has, then, like them, a right to choose for
itself the form of government it believes
most promotive of its own happiness; consequently,
to accommodate to the circumstances
in which it finds itself, that received
from its predecessors; and it is for
the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn
opportunity of doing this every nineteen or
twenty years, should be provided by the constitution;
so that it may be handed on, with
periodical repairs, from generation to generation,
to the end of time, if anything human
can so long endure.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 15. Ford ed., x, 42.
(M. 1816)


The power of declaring war
and concluding peace, of contracting alliances,
of issuing letters of marque and reprisal, of
raising and introducing armed forces, of
building armed vessels, forts, or strongholds,
of coining money or regulating its value, of
regulating weights and measures, we leave to
be exercised under the authority of the Confederation;
but in all cases respecting them
which are out of the said Confederation, they
shall be exercised by the Governor, under
the regulation of such laws as the Legislature
may think it expedient to pass.—
Proposed Constitution for Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 446. Ford ed., iii, 326.

8844. VIRTUE, Agriculture and.—

think our governments will remain virtuous
for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly
agricultural; and this will be as long as there
shall be vacant lands in any part of America. [505]
To James Madison. Ford ed., iv, 479
(P. Dec. 1787)


In the Congress edition, Vol. 2, p. 332, this
extract has been “edited” so as to read: “I think
we shall be so [virtuous] as long as agriculture is
our principal object, which will be the case, while
there remain vacant lands in any part of America,—Editor.

8845. VIRTUE, Agriculture and.—[continued].

That there is much vice
and misery in the world, I know; but more
virtue and happiness I believe, at least in our
part of it; the latter being the lot of those
employed in agriculture in a greater degree
than of other callings.—
To Abbe Salimankis. Washington ed. v, 516.
(M. 1810)

8846. VIRTUE, Ambition and.—

It is a
sublime truth that a bold, unequivocal virtue
is the best handmaid even to ambition.—
To John Jay. Washington ed. iii, 52.
(P. 1789)

8847. VIRTUE, Aristocracy of.—

has wisely provided an aristocracy of virtue
and talent for the direction of the interests
of society, and scattered it with equal hand
through all its conditions.—
Autobiography. Washington ed. i, 36. Ford ed., i, 49.

8848. VIRTUE, Essence of.—

does not consist in the act we do, but in the
end it is to effect. If it is to effect the happiness
of him to whom it is directed, it is
virtuous, while in a society under different
circumstances and opinions, the same act
might produce pain, and would be vicious.
The essence of virtue is in doing good to
others, while what is good may be one thing
in one society, and its contrary in another.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. vii, 40.
(M. 1816)

8849. VIRTUE, Happiness and.—

virtue, happiness cannot be.—
To Amos J. Cook. Washington ed. vi, 532.
(M. 1816)

8850. VIRTUE, Interest and.—

and interest are inseparable.—
To George Logan. Ford ed., x, 69.

8851. VIRTUE, Not hereditary.—

is not hereditary.—
To William Johnson. Washington ed. vii, 291. Ford ed., x, 227.
(M. 1823)

8852. VIRTUE, Practice of.—

all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise
them whenever an opportunity arises; being
assured that they will gain in strength by exercise,
as a limb of the body does, and that
exercise will make them habitual. From the
practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured
you will derive the most sublime com


Page 915
forts in every moment of life, and in the moment
of death.—
To Peter Carr. Washington ed. i, 396.
(P. 1785)

8853. VIRTUE, Principles of.—

is useful which contributes to fix in the
principles and practices of virtue. When any
original act of charity or of gratitude, for
instance, is presented either to our sight or
imagination, we are deeply impressed with its
beauty, and feel a strong desire in ourselves
of doing charitable and grateful acts also.—
To Robert Skipwith. Ford ed., i, 396.
(M. 1771)

8854. VIRTUE, Public office and.—

promoting the public happiness, those persons,
whom nature has endowed with genius and
virtue, should be rendered by liberal education
worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred
deposit of the rights and liberties of their
fellow citizens; and they should be called
to that charge without regard to wealth,
birth or other accidental condition or circumstance.—
Diffusion of Knowledge Bill. Ford ed., ii, 221.

VISION.—See Optics.

8855. VOLNEY (Comte de), Alien law and.—

Volney has in truth been the principal
object aimed at by the [Alien] law.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 239. Ford ed., vii, 248.
(Pa., May. 1798)

See Alien and Sedition Laws.

8856. VOLNEY (Comte de), Opposed to war.—

Volney and a shipload of French sail
[soon]. * * * It is natural to expect they go
under irritations calculated to fan the flame.
Not so Volney. He is most thoroughly impressed
with the importance of preventing war,
whether considered with reference to the interests
of the two countries, of the cause of republicanism,
or of man on the broad scale.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 245. Ford ed., vii, 262.
(Pa., May. 1798)

8857. VOLUNTEERS, Organizing.—

have encouraged the acceptance of volunteers,
* * * [who] have offered themselves with
great alacrity in every part of the Union. [506] They are ordered to be organized * * *.—
Seventh Annual Message. Washington ed. viii, 87. Ford ed., ix, 162.
(Oct. 1807)

See Army and Militia.


To oppose Burr's treason.—Editor.

8858. VOTES, Traffic in.—

I believe we
may lessen the danger of buying and selling
votes, by making the number of voters too
great for any means of purchase.—
To Jeremiah Moor. Ford ed., vii, 454.
(M. Aug. 1800)

8859. VOTING, Courtesy to age.—

electors presenting themselves should be received
to vote before the younger ones, and
the Legislature shall provide for the secure
and convenient claim and exercise of this
privilege of age.—
Notes for a Constitution for Virginia. Ford ed., vi, 521.

8860. VOTING, Viva voce.—

All free
male citizens of full age and sane mind * * * shall have a right to vote for delegates. * * * They shall give their votes personally, and
viva voce.
Proposed Virginia Constitution. Washington ed. viii, 444. Ford ed., iii, 323.