Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. Diary of Arnold’s Invasion and Notes on Subsequent Events in 1781: Versions of 1796?, 1805, and 1816

I. Diary of Arnold’s Invasion and Notes on Subsequent Events in 1781: Versions of 1796?, 1805, and 1816

I. (a) The 1796? Version

Sunday. Richmond. 1780. Dec. 31.1

At 8. A.M. the Governor [Th: J.]2 recieves the first intelligence that 27. sail of ships had entered Chesapeak bay, and were in the morning of the 29th. just below Willoughby’s point, the Southern cape of James river,3 their destination unknown.

[1]781. Jan. 2. Tuesday.

At 10. A.M. information is recieved that they had entered James river, their advance being at Warrasqueak bay. Orders were immediately given for calling in the militia, ¼ from some, and ½ from other counties. The members of the legislature, which rises this day, are the bearers of the orders to their respective counties. The Governor directs the removal of the Records into the country, and the transportation of the military stores from Richmond to Westham, there to be carried across the river.

Wed. Jan. 3.

At 8. P.M. the enemy are said to be a little below Jamestown, convenient for landing, if Williamsburg is their object.

Thursd. Jan. 4.

At 5. A.M. information is recieved that they had past Kennon’s and Hood’s, the evening before with a strong Easterly wind; which determines their object to be either Petersburg or Richmond. The Governor now calls in the whole militia from the adjacent counties.

At 5. P.M. information that at 2. P.M. they were landed and drawn up at Westover,4 and consequently Richmond their destination. Orders are now given to discontinue waggoning the military stores from Richmond to Westham; and to throw them across the river directly at Richmond.

The Governor, having attended to this till an hour and a half in the night, then rode up to the Foundery, a mile below Westham,5 ordered Capts. Boush and Irish, and Mr. Hylton to continue all night waggoning to Westham the arms and stores still at the Foundery, to be thrown across the river at Westham; then proceeded to Westham, to press the transportation there across the river, and thence went to Tuckahoe,6 to take care of his family, which he had sent that far in the course of the day. He arrived there at 1. aclock in the night.

Frid. J[an. 5.]

Early in the morning he carried his family across the river there, and, sending them to Fine creek, 8 miles higher up,5 went himself to Britton’s, opposite to Westham.5 Finding the arms &c. in a heap near the shore, and exposed to be destroyed by cannon from the North bank, he had them removed behind a point of land near by. He proceeded to Manchester.7 The enemy had arrived at Richmond at 1. P.M. Having found that nearly the whole arms had been brought there from Richmond, he set out for Chetwood’s to meet with Baron Steuben, who had appointed that place as a rendezvous and Head-quarters; but not finding him there, and understanding he would be at Colo. Fleming’s, 6 miles above Britton’s,5 he proceeded thither. The enemy had now a detachment at Westham, and sent a deputation from the city of Richmond to the Governor, at Colo. Fleming’s, to propose terms for ransoming the safety of the city; which terms he rejected.

Sat. Jan. [6.]

The Governor returned to Britton’s; had measures taken more effectually to secure the books and papers there. The enemy, having burnt some houses and stores, left Richmond, after 24. hours stay there, and encamped at Fourmile creek, 10. miles below;8 and the Governor went to look to his family at Fine creek.

Sund. Jan. [7.]

He returned to Britton’s to see further to the arms there, exposed on the ground to heavy rains which had fallen the night before, and then proceeded to Manchester, where he lodged that night. The enemy encamped at Westover.

Mond. Ja[n. 8.]

At half after 7. A.M. he crossed over to Richmond, and resumed his residence there. The enemy are still retained in their encampment at Westover by an Easterly wind. Colo. John Nicholas has now 300. militia at the Forest, 6. miles above Westover,9 General Nelson 200. at Charles city Courthouse, 8. miles below Westover,5 Gibson 1000. and Baron Steuben 800. on the South side of James river.

Tuesd. Jan. 9.

The enemy are still encamped at Westover.

Wed. Jan. 10.

At 1. P.M. they embark; and the wind having shifted a little to the North of the West, and pretty fresh, they fall down the river. Baron Steuben marches for Hood’s, where their passage may be checked. He reaches Bland’s mills in the evening, within 9. miles of Hood’s.

Thursd. Jan. 11.

At 8. A.M. the wind due West and strong, they make good their retreat down the river.10

Soon after this, General Phillips having joined Arnold with a reinforcement of 2000. men, they advanced again up to Petersburg, and about the last of April to Manchester. The Governor had remained constantly in and about Richmond, exerting his powers for collecting militia, and providing such means for the defence of the state as it’s exhausted resources admitted; lodging frequently within 4. 5. and 6. miles of them, generally with only the river between him and them, and without even a centinel.

M. de la Fayette, about this time, arrived at Richmond with some continental troops, with which, and the militia collected, he continued to occupy that place, and the North bank of the river; while Phillips and Arnold held Manchester and the South bank. But Lord Cornwallis, about the Middle of May, joining them with the main Southern army, M. de la Fayette was obliged to retire. The enemy crossed the river, and advanced up into the country about 50. miles, and within 30. miles of Charlottesville, at which place the legislature being to meet on the 24th. of May, the Governor proceeded on the 16th. to Monticello near that place.11 His office was now near expiring, the country under invasion by a powerful army, no services but military of any avail, unprepared by his line of life and education for the command of armies, he believed it right not to stand in the way of talents better fitted than his own to the circumstances under which the country was placed. He herefore himself proposed to his friends in the legislature, that Genl. Nelson, who commanded the militia of the state, should be appointed Governor, believing that the union of the civil and military power in the same hands, at this time would greatly facilitate military measures.12

This was the state of things when, his office having expired on the 2d June, and his successor not yet in place, Colo. Tarlton, with his regiment of horse, was detached by Ld. Cornwallis, to surprize him (supposed to be still governor) and the legislature now sitting in Charlottesville. The Speakers of the two houses, and some other members of the legislature, were lodging with him at Monticello. Tarleton, early in the morning of June 4. when within 10. miles of that place, detached a company of horse to secure him and his guests, and proceeded himself rapidly with his main body to Charlottesville, where he hoped to find the legislature unapprised of his movement.13 Notice of it however had been brought both to Monticello and Charlottesville about sunrise, by a Mr. Jouett from Louisa, who seeing them pass his father’s house in the evening of the 3d. and riding through the night along by-ways, brought the notice. The Speakers, with their Colleagues, returned to Charlottesville, and with the other members of the legislature, had barely time to get out of the way.14

I now sent off my family, to secure them from danger and was myself still at Monticello, making arrangements for my own departure, when Lt. Cristoph. Hudson arrived there at half speed, and informed me the enemy were ascending the hill of Monticello. I departed immediately, and knowing that I should be pursued if I followed the public road, in which too my family would be found, I took my course thro’ the woods along the mountains and overtook my family at Colo. Cole’s, dined there, and carried them on to Rockfish after dinner, and the next day to Colo. Hugh Rose’s in Amherst. I left them there on the 7th. and returned to Monticello. Tarleton had retired after 18. hours stay in Charlottesville. I then rejoined my family at Colo. Rose’s and proceeded with them to Poplar Forest in Bedford 80. miles S.W. from Monticello. On a ride into the farm about the end of the month, I was thrown from my horse, and disabled from riding on horseback some months. I returned to Monticello July 26. and learning some time after that Mr. George Nicholas, then a young man, just entered into the legislature, proposed to institute some enquiry into my conduct before the legislature, a member from my county vacated his seat, and the county elected me, in his room, that I might vindicate myself on the floor of the house. Thro’ the intervention of a friend, I obtained from Mr. Nicholas a written note of the charges he proposed to bring forward, and I furnished him in return the heads of the answers I should make. On the day appointed for hearing his charges he withdrew from the house; and no other undertaking to bring them forward, I did it myself in my place, from his paper, answering them seriatim to the house. The members had been witnesses themselves to all the material facts, and passed an unanimous vote of approbation, which may be seen on their journals.15 Mr. Nicholas was an honest and honorable man, and took a conspicuous occasion, many years after, of his own free will, and when the matter was entirely at rest, to retract publicly the erroneous opinions he had been led into on that occasion, and to make just reparation by a candid acknolegement of them.

I (b). The 1816 Version of the Diary and Notes of 1781

Extract from my diary Dec. 31. 1780. to Jany. 11. 1781.

Sat. Dec. 31. 1780. 8. aclock A.M. Received first intelligence that 27. sail were in the morning of the 29th. just below Willoughby’s point. Sent off Genl. Nelson with full powers.

1781. Jan. 1. No intelligence.

Jan. 2. 10. aclock A.M. Information from N. Burwell that their advance was at Warrasqueak bay. Gave orders for militia, ¼ from some, and ½ from other counties. Assembly rose.

Wedn. Jan. 3. 8. aclock P.M. Received letter from E. Archer Swan’s point that at 12. aclock that day they were at anchor a little below Jamestown. At 5 aclock P.M. of same day, I had received a letter from R. Andrews, for Genl. Nelson, that they were at Jamestown the evening of the 2d.

Thursday. 4th. 5. aclock A.M. Mr. Eppes and family &c. came and informed me from the Speaker that they had passed Kennon’s and Hood’s the evening before, the tide having made for them at 1. aclock P.M. of the 3d. and the wind shifted to E. strong. They had not however past Hood’s; but anchored at Kennon’s. Called whole militia from adjacent counties. I was then anxious to know whether they would pass Westover or not, as that would shew the side they would land.

Eod. die. 5. aclock P.M. Learnt by Capt. DePonthiere that at 2. aclock P.M. they were drawn up at Westover. Then ordered arms, and stores &c. (which till then had been carrying to Westham) to be thrown across the river at Richmond; and at half after 7. P.M. set out to the Foundery and Westham, and set Capt. Brush [Boush], Capt. Irish, and Mr. Hylton to see every thing waggoned from the magazine and Laboratory to Westham, and there thrown over. To work all night. The enemy encamped at 4. mile creek. I went to Tuckahoe and lodged.

5. Early went over the river with my family; sent them up to Finecreek; went myself to Westham: gave orders for withdrawing ammunition and arms (which lay exposed on the bank to the effect of artillery from opposite shore) behind a point. Then went to Manchester; had a view of the enemy. My horse sunk under me with fatigue; borrowed one, went to Chetwood’s, appointed by Baron Steuben as a rendezvous and head quarters, but finding him not there and understanding he would go to Colo. Fleming’s, I proceeded there for quarters. The enemy arrived in Richmond at one aclock P.M. One regiment of infantry and 30. horse proceeded without stopping to the Foundery, burnt that and the magazine and Ballendine’s house, and went as far as Westham. They returned that evening to Richmond. Sent me a proposition to compound for property. Refused.

6. In the morning they burnt certain houses and stores, and at 12. aclock of that day left Richmond, and encamped at 4. mile creek. I went to Westham, ordered books and papers particularly from magazine. In the evening went up to Fine creek.

7. I returned to Westham, and then came down to Manchester where I lodged. The enemy encamped at Westover and Berkley. It has rained excessively the preceding night, and continued to do so till about noon. Gibson has 1000. Steuben 800. Davis 200. Nelson 250.

8. At half after 7. A.M. I returned to Richmond. The wind gets, about this time, to N.W. A good gale in the afternoon becomes Easterly. The enemy remain in their last encampment. Genl. Nelson at Charles city C.H. Colo. J. Nicholas with 300. men at the Forest.

9. 11. aclock. The wind is S.E. but almost nothing. The enemy remain in their last encampment except embarking their horse.

10. At 1. aclock P.M. they embark infantry, and fall down the river, the wind having shifted a little North of West and pretty fresh. Baron Steuben gets to Bland’s mills to night, nine miles short of Hood’s.

11. 8. aclock A.M. The wind due West and strong.

Loss sustained by the public.

  • The papers and books of the council since the revolution.
  • The papers of the Auditors, but not their books.
  • 5. brass field pieces, 4. pounders, which had been sunk in the river,
    but were weighed by the enemy.
  • About 150. arms in the Capitol loft.
  • About 150. in a waggon on the Brook road.
  • About 5. tons of powder and some made ammunition at magazine.
  • Some small proportion of the linens, cloths &c. in public store.
  • Some Q.M. stores. The principal article was 120. sides of leather.
  • Some of the tools in the Artificers’ shops.
  • Foundery, magazine, 4. artificer’s shops.
  • Public store. Q.M’s store. 1. artificer’s shop.
  • 3. waggons.

The legislature was sitting when the entrance of the enemy into James river was made known. They were informed, without reserve, of the measures adopted, every suggestion from the members was welcomed and weighed, and their adjournment on the 2d. of January furnished the most immediate and confidential means of calling for the militia of their several counties. They accordingly became the bearers of those calls, and they were witnesses themselves that every preparation was making which the exhausted and harrassed state of the country admitted.

They met again at Richmond in May, and adjourned to Charlottesville, where they made a house on the 28th. My office of Governor expired on the 2d. of June, being the 5th. day of the session; and no successor had been appointed, when an enterprize on the 4th. by Tarlton’s cavalry drove them thence, and they met again at Staunton on the 7th. Some members attended there who had not been at Richmond at the time of Arnold’s enterprize. One of these, George Nicholas, a very honest and able man, then however young and ardent, supposing there had been some remissness in the measures of the Executive on that occasion, moved for an enquiry into them, to be made at the succeeding session. The members who had been present and privy to the transactions, courted the enquiry on behalf of the Executive. Mr. Nicholas, as a candid and honorable man, sent me, thro’ a friend, a copy of the topics of enquiry he proposed to go into; and I communicated to him, with the same frankness, the justifications I should offer, that he might be prepared to refute them if not founded in fact‥‥16

And here it is but proper to notice the parody of these transactions which Genl. Lee has given as their history. He was in a distant state at the time, and seems to have made up a random account from the rumors which were afloat where he then was. It is a tissue of errors from beginning to end.

The nonsense which has been uttered on the coup de main of Tarlton on Charlottesville is really so ridiculous that it is almost ridiculous seriously to notice it. I will briefly however notice facts and dates. It has been said before that the legislature was driven from Charlottesville, by an incursion of the enemy’s cavalry. Since the adjournment from Richmond, their force in this country had been greatly augmented by reinforcements under Ld. Cornwallis and General Phillips; and they had advanced up into the country as far as Elk island, and the Fork of James river. Learning that the legislature was in session at Charlottesville, they detached Colo. Tarleton with his legion of horse to surprise them. As he was passing through Louisa on the evening of the 3d. of June, he was observed by a Mr. Jouett, who suspecting the object, set out immediately for Charlottesville, and knowing the by-ways of the neighborhood, passed the enemy’s encampment, rode all night, and before sun-rise of the 4th. called at Monticello with notice of what he had seen, and passed on to Charlottesville to notify the members of the legislature. The Speakers of the two houses, and some other members were lodging with us. I ordered a carriage to be ready to carry off my family; we breakfasted at leisure with our guests, and after breakfast they had gone to Charlottesville; when a neighbor rode up full speed to inform me that a troop of horse was then ascending the hill to the house. I instantly sent off my family, and, after a short delay for some pressing arrangements, I mounted my horse, and knowing that in the public road I should be liable to fall in with the enemy, I went thro’ the woods, and joined my family at the house of a friend where we dined. Would it be believed, were it not known, that this flight from a troop of horse, whose whole legion too was within supporting distance, has been the subject, with party writers, of volumes of reproach on me, serious or sarcastic? That it has been sung in verse, and said in humble prose that, forgetting the noble example of the hero of La Mancha, and his windmills, I declined a combat, singly against a troop, in which victory would have been so glorious? Forgetting, themselves, at the same time, that I was not provided with the enchanted arms of the knight, nor even with his helmet of Mambrino. These closet heroes forsooth would have disdained the shelter of a wood, even singly and unarmed, against a legion of armed enmies.

Here too I must note another instance of the want of that correctness in writing history, without which it becomes romance. Genl. Lee says that Tarleton, in another enterprise some time after, penetrated up the South side of James river to New London, in Bedford county. To that neighborhood precisely, where I had a possession, I had carried my family, and was confined there several weeks by the effects of a fall from my horse, and I can assure the readers of Genl. Lee’s history that no enemy ever came within 40. miles of New London.

Three versions of this document survive, here designated as MS (1), MS (2), and MS (3), of which (1) and (3) are printed in full above. Each MS consists of two parts—a fair copy of TJ’s (now missing) original diary of Arnold’s invasion, kept from 31 Dec. 1780 to 11 Jan. 1781, together with several added paragraphs of memoranda and observations on events later in the year 1781. The texts of the Diary in MS (1) and MS (2) are virtually identical; MS (3) provides a terser version, which, however, contains some data not found elsewhere and is for that reason printed in full. The material appended to each copy of the Diary is substantially different in all three MSS; the material added to MS (2), the only MS not printed in full, is given in notes 10, 12, and 13 below. A description of the three MSS follows:

MS (1) (DLC: TJ Papers, 6: 1012–13); 4 p.; undated; entirely in TJ’s hand and captioned by him: “A Diary kept by Th: J from Dec. 31. 1780 to Jan. 11. 1781. and more general notes of subsequent transactions during the British invasion.” The first part of the MS (the Diary) is a copy of “memorandums … often written on horseback, and on scraps of paper taken out of my pocket at the moment,” preserved to the end of TJ’s life but not now known to be extant (TJ to the younger Henry Lee, 15 May 1826). The date when this fair copy was made has not been established, though except for one slightly later addition (see note 15) it may well have been made in 1796 when the Depositions of Blair, Hylton, and Currie (Document iii) were taken down. MS (1) has apparently not been hitherto printed.

MS (2) (DLC: TJ Papers, 150: 26239–41); 6 p.; without date and without caption. This MS contains the text of the Diary without essential change (though see notes 3 to 9 below) from MS (1), but the appended matter, modified and enlarged in substance, provides conclusive evidence as to the date of this fair copy, for TJ here alludes to the slanders of a Federalist writer named Turner and mentions specifically the “lapse of four and twenty years” since the events under discussion. MS (2) was, therefore, prepared in 1805, in reply to attacks by Thomas Turner of Jefferson co., who had published a hostile and highly embroidered account of TJ’s “abandonment” of Richmond in May and his flight from Monticello in June 1781 that was reprinted in New England newspapers (see Woodfin, “Contemporary Opinion in Virginia of Thomas Jefferson,” p. 65–6; and Thomas Paine, “Another Callender- Thomas Turner of Virginia,” Complete Writings, ed. Foner, ii, 980–8). MS (2) has been printed in the principal editions of TJ’s writings, though only Ford (viii, 363–74) has assigned it a date, namely, Aug. 1805.

MS (3) (DLC: TJ Papers, 207: 36976–80); 10 p.; PoC in TJ’s hand, with caption as printed above. This MS is part of a series of documentary enclosures in TJ’s letter to Joseph Delaplaine, 26 July 1816, in reply to a request for factual details respecting Arnold’s raid on Richmond and Tarleton’s raid on Charlottesville. Delaplaine drew heavily on this account for the biographical sketch of TJ in his famous Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters (Phila., 1815–1816), but, in deference to TJ’s “insuperable aversion” to being drawn into public controversy, suppressed his source of information. Girardin in his continuation of Burk’s History of Virginia, iv (1816), xii-xv, printed the Diary of Arnold’s invasion as copied out in MS (3) and also a portion of the appended matter. Girardin’s work was largely written while the author lived at or near Milton in Albemarle co., 1813–1815, and was based on TJ’s books and MSS. TJ himself read and corrected Girardin’s chapters relating to the Revolution, and it is especially interesting to find that, in a letter of 12 May 1815 returning a draft of Chapter xviii (dealing with the events of early 1781), TJ said that he had made important changes in the order of Girardin’s narrative, though he had left “all … stated in your own words.” He went on to say that he could now vouch for the perfect accuracy of the narrative of “the movements of the enemy, and my own, day by day as they occurred during Arnold’s excursion to Richmond.” These events were fairly fresh in TJ’s mind in 1815 because he had evidently gone over his papers after reading Gen. Henry Lee’s account of the raid on Richmond in Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department (Phila. and N.Y., 1812), ii, 5–15. Lee’s strictures on Virginia’s unpreparedness for the invasion despite Washington’s warning of it in December, her prostration “at the feet of a handful of men, led by a traitor and deserter,” because of “the timidity and impotence” of her “rulers” (meaning TJ), were strong reasons for TJ’s desire to put the facts as he knew them on record and for his later appeal to Lee’s son to correct his father’s account when a revised edition was in preparation (see TJ to the younger Lee, 15 May 1826; the new edition, issued in 1827, contained Lee’s exchange of letters with TJ in 1826 in a long note, p. 203ff.). Comparing the text of the Diary in MS (3), that is to say, the 1816 copy, with that in MS (1) and MS (2), it is impossible to account satisfactorily for some of the differences between them. The entries in the 1816 version are much more condensed, much more truly diary-like, and this text may well be closer to the original than that of the other copies. But if we may account for the smoother style of the earlier copies by supposing that TJ was there freely expanding his original rough entries, why did he leave out certain material facts (such as the names of the persons from whom he received information of the enemy’s movements on 3 Jan.) that are in MS (3)? A detailed comparison would reveal other variations for which there is at present no adequate explanation.

1In MS (1) and MS (2) the dates appear as marginal glosses.

2Brackets in MS.

3In MS (2) this explanatory phrase is enclosed in square brackets, as are other similar ones indicated in the following notes. This suggests that in preparing MS (2) TJ was more scrupulous in distinguishing later insertions in the text of the Diary, but this supposition is incorrect if the more condensed MS (3) is actually a literal copy of the original Diary.

4MS (2) has the following inserted in brackets after “Westover”: “on the North side of the river and 25. miles below Richmond.”

5This phrase is bracketed in MS (2).

6MS (2) has the following inserted in brackets after “Tuckahoe”: “8. miles above and on the same side of the river.”

7MS (2) has the following inserted in brackets after “Manchester”: “opposite to Richmond.”

8MS (2): “[8. or 10. miles below].”

9MS (2): “[6. miles off from Westover].”

10MS (2) continues without a break but inserts the following paragraph not in MS (1): “During this period time and place have been minutely cited, in order that those who think that there was any remissness in the movements of the Governor, may lay their finger on the point, and say when and where it was. Hereafter less detail will suffice.”

11MS (2): “Monticello, 2. or 3. miles from it.”

12In MS (2) another sentence was interlined at the end of this paragraph: “This appointment accordingly took place on the 12. day of June 1801 [error for 1781].”

13From this point on, the text of MS (2) is markedly different from that of MS (1), being a reply direct to Thomas Turner’s distorted account of the events in question. The remainder of the text of MS (2) reads as follows: “Notice of it however had been brought both to Monticello and Charlottesville, about sunrise. The Speakers, with their Colleagues, returned to Charlottesville, and with the other members of the legislature, had barely time, to get out of his [Tarleton’s] way. Mr. Jefferson sent off his family, to secure them from danger, and was himself still at Monticello making arrangements for his own departure, when a Lieutt. Hudson arrived there at half speed, and informed him the enemy were then ascending the hill of Monticello. He departed immediately, and knowing that he would be pursued if he took the high road, he plunged into the woods of the adjoining mountain, where being at once safe, he proceeded to overtake his family. This is the famous adventure of Carter’s mountain which has so often resounded through the slanderous chronicles of federalism. But they have taken care never to detail the facts, lest these should shew that this favorite charge amounted to nothing more than that he did not remain in his house, and there singly fight a whole troop of horse, or suffer himself to be taken prisoner. Having accompanied his family one day’s journey, he returned to Monticello. Tarleton had retired after 18. hours stay in Charlottesville. Mr. Jefferson then rejoined his family, and proceeded with them to an estate he had in Bedford, about 80. miles S.W. where, riding in his farm sometime after, he was thrown from his horse, and disabled from riding on horse back for a considerable time. But Mr. Turner finds it more convenient to give him this fall in his retreat before Tarleton, which had happened some weeks before, as a proof that he withdrew from a troop of horse with a precipitancy which Don Quixot would not have practised.

“[Two lines and part of a third scored out beyond legibility.] The facts here stated most particularly, with date of time and place, are taken from notes made by the writer hereof for his own satisfaction at the time. The others are from memory but so well recollected that he is satisfied there is no material fact mistated. Should any person undertake to contradict any particular on evidence which may at all merit the public respect, the writer will take the trouble (tho’ not at all in the best situation for it) to produce the proofs in support of it. He finds indeed that of the persons whom he recollects to have been present on these occasions, few have survived the intermediate lapse of four and twenty years. Yet he trusts that some, as well as himself, are yet among the land of the living; and he is positively certain that no man can falsify any material fact here stated. He well remembers indeed that there were then, as there are at all times, some who blamed every thing done contrary to their own opinion, altho’ their opinions were formed on a very partial knowledge of facts. The censures which have been hazarded by such men as Mr. Turner, are nothing but revivals of these half informed opinions. Mr. George Nicholas, then a very young man, but always a very honest one, was prompted by these persons to bring specific charges against Mr. Jefferson. The heads of these in writing were communicated thro’ a mutual friend to Mr. Jefferson, who committed to writing also the heads of justification on each of them. I well remember this paper, and believe the original of it still exists, and tho’ framed when every real fact was fresh in the knolege of every one, this fabricated flight from Richmond was not among the charges stated in this paper, nor any charge against Mr. Jefferson for not fighting singly the troop of horse. Mr. Nicholas candidly relinquished further proceeding. The House of Representatives of Virginia pronounced an honorable sentence of entire approbation of Mr. Jefferson’s conduct, and so much the more honorable as themselves had been witnesses to it. And Mr. George Nicholas took a conspicuous occasion afterwards, of his own free will, and when the matter was entirely at rest, to retract publicly the erroneous opinions he had been led into on that occasion, and to make just reparation by a candid acknolegment of them.”

14The remainder of the text of MS (1) is in a smaller hand and was probably added at a slightly later date; see the following note.

15This paragraph is written in the margin and is keyed to the text by asterisks preceding it and following the word “journals.” It could not have been written before 1798, for TJ refers here, as he does at the end of MS (2) (see note 13 above) to a passage in A Letter from George Nicholas, of Kentucky, to His Friend, in Virginia, Lexington, 1798. “I am happy,” wrote Nicholas in answering a tirade against TJ, “in having an opportunity of declaring, when it can be attributed to no improper motive, that I have long since, changed the unfavorable opinion, which, I once formed of that gentleman’s political conduct, and that I consider him, as one of the most virtuous, as well as one of the ablest, of the American patriots” (reprint edn., ed. Temple Bodley, Filson Club Publications, No. 31, Louisville, 1926, p. 155). On the whole subject of the inquiry into TJ’s conduct as governor, see Nicholas’ Charges and Jefferson’s Answers, printed below under date of 31 July 1781.

16Here follows a copy of Nicholas’ Charges and Jefferson’s Answers and the Resolution of Assembly vindicating TJ in Dec. 1781; these are omitted here but are printed below under date of 31 July 1781.

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