Jefferson recognized that the principles he included in the Declaration had not been fully realized and would remain a challenge across time, but his poetic vision continues to have a profound influence in the United States and around the world.
With respect to religion, Jefferson’s emphatically supported a broad religious freedom and opposed any establishment or linkage between church and state, famously insisting that “it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. During this period, he avidly studied European culture, sending home to Monticello, books, seeds and plants, along with architectural drawings, artwork, furniture, scientific instruments, and information.
It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”9 In 1784, he entered public service again, in France, first as trade commissioner and then as Benjamin Franklin's successor as U. In 1790 he agreed to be the first secretary of state under the new Constitution in the administration of the first president, George Washington.
Elected governor from 1779 to 1781, he suffered an inquiry into his conduct during the British invasion of Virginia in his last year in office that, although the investigation was finally repudiated by the General Assembly, left him with a life-long pricklishness in the face of criticism and generated a life-long enmity toward Patrick Henry whom Jefferson blamed for the investigation.
The investigation “inflicted a wound on my spirit which will only be cured by the all-healing grave” Jefferson told James Monroe.8During the brief private interval in his life following his governorship, Jefferson completed the one book which he authored, Jefferson recognized the gross injustice of the institution – warning that because of slavery “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his Justice cannot sleep for ever.” But he also expressed racist views of blacks’ abilities; albeit he recognized that his views of their limitations might result from the degrading conditions to which they had been subjected for many years.
Many of the enslaved house servants were members of the Hemings family.
Elizabeth Hemings and her children were a part of the Wayles estate and tradition says that John Wayles was the father of six of Hemings’s children and, thus, they were the half-brothers and sisters of Jefferson’s wife Martha.
Jefferson gave the Hemingses special positions, and the only slaves Jefferson freed in his lifetime and in his will were all Hemingses, giving credence to the oral history.
Years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson fathered at least six of Sally Hemings’s children.
He would later refer to this ongoing project, the home that he loved, as “my essay in Architecture.”4 The following year, after preparing the site, he began construction of a small brick structure that would consist of a single room with a walk-out basement kitchen and workroom below.
This would eventually be referred to as the South Pavilion and was where he lived first alone and then with his bride, Martha Wayles Skelton, following their marriage in January 1772.
In late 1776, as a member of the new House of Delegates of Virginia, he worked closely with James Madison.