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Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series

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The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, Volume 7

28 November 1813 to 30 September 1814

Thomas Jefferson

The 526 documents printed in this volume run from 28 November 1813 to 30 September 1814. During this period Jefferson reviews the extant sources on the 1765 Stamp Act crisis to aid William Wirt, a Patrick Henry scholar; records his largely positive impressions of George Washington; and updates a reading list for law students that he had initially drawn up forty years earlier. In the spring of 1814 Jefferson becomes a trustee of the Albemarle Academy, the earliest direct ancestor of the University of Virginia. He is soon actively involved in planning for its establishment, helping to draft rules for governance of the academy's trustees and propose funding options, and he lays out an expansive vision for its future as an institution of higher learning. Jefferson also exchanges ideas on collegiate education with such respected scholars as Thomas Cooper and José Corrêa da Serra. Jefferson's wide-ranging correspondence includes a temperate response to a lengthy letter from Miles King urging the retired president to reflect on his personal religion, and a diplomatic but noncommittal reply to a proposal by Edward Coles that the author of the Declaration of Independence employ his prestige to help abolish slavery. Having learned of the British destruction late in August 1814 of the public buildings in Washington, Jefferson offers his massive book collection as a replacement for the Library of Congress. The nucleus for one of the world's great public libraries is formed early in 1815 when the nation purchases Jefferson's 6,707 volumes.

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The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, Volume 8

Thomas Jefferson

Volume Eight of the project documenting Thomas Jefferson's last years presents 591 documents dated from 1 October 1814 to 31 August 1815. Jefferson is overjoyed by American victories late in the War of 1812 and highly interested in the treaty negotiations that ultimately end the conflict. Following Congress's decision to purchase his library, he oversees the counting, packing, and transportation of his books to Washington. Jefferson uses most of the funds from the sale to pay old debts but spends some of the proceeds on new titles. He resigns from the presidency of the American Philosophical Society, revises draft chapters of Louis H. Girardin's history of Virginia, and advises William Wirt on revolutionary-era Stamp Act resolutions. Jefferson criticizes those who discuss politics from the pulpit, and he drafts a bill to transform the Albemarle Academy into Central College. Monticello visitors Francis W. Gilmer, Francis C. Gray, and George Ticknor describe the mountaintop and its inhabitants, and Gray's visit leads to an exchange with Jefferson about how many generations of white interbreeding it takes to clear Negro blood. Finally, although death takes his nephew Peter Carr and brother Randolph Jefferson, the marriage of his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph is a continuing source of great happiness.

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