Table of contents for Dominion of memories : Jefferson, Madison, and the decline of Virginia / Susan Dunn.

Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog.

Note: Contents data are machine generated based on pre-publication provided by the publisher. Contents may have variations from the printed book or be incomplete or contain other coding.

1The Cult of the Soil00
2The Cankers of Indolence and Slavery00
3"Let Us Have Our Own Schools"00
4Roads, Canals, Railroads: Moving in Place00
5Deluded Citizens Clamoring for Banks00
6The Case of Virginia v. John Marshall00
7Another Constitutional Convention00
8Tariff Wars00
9Abolitionists and Other Enemies00
EpilogueJefferson and Virginia, a Hundred Years 
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In the late autumn of 1824, Thomas Jefferson made his way 
slowly down the steps of his home, quickening his pace as he 
approached his friend, the Marquis de Lafayette . The two men 
had not seen each other for more than three decades. "Let me once 
more have the happiness of talking over with you," Jefferson had 
expectantly written to Lafayette a few months earlier, "your 
first labors here, those I witnessed in your own country, its 
past & present afflictions and future hopes."{EN1}
On the steps of Monticello, the two old friends embraced and 
wept as Lafayette's official entourage of cavalry and American 
dignitaries looked on.{EN2} The "Nation's Guest," Lafayette had 
recently begun an official, ceremonial tour of all twenty-four 
states, enthralling all who saw him. He found the eighty-one-
year-old Jefferson "much aged" but "marvelously well" and "in 
full possession of all the vigor of his mind and heart."{EN3} At 
sunset, just as they were finishing dessert, James Madison, now 
74 years old, joined them. Madison later commented that 
Lafayette appeared in fine health and spirits but so much 
increased in bulk and changed in aspect that he hardly recognized 
Jefferson seemed happiest discussing the new university he 
had founded only a few miles away and the banquet to be held 
there to celebrate the opening of the Rotunda, the majestic 
building housing the library. At that dinner, Lafayette sat 
between Madison and Jefferson; Madison charmed the guests with 
his affectionate toast to Lafayette.{EN5} After dinner they all 
toured the campus, Jefferson proudly pointing to the Rotunda and 
the classical pavilions he designed and sharing his hope of 
attracting eminent professors from Europe to the new school. 
Before leaving the university, Lafayette's son, George Washington 
Lafayette, was delighted to receive an unusual gift from a 
professor: a Virginia rattlesnake. 
Lafayette lingered for ten more days at Jefferson's gracious 
estate. As they strolled around the grounds, rode their horses 
side by side, dined together, sipping Jefferson's excellent 
French wines, they reminisced about the astonishing revolutions 
they had helped lead. "What a history have we to run over," 
Jefferson said. They revived memories of the evenings spent 
together in Paris in 1789, when Jefferson was the American 
minister to France and Lafayette one of the early leaders of the 
French Revolution.{EN6} Jefferson mentioned the American 
presidential election - among five candidates, all from the same 
party - taking place that autumn, but declined to express his 
feelings about the candidates.{EN7}
The conversation took a sociological turn as Lafayette 
pondered the differences he already perceived between North and 
South. Having just visited the "delightfully situated"{EN8} 
New Haven, the "beautiful village" of Cambridge in Massachusetts, 
the bustling, dynamic city of New York, Lafayette and his 
secretary, Auguste Levasseur, could not but notice, "at every 
step," the relative backwardness and poverty of Virginia. It had 
taken them six hours to travel 25 miles from Richmond to 
Peterbsurg.{EN9} Along the way, they saw isolated towns, sleepy 
villages, depleted soil. The cause seemed only too clear to them, 
as did the remedy. Only when Virginia comprehended "her true 
interests better" and abolished slavery, Levasseur believed, 
would it catch up to the Northeast.{EN10}
Slavery: the inescapable subject to which Jefferson and 
Lafayette returned again and again. Lafayette "never missed an 
opportunity to defend the right which all men without exception 
have to liberty," Levasseur commented, and Jefferson himself 
could not condone the indefinite perpetuation of slavery. One of 
Jefferson's slaves, Israel Jefferson, overhearing Lafayette and 
his master discuss the condition of the "colored" people, 
 later wrote that the conversation was "gratifying to me and I 
treasured it up in my heart."{EN11} Indeed, Jefferson found it 
difficult to grasp how an American patriot could "inflict on his 
fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more 
misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to 
And yet, the Virginian had neither freed his slaves nor 
recognized the children he fathered with one of them, Sally 
Hemings, nor had he played an active public role in opposing 
slavery. He had penned the very words - about the "unalienable 
rights" of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness - that had become the foundation of American civic 
morality - but he did not extend those rights and that dignity to 
slaves. Indeed, to the extent that Jefferson gave serious thought 
to solutions to the wrenching problem of slavery, he was more 
concerned with rescuing white people from the moral degeneration 
of slaveholding than with securing freedom for blacks .{EN13}
Lafayette did not hide his impatience. While politely 
praising Jefferson's plan for the deportation of blacks to 
colonies in the Caribbean and on the African coast,{EN14} he 
implored his friend to go further than wishful thinking, 
reminding him of "the importance and urgency" of 
emancipation.{EN15} "I would like, before I die," Lafayette had 
written Jefferson two years earlier, "to be assured that 
progressive and earnest measures have been adopted to attain in 
due time, so desirable, so necessary an object. Prudence as well 
as honor seems to me to require it."{EN16}
Nine months later, in August of 1825, Lafayette returned to 
bid a final farewell to Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe. This 
time Jefferson was too weak to attend the banquet at the 
university. "These partings and many others are very painful," 
Lafayette wrote in his Memoirs,{EN17} sensing that it was the 
sunset of his friend's life.
It was also the sunset of the Virginia Dynasty. Four of the 
first five American presidents were Virginians; but after Monroe, 
only one other Virginian would occupy the presidency . John 
Tyler would ascend to the presidency in 1841; when he died two 
decades later, it was as a member of the Confederate Provisional 
Congress and as a citizen of the Confederate States of America.
Virginia's eclipse was visible on the Supreme Court, too. 
Four Virginians, led by the great Chief Justice John Marshall, 
served on the high court during the first decades of the young 
republic. But between 1841 and 1971, when Lewis Powell was 
appointed, only one Virginian would occupy a seat on the court: 
Peter Daniel, who voted with the majority in the Dred Scott 
case that helped precipitate the Civil War.
The days when intrepid, daring Virginians led thirteen 
backwater colonies in a war against the mightiest power on the 
planet were becoming a distant memory, that fiery patriotism a 
dying ember.
[line break]
The delegates streaming into Philadelphia in September 1774 
for the First Continental Congress were eager to meet the 
gentlemen from Virginia. They were "the most spirited" of all the 
delegates, John Adams noted in his diary.{EN18} "We all look up to 
Virginia for examples."{EN19} Next to the Virginians, said one 
Pennsylvanian in a comment Adams might not have appreciated, "the 
Bostonians are mere Milksops."{EN20} In truth, it was the 
delegates from Massachusetts who comprised the avant-garde of the 
revolutionary movement. But recognizing that the participation of 
Virginia, the most populous colony, was indispensable, they 
showed appropriate and sincere deference to the leaders from the 
Old Dominion."I look back with rapture to those golden 
days," wrote John Adams to Jefferson a year before they both 
died, "when Virginia and Massachusetts lived and acted together 
like a band of brothers."{EN21}
Indeed, the Virginians did not disappoint. Passionately 
demanding independence, penning unforgettable words, 
demonstrating their courage, they helped make the revolutionary 
movement a national one. At the Constitutional Convention in 
1787, their ideas would dominate the agenda. No other state 
played as prominent a role in shaping the young republic. No 
other state produced such a galaxy of brilliant, forward-looking, 
transforming leaders: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, 
John Marshall, but also George Mason, who framed the Virginia 
Bill of Rights; Patrick Henry who issued the call in 1774 for a 
Continental Congress; George Wythe, jurist, teacher, and signer 
of the Declaration of Independence; Peyton Randolph, president of 
the First Continental Congress; Edmund Pendleton, president of 
the state convention of 1776 that drew up a constitution for the 
Old Dominion as well as president of the Virginia Ratifying 
Convention of 1788; Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia, 
delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, and Washington's 
Attorney General. The Virginians, wrote Henry Adams, were "equal 
to any standard of excellence known to history."{EN22} They 
created a nation.
The other states, surpassed by Virginia in wealth and 
influence as well as size and population (a fifth of the people 
in the colonies lived there), almost took it for granted that 
Virginia would be their leader. During 32 of the first 36 years 
of constitutional government, the Old Dominion had a monopoly on 
the executive branch of government. Of course, in the 
presidential election of 1796, Virginians George Washington and 
especially John Marshall had opposed Thomas Jefferson, 
disagreeing with his philosophy of limited government and his 
agrarian vision for the nation's future. Instead they supported 
their fellow Federalist John Adams. But after Adams's one term in 
office and Jefferson's ascension to presidency in 1800, 
Virginians returned to the executive mansion. By 1816, some 
people wondered if Virginians would forever occupy the 
presidency. Was Virginia unstoppable?
Virginians seemed to have hatched, as one disquieted 
politician asserted, "a systematic design of perpetually 
governing the country."{EN23} Indeed, many Americans were 
convinced that it was the unstated policy of the Virginia 
presidents to block the political rise of any potential rival who 
might threaten their dynasty.{EN24} Conspiracy theories circulated 
from North Carolina to New York. Some suspected that Jefferson 
chose New York governor George Clinton, already advanced in age, 
as his vice president in 1804 so that Secretary of State James 
Madison would be his unchallenged successor in 1808. And when 
President Madison appointed the talented young John Quincy Adams 
minister to Russia in 1809, shipping him off to the other side of 
the world, people surmised that it was a maneuver to assure the 
continued dominance of the Virginians.{EN25} Wouldn't 
Americans balk at electing James Monroe, Lord Liverpool asked 
John Quincy Adams at a London dinner party in 1816, "on account 
of his being a Virginian?"{EN26} 
By then, people in the North and South, Republicans no less 
than Federalists, demanded a change. Anti-Virginian Republicans, 
including Albert Gallatin, treasury secretary to both Jefferson 
and Madison, rallied around other candidates in 1816 - New York 
Governor Daniel Tompkins and Secretary of War William Crawford of 
Georgia. Some politicians even called for a constitutional 
amendment to "wrest the sovereignty of the union out of the 
hands" of the Old Dominion and prevent any one state from 
dominating the presidency.{EN27} But neither caucuses nor 
political maneuvers{EN28} nor backroom machinations could block 
Monroe's nomination and election in 1816 and again in 1820. 
 "That nothing less than a Virginian will satisfy Virginia is 
to me perfectly demonstrated," wrote John Quincy Adams in his 
diary in 1818.{EN29}
Still, the real danger, according to Supreme Court Justice 
Joseph Story of Massachusetts, lay not in Monroe's election or 
even in Virginia's hold on the presidency, but rather in the 
contagion of its doctrine of states' rights. Virginians, 
including Thomas Jefferson, had recently denounced several 
Supreme Court decisions, claiming that the federal judiciary had 
no constitutional authority to overturn state statutes or the 
judgments of state courts. Their insistence on the sovereignty of 
their state, on states' rights, and on strict limits on the 
powers of the federal government terrified Justice Story. "As a 
republican & a lover of the Union," Story wrote in 1821 to John 
Marshall, who shared his nationalist views, "I look with alarm 
upon [Virginia's] opinions & conduct. I would rather allow her 
the exclusive possession of the Executive power for a half 
century than witness the prevalence in other States of any of her 
new constitutional dogmas. If they prevail, in my judgment there 
is a practical end of the Union."{EN30}
George Washington would surely have agreed with Story and 
Marshall. More than half a century earlier, Washington had 
already criticized the provincialism of his fellow Virginians. 
"Our Views [are] too confined," he had written in 1770."{EN31} The 
first president always encouraged Americans to adopt a national 
perspective, to see that "our interest, however diversified in 
local & smaller matters, is the same in all the great & essential 
concerns of the Nation."{EN32} Especially in the late 1780s 
and 90s, he was disappointed to find among Virginians "the most 
malignant (and if one may be allowed the expression, the most 
unwarrantable) disposition toward the new government."{EN33} His 
own people, Washington lamented, identified only with their own 
state; cool to his great vision of a unified nation and an 
energetic, dynamic government, they refused to follow his and his 
fellow Virginian John Marshall's lead. 
Joseph Story did not exaggerate the dangers of Virginia's 
doubts about the national government and its retreat into the 
domain of states' rights, for James Madison himself, even 
though he had toyed with states' rights in 1798, would later 
forcefully and unequivocally condemn the growing states' rights 
movement. Indeed, toward the end of his life, Madison would come 
to view Virginia's determination to defend its sovereignty 
against the national government not only as a real threat to the 
union but, just as important, also as a convenient pretext for 
refusing to face and address the state's escalating economic and 
moral woes. Whereas Jefferson had warned Madison in 1810 against 
appointing Story tot he Supreme Court, remarking that he was a 
"tory,"{EN34} Madison named Story to the Court. Now, echoing 
Justice Story, Madison predicted that the states' rights doctrine 
would ultimately poison and divide the nation. What he did not 
predict was that violence would become the only mediator between 
North and South. 
But as for Northerners' apprehension of Virginia's hold on 
the presidency, the growing anti-Virginia contingents need not 
have worried. After Monroe, the Virginia Dynasty - as well as the 
state itself - would reach an abrupt dead end.
[line break]
"The times are hard indeed," wrote James Madison to a young 
friend in 1820. Virginia had been one of the few states to 
prosper during the early 1780s under the Articles of 
Confederation, but forty years later, signs of that prosperity 
had disappeared. Crops had failed, and Virginia planters could 
not pay their debts, for there were no buyers to purchase their 
depleted land. {EN35} In 1827, James Mercer Garnett, too, lamented 
the dramatic decline of agriculture in his state. "Virginia-poor 
Virginia furnishes a spectacle at present, which is enough to 
make the heart of her real friends sick to the very core." The 
state's agriculture nearly gone to ruin, the situation could not 
have been more destructive, he grieved, "if destruction had been 
its sole objective."{EN36} 
Over the next decades, the desolation of much of the 
Virginia countryside would sadden visitors to the Old Dominion. 
Even the grand homes of Washington and Jefferson would fall into 
disrepair. At Monticello, all was "dilapidation and ruin," wrote 
the visiting William Barry, the nation's postmaster general, in 
1832. Horace Greely reported in 1856 that all of Mount Vernon 
"has an aspect of forlorn neediness which no description can 
adequately paint." Had Mount Vernon been situated in 
Massachusetts, wrote a shocked reporter from Boston, "how the 
spot would be treasured in our hearts, and beautified by our 
Dispiriting scenes of poverty and cruelty disheartened 
William Seward, the soon-to-be governor of New York, and his wife 
when they visited Virginia with their young son in 1835. Frances 
Seward described ten naked little boys being led to a slave 
auction, "tied together, two and two, by their wrists, all 
fastened to a long rope, and followed by a tall, gaunt white man, 
who, with his long lash, whipped up the sad and weary little 
procession." Sick of slavery and the South, the Sewards cut short 
their tour and returned home.{EN38}
A decade later, Frederick Law Olmsted, the writer, landscape 
architect, and sociologist of the South left his farm in New York 
State to visit eastern Virginia. He described the poverty and 
dejection he observed. "The mass of the citizen class of Virginia 
earn very little and are very poor," he wrote, "immeasurably 
poorer than the mass of the people of the adjoining Free States." 
Peering into houses and inspecting farms, Olmsted found that 
everything was "slovenly and dirty, with swine, dogs, and black 
and white children "lying very promiscuously together on the 
ground about the doors." There were few signs of industry - one 
tannery and two or three saw-mills in one seventy-five mile 
stretch; never had he seen so little evidence of an active and 
prosperous people.
As he traveled from the Alleghenies to the banks of the 
James, Olmsted almost never saw a volume of Shakespeare, a piano, 
a sheet of music, a reading-lamp, an engraving or a copy of a 
work of art. "I am not speaking of what are commonly called `poor 
whites'", he explained, "a large majority of all these houses 
were the residences of slaveholders." 
Methodically, Olmsted set about compiling and comparing 
statistics about life in the North and South. Whereas there was a 
post-office to every fourteen square miles in New York, in 
Virginia there was only one to forty-seven square miles; he 
counted over five hundred publishers and booksellers in New York, 
but only forty in Virginia; thirty thousand volumes in public 
libraries in Virginia, eight hundred thousand in New York.{EN39} 
 Land in Virginia, he noted, produced less than one-eighth as 
much per acre as in the Northeast.{EN40}
The Old Dominion had fallen from the first to the fifth most 
populous state, as a steady stream of Virginians - whites 
searching for better lives, slaves accompanying their masters or 
sold out of state - abandoned the state. During the 1830s, while 
the nation's population increased by 33 percent, Virginia's 
population increased a meager 2 percent.
Voting statistics revealed a population of slumbering 
citizens, demoralized and passive. In the election of 1800, when 
native son Thomas Jefferson challenged Federalist John Adams, 
only 25% of eligible voters in Virginia cast votes. In 1804, when 
he ran for reelection, 11% voted. By 1820, when Monroe ran for 
reelection, only the smallest fraction - a mere 3% - of eligible 
voters bothered to go to the polls.{EN41}
Nor did Virginia keep up with other states in the field of 
education: illiteracy among whites was four times higher than in 
New England and the mid-Atlantic states.{EN42} Wealthy Virginians, 
historically averse to taxation, refused to support public 
 Economic numbers were also ominous. The value of 
farm land in Virginia was less than one third of what it was in 
adjoining Pennsylvania. In areas in Virginia where there were few 
slaves and where the white to black ratio was 15 to 1, the value 
of land was over $7 an acre; but where the white to black ratio 
was only 2.2 to 1, the value was $4.50 an acre. 
Trade, too, was in decline. In 1800, while the exports of a 
relatively small state like Massachusetts were valued at $11 
million, Virginia's were worth $4.5 million. By 1853, 
Massachusetts exports totaled $16 million, and Virginia's had 
sunk to $3 million - less than half that of Maryland, one of the 
smallest exporters in the nation.{EN43} Meanwhile, in the 1850s, 
the cotton exports of the Deep South accounted for almost half of 
the nation's foreign shipments, creating "flush times" in Alabama 
and Mississippi.{EN44}
 "We slight the warnings of dull statistics," commented 
one Virginian in 1852, "and drive lazily along the field of 
ancient customs." While other states "glide past us on the 
road to wealth and empire," bewildered Virginians could see their 
power ebbing, their influence almost extinct,{EN45} their 
cherished way of life vanishing. "Nothing can be more 
melancholy," congressman John Randolph of Roanoke had wailed, 
"than the aspect of the whole country in Tidewater - dismantled 
country seats, ruinous churches, fields forsaken."{EN46}
Even Virginia's aristocracy came under siege. John 
Randolph's own brother Richard, deeply in debt, obliged to sell 
the family plantation, was accused of murdering the infant child 
he was said to have fathered with his sister-in-law. Though John 
Marshall successfully defended him, he died prematurely in 1796, 
unable to preserve and pass on his family's traditional, 
privileged way of life.{EN47} Another illustrious family would 
meet a more violent end when, a few years later, the famous 
jurist George Wythe, with whom Thomas Jefferson had studied the 
law, was murdered by a depraved grandnephew, impatient for his 
 Dejected novelists of the 1820s and 30s, like John 
Pendleton Kennedy, John Randolph's half-brother Nathaniel 
Beverley Tucker, George Tucker, and James Kirke Paulding, 
portrayed the dilapidated estates of incompetent plantation 
owners, and the offspring of "ancient cavaliers" anxious to leave 
the Old Dominion and begin their lives anew in the west.{EN48}
 "Whither has the Genius of Virginia fled?" cried a 
dejected Benjamin Watkins Leigh. "Virginia has declined, and is 
declining-she was once the first State in the Union-now she has 
sunk to be the third, and will soon sink lower in the 
scale."{EN49} Virginia's House of Delegates no longer bore any 
resemblance to the House in which Jefferson, Pendleton, Henry, 
Richard H. Lee, Wythe, Bland and others were members, wrote 
Virginian William Wirt, the attorney general under James Monroe 
and John Quincy Adams. "I am a disappointed man," Wirt sighed. 
"Where are our men of abilities? Why do they not come forth 
to save their Country?"{EN51} George Washington had impatiently 
demanded in 1779. In the nineteenth century, Virginians of 
ability would indeed come forth, wielding considerable power and 
influence in Virginia as well as in Washington - men like John 
Randolph, Spencer Roane, Philip Barbour, James Barbour, William 
Branch Giles, John Tyler, John Floyd, and others. And yet, 
although they admired and were influenced by the great men of 
Washington's generation, they shared neither their boldness nor 
their intellect, neither their creativity nor their optimism - 
not Washington's inclusive continental vision, not Jefferson's 
passion for democracy and equality, not Madison's nationalism, 
not John Marshall's faith in the Constitution.
In truth, despite their disappointment, frustration, and 
lamentations, the members of Virginia's social and political 
elite would not have wished for the return of those founders, the 
transformational, adventurous, forward-looking revolutionary 
leaders who had so courageously and imaginatively embraced 
change. On the contrary, Virginia's leaders in the nineteenth 
century prized social and political stability, having grown 
disenchanted with a revolutionary experiment that had given them 
far more than they had bargained for. They prized independence 
and liberty, but took a dim view of democracy, a vociferous, 
insubordinate people who challenged their authority, and an 
intrusive national government. Bereft of an inspiring, compelling 
vision of the future, they were comfortable with the status quo. 
 In 1810 the young Henry St. George Tucker remarked that 
the greatness of the American patriots "was their aversion to 
change."{EN52} His strange reinterpretation of the American 
revolutionary past would have baffled both Jefferson, who had the 
bracing perception that the "earth belongs to the living,"{EN53} 
and Madison, who extolled the Framers for charting a path with 
"no parallel in the annals of human society."{EN54} But unlike the 
men of the founding generation, the eminent Virginians who 
inherited the Revolution looked backwards, clinging to the 
aristocratic idyll of a leisurely, gracious life of family, 
hospitality, books, and slaves on lovely Tidewater plantations, 
loyal also to the agrarian myth of yeoman farmers leading 
independent, virtuous lives on the sacred soil. Their 
generation of nostalgic Virginia leaders located the future in 
the past - and in the South. They rejected the Northern faith 
that economic growth and industrialization were the guarantors of 
happiness. On the contrary, in the industrializing trend that was 
sweeping the North, they perceived, not the potential for 
development and prosperity, but only the deadening prospect of 
dehumanization and anomie. And if those material, commercial 
values of the North were coloring - even defining - the very idea 
of America, as the visiting Alexis de Tocqueville perceived in 
the 1830s, well, then Virginians would have no choice but to 
proclaim and defend their collective difference and identity. 
Even if Virginia's arts, literature, manufactures, commerce, 
and agriculture were all in a state of decline, said Virginia's 
senator Benjamin Watkins Leigh, "is Virginia inferior to any of 
her sister States in social peace and happiness, in intelligence, 
in the virtues of private life, in political purity, in national 
character? No, sir-I say, proudly and confidently, no. I shall 
not vaunt of her superiority- but I acknowledge no inferiority." 
Withdrawing into the murky shadows of domesticity, 
frustration, and nostalgia, failing to grasp that happiness, like 
life itself, cannot survive without energy, these Virginians 
looked inward instead of outward and shortsightedly and 
tragically shut the doors to improvement and to the future. 
[line break]
"My dearest grandfather," Ellen Randolph Coolidge wrote in 
1825 to Thomas Jefferson upon arriving in Boston with her new 
husband, "it is certainly a pleasing sight, this flourishing 
state of things: the country is covered with a multitude of 
beautiful villages; the fields are cultivated and forced into 
fertility; the roads kept in the most exact order; the inns 
numerous, affording good accommodations; and travelling 
facilitated by the ease with which post carriages and horses are 
always to be obtained." Wishing to show his bride the beauty and 
prosperity of the New England states, Joseph Coolidge had decided 
not to take the direct route from New York to Boston but instead 
to journey up the Hudson to Albany, and then to Lakes George and 
Champlain, north to Burlington, Vermont, and then on to the towns 
of the Connecticut valley before finally reaching Boston.
Ellen happily described for her grandfather the densely 
populated villages that had "an air of neatness and comfort that 
is delightful," the churches with their tall white spires, the 
many school houses, and the groups of "little urchins returning 
from school with their books in their hands" who courteously 
greeted travelers. Citizens of each town and city paid taxes to 
maintain their schools, she reported, adding that "there is no 
tax paid with less reluctance." Children of the rich and poor 
attended these schools and were educated gratis. 
She and her husband also visited one of the huge textile 
factories that had recently begun to spring up in New England. 
"Although it was a flourishing establishment, and excited my 
astonishment by it's powers of machinery and the immense saving 
of time and labor," she wrote, "I could not get reconciled to 
it." She hated the hot and crowded factory rooms that smelled 
from sour and greasy chemicals; her head ached from the constant 
whirl and deafening roar of machinery. Instinctively preferring 
"the pure air of heaven and the liberty of the fields in summer" 
to the domain of the rich manufacturer, she thought that the 
farmers she had glimpsed looked more cheerful and healthy than 
the men and women employed in the factories. 
It had been a fatiguing voyage, but Ellen did not regret 
having taken it: "It has given me an idea of prosperity and 
improvement, such as I fear our Southern States cannot hope for, 
while the canker of slavery eats into their hearts, and diseases 
the whole body by this ulcer at the core."{EN55}
 Replying to his granddaughter, Jefferson 
acknowledged that slavery was indeed destroying the South. "One 
fatal stain," he wrote, "deforms what nature had bestowed on us 
of her fairest gifts." Still, he did not dwell on the subject or 
on his granddaughter's penetrating observations about New 
England. He was content instead to resurrect memories of his own 
trip through New England 34 years earlier. Ellen's itinerary, he 
wrote, was "almost exactly that which Mr. Madison and myself 
pursued in May and June 1791" when the two friends traveled up 
the Hudson to Lake Champlain.{EN56}
While the problems of Virginia had become too complex even 
for Jefferson to ponder and address, his astute young 
granddaughter had pointed to virtually all the ingredients for a 
vital and prosperous society: fertile soil and farmers who are 
knowledgeable about agriculture; citizens who are willing to pay 
taxes to support good roads and free public schools; plentiful, 
densely populated areas; churches; factories; a diversified labor 
force - and the ideals of freedom and equality.
The reluctance of Virginians in the early nineteenth century 
to dismantle slavery and launch practical plans to improve their 
state and enrich the lives of ordinary Virginians would condemn 
the Old Dominion to irrelevance and poverty. But loath to give up 
memories of slow-moving, honey-colored days and the long shadows 
of soft Tidewater evenings, the members of the Old Dominion's 
small ruling class believed that were right to take a principled, 
courageous, and rational stand in defense of a way of life - and 
a human civilization{EN57} - that they cherished. And might they 
have been right in their skepticism about laissez-faire 
capitalism, materialism, urbanization, commercialization, and 
even about the inflated promise of progress itself? That 
skepticism would linger for a century. "It all comes down to the 
most practical of all points - what is the end of living?" wrote 
a Southerner, Stark Young, in 1930. It may be that Success, 
Competition, Speed and Progress are the goals of life, he 
remarked. And yet his Southern instincts told him that the true 
meaning of life could be found in "more fleeting and eternal 
things . more grace, sweetness and time."{EN58}
Were the early nineteenth-century Virginians who desired 
those "fleeting and eternal things" hardy optimists who believed 
it possible to retrieve an idyllic past? Or were they moody 
dreamers, spellbound by the myth of a magical past, determined to 
wage an impossible battle - a battle against time itself? "I 
linger still in the haunted domain of my memory," wrote Virginia 
novelist John Esten Cooke before the Civil War, "a company of 
ghosts which I gaze at, fading away into mist. A glimmer-a 
murmur-they are gone!"{EN59} 

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Virginia -- History -- 1775-1865.
Virginia -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865.
Virginia -- Social conditions.
Elite (Social sciences) -- Virginia -- History -- 18th century.
Elite (Social sciences) -- Virginia -- History -- 19th century.
Regionalism -- Virginia -- History -- 18th century.
Regionalism -- Virginia -- History -- 19th century.
Virginia -- Economic conditions.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Political and social views.
Madison, James, 1751-1836 -- Political and social views.