Sunday, November 6, 2022

Fall Teacher Workshop: "A New Birth of Freedom"

The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute is pleased to announce its next teacher education workshop -- "A New Birth of Freedom." The program will include three one-hour class sessions. Along with presentations, the format will include a “roundtable” discussion with participation by all. The outline of the sessions and agenda are as follows:

8:30–9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00–10:00 a.m. First Classroom Session -- "The 1619 Project: Pros & Cons"

10:15–11:15 a.m. Second Classroom Session -- “Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum Address"

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Third Classroom Session -- “Lincoln's Gettysburg Address"

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Luncheon

The workshop is designed for public and private Virginia secondary school teachers and home school teachers who teach Social Studies, U.S. Government, Virginia Government, or U. S. History. Teachers from other states are also welcome. The workshop, meals and class materials all complimentary (no cost) to teachers.

The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, November 11th, 2022 to be held at Prospect Hill Plantation Inn. The Seminar qualifies for four Virginia recertification points or 4 hours. 

Prospect Hill Plantation Inn, Louisa, Virginia

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Battle of the Bulge and Patton’s Prayer

France: October 22, 1944
"Lieutenant General George Patton met with his commander, General Omar Bradley, and Bradley’s chief of staff to discuss plans for taking the French city of Metz and then pushing east into the Saar River Valley, a center of Germany’s armaments industry. Bradley, believing that a strong push might well end the war, argued for a simultaneous attack by all of the Allied armies in Europe. Patton pointed out that there was not enough ammunition, food, or gasoline to support all the armies. There were enough supplies, however, for one army. Patton’s Third Army could attack twenty-four hours after getting the signal. After a vigorous debate, Bradley conceded. Patton was told that the attack could take place any time after November 5, and that aerial bombardment would be available before-hand.

The Allies were really fighting three enemies, Patton told Bradley—the Germans, time, and the weather. The weather was the most serious threat. The Third Army’s sick rate equaled its battle casualty rate. Patton was never one to delay an attack, convinced that each day’s delay gave the enemy more time to prepare. “The best is the enemy of the good” was one of his favorite maxims. It would be better to attack as soon as Bradley could provide him with supplies.

But Patton could not control the weather, which affected weapons, aircraft, and the movement of troops… Only four months earlier the fate of the Allied invasion of Europe hung on the course of a storm in the English Channel. A break in the weather on June 6 allowed the amphibious assault on Normandy to proceed. Two weeks later, one of the most severe storms ever to strike Normandy sank or disabled a number of Allied ships and wiped out the American Mulberry artificial harbor off Omaha Beach. The Allied war effort was virtually shut down for five days.

When Patton had completed all his preparations for battle, he turned to the Bible and entrusted everything, including the weather, to God. His diary entry for November 7, 1944, reads: “Two years ago today we were on the Augusta approaching Africa, and it was blowing hard. Then about 1600 it stopped. It is now 0230 and raining hard. I hope that too stops. Know of nothing more I can do to prepare for this attack except to read the Bible and pray.”

The Saar campaign was launched on November 8, 1944. After one month’s fighting, Patton’s Third Army had liberated 873 towns and 1,600 square miles. In addition, they had killed or wounded an estimated 88,000 enemy soldiers and taken another 30,000 prisoner. Patton next prepared for the breakthrough to the River Rhine, a formidable natural obstacle to the invasion of Germany by the Allies. The attack was set for December 19th. In early December 1944, the headquarters of the Third Army was in the Caserne Molifor, an old French military barracks in Nancy in the region of Lorraine, a ninety-minute train ride from Paris. At eleven o’clock on the morning of December 8, Patton telephoned the head chaplain, Monsignor James H. O’Neill: “This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.”

O’Neill later recounted what Patton said to him:

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that’s working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin, in everything. That’s where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working—it’s his ‘guts.’ It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don’t know what you call it, but I call it religion, prayer, or God.

O’Neill could find no formal prayers pertaining to weather, so he composed an original prayer which he typed on a three-by-five-inch card. Speaking again to O’Neill, “I wish,” said Patton, “you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains; write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We’ve got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that holds defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said, it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.”

The 664th Engineer Topographical Company worked around the clock to reproduce 250,000 cards bearing the prayer for fair weather and Patton’s Christmas greeting. The cards and Training Letter No. 5 were distributed to the entire Third Army by December 14th, as follows:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. May God’s blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. 
G. S. Patton, Jr. 
Lieutenant General Commanding, 
Third United States Army 

Two days later, the U.S. armies in Europe were engaged in the greatest battle ever fought by American forces. The outcome of that battle, the Battle of the Bulge, and possibly of the entire Allied war effort in Europe, would turn on the weather...

Patton’s adjutant, Colonel Harkins, later wrote: “Whether it was the help of the Divine guidance asked for in the prayer or just the normal course of human events, we never knew; at any rate, on the twenty-third, the day after the prayer was issued, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days. Enough to allow the Allies to break the backbone of the Von Runstedt offensive and turn a temporary setback into a crushing defeat for the enemy.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Rediscovering George Washington

In a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, John Adams wrote: "The history of our revolution will be ... that Dr. Franklin's electric rod smote the earth and out sprang General Washington. That Franklin electricized him with his rodand hence-forward these two conducted all the policy negotiations, legislatures and war." 


"George Washington lived sixty-seven years, from 1732 to 1799. During his last twenty-four years—more than a third of his life—he was the foremost man in America, the man on whom the fate of his country depended more than on any other man. 

And these were fateful years. From 1775 to 1783—the years of the American War of Independence—Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army upon whose victory the thirteen colonies depended to secure their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the summer of 1787, he presided over America's Constitutional Convention. His presence lent decisive significance to the document drafted there, which continues in force in the twenty-first century as the oldest written constitution in the world. From 1789-1796, he held the highest office in the land as the first president of the United States of America under this constitution. The office of president had in fact been designed with his virtues in mind. 

In each of these capacities, and as a private citizen between and after his several public offices, Washington, more than any American contemporary, was the necessary condition, the sine qua non, of the independence and enduring union of the American states. It was in mere honest recognition of this that time bestowed upon him the epithet, Father of our Country, and that upon his death, the memorial address presented on behalf of the Congress of the United States named him "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." 

The pre-eminent positions that he held, the unrivalled honors he received, can only hint at the greatness of Washington. They are rays cast by the light of his greatness itself, the qualities of mind and character that shone brilliantly in all these positions and fully deserved all these honors—and more. The three sections here introduce readers to Washington's greatness, call attention to some of his most striking qualities of mind and character, and suggest the significance of this great man for our generation, and for every generation, of Americans. 
George Washington and our World 

Why should young Americans who care about their country and aspire to do something worthwhile with their lives be interested in the greatness of George Washington? For at least two reasons: First, although knowing what is worthwhile and what is possible is essential to living a good life and doing some good for our country, we are not born knowing these things. 

We learn these things in three ways: by experience, reflection, and study. If we are fortunate, our family and our friends provide us with examples of what is worthwhile, what is good. A hard-working father, a wise and loving mother, a friend who stands up for us in a pinch teaches us by his example. Knowing them--experiencing their goodness and reflecting upon it--is one of our most important educations. It introduces us to both what is good and what is possible, and it inspires us to be like those we love and admire. 

Greatness, however, is by definition extraordinary, and what is extraordinary is by definition rare. It takes nothing away from parents or friends to say that most of us do not know personally someone with truly extraordinary gifts or capacities. And yet, it is extraordinary qualities that most clearly reveal what is good--what is the standard of excellence in any field--by revealing more clearly the limits of what is possible. We see more clearly what baseball is, so to speak, when we see Babe Ruth swing the bat...  After seeing him play--after studying him--those of us who play the game know better what to aspire to and the rest of us understand more fully the highest standards by which the game should be judged. 

Like Babe Ruth..., a Socrates, a Shakespeare, a Mozart, displays qualities or capacities that would have been difficult or impossible to imagine without his example. In this way, those with the greatest gifts reveal to the rest of us—they make visible—human potential that we might otherwise never have realized on our own. This means that they help reveal to us human nature itself, since we cannot understand human nature until we have some idea what human beings are capable of. 

What Shakespeare is to poetry, Mozart to music, or Babe Ruth to baseball, George Washington is to life itself. He possessed and displayed in his life courage, self-control, justice, judgment and an array of other virtues in such full harmony and to such a degree, and he surmounted such great challenges in so many circumstances of war and peace, that to see how he lived his life is to see much more vividly what it means to be a man. This is by no means to say that he was flawless any more than Babe Ruth was a perfect baseball player. It is merely to say that, if he had not lived, such greatness could hardly have been believed possible. 

This, then, is the first reason to be interested in the greatness of Washington. 

The second reason has particularly to do with America. In the course of his life, Washington’s fate became inseparable from the fate of his country. By the time of his death he was identified in the eyes of the world with America and the cause of liberty for which America stood. His greatness was a testament to America’s promise. The significance of that testament has not diminished with time. To the contrary, for anyone who wants to understand this country and help fulfill its promise, it is, if anything, more necessary today than at any time in the past to understand the greatness of George Washington. It is still true, 200 years after it was first said by Fisher Ames in a eulogy of Washington, that "Our history is but a transcript of his claims on our gratitude." 
George Washington and His World 

When Washington was a mere twenty-two years old, he had already been appointed commander of the armies of Virginia (such as they were). His actions in the field had already won him notoriety in Europe and fame in Virginia. By the time he retired from military service at the age of twenty-six and returned to private life, his commanding presence, courage, resolution, incorruptible justice, and firm sense of duty were widely known throughout Virginia. Already, his destiny seemed to fellow citizens to be tied to the destiny of his "country" (that is, Virginia). 

Twenty-seven of the officers who served under the young Washington presented an Address to him (December 31, 1758) upon his retirement, expressing their gratitude for his leadership and imploring him not to resign. Their youthful tribute to the youthful Washington anticipates the man whose destiny would become inseparable from the destiny of a greater country, when it called him from his private station some seventeen years later. 

"In our earliest infancy, you took us under your tuition, trained us up in the practice of that discipline which alone can constitute good troops . . . . Your steady adherence to impartial justice, your quick discernment and invariable regard to merit, wisely intended to inculcate those genuine sentiments of true honor and passion for glory, . . . first heightened our natural emulation and our desire to excel. How much we improved by those regulations and your own example, with what cheerfulness we have encountered the several toils, especially while under your particular direction, we submit to yourself . . . . Judge then how sensibly we must be affected with the loss of such an excellent commander, . . . How great the loss of such a man? . . . It gives us additional sorrow, when we reflect, to find our unhappy country will receive a loss no less irreparable than ourselves. Where will it meet a man . . . so able to support the military character of Virginia? . . . In you we place the most implicit confidence. Your presence only will cause a steady firmness and vigor to actuate in every breast, despising the greatest dangers and thinking light of toils and hardships, while led on by the man we know and love."[1] 

Such were the impressions and the sentiments of men who knew and served under Washington in his early twenties. 

When George Washington died, on December 14, 1799, there was throughout America a profound outpouring of grief at our loss, gratitude for his life, and deep reverence for his memory. "For two months after Washington’s burial at Mount Vernon, his countrymen continuously expressed their bereavement in private correspondence, in resolutions of Congress and of State legislatures, in town meetings, in the pages of newspapers and, most singularly, in hundreds of funeral processions and solemn eulogies in every corner of the nation."[2] America’s greatest orators vied with one another to do justice to the greatness of this great man. 

From the Senate of the United States: "With patriotic pride, we review the life of our Washington, and compare him with those of other countries who have been pre-eminent in fame. Ancient and modern names are diminished before him. Greatness and guilt have too often been allied, but his fame is whiter than it is brilliant. . . . Let his countrymen consecrate the memory of the heroic General Washington, the patriotic statesman and the virtuous sage. Let them teach their children never to forget that the fruit of his labors and his example are their inheritance."[3] Congressman Henry Lee, on behalf of the House of Representatives: "First in war--first in peace--and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life; pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere; uniform, dignified and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . [C]orrect throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his [public] virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns."[4] 

Nor were the memorials confined within American shores. "The whole range of history," wrote the editor of the Morning Chronicle in London, "does not present to our view a character upon which we can dwell with such entire and unmixed admiration. The long life of General Washington is not stained by a single blot. . . . His fame, bounded by no country, will be confined to no age."[5]  Even Napoleon delivered a public eulogy of Washington at the Temple of Mars and ordered ten days of national mourning in France. 

Abigail Adams was right in saying: "Simple truth is his best, his greatest eulogy. She alone can render his fame immortal."[6] 

George Washington the Man 

Countless witnesses attest that, however astonishing Washington’s many particular qualities of mind and character might be, the sum was even greater than the parts: The whole man somehow magnified the individual virtues of which he was composed. His courage, energy, high principles, and steadfastness; his impartial justice and utter trustworthiness; that he was calm in the face of danger and dauntless in adversity; that he would sacrifice repose for fame and fame to duty; his thoroughness in deliberation and mastery over his strong passions—these and his other distinguishing characteristics, laudable in themselves, are elevated still further as they are harmonized in the mind and character of Washington."

The verbal portrait of Washington that follows draws together several of the most widely noted qualities of Washington’s mind and character into a picture of the man himself as he acted on the stage of America’s destiny (from a private letter by a Virginia Republican—Thomas Jefferson). 

Thomas Jefferson remembered Washington fourteen years after his death, in a letter of January 2, 1814, to Dr. Walter Jones.[7] 

". . . I think I knew General Washington intimately and thoroughly; and were I called on to delineate his character, it should be in terms like these. 

"His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though, not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no General ever planned his battles more judiciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden circumstance, he was slow in re-adjustment. The consequence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendancy over it. If ever, however, it broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in contributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning and unyielding on all visionary projects and all unworthy calls on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; but he exactly calculated every man’s value, and gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect and noble; the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback. . . . "

On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example... "

These are my opinions of General Washington, which I would vouch at the judgment seat of God, having been formed on an acquaintance of thirty years. . . . "

I felt on his death, with my countrymen, that ‘verily a great man hath fallen this day in Israel.’" 
Source: The Claremont Institute (originally published on PBS) - no longer available online.
For further reading see: Brookhiser, Richard, Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (Free Press, 1997)
[1] James Thomas Flexner, George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775) (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1965), 222. Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington: A Biography, Volume Two (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948), 380-381. 
[2] John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, George Washington, Volume seven: First in Peace (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957), 648. 
[3] Albert Bushnell Hart, ed., Tributes to Washington, Pamphlet No. 3 (Washington, D.C.: George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1931), 21. 
[4] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States. Sixth Congress (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1851), 1310-1311. 
[5] John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, George Washington, Volume seven: First in Peace (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957), 648. 
[6] John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, George Washington, Volume seven: First in Peace (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957), 653. 
[7] Thomas Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill Peterson (New York: The Library of America, 1984), 1318-1321.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The First Martyr to the Cause of American Liberty

The first martyr to the cause of American liberty was Major General Joseph Warren (June 11, 1741 – June 17, 1775). The son of Joseph Warren and Mary Stevens, his father was a respected farmer. He enrolled in Harvard College, graduating in 1759, and then taught for about a year at Roxbury Latin. He then studied medicine and married 18-year-old heiress Elizabeth Hooten on September 6, 1764. She died in 1773, leaving him with four children: Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, and Richard. Before his death in 1775, he was engaged to Mercy Scollay. Warren played a leading role in Patriot organizations in Boston during the early days of the American Revolution, eventually serving as President of the revolutionary Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Warren enlisted Paul Revere and William Dawes on April 18, 1775, to leave Boston and spread the alarm that the British garrison in Boston was setting out to raid the town of Concord and arrest rebel leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Warren participated in the Battles of Lexington and Concord the following day – the opening engagements of the American Revolutionary War. 

After the meeting of the Provincial congress at Concord in October 1774, Dr. Warren acted as chairman of the committee of safety, charged with the duty of organizing the militia and collecting military stores. As the 5th of March, 1775, drew near, several British officers were heard to declare that anyone who should dare to address the people in the Old South church on this occasion would surely lose his life. As soon as he heard of these threats, Dr. Warren solicited for himself the dangerous honor, and at the usual hour delivered a stirring oration upon "the baleful influence of standing armies in time of peace." The concourse in the church was so great that, when the orator arrived, every approach to the pulpit was "blocked up" and rather than elbow his way through the crowd, which might lead to some disturbance, he procured a ladder and climbed in through a large window at the back of the pulpit. About forty British officers were present, some of whom sat on the pulpit-steps, and sought to annoy the speaker with groans and hisses, but everything passed off quietly. 

On Tuesday evening, the 18th April, 1775, observing the movements of the British troops, Dr. Warren dispatched William Dawes, by way of Roxbury, and Paul Revere, by way of Charlestown, to give the alarm to the people dwelling on the roads toward Concord. Next morning, on hearing the news of the firing at Lexington, he left his patients in charge of his pupil and assistant, William Eustis, and rode off to the scene of action. He seems to have attended a meeting of the committee of safety that morning at the Black Horse tavern in Menotomy (now Arlington), and there to have consulted with Gen. William Heath. By the time Lord Percy reached Menotomy on his retreat, Gen. Heath had assumed command of the militia, and the fighting there was perhaps the severest of the day. Dr. Warren kept his place near Heath, and a pin was struck from his head by a musket-ball. During the next six weeks he was indefatigable in urging on the military preparations of the New England colonies. At the meeting of the Provincial congress at Watertown, the 31st of May, he was unanimously chosen its president, and thus became chief executive officer of Massachusetts under this provisional government. 

Warren was commissioned as a major general by the Provincial Congress on June 14, 1775. Several days later, in the moments before the Battle of Bunker Hill, Warren arrived where the militia was forming and asked where the heaviest fighting would be; General Israel Putnam pointed to Breed's Hill. Warren volunteered to join the fighting as a private against the wishes of General Putnam and Colonel William Prescott, both of whom requested that he serve as their commander. Warren declined the command in the belief that Putnam and Prescott were more experienced with war. He was among those inspiring the men to hold rank against superior numbers. Warren was known to have repeatedly declared of the British: "These fellows say we won't fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!" He fought in the redoubt until out of ammunition and remained until the British made their third and final assault on the hill to give time for the militia to escape. He was killed instantly by a musket or pistol ball in the head by a British officer.  The enemy stripped his body of clothing and he was bayoneted until unrecognizable, and then shoved into a shallow ditch and buried. His body was exhumed ten months after his death by his brothers and Paul Revere, who identified the remains by the artificial tooth he had placed in the jaw. His body was placed in the Granary Burying Ground and later (in 1825) in St. Paul's Church before finally being moved in 1855 to his family's vault in Forest Hills Cemetery. 

General Gage reportedly said Warren's death was equal to the death of 500 men. It encouraged the revolutionary cause because it was viewed by many Americans as an act of martyrdom. His death, immortalized in John Trumbull's painting, “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775,” (see image below) galvanized the rebel forces. 

At the time of Warren's death, his children were staying with his fiancée, Mercy Scollay, in Worcester as refugees from the Siege of Boston. She continued to look after them, gathering support for their education from John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Benedict Arnold, and even the Continental Congress. He has been memorialized in the naming of many towns, counties, streets, and other locations in the United States, by statues, and in numerous other ways.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Poems of Thomas Jefferson

“Thomas Jefferson did not write many poems, although he had a great appreciation for poetry.[1] He read and quoted widely from poets such as Homer, Virgil, John Dryden, and John Milton. Ossian was a special source of pleasure. In 1786, Jefferson's pleasure reading briefly turned more scholarly when he wrote "Thoughts on English Prosody," an essay in which he debated whether the principal characteristic of English poetry was accent or quantity (he settled on accent). 

From the age of fifteen until he turned thirty, he kept a Literary Commonplace Book[2] in which he pasted newspaper clippings of favorite poems and prose. Beginning in 1801, he began the first of two poetry scrapbooks dedicated exclusively to poetry clippings.[3] Jefferson also helped his granddaughters create their own poetry scrapbooks. One of them, Virginia Randolph Trist, recalled that "whenever an opportunity occurred, he sent us books; and he never saw a little story or piece of poetry in a newspaper, suited to our ages and tastes, that he did not preserve and send it to us."[4] 

A number of scholars have attributed to Jefferson an unfinished poem, "To Ellen," indicating that it may have been intended for his granddaughter Ellen Wayles Coolidge.[5] 

“To Ellen” 

Tis hope supports each noble flame, 
'Tis hope inspires poetic lays, 
Our heroes fight in hopes of fame, 
And poets write in hopes of praise. 

She sings sweet songs of future years, 
And dries the tears of present sorrow, 
Bids doubting mortals cease their fears, 
And tells them of a bright to-morrow. 

And where true love a visit pays, 
The minstrel hope is allways there, 
To soothe young Cupid with her lays, 
And keep the lover from despair. 

Why fades the rose upon thy cheek; 
Why droop the lilies at the view? 
Thy cause of sorrow, Ellen speak, 
Why alter'd thus thy sprightly hue? 

Each day, alas! with breaking heart, 
I see they beautous form decline; 
 Yet fear my anguish to impart, 
Lest it should add a pang to thine... 

Jefferson may have composed some light verse during periods of his later life, but the only surviving poem of definite authorship by Jefferson was written in 1826, at the approach of his death. Confined to bed by illness, Jefferson wrote "A death-bed Adieu" for his daughter, Martha [“Patsy”] Randolph[6]. On July 2nd, two days before he died, Jefferson told Martha that he'd composed a farewell in her honor; following his instructions, she found the verse in a small box after his death. ['Two Seraphs' refers to Jefferson's wife, Martha, and to their daughter Maria Jefferson Eppes, born August 1, 1778; died April 17, 1804].” 

“A death-bed Adieu” -- TJ to MR 

Life's visions are vanished, it's dreams are no more. 
Dear friends of my bosom, why bathed in tears? 
I go to my fathers; I welcome the shore, 
which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares. 
Then farewell my dear, my lov'd daughter, Adieu! 
The last pang in life is in parting from you. 
Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death; 
I will bear them your love on my last parting breath. 

1. Until recently, most scholars thought that Jefferson's interest in poetry waned significantly in his later years. To learn why this may not have been the case, see Jonathan Gross's "When Jefferson Dined Alone" (, History News Network, February 12, 2006). 
2. See Jefferson's Literary Commonplace Book, ed. Douglas L. Wilson (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989) for a critical edition. 
3. The contents of Jefferson's poetry scrapbooks can be found in Jonathan Gross's Thomas Jefferson's Scrapbook's: Poems of Nation, Family & Romantic Love Collected by America's Third President (Sterforth Press: Hanover, New Hampshire, 2006). 
4. B. L. Rayner, Sketches of the Life, Writings, and Opinions of Thomas Jefferson. With Selections of the Most Valuable Portions of His Voluminous and Unrivaled Private Correspondence (New York: A. Francis and W. Boardman, 1832.): 346-47. 
5. Ellen (Eleonora) Wayles Randolph (1796–1876), the fourth child of Thomas Mann Randolph and TJ’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, shared her name with an elder sister who died in 1794. Born at Monticello, Randolph returned with her family to live there following her grandfather’s retirement from the presidency. She became one of TJ’s favorite grandchildren, often accompanying him on trips to Poplar Forest and Natural Bridge. In 1816, with his financial assistance, she visited Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, winning renown as an intelligent conversationalist. On May 27, 1825 in the Monticello drawing room, she married Joseph Coolidge, a Bostonian who had first visited TJ a year earlier. When the newlyweds settled in Boston, the separation proved difficult for both TJ and his granddaughter. Ellen Coolidge corresponded regularly with those who remained at Monticello but did not return until just after TJ’s death. 
 6. The poem first appeared in its entirety in Sarah Randolph's The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson (1871). A facsimile of the original manuscript is available at Virginia's James Monroe Museum.