Tonight I celebrated the eve of my 271st birthday in the shadow of Independence Hall, with well-wishers who had journeyed to Philadelphia from throughout the United States. As I walked to where my horse was tethered a few blocks away, the setting sun cast my shadow on the Christ Church burial ground wall.
4.9.1822: “our part is to pursue with steadiness what is right, turning neither to right nor left for the intrigues or popular delusions of the day, assured that the public approbation will in the end be with us.” —to General James Breckinridge
4.9.1822: “Patience and steady perseverance on our part will secure the blessed end. If we shrink, it is gone forever”
4.8.1816: “There are indeed (who might say Nay) gloomy and hypocondriac minds, inhabitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, and despairing of the future; always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen. To these I say How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened! My temperament is sanguine. I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern. My hopes indeed sometimes fail; but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy.” — to John Adams
4.7.1787: “Anger only serves to torment ourselves, to divert others, and alienate their esteem.” —to my daughter Martha.
4.3.1809: “the pomp, the turmoil, the bustle & splendour of office, have drawn but deeper sighs for the tranquil & irresponsible occupations of private life” —from my address to the inhabitants of Albemarle County, upon my retirement from service in government.
April 1, 1788: “The transition from ease and opulence to extreme poverty is remarkeable on crossing the line between the Dutch and Prussian territory. The soil and climate are the same. The governments alone differ. With the poverty, the fear also of slaves is visible in the faces of the Prussian subjects.” —from my Notes of a Tour through Holland and the Rhine Valley.
“The death of my mother you have probably not heard of. This happened on the last day of March (1776) after an illness of not more than an hour. We suppose it to have been apoplectic.” —to my uncle William Randolph, a merchant in Bristol, England.
3.31.1774: The Boston Port Act, or, “An act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the town, and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachusett’s Bay, in North America” became law. This was the first of what would become known in the North American colonies as “The Intolerable Acts”. It was to take effect on June 1, 1774.
Read a transcript of The Boston Port Bill:
3.30.1807: “As to myself altho’ I have no actual head-ach, yet about 9. oclock every morning I have a very quickened pulse come on, a disturbed head and tender eyes, not amounting to absolute pain. It goes off about noon, and is doubtless an obstinate remnant of the head-ach, keeping up a possibility of return. I am not very confident of its passing off.” — to my daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph.
3.29.1806: I signed into law the act of Congress approving the creation of America’s first national road: “An Act to regulate the laying out and making a road from Cumberland, in the state of Maryland, to the state of Ohio.” This road was called The National Pike”, and later “The National Road”.