| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
 THOMAS JEFFERSON was born near Charlottesville, Virginia, April 13, 1743. His father was a sturdy backwoods
surveyor, of giant size and strength, whom his son always remembered with pride and veneration. His mother
belonged to one of the prominent families of Virginia, and from her young Jefferson inherited his love for
nature, music, and books.
Jefferson's father owned a farm of nearly two thousand acres, on which he had thirty slaves; he raised large
crops of wheat and tobacco. He was a stern, though kind, just, and generous man. He often said to his son,
"Never ask another to do for you what you can do for yourself." He died when Thomas was fourteen years of age.
From early childhood, Jefferson was a bright boy. He had his mother's gentle and thoughtful disposition, and,
by nature, took readily to reading. His love of outdoor sports saved him from overstudy. He became a keen
hunter, was a dead shot with a rifle, a fine dancer, and rode a horse with great skill.
He entered William and Mary College, at
 Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia, when he was seventeen years of age. The college stood at one end of the
main street, the old capitol at the other. On the same street there was situated an inn, known as Raleigh
Tavern, in which was a room called "The Apollo," used as a dancing-hall. Here Jefferson was one of the
leaders. He was described as a tall, thin young student, "with red hair, a freckled face, and pointed
features," whom everybody liked, and who was brilliant at the college.
After graduating, he began to study law. When he became twenty-one years of age, he celebrated the event by
planting an avenue of trees near his home. Some of those trees are still standing, a memorial to his love of
nature and his desire to make things beautiful.
Among the friends of Jefferson, at this time, was a jovial young fellow, noted for his "mimicry, practical
jokes, and dancing." Nobody thought he amounted to much, for he was most always frolicking. He and Jefferson
became bosom friends, and spent much of their time together. They saw in each other qualities of mind of which
the world did not yet know.
One day, while Jefferson was standing at the door of the capitol, a member of the House of
 Burgesses was delivering a most eloquent address. Everybody was amazed at the wonderful oratory of the man.
Jefferson recognized him as his friend, Patrick Henry, who was making his famous speech against the Stamp Act.
Jefferson never forgot the scene. The sublime words that poured from Henry's lips took his breath away, and he
listened as one enraptured. He resolved, from that moment, that he too would serve his country, and at once
redoubled his studious habits, often spending as long as fifteen hours a day over his books. The result was,
Jefferson became one of the most accomplished scholars in America. He was a brilliant mathematician, and knew
five languages besides his own.
At the age of twenty-four, Jefferson began to practice law. His voice was not strong, and he was never a good
speaker. His manner was hesitating and embarrassed, and his ideas did not find easy expression in spoken
words. But he was a great writer and thinker, and, in a few years, he was known as the best lawyer in
Jefferson was also a farmer. He loved to look over his broad fields and to attend to his growing crops. He
once said, "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to
that of a garden."
 He delighted in experimenting with new things, and imported a large number of trees and shrubs to beautify the
grounds of his home which he named "Monticello." He was as proud of being a successful farmer as he was of
being a great lawyer.
Jefferson wrote the rules which he considered essential for a practical person to follow:
|1. ||Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.|
|2. ||Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.|
|3. ||Never spend your money before you have it.|
|4. ||Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.|
|5. ||Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, or cold.|
|6. ||We never repent of having eaten too little.|
|7. ||Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.|
|8. ||How much pain we have suffered from the evils that never happened.|
|9. ||Take things always by their smooth handle.|
|10. ||When angry count ten before you speak: if very angry count a hundred.|
His manners were plain and simple. When he was President of the United States, he did not stand aloof from the
people, as other great men of
 the day did, but he encouraged everybody to be on familiar terms with him. He did not have the splendid
parties and balls at the White House that other Presidents had, but lived quietly and without much display.
Jefferson's great fame lies in the fact that he wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was then
thirty-three years of age, and one of the youngest members of the Continental Congress. It is among the
greatest of our national documents. He secured legislation in Virginia, exempting taxation for the support of
any church, and was the founder of the University of Virginia.
At "Monticello," he entertained with lavish hospitality, sometimes having as many as fifty guests in his house
at one time. Some of these visitors stayed for months, imposing on his hospitality, with the result that in
his old age he was much reduced in his circumstances.
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