June 11th, 2010
Notes on the States of Virginia
Notes on the States of Virginia was the full length book written by Thomas Jefferson in 1781, during the American revolutionary war. In 1780, the secretary of the French legation to the United States “Francois Marbois” had drawn up 22 questions wishing to collect information on each of the 13 states to answer to his superiors. Those questions were sent to several possible informants including Joseph Jones, who at that time a member of congressional delegation. He had written the original questionnaire in his own hand writing and had given it to Thomas Jefferson; the second governor of Virginia who he had thought was the best person to answer all of the complicated questions about the beloved state. Joseph Jones knew about this Virginian’s knowledge and passion about the largest of the 13 original states. Jefferson rearranged Marboi’s 22 queries into the 23 queries and conducts his readers from a discussion of geography of Virginia through the state’s civilization.
The book is very dialectic and its intended audiences were French government and Frenchmen, and Jefferson often opposed to Buffon, a French nature historian, about his claims of nature of America compare to of Europe. It outlined Virginia’s geography, people, climates, historical aspects, government and civilization. The notes is somewhat very argumentative in a way it reflects his thoughts of idealistic society along with facts and data about Virginia. His arguments were often about nature including animals, plants, natural resources, inhabitants, human life and etc. In Thomas Jefferson’s note, I often found his beliefs in the separation of church and state, individual liberty, and relative characteristics between different races in 18th century Virginia.
It also shows that Jefferson had a strong knowledge in political, legal and constitutional laws, literature along with math, language of...
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