Notes on the State of Virginia (1853)/Preface
PREFACE OF THE PUBLISHER.
Thomas Jefferson left at his death a printed copy of his Notes on Virginia, containing many manuscript notes, several plates and a map, intended apparently for a new edition of the work. As an edition had then been recently published, it was deemed best to delay any further publication until the book should become scarce. It is now nearly out of print, and a general desire is expressed for another edition. With a view of gratifying this wish, Mr. Jefferson's executor, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, has transferred to the publisher the materials prepared by the author for the new edition.
In making this preparation the author used a copy of the first edition, and thus inadvertently repeated an error in the narrative preceding Logan's speech, which had been corrected in a later edition. An historical statement making the correction, deduced by the author from certain documents, and the documents themselves, will be found in Appendix No. IV. They are taken from a re-print of the work in 1825.
The manuscript notes of the present edition are numerous and interesting. Many are in foreign languages, and disclose the extensive erudition of the author. Professor Schele De Vere, the accomplished and learned incumbent of the Chair of Modern Languages of the University of Virginia, has been kind enough to translate the French, Spanish and Italian notes. These translations will be found in Appendix No. IV.
The circumstances under which the Notes on Virginia were written, are stated by the author in his preface. It may be well to add, that the foreigner of distinction to whom they were addressed was Mons. Barbe De Marbois, the Secretary of the French Legation in the United States, and that they were written while the author was confined to his room by an injury received from the falling of his horse.
The beauty of style, the accuracy of information, and the scientific research displayed in the Notes have made them a permanent part of our national literature. The publisher therefore conceives that in publishing a new edition of this admirable work, he is renewing a valuable contribution to that literature, and rendering a just tribute to the illustrious author.
- September 13, 1853.