To-day the city of New Orleans, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, sends more cotton to England and Europe than any other city in America. If you should visit that city and go down to the riverside, you would see thousands of cotton bales piled up, and hundreds of negroes loading them on ocean steamers. It would be a sight you would never forget. Before Eli Whitney invented his machine, Cotton Gin, Americans sent hardly a bale of cotton abroad. Now Americans send so much in one year that the bales can be counted by millions. If they were laid end to end, in a straight line, they would reach clear across the American continent from San Francisco to New York, and then clear across the ocean from New York to Liverpool, England. It was Eli Whitney, more than any other man, who helped to build up this great trade. But at the time when he invented his cotton-gin, Americans did not own New Orleans, or, for that matter, any part of Louisiana or of the country west of the Mississippi River. The man who bought New Orleans and Louisiana for Americans was Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson was the son of a rich planter who lived near Charlottesville in Virginia. When his father died, he came into possession of a plantation of nearly two thousand acres of land, with forty or fifty negro slaves on it. There was a high hill on the plantation, which Jefferson called Monticello, or the little mountain. Here he built a fine house. From it he could see the mountains and valleys of the Blue Ridge for an immense distance. No man in America had a more beautiful home, or enjoyed it more, than Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson's slaves thought that no one could be better than their master. He was always kind to them, and they were ready to do anything for him. Once when he came back from France, where he had been staying for a long time, the negroes went to meet his carriage. They walked several miles down the road; when they caught sight of the carriage, they shouted and sang with delight. They would gladly have taken out the horses and drawn it up the steep hill. When Jefferson reached Monticello and got out, the negroes took him in their arms, and, laughing and crying for joy, they carried him into the house. Perhaps no king ever got such a welcome as that; for that welcome was not bought with money: it came from the heart. Yet Jefferson hoped and prayed that the time would come when every slave in the country might be set free.
Jefferson was educated to be a lawyer; he was not a good public speaker, but he liked to hear men who were. Just before the beginning of the Revolutionary War (1775), the people of Virginia sent men to the city of Richmond to hold a meeting in old St. John's Church. They met to see what should be done about defending those rights which the king of England had refused to grant the Americans. One of the speakers at that meeting was a famous Virginian named Patrick Henry. When he got up to speak he looked very pale, but his eyes shone like coals of fire. He made a great speech. He said, "We must fight! I repeat it, sir,ówe must fight!" The other Virginians agreed with Patrick Henry, and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, with other noted men who were present at the meeting, began at once to make ready to fight.
Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper: