— I received your last by T. Nelson whom I luckily met on my road hither. surely never did small hero experience greater misadventures than I did on the first two or three days of my travelling. twice did my horse run away with me and greatly endanger the breaking my neck on the first day. on the second I drove two hours through as copious a rain as ever I have seen, without meeting with a single house to which I could repair for shelter. on the third in going through Pamunkey, being unacquainted with the ford, I passed through water so deep as to run over the cushion as I sat on it, and to add to the danger, at that instant one wheel mounted a rock which I am confident was as high as the axle, and rendered it necessary for me to exercise all my skill in the doctrine of gravity, in order to prevent the center of gravity from being left unsupported the consequence of which would … have been the corruition* of myself, chair and all into the water. whether that would have been the case or not, let the learned determine: it was not convenient for me to try the experiment at that time, and I therefore threw my whole weight on the mounted wheel and escaped the danger. I confess that on this occasion I was seised with a violent hydrophobia.
To John Page, May 25, 1766
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Lighter fare today, misadventures of a leader in the making …
The 23 year old Jefferson wrote to a close friend from Annapolis. He was on his way to Philadelphia to get inoculated against the small pox, then on to New York, planning to return to Virginia in mid-July. He observed the Maryland legislature while he was in the capital.
Chances are he was riding in a small buggy or carriage drawn by a single horse. The river he forded was deep enough to soak the seat cushion, which would have rendered a buggy almost completely under water, a carriage at least 2/3 so. No wonder he was frightened!
*Three on-line sources of this letter all render this word as its spelled here. Three on-line dictionaries do not have this word. I suspect it is meant to be “corruption.”