There is no doubt that he is an all-time American hero. An early President, the first Governor of his home state, contributing author of some of our founding documents. Yet some people in his time, like some historians today, considered that one event a blot on his character.
He was a patriot, all right. And well did the British General Cornwallis know it. In fact, he had a special grudge against this Governor. So he dispatched his right-hand man, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, to capture him and hopefully, the entire state legislature at the same time. But one Jack Jouett, a militiaman, somehow heard of the plot and warned the legislators.
Hastily, all members prepared to beat a hasty retreat. The Governor had a vacation home 60 miles away to which he fled. Believing his term was over in June, he spent most of that summer there with his family.
But the state legislature hastily reconvened across the mountains in another town. Communication and travel being so limited in those primitive times, the question of the Governor’s absence was not quickly resolved. He was not reelected for another term.
Nothing came of some legislators’ suggestion that an inquiry be made into the Governor’s actions. It appeared he had indeed failed in his duties, but it was deemed wisest to let the matter lie. A vote was taken instead to reward Jack Jouett with a sword and a pair of pistols.
So it was that there came one of the few stains on the reputation of one of our chief Founding Fathers. First Governor of Virginia, author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States.