In 1781, informed that the Virginia legislature was temporarily in session General Cornwallis sent Colonel Banastre Tarleton and some infantry into Charlottesville to capture the rebel leadership, but they exceed their orders, burning wagons loaded with uniforms for Nathanael Greene's troops and in the smoke-filled confusion Governor Thomas Jefferson was shot and killed before he could flee to safety.
The Redcoats Are Coming!In death he would join the growing ranks of revolutionaries murdered by British redcoats. Most prominent amongst them was Samuel Adams and John Hancock who had also failed to receive a similiar warning when Paul Revere was thrown from his horse on his ill-fated "midnight ride".
That Jefferson too could be deprived of his inalienable right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" was a grim irony of the anarchist charter he had authored just five years before. A hypocritical slave-owner and misogynist who failed to live up to his own standards, he had also proven ineffectual at implementing them. During his two years as Governor, he had become hugely unpopular in office. And having failed to mobilize the militia, he had already announced his intention to step down and handover effective power to the Continental Army. Serious historians would judge him as a "philanthropic cock" that lacked the substance and depth of thought as a political scientist.
Instead of becoming the revolutionary thinker he had always imagined, his martrydom led to the elevation of his status as a fighting patriot icon. A colossal neoclassical sculpture standing astride New York Harbour.