In 1779, at the age of thirty-six, Jefferson was elected Governor of Virginia and served from 1779–1781. At this time the now united colonies were in the middle of the American Revolutionary War with Britain. As governor in 1780, he transferred the state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond. Many people disliked his tenure, and he did not win office again in Virginia.
In the Fall of 1780, Gov. Thomas Jefferson was given a list of 22 questions, by Secretary of the French legation to the United States François Marbois, intended to gather pertinent information on the American colonies. Jefferson's responses to Marbois' "Queries" would become known as Notes on the State of Virginia. Jefferson, scientifically trained, was a member of the American Philosophical Society and had extensive knowledge of western lands from Virginia to Illinois. In a course of 5 years, Jefferson enthusiastically devoted his intellectual energy to the book, which discussed contemporary scientific knowledge, and Virginia's history, politics, and ethnography. Jefferson was aided by Thomas Walker, George R. Clark, and U.S. geographer Thomas Hutchins. The book was first published in France in 1785 and in England in 1787
Throughout his life, books played a vital role in Jefferson's education. By 1815, his library included 6,487 books, which he then sold to the Library of Congress to replace the collection destroyed in the War of 1812.