Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Greatness of Jefferson

                    The name of Thomas Jefferson has been smeared more than any other Founder, but his greatness will outlive the smears.  No one can take away the fact that he was an American Founding Father.  He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  He was the third President of the United States of America.  He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress at the beginning of the American Revolution and then served as the Governor of Virginia as a war-time governor (1779-1781). 

Jefferson assigned in mid-1784 to represent the newly independent nation as a diplomat in Paris and given the responsibility to negotiate commercial treaties.  In May 1785 he was named as the United States Minister to France.  He served as the United States Secretary of State (1790-1793) during the administration of George Washington.  He resigned from the administration because his political views differed from Washington's ideas, and he felt it was wrong for him to continue in his position.  Together with James Madison, Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican Party.  He served as Vice President of the United States in the administration of John Adams, and then was elected as President of the United States in the next presidential election.

While President, Jefferson oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, doubling the territory of the United States.  He sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) west to explore the area to the West Coast.  His administration was not without trouble because of escalating problems with Britain.

Jefferson spoke five languages and was very "interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy."  After he left the White House, he founded the University of Virginia and served as its president.

Jefferson was rated as one of the greatest of U.S. Presidents until about mid-twentieth century when some historians began criticizing him for not taking more action against slavery.  Jefferson was a man who was torn about the subject of slavery.  Jefferson was a slave owner but was a consistent opponent of slavery.  He considered slavery to be "contrary to the laws of nature" and was a "leading American" who opposed international slave trade.  He even "added an anti-slavery clause in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence."  As President of the United States, he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, but as a man he shared the "common view of his times that Africans were racially inferior."  He owned hundreds of slaves to work his tobacco plantation in Virginia, but he supported the Missouri Compromise with the hope that it would lead to the end of slavery.  He was not able to end domestic slavery after 1820 because of "powerful pro-slavery forces."

Thomas and Martha Jefferson became the parents of six children during their eleven-year marriage, but only two children survived to become adults.  Jefferson remained a widower after Martha passed away in 1782.  Allegations arose in 1802 that he was the father of children born to Sally Hemings, his slave.  DNA tests in 1998 showed a match between the Jefferson male line and Sally's last child, but there was no proof whether Jefferson himself was the father or if it was one of his relatives.

                Some quotes by Thomas Jefferson are as follows; more quotes can be found at this site.  

                "A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference."

"A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."

"Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

"As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also."

"Be polite to all, but intimate with few."

"Books constitute capital.  A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years.  It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital."

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine."

"Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto."

"Conquest is not in our principles.  It is inconsistent with our government."

"Determine never to be idle.  No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.  It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing."

"Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do."

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people….  They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

"Every citizen should be a soldier.  This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.  The people themselves are its only safe depositories."

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."

"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security."

"Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism."

"Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others.  Our own share of miseries is sufficient:  why enter then as volunteers into those of another?"

"He who knows best knows how little he knows."

"He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors."

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