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Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 – 4 July 1826) was author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1777), founder of the University of Virginia (1819), the third president of the United States (1801–1809), a political philosopher, editor of Jefferson's Bible (1819), and one of the most influential founders of the United States.
Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a par with ourselves.It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree.It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body.Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?But I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.
The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents.I do not speak of their leaders who are incurable, but of the honest and well-intentioned body of the people.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.We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood.The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state.