• A Summary View of the Rights of British America

     |  Natural Rights/American Revolution

    A Summary View of the Rights of British America A Summary View of the Rights of British America 1 Thomas Jefferson Jefferson began his public career in 1769 in the Virginia House of Burgesses, the colonial legislature. British implementation of the Coercive Acts of 1774 (also known as the Intolerable Acts)—passed in response to the Boston Tea Party—prompted the "Summary View," Jefferson's first publication. Written for Virginians who were choosing delegates to the First Continental Congress, it laid the groundwork for later appeals by a "free people, claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature." July 1774 Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said deputies when assembled in General Congress with the deputies from the other ...
  • Draft of the Declaration of Independence

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Draft of the Declaration of Independence Draft of the Declaration of Independence 1 Thomas Jefferson Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence contained a critique of King George III's involvement in the slave trade. Although not approved by the entire Second Continental Congress, it indicates that the leading Founders understood the slavery issue in moral terms. 1776 ...He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare ...
  • Query XIII: Constitution

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Query XIII: Constitution Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIII: Constitution 1 Thomas Jefferson Virginia, the most populous state, adopted its state constitution in 1776, a month before the Declaration of Independence passed Congress. Jefferson, Virginia's governor from 1779 to 1781, addressed the problems that plagued the state's first attempt at self-government in his 1784 book, Notes on the State of Virginia. 1784 The Constitution of the State and its Several Charters ...This constitution was formed when we were new and unexperienced in the science of government. It was the first, too, which was formed in the whole United States. No wonder then that time and trial have discovered very capital defects in it. 1. The majority of the men in the ...
  • Query XVIII: Manners

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Query XVIII: Manners Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII: Manners 1 Thomas Jefferson The primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was well aware that his ownership of slaves violated the principles he espoused. 1784 The particular customs and manners that may happen to be received in that State? It is difficult to determine on the standard by which the manners of a nation may be tried, whether catholic or particular. It is more difficult for a native to bring to that standard the manners of his own nation, familiarized to him by habit. There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual ...
  • Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom 1 Thomas Jefferson Jefferson asked to be remembered on his tombstone as author of the Declaration of Independence, father of the University of Virginia, and author of this law. Long delayed because of the contentiousness of the subject and the powerful interests arrayed against it, the Virginia Statute was drafted in 1777, introduced as a bill in the 1779 legislative session, and adopted in 1786. Eventually the laws of all thirteen original states would prohibit an established church and guarantee religious liberty to all. January 16, 1786 I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to ...
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