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Items 1-9 of 9
  • Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association 1 Thomas Jefferson The Danbury Baptist Association, aware of Jefferson's earlier role in overturning the Anglican establishment in Virginia, expressed hope that as president he might help liberate them from the religious constraints in Connecticut. Jefferson's response, in which he employs the famous "wall of separation between church and state" metaphor, is not a demand for the separation of religion and politics; rather, it addresses the principle of federalism. As president, Jefferson is unable to interfere in this state issue. Likewise, Congress is prohibited from doing so by the First Amendment's religion clauses. The citizens of Connecticut must remedy their situation ...
  • Marbury v. Madison

     |  Three Branches of Government

    Marbury v. Madison Marbury v. Madison 1 John Marshall (1755-1835) Thomas Jefferson's election as president is often called the "Revolution of 1800," because it marked the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another. Despite its uniquely pacific character, the election's aftermath was marked by partisan rancor. The day before Jefferson took office, President John Adams commissioned fifty-eight Federalist judges. Upon assuming office Jefferson ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, to withhold their commissions. One of them, William Mar-bury, brought a case that eventually reached the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Marshall wrote an opinion that established the power of judicial review. 1803 Mr. Chief Justice ...
  • Letter to Henri Gregoire

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to Henri Gregoire Letter to Henri Gregoire 1 Thomas Jefferson The Constitution specified that Congress could not prohibit the importation of slaves until 1808. President Jefferson signed the bill to bring about this prohibition in March 1807 and it went into effect on January 1, 1808. Writing here a year later, he maintains hopes for an end to slavery itself. February 25, 1809 Sir: I have received the favor of your letter of August 17th, and with it the volume you were so kind as to send me on the "Literature of Negroes." 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 ...
  • Letter to John Holmes

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to John Holmes Letter to John Holmes 1 Thomas Jefferson Awakened to the looming crisis over slavery by the Missouri Compromise, Jefferson foresees in this letter that the Compromise was far from the final word on the matter. April 22, 1820 I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the ...
  • Letter to Henry Lee

     |  The Apple of Gold/Frame of Silver

    Letter to Henry Lee Letter to Henry Lee 1 Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) In his later years, Jefferson answered hundreds of letters, including, in this instance, a query about the Declaration of Independence, explaining that it drew upon a long political and philosophical tradition and reflected principles widely understood by Americans of the founding era. May 8, 1825 Dear Sir: ...That George Mason was the author of the bill of rights, and of the constitution founded on it, the evidence of the day established fully in my mind. Of the paper you mention, purporting to be instructions to the Virginia delegation in Congress, I have no recollection. If it were anything more than a project of some private hand, that is to say, had any such instructions ...
  • Letter to Roger Weightman

     |  Natural Rights/American Revolution

    Letter to Roger Weightman Letter to Roger Weightman 1 Thomas Jefferson Written just days before his death on July 4, 1826, this letter to the mayor of Washington, D.C., encapsulates the great cause of Jefferson's life. June 24, 1826 Respected Sir: The kind invitation I receive from you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration on the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation ...
  • Letter to Edward Everett

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to Edward Everett Letter to Edward Everett 1 James Madison In this 1830 response to Massachusetts statesman Edward Everett, Madison maintains that a state does not possess the authority to strike down as unconstitutional an act of the federal government. The contrary doctrine, known as nullification, would take on later significance. August 28, 1830 I have duly received your letter in which you refer to the "nullifying doctrine," advocated as a constitutional right by some of our distinguished fellow citizens; and to the proceedings of the Virginia Legislature in 98 and 99, as appealed to in behalf of that doctrine; and you express a wish for my ideas on those subjects. I am aware of the delicacy of the task in some respects; and ...
  • Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions 1 John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) The number of slaves in America had grown from 700,000 in 1790 to over two million in 1830. Northern opposition to slavery was growing in the 1820s and 1830s, as it became clear that hopes for a withering away of slavery were unrealistic. This elicited a similarly strong response from slavery's foremost advocates. In 1836, the House of Representatives passed a "gag rule" that tabled abolition discussions. Here, Senator John C. Calhoun champions a similar resolution in the Senate. His argument became the linchpin of what came to be called the "positive good" school of thought regarding slavery, one all but absent from the debates of the two previous ...
  • Speech on the Oregon Bill

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Speech on the Oregon Bill Speech on the Oregon Bill 1 John C. Calhoun Even worse than political errors such as the Northwest Ordinance, Calhoun argues here, are theoretical errors, chief of which is the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence. June 27, 1848 ...I turn now to my friends of the South, and ask: What are you prepared to do? If neither the barriers of the constitution nor the high sense of right and justice should prove sufficient to protect you, are you prepared to sink down into a state of acknowledged inferiority; to be stripped of your dignity of equals among equals, and be deprived of your equality of rights in this federal partnership of States? If so, you are woefully degenerated from your sires, and will well ...
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