Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Monticello Statement

By Thomas Jefferson (paragraph by paragraph)
Collected and arranged by Karl Born, December 15, 2011

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable:

That all Men are created equal & independent;

That from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;

That to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

That whenever any form of government shall becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, & to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, & organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light & transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed; but when a long train of abuses & usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, & to provide new guards for their future security.

We consider society as one of the natural wants with which man has been created;

That he has been endowed with faculties and qualities to effect its satisfaction by concurrence of others having the same want;

That when, by the exercise of these faculties, he has procured a state of society, it is one of his acquisitions which he has a right to regulate and control, jointly indeed with all those who have concurred in the procurement, whom he cannot exclude from its use or direction more than they him. …

That morality, compassion, generosity, are innate elements of the human constitution;

That there exists a right independent of force;

That a right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings;

That no one has a right to obstruct another, exercising his faculties innocently for the relief of sensibilities made a part of his nature;

That justice is the fundamental law of society;

That the majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society; [and]

That action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removable by themselves, constitutes the essence of a republic.

No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him: every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him: and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third.  When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions, and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right.

If we are made in some degree for others, yet in a greater, are we made for ourselves.  It were contrary to feeling and, indeed, ridiculous to suppose that a man had less right in himself than one of his neighbors, or indeed, all of them put together.  This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged.  Nothing could so completely divest us of that liberty as the establishment of the opinion, that the State has a perpetual right to the services of all its members.  This, to men of certain ways of thinking, would be to annihilate the blessing of existence, and to contradict the Giver of life, who gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness.  And certainly, to such it were better that they had never been born.

The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

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