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"It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible
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--Thomas Jefferson,
Notes on the State of Virginia

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Could someone please verify the following quote ascribed to Jefferson (with citation to the original document in which it is found)?

On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. – Thomas Jefferson

The quote sounds somewhat like Jefferson, but the only sites I have found using it are political/social conservative sites, with no reference to the original document. That makes me suspicious of its veracity. Furthermore, there is no context for the quote, which makes me wonder what occasioned the comment by Jefferson.


It is a real Jefferson quote, except for one minor textual difference (he didn't say "let us"). It's from a letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823. Here's the letter as printed in the Ford edition: (the letter is actually being printed in the footnotes, not in the main text - it starts on page 226).


I'm reading Jefferson's, "Notes on the State of Virginia." Does anyone know what the abbreviations "1 El., c. 1" mean from the following quote?

"...till the statute of the 1 El., c. 1, circumscribed it..."

It's found on the second page of the Religion / Query XVII section.



The Peden edition of Jefferson's _Notes_ clarifies this - it refers to a statute in Chapter 1 of the first year of the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1559).


I have read all of the information published about the DNA connection of the Jefferson family to the Hemings family. The evidence shows that there is a POSSIBILITY that Thomas Jefferson fathered some of Sally's children. There are other members of the Jefferson family, including Jefferson's younger brother Randolph, who also could have been the father. Dr. Eugene Foster, who conducted the DNA testing, was very clear about the limitations of his testing. Those who accept this flimsy evidence as fact are, in effect, accusing Thomas Jefferson of rape, since Sally was a slave and Jefferson had control of her life. Such limited evidence would never stand up in a court of law. A tour guide at Monticello told me (and others in the group) last week that Jefferson fathered five of Sally's children. Without conclusive evidence, that is simply a lie.


WE NEED YOUR HELP! A JEFFERSON BUILDING IS AT RISK! The Jefferson-designed courthouse in Charlotte Court House, Virginia is considered the most-well preserved and perhaps best example of Jefferson's Virginia courthouses. The village of Charlotte Court House is intact as a historic small town. The courthouse square, with its open grove of oaks, is surrounded by 19th c. buildings: a jail, Treasurer's office, clerk's office and handsome tavern. Across the street are three temple-fronted early 19th c. buildings which function as lawyers' offices. One is owned by the APVA.
The courthouse is being upgraded for security purposes. The entire square and integrity of the existing building is at risk of being destroyed by a thoughtless design process which has received no scholarly or professional critique. Please contact me if you are concerned.


How well documented is the relationship between Jefferson's father-in-law and Betty Hemmings? I am always surprised at how much of a given it seems when writers reference the relationship. But I've never read an article or source that first proves the relationship. Could you offer a suggest for a source that addresses the relationship? Or perhaps offer why historians/writers reference it as an indisputable fact?


There are a couple of sources for this - see our article on John Wayles (footnote 3):


The Ying and the Yang of Thomas Jefferson

Why does Thomas Jefferson fascinate us so? It is amazing that such conflicting components, such seemingly contradictory thoughts, theories and actions are all contained under one roof or should I say in one head. Here is my short list of the Ying and Yang the double sided coin that is Thomas Jefferson.

Spoke out against slavery --- Owned slaves his entire adult life

Man of the people --- A man of wealth and expensive taste

Interpret Constitution narrowly when it came to the Bank---Interpret it widely when it came to moving the Capital to the Potomac

Limit executive power---Purchase Louisiana through an executive prerogative

Great organizational and administrative skills---Also known as a “disorganizer”

Support military action against Barbary pirates---Reduce the size and scope of the navy

Honored and supported George Washington---Dishonored and undermined George Washington

Friend of John Adams---Enemy of John Adams

Against party or faction---The center of the coalescing Republican Party

Did not envision a multi-cultural society---Created a mixed race family

All men are created equal---well not all

The ridiculous to the sublime---Theory about “generations”---the writing of the Declaration on Independence

There you have it just some of the incongruous facts about TJ.

Craig Werner

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