“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” –Thomas Jefferson*
“The principles of Jefferson are the axioms of a free society.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
President Jefferson on the Essential Principles of Government:
(When you are) About to enter, fellow citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper that you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration.
I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations.
Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political;
peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none;
the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies;
the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad;
a jealous care of the right of election by the people – a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of the revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided;
absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority – the vital principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism;
a well-disciplined militia – our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority;
economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith;
encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid;
the diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason;
freedom of religion;
freedom of the press;
freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus;
and trail by juries impartially selected –
these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.