"I will now tell you what I do not like. First, the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and without the aid of sophism, for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land, and not by the laws of nations. ... Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
December 20th, 1787, Jefferson letter to James Madison about his concerns regarding the Constitution.
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Reader comments about this quote:
Arguably, he was one of the uncommon breed of men who are known as founding fathers of America. Amazing aristocracy of intellect.
 -- jitendra, Gurgaon, India     
    Welcome to Amerika - Jefferson who ?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    a p.s. laws of the land (or the laws of nature and of nature's God) would protect a clown's right to lampoon public figures. The laws of nations (expressed legal positivism - a government of men, not law) would harass the right to freedom of speech.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    It appears he would never agree to United Nations or our being involved with it.
     -- Cal, Lewisville, TX     
    With the Bush created and Obama supported Patriot Act...all of those fine ideals went right out the window...in the name of "security" of course!
    We need a TJ for the 21st Century.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Too bad this was never followed.
     -- Steve Hambling, Aylmer, Quebec, Canada     
    Interesting about one right on the list that didn't make it in the actual bill but ended up "de facto" after 1933.... the one about the government's right to control business by eliminating monopolies. Libertarians wouldn't like to hear Jefferson promoted that one.
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton Ca     
    There aren't enough stars available for objectively rating this spot-on quote. Full marks for Jefferson's vision in understanding men and their arguably universal moral shortcomings, certainly when it comes to holding the reins of great temporal Power. He knew that great Power ALWAYS builds great armies out of fear, first and foremost of being deprived self-perpetuation and expansion of influence (power metastasis, colloquially known as taxation and imprisonment). He knew that the single greatest threat to Power's self-perpetuation and expansion ALWAYS arrived in the form of its own governed ... and why the governed absolutely required the "unremitting force of habeas corpus" and "trials by jury" as a bare minimum ... in order to be satisfactorily free from government's inevitable pursuit of territorial imperative. ONLY the governed can check the power of its leadership. We didn't; alas! The Bill of Rights is gone, effectively banished by 'law' and courts. Ubiquitous, turned-loose cops are high-fiving it over the corpses of tased-dead graffiti artists and the bulk of us whine about jury duty and are anxiously looking forward to the baseball playoffs and/or football season. It's a recipe for disaster.
     -- Mann, Kalamazoo     
    Walter, the Government right to control business has CREATED monopolies. It is not the purview of the government to "control" anything. They are in place to provide a system of justice, one that would by law punish monopolies and price fixing. I'd like to think that TJ being of such noble character had this in mind.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Cal, Lewisville Texas, you are right on about the U.N. Jefferson would never have agreed to a "World Court".
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    Even with a Bill of Rights, today most of these rights are strictly limited. Hate speech -- which is anything somebody finds offensive -- is a crime. Freedom of religion has turned into the prevention of anything Christian while granting preferential treatment of Islamic holidays and 'laws.' Our local police have become militarized, and the 2 year limit to federal armies has long since been ignored. No, the monopoly clause was not included and the first of many central bank monopolies was created. Carlton is right, the government creates monopolies and protects them like the ABA, AMA, forced trade unionism (yes, those are monopolies) -- look for anything requiring a 'license' -- and the gradual take over of the private sector by the government -- private enterprise is all but gone. Habeas corpus? That's been gone since the Patriot Act, and our fears of general dissent being treated as 'terrorism' has come to fruition. Trials by jury -- most cases are settled out of court because A) the defendant is threatened with the worst punishment if he tries to defend himself and B) the cost is so high to go to court, an individual cannot pay for his own defense -- not to mention that anything drug or tax related results in seizures first that prohibit affording a defense. Try bringing a case to the Supreme Court -- the cost is in the millions. Laws of the land were common law, not admiralty/maritime and commercial law, and now even Shia law is being considered in court rooms. And there is literally no way to fight this usurpation because that has become their modus operandi. It's all gone to rot, I am afraid. Nothing short of separation from DC will have any effect.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    The Bill of Rights was definitely the cornerstone of the Constitution of the United States. Only someone with very wide horizons would have an insight so reverberating. I still believe that in this great nation there are many insightful minds capable of restoring TJ's and the other Founding Fathers' principles.
     -- Elizabeth, Astoria, NY     
    Thank heaven for the Bill of Rights that clearly defines the unalienable rights that cannot be taken away from the individual by this federal government or a state government.
    Because of what is clearly written in the 2nd Amendment "shall not be infringed" the people have whole-heartily fought back using that very statement in the 2nd Amendment against unlawful gun confiscation and the denial of guns to law abiding.
    Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant statesman, scholar, historian and a Renaissance Man of his day. We need statesmen of his character today.
     -- Mary - MI     
     -- Mary - MI      
    Obama supporters...a special kind of stupid...sign petition to repeal the Bill of Rights : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0he0cqHH20
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Who better could we elect as presidents of America than a christian wanna be? Clinton, Especialy George Bush Jr, and Barry Soetoro. They destroyed the Constitution.P.S. I believe the illegal fed.reserve under the U.N, controlled by The New World Order, is the organization that elects the president of the U.S.
     -- Larry, Pequea     
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