"May [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe
it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all),
the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish
ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves,
and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form
which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded
exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened,
or opening, to the rights of man."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
June 24, 1826
letter to Roger Weightman on June 24, 1826. It was his last letter, written ten days before his death - July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
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Reader comments about this quote:
Fitting that his thoughts about the Declaration of Independence should be included in his last written letter for Jefferson's expression of the "natural rights" found in Locke & Rousseau are among his finest philosophies.
 -- dragonswizardz
One of the most inspiring quotes I have ever read or heard .
 -- Uncle Sam's nephew, Anderson, SC
 -- chris, alabama
Wonderful words and thoughts Thomas, but it is not so today, you would have never imagined we would one day be under the chains of Socialism, bounded by giving up the rights of freedom for the security of social programs required by the federal government onto the states. All rights are bounded now and reasoning is totally out of the question. Eyes are closed and what has happened to the "rights of man?"
 -- cal, lewisville, tx
We hold this truth to be self evident.
 -- Mike, Norwalk
 -- jim k, austin 
cris, alabama, What have you got against the Declaration of Independence ?
 -- jim k, austin
I don't think Cal knows a thing about what socialism is or is not. The Pilgrims and Puritans were highly organized and planned communities, not to mention things like the Shakers, Amish, and Amana communities. Jefferson himself ran a large plantation on which it could be argued he ran a form of socialism. Cal or his friends and neighbors probably drive cars made in foreign countries where they practice so called socialized medicine and he probably buys most of his goods made in Communist China. Lets get real and quit talking in labels.
 -- Waffler, Smith
Waffler, lol, we know you don't know a thing about what socialism is or is not. Stalinism and Lenninism were / are forms of socialism called Communism. Hitler and Mussolini's forms of socialism were called fascism. The theocratic form of socialism in the US takes a title, "progressive". The Pilgrims, Amish, etc. forms of cooperative work and charity are not forms of socialism, most simply because they are voluntary (there are other reasons). Socialism is a theocracy of compelled compliance. Compelled compliance in all cases applied to day to day life is not law, no matter what the slave at heart and mind might say, it is despotism. ("I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." - Harriet Tubman) Despotism was never law, it was / is criminal. Again, Waffler can not distinguish or differantiate where or when any given act is lawful or unlawful, just or unjust, or is an example of freedom or slavery.
 -- Mike, Norwalk
I have a copy of the Declaration on my office wall. Thanks Mike...saved me a whole bunch of typing there, lol...A Plantation is socialism...Just about fell off my chair....lol
 -- J Carlton, Calgary
J Carlton, I think maybe a plantation in the old south may be a very good example of socialism. It has all the components. The workers are being cared for by an all powerful task master. The workers do not share any of the wealth they create. The workers have no economic freedoms.
 -- warren, olathe
Warren, I disagree. The "Old South" had slaves. This is not the same thing as federally organized socialism. Those poor people were "Chattel or property" in a very Non-benevolent sense. The people of today are under the impression that they are free. The slaves of the old south suffered no such illusions. And lets not confuse social networking or social cooperation with "top down" socialism. they are distinctly different things.
 -- J Carlton, Calgary
Slavery was a form of socialism,, jobs were assigned, you had no freedom of choice but you were such as it was provided for. It is just a little ironic that Jefferson was able to right his wonderful words but overlook his slaves at times, that is all.
 -- Waffler, Smith
Waffler- If the lack of freedom of choice is the criteria, then yes there are some comparisons. But I still think there is a definite distinction between forced labor and confinement from a single "owner" to slowly losing your rights to an organized subtle tyranny. One is obvious the other is implemented through trickery.
 -- J Carlton, Calgary
I, too, hope that countries of the world embrace the Declaration of Independence as their own. I always thought that at some point every American should sign this declaration themselves and take responsibility for it. If we haven't said it for ourselves, then has it really been said, is it alive and true today? If there is to be a true United Nations, then it ought to have this declaration as its founding charter, thus reserving for all mankind for all nations on Earth the inalienable rights of mankind. Obviously the UN Charter is a deceptive document that does NOT acknowledge this pivital point. As far as socialism = slavery, certainly there are degrees of dependence -- to be completely dependent is to be a slave. Look, communal living is lawful in the US -- as long as it is voluntary and the folks do not violate the rights of others, then go for it. Being tied to a corporate desk is not much different -- as long as it is the choice of the worker. It is when communists, corporatists, religionists, etc. attempt to make the rest of us give them money to stay afloat that we have the problems -- obviously if a company or commune cannot provide for itself then something is wrong with the premise, yes? The reason the USA is in such a mess right now is because we have not been living up to the responsibilities of Independence and have been conned out of our rights by folks who profit from communes and corporations and have tried to convince us that 'the needs of the state outweigh the rights of the individual.' Buy that crap and consider yourself enslaved.
 -- E Archer, NYC
The letter is perfect - the last one he wrote - and it has happened as he said. Because of him and the Founding Fathers, Americans have liberty and natural rights secured. It is America which has led the world in tearing down tyranny and despotism on the planet. Obviously these are events which take hundreds of years, but, as he wrote, the engines of despotism will be extinguished. Now, the price and cost of this is American blood and treasure.
 -- Anthony & Elisabeth, Astoria, NY
Waffler, your statement identifying Jefferson's use of slave labor as socialism would be interesting if you were able argue the point. Since you have not, you have merely indicated your ignorance of both slavery and socialism. You might have attempted to demonstrate that the slaves were the means of production and not part of the community, but even so specious an argument is apparently beyond someone unable to "right (sic) his wonderful words."
 -- A.WOODS, Gloucester
I think NOBODY here knows the definition of Socialism...a Plantation is the furthest thing from Socialism, it is Feudalism. Socialism is the collective ownership of the means of production by the "workers" (Marx) or the community as a whole. IE ALL factories, shops businesses etc are owned collectively and there is no private production. We are nowhere near a socialist society in the US. Not even a thread of it exists here. In fact, business and private wealth in the US have enormous and unprecedented autonomy and power. There has never been a country or time in history where private wealth exercised so much power in civic affairs as now. What most people in the US call "socialism" is in fact municipal service. Services which at one time or another were desired and demanded by the public, such as the electrification of the Western States, or the Interstate Highway System, your fire and police departments, the EMS system that will come get you if you have a heart attack no questions asked..etc etc.. Or even military spending. Taxation to support municipal services is NOT socialism. The American Revolution was not against taxation anyway, it was against taxation WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. We do have direct elections in the US. We are represented, even if you are unhappy with the party representing you. If you're unhappy with taxation you can change that by electing new people, or running for office yourself. Taxes are too high, I agree. .... But you must cut municipal services if you want to cut taxes, so Americans will have to decide which roads they want closed, schools, military bases, etc . The fact is most Americans won't want any of these closed or cut in their own backyard, only someone else's.... So the debate here is about the proper extent of municipal services that a free society should have..but there is no one except a few fringe elements in America that would seriously advocate the total ownership and control of wealth and production by the collective public. Even our so called socialists are distinctively capitalist in their activities and orientation. The idea we are under some socialist "bondage" in America is beyond laughable, as is evident from the dictionary definition of Socialism: so■cial■ism    [soh-shuh-liz-uhm] Show IPA ■noun 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/socialism
 -- David, Los Angeles
The short version is , words have meanings. If you are attaching the wrong meaning to a word and fighting that false meaning, you will never see the real threat standing before you, which is and always has been the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a very few elite.. The Founders were very concerned with this, being enlightenment thinkers, and the trend of western Civilization since the 1500's has been in rebellion to this concentrated power and in favor of Liberty, the limiting of concentrated power over the individual.
 -- David, Los Angeles
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