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In 1796, he was elected vice-president, and in 1800 president of the United States. His accession to office marked the first great victory of a new political party. His first administration was made popular by a studied simplicity in manner and in the administration of the government. The fortunate acquisition of the territory of Louisiana from France increased bis popularity. A series of complications with England embarrassed his second administration and the passage of the Embargo Act beclouded its close. He withdrew from all active political life in 1809 and retired to his delightful retreat at Monticello. Here his time was employed in various literary and agricultural pursuits, and in conducting an extensive correspondence. The striking coincidence of his death with that of John Adams on the fourth of July, 1826, produced a profound impression.
He was an original thinker in politics, essentially a reformer, and was the best representative of advanced democratic ideas in government.
“To have been the instrument of expressing in one brief, de. cisive act the concentrated will and resolution of a whole family of States, ... to have been permitted to give the impress and peculiarity of his own mind to a charter of public right destined ... to an importance in the estimation of men equal to anything human ever borne on parchment, or expressed in the visible signs of thought—this is the glory of Thomas Jefferson.”—Eulogy of Edward Everett on Adams and Jefferson.
“ To say that he performed his great work well would be doing him injustice. To say that he did it excellently well, admirably well, would be inadequate and halting praise. Let us rather say that he so discharged the dnty assigned him that all Americans may well rejoice that the work of drawing the title-deed of their liberties devolved upon him.”- Webster's Works, Vol. I., 127.
Herein lay his deep wisdom; he enjoyed a political vision, penetrating deeper down into the inevitable movement of popular government and further forward into the future trend of free institutions than was possessed by any other man in public life in his day.--Morse's Life of Jefferson, p. 129.
ANALYSIS OF THE DECLARATION.
A BRIEF inspection reveals the fact that the Declaration is made up of three parts. (1) The first part presents the general reasons on the part of the colonies for renouncing their allegiance to Great Britain. It asserts certain views as to the rights of man which were at that time by no means generally accepted. These were, that all men are possessed of certain natural rights which it should be the object of those intrusted with power to protectthat to the people belongs the right to establish or change a government—that when a form of government has become despotic it is the right and duty of the people to make such radical changes as may seem most likely to remove abuses and
preserve their rights.
(2) The second part contains an enumeration of the tyrannical acts of the King of England, some of which were:-depriving the people of their lawful rights as English subjects, imposing taxes without their consent and cutting off their trade with other countries, sending armies of foreign soldiers among them whom they were compelled to support, and the actual waging of war and destroying the lives of the people.
(3) The third part contains the Declaration proper, in which the people of the colonies formally renounce their allegiance to Great Britain and assert their intention to exercise the political rights of free and independent States.
By the specific enumeration of the “Facts submitted to the World” it was intended to fasten upon the king rather than upon the people, the responsibility for the tyranny of which they complained. The refusal to disavow these acts, however, was deemed a sufficient reason for assuming a hostile attitude toward both the government and the people.
The original draft of this document is preserved in the Department of State at Washington. The original copy signed at Philadelphia, is to be found in the Patent Office. The bold and familiar signature of John Hancock, then President of the Congress, stands by itself and heads the list of signers.
The other names are grouped together by States, and the States are arranged in geographical order.
“It will be a memorable epoch in the history of America. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God.”—John Adams.
“The Declaration ought to be hung up in the nursery of every king, and blazoned on the porch of every palace.”—Buckle's History of Civilization in England.
“It includes far more than it expresses ; for by recognizing human equality, brotherhood and the individual as the unit of society it accepts the Christian idea of man as the basis of political institution.”-Frothingham's Rise of the Republic.
“ The Declaration had an immense effect. ... The cause was so noble and the effort was so grand that there was not a doubt, not a hesitation in the sentiments of the entire world that governments and the rulers of States would seek glory by thinking like the people."--Sismondi, History of the French.
REFERENCES. — The student should consult some of the numerous biographies of Jefferson. Among the best are Randall's, Tucker's, and that of J. T. Morse in the American Statesmen Series. Of special interest is Jefferson's own account of the circumstances connected with the writing of the Declaration, to be found in Vol. I. of his Writings, containing his autobiography.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN UNITED STATES
WHEN in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and 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 and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.-Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to
alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries,