Thomas Jefferson & The Constitution
Posted in the Keithville Forum
#1 Feb 10, 2013
On Dec. 20, 1787, Jefferson wrote to James Madison about his concerns regarding the Constitution. He said, bluntly, that it was deficient in several areas. "I will now tell you what I do not like," he wrote. "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."
Such a bill protecting natural persons from out-of-control governments or commercial monopolies shouldn?t just be limited to America, Jefferson believed. "Let me add," he summarized, "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."
The following year, Jefferson wrote about his concerns to several people. In a letter to Mr. A. DONALD********, on Feb. 7, 1788, he defined the items that should be in a bill of rights: "By a declaration of rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing armies. These are fetters against doing evil, which no honest government should decline."
Jefferson kept pushing for a law, written into the Constitution as an amendment, which would guarantee liberties for citizens, prevent companies from growing so large they could dominate entire industries or have the power to influence the people?s government and reduce the possibility of the nation being taken over by a military coup.
On Feb. 12, 1788, he wrote to Mr. Dumas about his pleasure that the U.S. Constitution was about to be ratified, but also expressed his concerns about what was missing from the Constitution. He was pushing hard for his own state to reject the Constitution if it didn?t protect people from the dangers he foresaw.
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