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Monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. A lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity, that ever were written.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man!
Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment, be deaf to all those motives whose powers supported him through his trial, and inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
I do not speak of their leaders who are incurable, but of the honest and well-intentioned body of the people.
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree.
Thomas Jefferson Research Paper
It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body.We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood.But whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights.Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others.I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement.Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. If we do not learn to sacrifice small differences of opinion, we can never act together. If his own opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at others.I congratulate you, my dear frend, on the law of your state for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it forever.This abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it.Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.Manners and onions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.