Read What Thomas Jefferson Wrote on America’s 50th Birthday

Thomas Jefferson second amendment

Of the 56 delegates who had signed the Declaration of Independence, three lived to see July 4, 1826, our nation’s 50th birthday. They were John Adams, age 90, Charles Carroll, 88, and Thomas Jefferson at 83.

Naturally, all three of those surviving founding fathers were invited to attend a big July 4 party being thrown by Roger Chew Weightman, the mayor of Washington at the time. Unfortunately, although Jefferson would’ve liked to attend, his health was deteriorating, and he had to decline the invitation. Interestingly, his “RSVP letter” is really stirring and will hit home with any Second Amendment supporter as a sublime testament to individual liberty.

Declaring independence from Great Britain was, of course, a decision to overthrow the government by taking up arms against it. Jefferson describes it poetically as a “bold and doubtful election between submission or the sword.” Despite the tremendous cost of the Revolutionary War, it was the right decision. With pride and relief, Jefferson writes: “Our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made.”

He also expresses hope that the United States will serve as a beacon of liberty, leading the people of the world by example:

“May it 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 & security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. … these are grounds of hope for others.”

The importance and relevance of the Second Amendment here is transparent: without an armed citizenry, none of it would have been possible. This is doubtlessly why Jefferson was one of the most adamant proponents of gun ownership in U.S. history.

Here is the full text of the letter, along with the photographs below (courtesy of the Library of Congress):

Respected Sir,

The kind invitation I receive from you on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration of the 50th. anniversary of American independance; as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. but acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to controul. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it 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 & 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. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the City of Washington and of it’s vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. with my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments.

Th. Jefferson

comments

  1. avatar johnny go lightly says:

    Gee, sounds just like what a graduate of DC public education would write today.

    1. avatar bontai joe says:

      I am assuming your tongue is firmly in cheek. I can’t imagine many students of public education could spell “acquiescence” let alone use it properly in a sentence.

      1. avatar pieslapper says:

        Or even know who Thomas Jefferson was, much less his contributions to our country’s founding.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          Wasn’t he married to Weezy…

        2. avatar jwm says:

          No, Rock, he owned Weezy.

    2. A graduate of a public DC school wouldn’t even be able to read this! Maybe he should of included pictures!

  2. avatar bontai joe says:

    Those “old dead white guys” were pretty darn smart. I wonder what they would think of the current state of the Republic today?

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      They would be done shooting again by now. With a defeated enemy and a renewed vigor for Freedom and the Death of Tyranny. Keep Your Powder Dry…

    2. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the 'Good and Hard' Horns" PR says:

      “Those “old dead white guys” were pretty darn smart. I wonder what they would think of the current state of the Republic today?”

      I think they would be quite conflicted.

      On one hand, I imagine the look on Ben Franklin’s face if he were to witness the aerial aerobatics of two SpaceX boosters landing synchronized upright in Florida, or experiencing a truly high-end home theater.

      Or what he would think of HF radio, the practical application of his beloved electricity. His mind would have been blown carrying on a real-time conversation with someone in France from a desk with a small box on it while warm in his home in Boston on a dark winter night.

      Franklin would be impressed watching and then trying to make 1,000 yard-shots so far away, they could barely even see the target.

      Imagine his horror at seeing Hiroshima the day after it was bombed, being told it was a few pounds of metal he could pick up easily with one hand that contained all that energy. And then being told bombs 1,000 more powerful were poised ready to do the same, all over the world.

      I imagine they would be very angry seeing the lack of freedoms that still exist. Like it being illegal in California to clear away dead brush next to family homes.

      Wonder and horror, elation and despair.

      That’s what the founders would think if they were here today…

      1. avatar Jeremy in AL says:

        BF was from Philly, but good post nonetheless.

      2. avatar beerwhisperer says:

        A little late on my part, but great post and interesting perspective.

  3. avatar JR Pollock says:

    I wonder how many 33 year olds today, could write a document as inspired as The Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was younger than Ben Shapiro..

    Happy Independence Day to all.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      People grew up faster back then. They didn’t even have health insurance, let alone be able to stay on their parents until they were 26. By 26 most men had a career, wife and at least 3 kids. And an 8th grade education was roughly equivalent to a 4 year degree.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        No one dared tell them that they were not an (“responsible”) ‘adult’ until they were 21.

        My what “Progress” hath wrought.

        KIll a commie for Mommy, Kill two for your grandparents. Don’t worry about ‘saving me one’, I’ll try to limit your quarry too.

  4. avatar TommyJay says:

    Jefferson is one of my favorites. Infinitely better than that Hamilton jerk. Although, I’d say the guy was not a fan of Catholicism. Down with “monkish ignorance” and up with “reason” and the “general spread of the light of science.”

    1. avatar luigi says:

      +1 on “that Hamilton jerk”

    2. avatar Joe R. says:

      Hamilton is not the jerk of “Hamilton” posed by confused members of the rankly, can’t-rise-to-the-level-of-worthless, evil POS (D).

  5. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Somebody was listening to Mark Levin Show last night….

  6. avatar jwm says:

    They were deeply flawed men. But they created something that had never been seen before and has not been equaled since. America is truly unique in the history of the world.

    1. avatar Jack says:

      All Men are deeply flawed….

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        +1. The only man in history that wasn’t deeply flawed lived 2000 years ago and died for our sins. Jefferson, et al, were if anything far less flawed than their contemporaries. The left likes to make issue with Jefferson’s ownership of slaves but ignore the fact that he was an abolitionist, even as a slave owner. Back then an the choice came down to treating your slaves well or selling them to another master who may treat them cruelly. They knew that setting right the sin of slavery was a battle for another day. The newborn country could not fight the Revolution and the Civil War at the same time. Other than that, I don’t see any argument in labeling them ‘deeply flawed’. They were great men.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          You get it. It’s no insult to point out that the founding fathers had flaws. Ever see the list of the amount of alcohol consumed during the constitutional convention? Franklin was a true horn dog.

          Washington’s greatness wasn’t as a victorious general. He lost far more than he won. But he never surrendered and he never allowed the brits to destroy his army. The moment he handed his sword to a british general the revolution would be over. Defeat after defeat he managed to keep the bulk of his troops together and on the move.

          In spite of their shortcomings and their arguments these men started something that has never been matched.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Well the copious consumption of alcohol could hardly be considered a ‘flaw’, considering the fact that Jesus’ critics labeled him a drunkard. As Ben Franklin said, ‘Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.’ I suppose one could consider his skirt chasing to be a flaw, but that never stopped them from embracing Slick Willy.

          Washington’s goal was to win skirmishes, not battles against the British army. However, his failure would not have resulted in a failed revolution. The Revolution happened, not because of injustices by the Crown, but because the Americans simply didn’t need their British overlords. They had essentially been self administrating states for decades. Just getting a message to England and a response back took upwards of 6 months. Once the fighting started there was little doubt that the colonists were determined toward self determination and there simply wasn’t enough profit for the empire to justify the expense of continuously putting down dissent by force. Especially when open trade was a perfectly viable option. The question wasn’t ‘would America achieve independence’, but ‘how long would it take for the British to capitulate’.

        3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          Booze was consumed way more freely throughout human history than today due to water purification being less than stellar and stored booze not stagnating as quickly as water.

          Now due to clean water being so abundant and accessible boozing it up all day is now generally frowned upon… unfortunately.

          Booze has been as much an integral part of shaping society as we know it as fire, agriculture, hand tools, the wheel, electrity, etc.

          I pay homage by day drinking as much as possible.

    2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      Yeah, and wait until you see the deeply flawed jerks running and ruining the country today.
      No, I am not talking about people like Trump, Paul, Cruz and some others.
      Demoncraps, RINOs, Deep State, UN, Bilderbergers, Bohemian Club, Illuminati, CFR, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Joyce Foundation, Skull and Crossbones, SPLC, ACLU, and all the other Bolshevik organizations are the bane of this republics existence. Right now, FBI, CIA, Pentagon, NSA, and the Deep State are not looking very good either.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        You said Deep State twice.

        I’m led to wonder what ol’ TJ would do with your comment.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          I heard if you say its name three times the Deep State comes to get you like Bloody Mary.

    3. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      I suppose I am triggered.
      But anytime I see “They were deeply flawed men.”, I ask of what time period do we see such a collection of intelligent people as in the early days of the Revolution and the Republic?
      I consider most of the follow up politicians, bureaucrats, and generations to be absolute f^cking morons dragging this country into socialism, communism, and fascism. One of my favorites is “The Greatest Generation”‘. Yeah, ask my grandparents about FDR and the Greatest Generation of my parents. You would get a very different story of the “New Deal” than the current PC crap.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        The generation that spawned and “raised’ the Baby Boomers? Good Job there (snarc)

  7. avatar ANG Pilot says:

    “…that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god.”

    One of my all time favorite lines. Too bad there are so many people these days who are willing to wear a saddle for a favored few.

    Happy 4th

  8. avatar Nanashi says:

    President Coolidge’s speech for the nation’s 150th birthday (and his 54th) is also worth a read.

  9. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    God bless the founding fathers.

  10. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    As it turned out, July 4, 1826 just happened to be both Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adam’s last day on this earth.

    1. avatar Bcb says:

      Now that is interesting! Fun little blurb.

    2. avatar barnbwt says:

      #dontplaywithfireworks
      Never forget.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        “#dontplaywithfireworks” ? ? ?

        Is that like the insipid “PoundMeToo” movement?

  11. avatar Barnbwt says:

    TL;DR

    “Ook-ook!”

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    “the blessings & security of self-government.”

    If those “blessings” include Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer and the rest of that disgusting claque, I think I’d prefer a soothing barbed wire enema.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      Yes, far better we be governed by people on high from far away who have nothing to do with us and have no stake in our best interests…like Shcumer, Feinstein, and Pelosi

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        We are self-governed. We have a ‘government’ to serve us, and ahole neighbors who need a job to work for it, and govern – government, not us. We send representatives to our government to counteract the POS MFrs that others elect, that may want to usurp authority and attempt to concoct tyranny upon us, and to warn those individuals that we are more than willing to individually prosecute the 2nd Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence on them.

  13. avatar Perry Smithson says:

    just a smart and perspicacious man, that thomas. might be slighty flawed but everyone was in the 1600s and 1700s

  14. avatar frankw says:

    If the Founders are considered “deeply flawed”, what do you call the asshats running this country now? I doubt there are sufficient words to describe the criminals running things now.

  15. avatar Johnny B says:

    Remember that these guys went to war over 3% tax…. just think what they would do today with the taxation that is burdening us….

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