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  • Letter to Roger Weightman

     |  Natural Rights/American Revolution

    Letter to Roger Weightman Letter to Roger Weightman 1 Thomas Jefferson Written just days before his death on July 4, 1826, this letter to the mayor of Washington, D.C., encapsulates the great cause of Jefferson's life. June 24, 1826 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 on the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, 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 ...
  • Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association 1 Thomas Jefferson The Danbury Baptist Association, aware of Jefferson's earlier role in overturning the Anglican establishment in Virginia, expressed hope that as president he might help liberate them from the religious constraints in Connecticut. Jefferson's response, in which he employs the famous "wall of separation between church and state" metaphor, is not a demand for the separation of religion and politics; rather, it addresses the principle of federalism. As president, Jefferson is unable to interfere in this state issue. Likewise, Congress is prohibited from doing so by the First Amendment's religion clauses. The citizens of Connecticut must remedy their situation ...
  • Marbury v. Madison

     |  Three Branches of Government

    Marbury v. Madison Marbury v. Madison 1 John Marshall (1755-1835) Thomas Jefferson's election as president is often called the "Revolution of 1800," because it marked the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another. Despite its uniquely pacific character, the election's aftermath was marked by partisan rancor. The day before Jefferson took office, President John Adams commissioned fifty-eight Federalist judges. Upon assuming office Jefferson ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, to withhold their commissions. One of them, William Mar-bury, brought a case that eventually reached the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Marshall wrote an opinion that established the power of judicial review. 1803 Mr. Chief Justice ...
  • Letter to Edward Everett

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to Edward Everett Letter to Edward Everett 1 James Madison In this 1830 response to Massachusetts statesman Edward Everett, Madison maintains that a state does not possess the authority to strike down as unconstitutional an act of the federal government. The contrary doctrine, known as nullification, would take on later significance. August 28, 1830 I have duly received your letter in which you refer to the "nullifying doctrine," advocated as a constitutional right by some of our distinguished fellow citizens; and to the proceedings of the Virginia Legislature in 98 and 99, as appealed to in behalf of that doctrine; and you express a wish for my ideas on those subjects. I am aware of the delicacy of the task in some respects; and ...
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