Thomas Jefferson Summary View

On this day in 1775, Thomas Jefferson is elected to the second Continental Congress.

Jefferson originally established himself in the first Continental Congress with tract entitled “Summary View of the Rights of British America.”

Inkling of Independence

Here are two excerpts from his “Summary”:

“[P]ropose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all.”

“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!”

Rights Reverberate

Of course, in early June 1776, Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson to draft what would become the Declaration of Independence. This esteemed committee chose Jefferson to compose the most important document in the history self-government. He drafted it in just a few days, at the age of 33.

As we (should) know, this is the basis of Our Declaration:

“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.”

Jefferson seemed to suggest as much in his “Summary” two years prior. As seen above, he acknowledged “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

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