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ereated the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacities, tend only to beget hypocrisy and meanness, and a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and of mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greater part of the world and through all time:" "That truth is great and will prevail if left to herself: that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist of error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human. interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them." This is the language of the Bill establishing freedom, and is to be found on our Statute Book: how solemn and sublime and how transcendantly important, are the truths which it announces to the world.What but his great and powerful genius could have contemplated the breaking asunder those bonds in which the conscience had been bound for centuries? Who but the ardent and devoted friend of man would have exposed himself to the thunder and denunciation of the church throughout all christendom, by breaking into its very sanctuary and dissolving its connexion with government? If he consulted the page of history he found that the church establishment, exercising unlimited control over the conscience, and unlocking at its pleasure the very gates of Heaven to the faithful devotee, had in all ages governed the world-that kings had been made by its thunders to tremble on their thrones, and that thrones had been shivered by the lightnings of its wrath. In casting his eyes over the face of the globe he beheld it is
true the mighty spirit of Protestantism walking on the waters, but confined and limitted in its empire, and even its garments dyed in the blood of the martyrs. Over the rest of the world he beheld the religion of the meek and blessed Redeemer, converted into a superstitious rite, and locked up in a gloomy and ferocious mystery. The sentence of the terrible Inquisitor sounded in his ears, followed by the clank of chains and the groans of the victim. If he looked in the direction from whence the sound proceeded, he saw the fires of the auto-de-fe consuming the agonized body of the offen der, and thus finishing the last act of this horrible tragedy.He who had so much contributed to the unbinding of the hands of his countrymen, would have left his work unfinished if he had not also unfettered their consciences. True, he had in all this great work able coadjutors, who like himself, had adventured all for their country; but he was the great captain who arranged the forces and directed the assault. Let it then be henceforth proclaimed to the world that man's conscience was created free: that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefor only to his God that it is impious in mortal man, whether clothed in purple or in lawn, to assume the judgment seat that the connexion between church and state is an unholy alliance, and the fruitful source of slavery and oppression; and let it be dissolved. What an imperishable monument has Mr. Jefferson reared to his memory, and how strong are his claims to our gratitude. When from every part of this extended republic, the prayers and thanksgivings of countless thousands shall ascend to the throne of grace, each bending at his own altar, and worshiping his Creator in his own way, shall not every lip breathe a blessing on his name, and every tongue speak forth his praise? Yes, he was born a blessing to his country, and in the fullness of time, shall become a blessing to mankind. He was indeed, a precious gift; a most beloved reformer. Shall we not then, while weeping over his loss, offer thanks to the giver of every perfect gift, for having permitted him to live?
But, my countrymen, we have still further reasons for the deepest gratitude. He had not yet finished his memorable efforts in the cause of human liberty-the Temple had been reared, but it was yet exposed to violent assaults from without; those principles which in former ages had defeated the hopes of man, and have overthrown republics, remained to be hunted out, exposed and guarded against. The most powerful of these was the concentration and perpetuation of wealth in the hands of particular families, and the creation thereby of an overweening aristocracy. The fatal influence of this principle had been felt in all ages and in all countries. The feelings of pride and haughtiness which wealth is so well calculated to engender, and the homage which mankind are unhappily so much disposed to render it, causes the perpetuation of large fortunes in the hands of families, the most fearful antagonist to human liberty. Marcus Crassus had said, that the man who aspired to rule a Republic, should not be content until he had mustered wealth enough to maintain an army-and Julius Cæsar paved the way to the overthrow of Roman Liberty by the distribution, from his inexhaustible stores, of largesses to the people. Mr. Jefferson saw therefore the necessity of reformation in our municipal code, and the act abolishing entails and that regulating descents are all in their essential features, the offspring of his well constituted intellect. He has acted throughout on the great principle of the equality of mankind, and his every effort has been directed to the preservation of that equality among his countrymen. How powerful in its operation is our descent law in producing this effect. Founded on the everlasting principles of justice, it distributes among all his children, the fruits of a parent's labor. The first born is no longer considered the chosen of the Lord, but nature asserts her rights and raises the last to an equality with the first. Thus it is that the spirit of a proud independence, so auspicious to the durability of our institutions, is engendered in the bosoms of our citizens. Thus it is that we are under the influence of an
agrarian law in effect, while nature instead of being violated is protected, and industry instead of being suppressed, is excited by new stimuli. The great lawgiver of Spain in vain sought to perpetuate the principles of equality among the citizens of that renowned Republic, by various measures, all of which ultimately failed; a measure which depends not upon veneration for the character of any one man, but lays hold of the affections and records its own perpetuity in the great volume of nature; a measure which will every day more conspicuously develope its beauties; one without which the blood shed in the revolution would have been shed in vain ; without which the glories of that struggle would fade away, or exist but as another proof of man's incapacity for self-government. What more shall I say of it? May I not call it that great measure which to our political, like the sun to our planetary system, imparts light and heat, unveils all its beauties and manifests its strength. Tell me then ye destinies that control the future, say, is not this man's fame inscribed in adamant! Say, men of the present age, ye lovers of liberty, ye shining lights from amid the gloom of the world—say, does Virginia claim too much when she pronounces her Jefferson wiser than the lawyers of antiquity? Tell me then, men of America, have ye not lost your father, your benefactor, your best friend? And you, the men of other countries, where the light of his example is but dimly seen-you, who constitute the salt of the earth, will you not kindle your lamps in the mighty blaze of his fame, and distribute the blessings of his existence around you?
Here I might stop. The cause of this mournful procession is explained. The picture might be considered as finished. His claim to the gratitude of mankind is made manifest, and his title to immortality is established. But his labors did not here cease-I have still to exhibit him to you in other lights than those in which we have regarded him-to present other claims to your veneration and gratitude.
Passing over those incidents which history has already recorded, let us regard him in that station which I now fill more by the kindness of the public than from any merit of my ownwe here recognized in him the able vindicator of insulted America against the sarcasms of European Philosophy. Indulging in the visions of a fallacious theory, it was attempted to be proved that the flush and glow which nature assumed on the other side of the Atlantic, was converted on this continent into the cadaverous aspect of disease and degeneracy -that while she walked abroad over the face of Europe in all her beautiful proportions, here she hobbled on crutches and degenerated into a dwarf. How successfully he threw back this slander upon her calumniators, let the world decide. His notes on Virginia will ever bear him faithful witness.Slanders upon nations make the deepest and most lasting impression. They fall not on one man, but a whole people, and if not refuted, tend to sink them in the scale of existence. If, under any circumstances, they are to be deprecated, how much more are they to be so, when published against a nation not even in the gristle of manhood, unknown to the mass of mankind and struggling to be free. Such was the condition of America at that day. Shut out from free intercourse with Europe by the monopolizing spirit of the parent state, she had remained unknown to the world, and was regarded as an extensive wild, within whose bosom the fires of genius and of intellect had not as yet been kindled. Mr. Jefferson saw then the injury which she would sustain if they remained unrefuted. Vigilant at his post, and guardful of the interests of these states, he encountered the most distinguished of the philosophers of Europe, and his victory was complete. It was answer enough for him to have said, what in substance he did say, that in war we had produced a Washington, in physicks a Franklin, and in astronomy a Rittenhouse,—and if this triumph had not then been esteemed complete, might we not