4 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2017
    1. banishing all arbitrary & unnecessary restraint on individual action shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of another.

      Thomas Jefferson believed particularly strongly in a country whose government was based on the well-being of the small, agricultural farmer through strong state, not central, government. His ideal government focused on helping the “uncorrupt” rural farmer, not the industrialists or those focused on money. Along with this came his ideas that individual liberty should be a fundamental aspect of democracy, shown here through this assertion. Any “arbitrary and unnecessary restraint” on the individual must be eliminated in order to maintain this freedom. This belief is so crucial to his ideas that it will even be a key objective to the teaching at the university and the development of the students. In accordance with the views of the time, however, when the document claims that individuals should be free to do anything as long as it “does not violate the equal rights of another,” only other white citizens are included in this. If it included other groups, slavery would be completely unacceptable, as it is certainly a violation of rights. But because the rights of African-Americans were not considered to be “equal” to that of whites, there was no internal contradiction in the minds of the writers between this statement and the institution of slavery, as we often see with Jefferson. Although obviously Jefferson did not write this document alone, his influence and opinions are clearly seen throughout.

    2. after full enquiry & impartial & mature consideration, are of opinion that the central point of the white population of the state is nearer to the central college,

      It’s interesting here that today we read this as racist and exclusionary, but at the time, the school’s founders were simply trying to find the location that would be most convenient and efficient for its student body and faculty. To them, having the school close to the “white population” made perfect sense; the white population included the people that would be attending and teaching at the university. Today, we would call this explicit racism with a focus on social distance – that is, the desired physical distance between different groups because of an unwillingness to assimilate and mix. Generally, social distance is not something people willingly admit, so here it is interesting that the founders of the school very readily note their desire for distance from other groups in order to cater to a specific race. It points to how different their world views were regarding race and the permissibility of blatantly viewing races as unequal.

  2. Oct 2017
    1. This doctrine is the genuine fruit of the alliance between church and State, the tenants of which, finding themselves but too well in their present position, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations, and monopolies of honors, wealth and power, and fear every change, as endangering the comforts they now hold.

      Contrary to what others have posted regarding this statement, I believe here Jefferson and the other writers are actually calling out those who support an alliance between church and State, not advocating for one. Jefferson was a strong proponent of the separation between Church and State, like others have mentioned, so here he criticizes the view that man cannot be continuously improved morally and intellectually. He correlates this "desponding" view to the alliance between church and State in its obsolescence and lack of faith in the growth of man. Jefferson then further denounces those who promote this view by linking this static mindset to a fear of losing undeserved privileges. Instead, people should support the developments of secular science and the possibilities of education, which he will emphasize at his university, even if they themselves may not directly benefit.

  3. Sep 2017
    1. What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours? and what chains them to their present state of barbarism & wretchedness

      Thomas Jefferson learned extensively from the Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century (whose advancements he refers to throughout the report) and believed in a theory that emerged from the Enlightenment known as "environmentalism." Environmentalism stated that a human's environment "shaped human appearance, culture, and political organization," and Jefferson, in his book Notes on the State of Virginia, used this to claim that he actually believed Indians "to be in body and mind equal to the whiteman." Seemingly in contrast here, Jefferson calls Indians, the indigenous neighbors, wretched barbarians less advanced than the white man. However, Jefferson also articulated that in order for the indigenous man to become equal to the white man, he must relinquish his life of savagery and instead live in European-style towns with European-style agriculture, therefore receiving a European-style education. With this education and change of environment, Jefferson claimed white men and Indians would become equals. This deeply contrasts the opinions of many at the time that Indians (and, additionally, slaves) could not assimilate into the white culture due to their fundamental differences in mind, body, and nature. [(https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/american-indians)]