Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789

Editor’s Note: If there was a declaration to be written in the years soon after the founding of our republic, who better than Thomas Jefferson to have at least have some hand in its composition? As U.S. minister to France, Jefferson at times leant his expertise and insights — in many ways the product of […]

Preamble to Virginia Constitution – a Declaration of Grievances (June 29, 1776)

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder where Jefferson came up with the grievances enumerated in his first draft of the Declaration? You need look no further than the Preamble he composed for the Virginia Constitution. While Jefferson was not present at the proceedings of Virginia’s constitutional constitution, such was his passion for constitution making that he sent the convention delegates a constitution […]

Jefferson’s First Draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Editor’s note: While Jefferson audaciously, and incorrectly, had etched on his tombstone the he was “author of the Declaration of Independence,” the best he can lay claim to is that he was the composer of the first draft. Would Americans of his day have been as galvanized and presented as united a front,  if Jefferson’s draft had […]

A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)

Editor’s Note:  The Summary View, Jefferson’s first manifesto, which served as great grist for Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of July 4, 1776, contains one of the most radical declarations of rights ever made. In the document Jefferson declares that we all have the right to expatriate — and that when we do, we have the right to establish society anew. […]

Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775)

Editor’s note:  Thomas Jefferson took his first stab at bona fide ‘Declaration creation’ with this document. Issued on July 6, 1775 by the Second Continental Congress, this declaration presaged in some ways the Declaration that the same Congress would proclaim on July 4, 1776. Credit for this declaration’s more temperate final version is given to John Dickenson, […]