This [Constitutional] Convention met at Philadelphia on the 25th. of May ’87. It sate with closed doors and kept all it’s proceedings secret, until it’s dissolution on the 17th. of September, when the results of their labors were published all together. I received a copy early in November, and read and contemplated it’s provisions with great satisfaction … The absence of express declarations ensuring freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of the person under the uninterrupted protection of the Habeas corpus, & trial by jury in civil as well as in criminal cases excited my jealousy; and the re-eligibility of the President for life, I quite disapproved.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders protect individuals from institutions.
The new Constitution was drafted while Jefferson was in France. His input was indirect only, through resource materials he sent to James Madison. He received a draft copy a few weeks after the Convention adjourned and was generally pleased with the result.
There were two things that he did not like at all:
1. There were no guarantees of individual rights. (What we know as the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, were not part of the original draft.)
2. The President could be re-elected indefinitely. He saw the roots of a President-for-life, as in some form of a king.
Even at this early stage, he promoted limitations on government power and guarantees of individual liberties.