Tag Archives: All men are created equal

What is meant by a gift given to an office-holder?

…. The inviolable rule which I have laid down for myself never while in a public character to accept presents which bear a pecuniary [monetary] value … it is the duty of every friend of republican government to fence out every practice which might tend to lessen the chastity [purity] of the public administration.
To Phillipe Reibelt, October 12, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Equality-minded leaders avoid everything that undermines confidence in the organization.
The opening sentence is one featured before in this space, that Jefferson refused to accept any gift of value while in office. He would either return the gift or make a return offering of equal value. The second sentence gives the reasoning.

By “republican government,” in its simplest form, he referred to the foundational principle expressed in the Declaration of American Independence, “all men are created equal.” No one was to have any bestowed or artificial preference over anyone else. Any aristocracy was to arise from integrity and talent, not from wealth, ancestry, or other privilege.

A leader who accepted a gift, even with no-strings-attached, could give the appearance of impropriety, that the giver was seeking favor from the recipient, a preferred position above others. That is why Jefferson said it was the duty of every citizen of honest government “to fence out” or prohibit anything that could undermine the people’s confidence in their leaders.

“Thank you so much for your outstanding performance of Thomas Jefferson …
inspiring and very appropriate for our audience of leaders …”
Executive Director, Missouri School Boards Association
Engage a leader to inspire and teach your leaders.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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How to eliminate tyrants and empower citizens?

I considered 4 of these bills, passed or reported, as forming a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of antient or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican.
The repeal of the laws of entail …
The abolition of primogeniture…
The restoration of the rights of conscience …
the bill for a general education…
To these too might be added, as a further security, the introduction of the trial by jury
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders despise privileged and guaranteed status.
We have dealt with these provisions individually in the preceding posts. Here, Jefferson summarized them and explains their importantance. They will:
1. Eliminate any past or future aristocracy (some more equal than others)
2. Found a “truly republican” government (where all are created equal)

The heart of these four provisions:
1. Entail repealed – prescribing by law that property will be kept in just a few hands
2. Primogeniture abolished – an entire estate having to pass to the first born
3. Rights of conscience guaranteed – dis-establishing the official, tax-supported church
4. General education provided – publicly funded for all boys and girls (though not slave children)

He recommended a fifth protection, trial by jury, taking some legal authority away from the courts and entrusting it to juries of one’s peers.

“I don’t believe anyone left the room once you started talking because everyone
was so captivated by your portrayal of Mr. Thomas Jefferson, citizen farmer.”

North Carolina Agribusiness Council
Mr. Jefferson will captivate your audience, too!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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