Jefferson's Words Still Resonate

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 30, 2013 | Go to article overview

Jefferson's Words Still Resonate


In scarcely more than 1,300 words, the 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence announced "to our British brethren" that we'll be just fine on our own, thank you. We have plenty of lumber and farmland, and "these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown."

The Declaration is obviously one of the most carefully studied documents in human history, so it's far above my poor power to add to what's already been published regarding Thomas Jefferson's word selection. The selection of Jefferson to write it, on the other hand, was less obvious in 1776 than it appears in hindsight.

Yes, he went on to be president, but at the time he was just 33, the second-youngest among the delegation and, as a sign of his undeveloped political stature, had not been invited to either the first or the second of the Continental Congresses. (He eventually made it to Philadelphia as a replacement delegate in 1775, when Peyton Randolph, one of America's forgotten early leaders -- and, as it happened, Jefferson's cousin -- was summoned back to Virginia. Randolph died just months later, and Jefferson was there to stay.)

Jefferson was more a Renaissance man than a statesman -- a gifted writer, fluent in at least five languages, a student of science, religion, law, math and architecture. But he wasn't a noticeably impressive orator. (John Adams later wrote of his friend, "Mr. Jefferson had been now about a Year a Member of Congress, but [during] the whole Time I satt with him, [I] never heard him utter three Sentences together.") Jefferson's reputation as a political figure rested almost fully on his short tenure in Virginia's legislature, his fast friendship with Adams, and his 1774 authorship of "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," a sort of predecessor polemic.

It is a far less stirring, and more deferential, essay: Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said deputies, when assembled in general congress with the deputies from the other states of British America, to propose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty's subjects . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Jefferson's Words Still Resonate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.