Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, so I write to wish him a Happy Birthday! True, there is a legitimate issue about the hypocrisy of his lofty prose and his slave ownership, including Sally Hemmings who bore children with him. I find it difficult to be overly judgmental, from what I’ve read it does seem that the two were in love when they were in France, and likely in the US too.
I don’t write, however, to take a position on his personal life, but to looked at the literal wording of one of the most important sentences he ever penned. On December 20, 1787, Jefferson wrote a letter while he was in France and sent it to James Madison in the U.S. In that letter he addressed the new Constitution which Madison had sent him. The Constitution did not include a Bill of Rights.
In response to this omission (a Bill of Rights was voted against unanimously at the Constitutional Convention), Jefferson wrote “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on Earth, and what no just government should refuse.” Unite for Rights carries out this vision by creating a Global Bill of Rights enforceable in the courts of all countries.
With Jefferson’s prodding, as well as the demands of his constituents when he was running for Congress, Madison, who had voted against a Bill of Rights at the Convention, went on to draft the Bill of Rights for the US Constitution, the first of its kind. Madison is now known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.”
So thank you for this gift, among others, Mr. Jefferson. I’ve spent 15 years of my life trying to carry out your vision, and God willing I’ll spend 15 more, wishing you Happy Birthday along the way.