common welfare; and in his letter to the territorial governor of Illinois
, written in old age, he bequeathed, in earnest and affecting language, the cause of negro emancipation to the rising generation.
‘This enterprise,’ said he, ‘is for the young, for those who can carry it forward to its consummation.
It shall have all my prayers, and these are the only weapons of an old man.’
Such was Thomas Jefferson
, the great founder of American Democracy, the advocate of the equality of human rights, irrespective of any conditions of birth, or climate, or color.
His political doctrines, it is strange to say, found their earliest recipients and most zealous admirers in the slave states of the Union
The privileged class of slaveholders, whose rank and station ‘supersede the necessity of an order of nobility,’ became earnest advocates of equality among themselves—the democracy of aristocracy.
With the misery and degradation of servitude always before them, in the condition of their own slaves, an intense love of personal independence, and a haughty impatience of any control over their actions, prepared them to adopt the democratic idea, so far as it might be applied to their own order.
Of that enlarged and generous democracy, the love, not of individual freedom alone, but of the rights and liberties of all men, the unselfish desire to give to others the privileges which all men value for themselves, we are constrained to believe the great body of Thomas Jefferson
's slave-holding admirers had no adequate conception.
They were just such democrats as the patricians of Rome
and the aristocracy