Letter - The real Thomas JeffersonDid Jefferson say what the June 13th letter to the editor says he said, or didn’t he?
To the editor:
Did Jefferson say what the June 13th letter to the editor says he said, or didn’t he? According to one website, that quotation is a portion of what Jefferson wrote to the Virginia Baptists in 1808. Jefferson’s handwritten letter, dated 11/21/1808, to the six Baptist associations represented at Chesterfield, Virginia, does not contain that quotation. Did Jefferson write another letter to the Baptists in 1808?
It’s well documented that Jefferson proposed in 1776 that the front of the Great Seal of the United States be … “children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night”
At the end of his Second Inaugural Address (3/4/1805), Jefferson again compared God’s care for our forefathers to God’s care for the Israelites:
“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, and our riper years with his wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.”
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html provides evidence that Jefferson began regular attendance of church services held in the U.S. House of Representatives just two days after he issued the Danbury Baptist letter (1/1/1802) with its phrase “separation of church and state.” The Library of Congress website also reports that throughout Jefferson’s administration, Jefferson permitted church services to be held in the executive branch buildings.
Melva Jean Ruckheim
Parkers Prairie, MN