_To Major John Cartwright_ _Monticello, June 5, 1824_ DEAR AND VENERABLE SIR,
Our Revolution commenced on more favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we
pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records,
to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws
and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry.
We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education.
We established however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;