glyph 611: America, history, meaning of July 4th celebration of United States independence . Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger Chew Weightman ... self-government, freedom of expression, human rights
Thomas Jefferson's letter of June 24, 1826 written to Roger Chew Weightman, the mayor of Washington, expresses his belief that political independence of the kind achieved by the United States after 1776 was essential to the preservation of the freedom of each person.
...on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
It may be necessary to note that in Jefferson's day "man" and "mankind" meant every member of the human race.
The original letter, preserved in the Library of Congress
A story about Jefferson and this letter, Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider, July 3, 2017
July 4, 2019