From Jeremiah Moore
Moorsfields—July 12th. 1800
Mr. Thomas Jefferson Sir.
Having lived trough the American Revolution my political opinions were formed during that period of Tryal and danger and perhaps they are the more deeply rivited by the Circumstancies existing when they took their birth—However some how or other they have taken a disposition that all devouring time has not intirely Swallowed up—and while I See numbers that once were the advocates of republican principles bask in the Solar rays of arristocratical measures. I find my Self greatly at a loss how account for the Change that has taken place in the opinions of these men—the Virginia assembly above all others Surprise and astonish my understanding—Gentlemen who oppose with Such warmth the Measures of the general Goverment as Calkalated to Consolidate the united States in to one Grand Empire and Swallow up the State Goverments and with them the last remains of republickanism they say and Still there is no State in the union that more fully embraces the esential principles of arostocrasy than the State of Virginia—The rights of Humon Nature are atached to men and not to things and when any number of men all possest of the Same Natural rights do by Compact Cast all those rights into one Common Stock firm [Since] Certain aquired rights arise to each individual Stockholder in equal proportion and are as such a compensation for the Loss of those Natural rights which were lost by the Compact—the first and most esential of those aquired rights I take to be that of Electing or being Elected as the Case may be but the Constitution of Virginia transfers this right from the man and places it in his property (and in the great wisdom of the State She has discovered the purcise quantity of Land be the same rich or poor that will confer this invalluable Blessing)—and of Course to be born poor in Virginia is to be born a Slave—I Should not Stranger as I am to you have given you the trouble these feble [observations] […] I not heard it hinted a few days ago that you must be more aristocratical in your dispositions that Mr Adams the present president of the united States born as you were in Virginia it was insinuated that you must have approbated the Virginia aristocrasy at least you have been intirely Silent while the most glaring Violation of right that ever disgraced a free people prevailed and a great Number of respectable Citisins are thus deprived of all priviledges in the Goverment in which they live and which they rest both their lives and fortunes in the defence of—if Virginia may Say no man Shall be elligible to Elect or be Elected because he has not 50 acres of Land they may with equal propriety and Justice say he shall not unless he holds 5000 and so without end—it is a time when the political opinions of men high in office should be well understood—a time when Tyrants Spread the ravages of war. the instrument of their dignity and importance (with savage fury far and wide) a time when america Should with Caution trust her dearest intrest in the hands of those who give Evidence that they are not washed from the pullution of that Tyranny that has delluged the Earth with Humon Blood—it would gratify a number of your friends to hear you say you were in heart an enemy to the Doctrine of arristocrasy in Virginia and Every where Else—the part you took against the Religious Establishment when I had the honour with others of putting a petition into your hands Signed by 10000—Subscribers praying the disolution of those Tyrannical Chains Still lives in my memory—and has Sometimes afforded me pleasure in being able to Say without doubt that you were a friend to religious liberty and it would add to my happiness to able to Say with Equal Certainty that you were a friend to a general mode of Suffrage in opposition to that partial one which now prevails in this Commonwealth— —I have no apolegy to plead for the intrution this Schrole will make on your time and patience but your own goodness which I trust will pardon the liberty [I have taken and] I have no doubt but you have been intruded on at Some time of your life by men whoes motives might not be more pure than those that occupy the heart of your obdt Hble Svt
RC (DLC); torn; endorsed by TJ as received 21 July and probably the letter recorded in SJL as that of 9 July.
Born in Prince William County, Virginia, Jeremiah Moore (1746–1815) gave up his office as a lay reader in the Episcopal Church and became a Baptist itinerant preacher in the early 1770s. He was brought before the authorities in Alexandria several times before he obtained a license to preach in 1773. After the Revolution he returned to Fairfax County and from 1792 to 1813 attended meetings and played an active role in the Ketocton Baptist Association, composed of churches west of Philadelphia including Virginia. From about 1789 to 1815 Moore lived on his 600 acre estate at Moorefield in Fairfax County. He was one of the founders and pastor of the First Baptist Church in Alexandria to which TJ contributed $50 in 1805. He preached primarily in Maryland and Virginia but also traveled to churches in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. William Wirt described Moore as “Not refined, but rough and strong, of copious and even impetuous volubility, keen, acute, witty, full of original observation, and as a reasoner I have seldom heard him surpassed. He was a most interesting preacher” (Thomas V. DiBacco, Moorefield: Home of Early Baptist Preacher Jeremiah Moore [Fairfax, Va., 1971], 3–27; James B. Taylor, Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers, 2 vols. [Richmond, 1838–60], 1:209–13; Mary G. Powell, The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia, From July 13, 1749 to May 24, 1861 [Richmond, 1928], 117; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 2d ser., 13 , 18–25; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1146).
Putting a petition into your hands: after TJ became governor in 1779 an unsuccessful effort was made to pass the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. TJ’s bill was printed as a broadside in the summer of that year and petitions for and against it were presented (above in Vol. 2:547–8).