Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 10 February 1814

To Thomas Cooper

Monticello Feb. 10. 14.

Dear Sir

In my letter of Jan. 16. I promised you a sample from my Commonplace book, of the pious disposition of the English judges to connive at the frauds of the clergy, a disposition which has even rendered them faithful allies in practice. when I was a student of the law, now half a century ago, after getting thro Coke Littleton, whose matter cannot be abridged, I was in the habit of abridging and commonplacing what I read meriting it, and of sometimes mixing my own reflections on the subject. I now inclose you the extract from these entries which I promised. they were written at a time of life when I was bold in the pursuit of knolege, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, & bearding every authority which stood in their way. this must be the apology, if you find the conclusions bolder than historical facts and principles will warrant. Accept with them the assurances of my great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Cooper esq.”

TJ here enclosed a transcription of sections 873 and 879 of his legal commonplace book (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, ser. 5). The selections he sent to Cooper discussed and rejected the theory that Christianity had been incorporated into the English common law (PoC of Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 200:35660–3, entirely in TJ’s hand, undated, with minor differences from MS; Tr in MHi, posthumous copy based on PoC of Tr, undated, incomplete, lacking portions of section 873 and all of section 879).

Index Entries

  • Christianity; and law search
  • Coke, Sir Edward; The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England: or a Commentary upon Littleton search
  • common law; in TJ’s legal commonplace book search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and TJ’s legal commonplace book search
  • Cooper, Thomas; letters to search
  • Great Britain; laws of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; common law search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; legal commonplace book search
  • law; British search
  • law; common search
  • law; TJ’s legal commonplace book search
  • The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England: or a Commentary upon Littleton (E. Coke) search