Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Salma Hale, 26 July 1818

To Salma Hale

Monticello July 26. 18.


I thank you for the pamphlets you have been so kind as to send me, which I now return. they give a lively view of the state of religious dissension now prevailing in the North, and making it’s way to the South. most controversies begin with a discussion of principles; but soon degenerate into episodical, verbal, or personal cavils. too much of this is seen in these pamphlets, and, as usual, those whose dogmas are the most unintelligible are the most angry. the truth is that Calvinism has introduced into the Christian religion more new1 absurdities than it’s leader had purged it of old ones. our saviour did not come into the world to save metaphysicians only. his doctrines are levelled to the simplest understanding: and it is only by banishing Hierophantic mysteries and Scholastic subtleties, which they have nick-named Christianity, and getting back to the plain and unsophisticated precepts of Christ, that we become real Christians. the half reformation of Luther and Calvin did something towards a restoration of his genuine doctrines; the present contest will, I hope, compleat what they begun, and place us where the evangelists left us. I salute you with esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NhHi); at foot of text: “Mr Salma Hales.” PoC (DLC).

For the pamphlets here enclosed, see Hale’s Notes on his Visit to Monticello, [after 1818], document 4 in a group of documents on Hale’s Visit to Monticello, 7–8 May 1818, and note.

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • American Unitarianism or a Brief History of “The Progress and Present State of the Unitarian Churches in America” … Extracted from his “Memoirs of the Life of the Reverend Theophilus Lindsey,” printed in London, 1812 (T. Belsham) search
  • Belsham, Thomas; American Unitarianism search
  • Calvin, John; TJ on search
  • Christianity; TJ on search
  • Hale, Salma; letter to search
  • Hale, Salma; sends pamphlets to TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Christianity search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Jesus search
  • Jesus; TJ on search
  • Luther, Martin; TJ on search
  • Tracts on the Unitarian Controversy search
  • Unitarianism; Tracts on the Unitarian Controversy search
  • Unitarianism; works on search