Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Ruggles, 3 May 1822

To Benjamin Ruggles

Monto May 3. 22.

Th:J. presents his salutations &1 thanks to the honble mr Ruggles for the pamphlet2 he has been so kind as to send him. he reads with comfort3 every thing which reprobates the apostatising4 heresies of the Case of Cohens. according to the doctrines of the Supreme court in that case, the States are provinces of the empire: and a late pamphlet gives to that court the infallibility of the Pope. Cæsar then has only to send out his Proconsuls and with5 the sanction6 of our Pope, all is settled. but the battle of Bunker’s hill was not fought to set up a Pope.

Dft (DLC); on verso of RC of Ruggles to TJ, 28 Apr. 1822; dateline at foot of text. Tr (NHi: Rufus King Papers); with lettered footnotes identifying the two pamphlets mentioned above as “Hammond’s work” and “McDuffie’s—work,” respectively; at foot of text: “collated by RK”; docketed, in part, as “Jefferson’s conceited letter to Ruggles of the Senate.” Tr (Leon Huhner, New York City, 1944); written on verso of a reused address cover to Smith Thompson. Not recorded in SJL.

The South Carolina congressman George McDuffie argued in a late pamphlet that “it belongs to the national judiciary to pronounce upon the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the laws of the national legislature. Its jurisdiction extends to ‘all cases’ arising under them; and … it would be vain and idle to make the laws of Congress supreme, if the national judiciary had not the power of enforcing them. For you can hardly be ignorant that a law is a dead letter, without an organ to expound and an instrument to enforce it” ([McDuffie], National and State Rights, considered, by “One of the People” in reply to the “Trio” [Charleston, S.C., 1821], 17).

1Preceding four words interlined in place of “returns his.”

2TJ here canceled “of mr.”

3Word interlined in place of “approbation.”

4Word interlined.

5Dft: “withe.” Trs: “with.”

6Word interlined in place of “approbation.”

Index Entries

  • Bunker Hill, Battle of (1775); TJ references search
  • Cohens v. Virginia search
  • Congress, U.S.; and judicial review search
  • Hammond, Charles; Review of the Opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Cohens vs. Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; judicial review search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Supreme Court search
  • judiciary, U.S.; judicial review search
  • law; and judicial review search
  • law; books on search
  • McDuffie, George; National and State Rights search
  • National and State Rights (G. McDuffie) search
  • Review of the Opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Cohens vs. Virginia (C. Hammond) search
  • Ruggles, Benjamin; letter to search
  • Ruggles, Benjamin; sends work to TJ search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; andCohens v. Virginia search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; TJ on search