Thomas Jefferson, Man of Liberty

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”
~Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, Man of Liberty

1752: Beginnings
At nine, I studied Latin, Greek and French,
And Homer, Tacitus, the law, John Locke,
And always carried my Greek grammar text.
I studied fifteen hours a day–hard work.

I studied architecture and designed
And built Monticello, where I could read
And write and drink my silky, soft, smooth wine
My agent shipped me from Marseille with speed.

The Revolution
What can men do when taxes are too high?
Buckle like cowards or put up a fight?
Bright men, strong nerves, each risked his life
For a people’s government and for our rights.

1776: The Declaration of Independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,”
The words I wrote with my favorite quill pen,
Rights from the Creator of women and men,
“Unalienable” – there! I’ve said it again.

I wrote that England’s king had made a mess,
That life and liberty and the pursuit
Of happiness were rights which God had blessed
All men with, which the king sought to uproot.

1777: The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
I drafted the Virginia Statute for
Religious Freedom, which begins “Whereas,
Almighty God hath created the mind free”

And states “our civil rights have no dependence”
On our opinions of religion any
More than our physics and geometry
Opinions, and that “Truth is great, and will

Prevail” if left alone, therefore law
No longer will compel a man to aid
A certain ministry but that all men
Shall have the freedom to profess, and by

Argument to maintain, their own opinions
In matters of Religion, and their views
Shall in no way diminish, augment or
Affect their civil scope and power, and

Th’Assembly did declare these rights to be
Natural rights of mankind, so that
If this Act were repealed, it would infringe
On those same natural rights; when drafters came

To Philadelphia and looked for guides
To write the Constitution, they esteemed
This Act so much that they embodied it
With a clause: “but no religious test

Shall ever be required” to qualify
To any office or a public trust
In the United States–which pleased me well.
For on these questions, men are fallible.

Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781–83
Can a land’s liberties be thought secure
When we have taken their sole sound foundation:
Conviction in the people’s minds, assured
These are God’s gifts and that to violate

The Lord’s benevolence and breach his trust
Would anger him, like Pharaoh and the Red Sea?
Now when I contemplate that God is just,
From what I’ve seen, I tremble for my country.

1787
The blood of tyrants and oppressors, so dear,
Must from time to time refresh the Freedom Tree
What country can preserve its liberties
If people don’t preserve the rebel spirit?

The Bill of Rights
That Constitution has some good parts,
Mr. Madison, you’ve made a fine start,
To raise it to the level of fine art,
Give it a Bill of Rights, give it a heart

For individuals, so government
Can’t overbear and take God-given rights:
Free speech, no searches with no warrant,
Freedom to worship Divinity’s light,

Right to bear arms, to congregate
As to what the government has done or may
Do, right to counsel, not to incriminate
Themselves, let law’s due process go its way.

And Mr. Madison took my advice
So that the rights were written and precise.

1803: Louisiana Purchase
Nap’s offer was too great for us to say
No, for it doubled the U.S.’s size
At three cents for an acre, yes, we’ll pay:
Good deal, no matter how it’s scrutinized.

“For our whole lives, this is our noblest work,
The U.S. now is among the power of the first rank,”
Said Livingston, the Minister to France,
“We did it with help from an English bank.”

1803–1806: Lewis and Clark
What’s in the West? The maps were dark
I commissioned two men, Lewis and Clark
Get me samples of wildlife, plants, bark.
Tell me of eagles, hawks, river birds and larks,

Is there a waterway to the western coast?
That is what I want to know the most.
Bring plants and seeds of which the region boasts;
Make this an expedition that we can toast.

Sally Hemings
Sally and I aren’t items in the news
We keep it private, actions that we do,
No one has forced her–it is what she chooses
To do, let us be or I’ll question you.

1801–1805: The Barbary Pirates
The pirates boarded, daggers in both hands
And between the teeth, and sailors, scared,
Gave up the ships, gave up command,
Were sold as slaves; I, President, declared

I’d end their ransom scam, white slavery
In the Islamic realms had to desist;
The cost in lives and merchandise was dear
Too much was flowing to Islamic fists.

For the nation’s budget one-fifth goes
To ransom, mil. a year, is much too grave
To pay the tribute pirates have imposed.
These pirates turn our sailors into slaves

Hard labor hell for so-called infidels–
We’ll send Marines to clean, so lives are saved
Decatur sailed with frigates full
Of fighters who took the pirates to their graves.

He stormed a ship and overpowered foes,
The age’s boldest and most daring act,
And the Marines took Derna, which was close
To Tripoli, which we would have attacked,

So Yusuf Karamanli had to sign
A treaty to conclude hostilities
And free enslaved Americans to dine
In the United States as they might please.

1817: University of Virginia
A university on an extensive
And liberal scale I had conceived while I
Served as third President, one that would give
Students the knowledge cup, with no requirement

To know a catechism. They could read
Ancient or modern languages, or law,
Medicine, mathematics, chemistry,
Or in philosophy. The tragic flaw

In other universities, I said:
They were religious schools, and I was firm
That higher education not be wed
To a religious doctrine any term.

1826: Life’s End
God gave us liberty when he gave life
(Time wastes too fast, our precious passing lives),
John Adams lives this Fourth of July,
And Independence thrives . . . now I can die.

Epitaph
And on his epitaph, which he designed:
Nothing about his Presidency; instead
The Declaration, which he wrote and signed,
Virginia’s University (he led

With how he had conceived curriculum)
And Statute for Religious Freedom of
Virginia, law designed to overcome
Prejudice for beliefs–labors of love.

~Day Williams

Build the Wall

 

  1. Hiring many thousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be dysfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally. Children brought back to their country……

    1. ….If this is done, illegal immigration will be stopped in its tracks – and at very little, by comparison, cost. This is the only real answer – and we must continue to BUILD THE WALL!

“The Constitution,” poem by Day Williams

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
Benjamin Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” (1787)

The Constitution

When We the People formed this government,
We emphasized the people’s right to rule,
Not Kings and Queens, with ways we could amend
The Constitution, the foundation, tool

In People’s hands not to be lightly changed,
A tool requiring constant vigilance
To keep the Union and establish Justice,
Keep peace at home, provide for our defense,

Promote the common Welfare, and secure
Liberty’s Blessings to ourselves and our
Posterity; and as no man is pure,
We formed three branches to check and balance power.

Stand for free speech, free press, the right to teach
Your child of lovingkindness and God’s kingdom;
The right to use your guns, so Tyranny
Won’t march you to a grave as a naked thing.

The power structure can’t infringe on rights
Of people to petition Government
To redress grievances, or to assemble
Peaceably to declare their discontent.

You can’t be forced to house a soldier, or,
If you are jailed, to pay excessive bail,
Or to relinquish worship of the Lord,
Or to lose work because you read in Braille.

Don’t let the government inside your home
Unless police have warrants in their hands;
You need not testify against your own
Self; Government must pay to take your lands.

You have the right to have a lawyer plea
Your case, protect your rights, and keep you free;
You have the rights to jury trial and
To counsel even if you can’t pay fees.

The warden cannot punish you with cruel,
Strange punishment–you’re not his chump or fool,
And you retain your right to worship God
And freely speak, within a prison’s rules.

The Feds must honor rights of fifty States
To legislate for citizens as they
Deem best, and people and the States retain
More rights than what the Bill of Rights contains.

The Government must honor equal rights
And Law’s due process for the citizens,
And courts interpret laws with oversight,
Enforcing rights of women, children, and men.

Keep this Republic, which is based upon
The Holy Bible and the Constitution,
And disregard connivers, cranks and cons
Who peddle hollow claims of new solutions.

The Founders knew about deceitful hearts,
How men and women mean well but go wrong,
And they relied on people to give thanks,
Seek wisdom, and obey the Lord, who’s strong.

~Day Williams

American Freedom

American Freedom

You’re free to worship as you please, and speak
Your mind about your leaders, travel where
You want to go, associate with weak
And strong, with poor and rich, to share and care

With others, to begin an enterprise,
To start or join a group, to marry one
You love and raise a family, to buy
And sell a house, a car, some land, a gun,

To run for public office, to delight
In privacy at home, humble abode,
To be tried fairly if you’re charged with crimes

And have a lawyer for defense, to fight
The government for rights, for changing codes:
You’re free, freer than men in any time.

~Day Williams