Inspiring participation in public affairs — 
in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s life, thought, and ideals. 

The Mission Statement of  The Jefferson Legacy Foundation contains many lofty goals and aspirations.  However, our purpose can be phrased in a far more succinct yet no less meaningful way:  We seek to inspire participation in public affairs—in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s life, thought, and ideals.  We believe that continued examination of Jefferson’s legacy will foster the kind of discourse vital to understanding America’s founding principles, which are as relevant in today’s world as they were more than 200 years ago. 

John Adams admitted to his wife Abigail that he saw "rays of ravishing light and glory" when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Forty years later, he wrote Thomas Jefferson that "according to the few lights that remain to us, we may say that the eighteenth century, notwithstanding all its errors and vices, has been, of all that are past, the most honorable to human nature. Knowledge and virtue were increased and diffused; arts, sciences, useful to men, ameliorating their condition, were improved more than in any former equal period."

Thomas Jefferson’s own thoughts on his legacy are revealed by the words he requested for his tombstone:

Author of the Declaration of American Independence,
of the Statue of Virginia for Religious Freedom,
and Father of the University of Virginia

These accomplishments are instruments by which Jefferson sought to institute natural laws in America:

• All people possess the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

• Consent of the governed with due respect for minority rights is fundamental to civil society.

• People have the right to alter or abolish unjust or tyrannical government.

• Freedom of the mind and religious liberty are essential to civil society.

• Laws and institutions should advance in accordance with progress of the human mind.

• An informed and educated citizenry is necessary for self-government

The Jefferson Legacy Foundation intends to illuminate these principles and illustrate Jefferson’s efforts to incorporate them into the life, laws, and institutions of our civilization.  Even more important than rules and laws, Jefferson believed civil society depends upon “the manners and spirit”—the character—of the people.  Civil society requires eternal vigilance and a continuing re-examination of founding ideals.

We look forward to building a membership component of the Jefferson Legacy Foundation, a community of kindred spirits who believe in the necessity of civic engagement in strengthening democratic life in America.

The Jefferson Legacy Foundation invites you to join our efforts in advancing the principles of Thomas Jefferson, with an emphasis on self-government, spiritual and intellectual freedom, and education as a means for achieving personal fulfillment and service to society. Please visit our web site for more information on membership, our ongoing activities, or any other aspect of the JLF, including a discussion of the dilemma of slavery and the controversy regarding Sally Hemings.

In the spirit of enlightened civil discourse, we welcome your ideas, comments, and suggestions.

Sydney N. Stokes, Jr. Chairman
The Jefferson Legacy Foundation
Ripton, Vermont

The Jefferson Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the principles of Thomas Jefferson.  The Jefferson Legacy Foundation is a public charitable foundation with the classification 509(a)(3) under the regulations of the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).  All contributions to the Foundation qualify as tax-deductible.



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