erik lundegaard

Thomas Jefferson: the Original Non-Originalist

“I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.

”But I know also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.“

-- Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval on July 12, 1816. I first came across this while reading Gore Vidal's ”The Second American Revolution and other Essays (1976-1982).

Thomas Jefferson on Originalism


Posted at 06:40 AM on Wed. Mar 28, 2012 in category Quote of the Day  
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