The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I must now say a word on the declaration of rights, you have been so good as to send me. I like it, as far as it goes; but I should have been for going further. For instance, the following alterations and additions would have pleased me: Article 4. "The people shall not be deprived of their right to speak, to write, or otherwise to publish anything but false facts affecting injuriously the life, liberty, property or reputation of others, or affecting the peace of the confederacy with foreign nations. Article 7. All facts put in issue before any judicature, shall be tried by jury, except, I, in cases of admiralty jurisdiction, wherein a foreigner shall be interested; 2, in cases cognizable before a court martial, concerning only the regular officers and soldiers of the United States, or members of the militia in actual service in time of war or insurrection; and 3, in impeachments allowed by the constitution. Article 8. No person shall be held in confinement more than -- days after he shall have demanded and been refused a writ of habeas corpus by the judge appointed by law, nor more than -- days after such a writ shall have been served on the person holding him in confinement, and no order given en due examination for his remandment or discharge, nor more than -- hours in any place at a greater distance than - miles from the usual residence of some judge authorized to issue the writ of habeas corpus; nor shall that writ be suspended for any term exceeding one year, nor in any place more than -- miles distant from the State or encampment of enemies or of insurgents. Article 9. Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature, and their own inventions in the arts, for a term not exceeding -- years, but for no longer term, and no other purpose. Article 10. All troops of the United States shall stand ipso facto disbanded, at the expiration of the term for which their pay and subsistence shall have been last voted by Congress, and all officers and soldiers, not natives of the United States, shall be incapable of serving in their armies by land, except during a foreign war." These restrictions I think are so guarded, as to hinder evil only. However, if we do not have them now, I have so much confidence in my countrymen, as to be satisfied that we shall have them as soon as the degeneracy of our government shall render them necessary.

to James Madison, 28 August 1789