MEMORANDUM (SERVICES TO MY COUNTRY)
Jefferson, c. 1800
this memorandum, Jefferson reflects upon a few of his
significant efforts to establish and preserve religious
freedom in this country. Rightly so, Jefferson acknowledges
that such a dramatic change, whereby church establishment
was abolished and religious freedom grew up in its stead,
could only be accomplished through the efforts of many
people, and even then only by degrees.
Religious Institutions Group
have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better
for my having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I
have been the instrument of doing the following things;
but they would have been done by others; some of them, perhaps,
a little better.
* * *
Declaration of Independence.
proposed the demolition of the church establishment, and
the freedom of religion. It could only be done by degrees;
to wit, the Act of 1776, c. 2, exempted dissenters from
contributions to the church, and left the church clergy
to be supported by voluntary contributions of their own
sect; was continued from year to year, and made perpetual
1779, c. 36. I prepared the act for religious freedom in
1777, as part of the revisal, which was not reported to
the Assembly till 1779, and that particular law not passed
till 1785, and then by the efforts of Mr. Madison.
* * *
Thomas Jefferson: writings 702 (Merrill D. Peterson ed.,