A Commentary on Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia Query XIII: The Constitution Reader Challenge

Thomas Jefferson’s 1784 book, Notes of the State of Virginia, addressed the problems of Virginia’s first attempt at being self-governed.

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At its start, Virginia was the leader of the pack, and so was Thomas Jefferson. Virginia had already adopted a state constitution, and a governing body before pretty much everyone else did. They were the trailblazers of the time.

Along their side was a governor who would help elevate their status, and continue to put them at the forefront of the happenings. That man was Thomas Jefferson. He served as the governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, and latter became President of the United States.

Well, being the first out of the gate has its challenges. The main problem was that they didn’t have anything else to look upon when drafting their beginnings. They were the pioneers setting forth a path that would be followed by other states, as well as the nation, for years to come.

Did they have shortcomings? You bet. And, Thomas Jefferson addressed some of those problems in his 17984 book titled: Notes on the State of Virginia. There were several things that were addressed, but some of them were the lamps in the room illuminating things to come.

Things such as equal representation. Smaller, limited government. A government led by the people. Separation of powers. These were just a few of the things that were not fully addressed by the constitution of Virginia. However, they were some of the most important issues. Issues that would soon find their way to a nationally adopted Constitution.

Before the Constitution, the states were the governing body. While they all had begun to adopt their own ways, it was up to the national government to bring the necessary unity. That came in form of the Constitution. And, many of the issues Thomas Jefferson spoke of, were made part of the operating government we know today.

Are we faced with problems? Yes. Are they as severe as what they were faced with? Well, only you can be the judge of that.

Thomas Jefferson said it best when, in this writing, he said:

“Omnia mala exempla ex bonis orta sunt; sed ubi imperium ad ignaros aut minus bonos pervenit, novum illud exemplum ab dingis et edoneis abindingos et non ideoneos fertur.”

Meaning:

“All bad examples are derived from good ones; but when power comes to the ignorant or the less good, the new example is transferred from the worthy and fit to the unworthy and unfit.”

With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project: The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.

In case you missed it, catch up with previous commentaries HERE. We hope you are enjoying this journey to dig deeper into what inspired those who wrote the Constitution. If you are, TWEET IT!

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