Dear UCubed Leaders:
During his first inaugural address in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson listed “the essential principles of our government” as:
“Equal and exact justice to all men… peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none… the support of the State governments in all their rights… the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor… a jealous care of the right of election by the people… absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority… a well-disciplined militia… the supremacy of the civil over the military authority… economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened… the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith… encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid… the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason… freedom of religion… freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus… and trial by juries impartially selected.”
Jefferson reminded his listeners that those principles “should be the creed of our political faith; the text of civic instruction; the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety.”
The era of Jeffersonian Democracy had begun.
And yet, Jefferson’s sixteen principles are mere abstractions. Unless each new generation takes concrete steps towards achieving equal and exact justice… honest friendships with all nations… care of the right of election… preservation of the public faith… and the other dozen ideals, our forward progress as a nation comes to a screeching halt. Our pathway to a more perfect Union remains strewn with imperfections large and small.
However, with the active engagement of the American people, we have made considerable progress over the last two centuries. We can continue this progress, but the cost is higher than we care to admit.
In our Democracy, we must both pay back and pay forward. We owe more than a debt of gratitude to prior generations who fought and died for those principles; we owe them our commitment to finishing their unfinished work. To our grandchildren and great grandchildren, we owe a courageous effort to preserve, protect and perfect those principles as best we can.
What Democracy owes us is an opportunity to govern ourselves. What we do with that opportunity is entirely up to us.
In Unity — Strength,