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Religious Liberty: The Congruence of Thomas Jefferson and Moses Mendelssohn Author(s): Milton R.

Konvitz Source: Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Spring, 1987), pp. 115-124 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 29/06/2011 12:37
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The ReligiousLiberty: Congruenceof

and ThomasJefferson MosesMendelssohn*

by MiltonR. Konvitz
1 "Take of me when [I am]dead."'Thiswasthe cry fromthe heartof Thomas care JamesMadison,less than five monthsbeJeffersonto his old friendand co-worker, fore Jefferson'sdeath. It is a cry that has reverberated throughover a centuryand a half, and it is a cry that we have heardand that has broughtus togetheron this

meanbyaskingMadisonto takecareof himwhenhe is dead? Whatdid Jefferson A large is to relating appears devoted matters partof thelongletterin whichthesentence to the Universityof Virginia,to the ten boxes of books he had orderedfrom Paris sevenboxes from London,the room for them and theirshelving, for the University, and the selectionof a lawprofessor, otherdetails.Soon, he wrote,he will not be able the and to givefurther attention the University, as he willbe removed to "beyond bourne of life itself, as I soon must,"it is, Jeffersontold his friend,who was eight yearshis underyourcare." cryingout to Madison, By junior,"acomfortto leavethatinstitution "Take care of me when [I am] dead,"Jeffersonof coursemeant keepingan eye on the institutionsand ideals to which both friendsweredeeply devoted. At the age of fifty-seven,when he had twenty-sixmoreyearsto live, Jefferson the wrotea memorandum2 firstsentenceof whichreadsas follows:"Ihavesometimes askedmyselfwhethermy countryis the betterfor my havinglived at all?"Then he to proceeded list the thingshe had done whichwouldaccountfor his daysand years,
an apologia pro vita sua, a procedurefamiliar in Hebrew literatureas heshben anefesh.

Jeffersonlisted the followingactions: 1. His first act of constructive public servicewas makingthe North Branchof This happenedwhenhe had just the JamesRiver,knownas the Rivanna,navigable. tobaccodown reachedhis majority.He learnedthat it was not possibleto transport and the Rivannato whereit met the James.He took a canoe and wentdownstream to saw that it could be made navigable loaded boats merelyby the removalof loose and a rock. He raisedtwo hundredpoundsby subscription interested neighborwho a and was a memberof the House of Burgesses, who introduced bill that was passed in 1765to clearthe Rivannaby privateexpense.3 yearslaterJeffersonstill Thirty-five And who could blame him? took pride in this accomplishment. 2. Next Jeffersonlisted the Declarationof Independence. and 3. He proposed"thedemolitionof the churchestablishment, the freedom




of religion." wenton to addthatthis couldbe accomplished He First, only be degrees. in 1776,wasthe Virginia thatexempted act dissenters fromthe Episcopal Church from to that church,whichwasthen the established church.This left the supcontributing contributions members the church.In of port of the Anglicanclergyto voluntary by he draftedthe Statutefor ReligiousFreedom, partof his revisionof the laws as 1777, of Virginia,but the bill was not reported the Assemblyuntil 1779,and then, with to the supportof JamesMadison,it wasenactedin 1785and becamelaw on 16January 1786.(It is the bicentennial this law that we are celebrating, we shall havea of and closer look at it in due course.) 4. He drafteda revisionof the criminaland penallawsto makethem morehumane.Thiseliminated deathpenaltyexceptfor treasonandmurder, in general the and relaxed severity punishments madethecriminal morerational. the of and law Jefferson's bill with some revisionswas adoptedin 1796.4 5. He led the movement the Virginia in to and Legislature liberalize democratize the land and inheritance laws by the abolitionof entailsand primogeniture. These changesin the lawhadthe effectof looseningup the aristocratic, land-holding society the by broadening economicbase of society.5 6. In 1776he introduced bill to discontinuethe slavetrade,and this measure a was adoptedtwo yearslater.6 7. His bill to liberalize naturalization asserted natural the rightof a personto exhimselfvoluntarily. persons,the bill asserted,havethe naturalright"of All patriate the relinquishing countryin whichbirthor otheraccidentmayhavethrownthem,and subsistence happiness and wheresoever maybe able or mayhope to find seeking they them."7 8. Oneof the billsJefferson draftedas partof his revision the lawsof the Comof monwealth an act for the diffusionof knowledge. measure was The proposedthe establishment primary whatwetodaycallsecondary of and schools;the mostpromising wouldbe givenfreetuitionat the Collegeof Williamand Mary,whichwas graduates to become,by the law that he drafted,a state university. 1796the section in the In bill providingfor primaryschools was adopted,but the legislatorsrefusedto enact the other provisionsbecausethey would be too costly. Jeffersonlater said that the did the wealthy Virginians not wantto assumethe financialburdenof educating childrenon the poor. Eventhough in his own day Jeffersondid not see the successof his act for the diffusionof knowledge, underlying its wereultimately vindiprinciples has as of cated,andJefferson beenrecognized "thechiefprophet publiceducation.... "8 9. In 1789and 1790Jefferson a of imported greatnumber oliveplantsfromFrance, whichwereplantedin South Carolinaand Georgia,and in 1790he managedto get a cask of heavyuplandrice fromAfrica, whichwas plantedin SouthCarolina,TenHe nessee,and Kentucky. expectedthis speciesof riceto supplantthe wet ricewhich rendered someof the southernstates"pestilential "Thegreatest throughthe summer." servicewhichcan be rendered country," Jeffersonwrote,"isto addan usefulplant any to its culture;especially,a breadgrain [like rice];next in value to breadis oil."9 In 1800,whenJefferson askedhimselfwhether country better hishaving his was for it was, he thought, by these nine actions that he judged himself. Any one of lived, thesewouldhavemadea person'shonorand reputation. Jeffersonmighthaveadded

Jefferson and Mendelssohn


a tenth item, namely,his bill to establisha publiclibraryin Richmond.His bill was not enacted.10 bill, however, a windowinto Jefferson's The was mind, and posterity should honor him for it. He probablydid not includethis bill in his memorandum that we havebeen considering becausethe idea of a publiclibrarywas not novel.A had been openedin Boston as earlyas 1653.Todaythe Boston Public publiclibrary is Library the oldest freepubliccity librarysupported taxationin the world.Benby Franklin established circulating a in in knew jamin library Philadelphia 1732.Jefferson of theseprecedents. 1800,however, In soon afterhe had writtenthe memoprobably randumon his servicesto his country,whileservingas vice-president the adminisin trationof John Adams,Jeffersonbecamethe primemoverfor the establishment of the Library Congress,whichhe stronglysupportedduringhis presidency; 1814 of in his own fine librarybecamethe basis for the collectionof books of the Libraryof Congress.Todayit is one of the world'sgreatlibrariesand is, I think it fair to say, one of the monuments Jefferson's to one greatness, thatspeaksmuchmoreeloquently of Jefferson's character spiritthan does the marblebuildingthat was dedicated and to his memoryin 1943. Whileonly few Americansare familiarwith Jefferson's memorandum 1800, of the provision madefor his epitaphshortlybeforehis deathin 1826is famous.From he the nineitemshe had previously listed,he selectedto mentiononly two, namely,"Author of the Declaration AmericanIndependence of the Statuteof Virginia of and for and he added a thirditem, "&Fatherof the Universityof Virreligiousfreedom," in ginia,"whichwas chartered 1819and opened in 1825,with ThomasJeffersonas its rector,the country'sfirst state university. The memorandum 1800andthe epitapharesignificant only for whatthey of not includebut also for whattheyomit. Thereis no mentionof the important offices that Jeffersonhad filled: he was governorof Virginia; a memberof the Continental as a Congress,he prepared measurefor that body in 1784which was the basis for the Ordinance 1787;he was ministerto France; was secretary statein of he of important President first underPresident JohnAdams; Washington's term;he wasvice-president he helpedplanthe city of Washington; servedtwo termsas president the United he of and that doubled States;and he, in 1803,arranged effectedthe LouisianaPurchase, the nationaldomain, increasing by over 800,000squaremiles. it YetJeffersonwas quiterightto excludefrom his memorandum epitaphthe and publicoffices. A personought to take creditonly for his own actions.Jeffersondid not electhimselfgovernor president, wasthe recipient officesto whichcitizens or he of hadelectedhim. He wouldnot takethe credit.It wasJeffersonhimself,however, who draftedthe Declarationof Independence the Statutefor ReligiousFreedom.It and wasJeffersonhimselfwho plannedthe University Virginia. washe who imported of It of breeds olivesandrice;it wasJefferson whomadethe river Rivanna special navigable. theseand othersuchoccasionscouldhe rightlyconsiderwhenhe askedhimself Only whetherhis countrywasbetterfor his havinglived.In the draftof his epitaphhe said that "becauseof these, as testimonialsthat I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.""Jeffersondid not need to writeto Madison,"Take careof me when [I am] dead."The testimonialsthat he had lived take care of him. In a letterto VictorHugo,Flaubert madea distinction between inherent grandeur



in a person, and grandeur that is conferred by circumstances. Jefferson, in reflecting upon his life in 1800 and again in 1826, removed from his reckoning the conferred grandeur,and we, too, follow his example and pay honor to him for his inherent grandeur, which he had in the fullest possible measureas the Creator'sgift to him - and to us. 2 Just as Jefferson, when he came to prepare his epitaph, chose only three of his actions from a much largernumber,so we can choose the Statute for Religious Freedom as the most significant and the most consequential of all of Jefferson's most famous works and contributions. If he had to choose only one act to memorialize him on his tombstone, I think that he would have said simply, "Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Statute for Religious Freedom." That alone would have sufficed to mark Jefferson as a man who had left his country the better for his having lived. By enacting Jefferson's Bill 82, as the measure was known while it was being debated, Virginia became the first state to end by law all forms of religious discrimination and persecution, and Jefferson's statute became a model for other states to follow, and its essence became enshrined in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Jefferson's bill was known in intellectual and liberal circles in Europe, and its career through Virginia's legislative mill was followed with The interest.The bill was reproducedin Diderot'sEncyclopediein 1780.12 statutedeserves a place among the most celebrated defenses of intellectual and religious liberty in history. In the eighteenth century the bill had been translated into French and Italian, and today it probably can be found in all major languages throughout the world. By this statute alone Jefferson can be said to have left, not only his country, but also the world, a better place for his having lived. The enacting part of the statute is brief.13It provides that no one shall be compelled to support or attend any religious worship or religiousplace or religious ministry, nor shall any person be burdened or molested nor in any way suffer on account for his religious beliefs or opinions, and that all persons shall be free to profess and to argue their religious opinions, and that such acts shall in no way enlarge or diminish or affect the person's civil rights. The enactment thus, in a few words, prohibited any form of religious establishment. It placed religion outside the sphere of the government and the laws of the state. It not only prohibitedthe establishmentof any single church,but of all religions,denominations and sects. The statute denied the power of taxation to the state for any religious purpose. These provisions of the statute became the foundation for the judicial interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The enactment had force in another direction: it guaranteed full religious liberty to every person. No person may be discriminated against, or be made to suffer in any way, by reason of his or her religious beliefs or opinions, and all persons shall be free to maintain his or her religion, without prejudiceto his or her civil rights. These provisions of the statute became the foundation for the judicial interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The statute also is important for its preamble. This part of the statute expresses the philosophy, the intellectualand moral convictions, on which the enactment is based.

Jefferson and Mendelssohn


Jefferson's bill is one of the few statutes in American jurisprudence in which the preamble plays an important role for judicial interpretation.The preamble was quoted and given weight in the Supreme Court's opinion in the famous New Jersey bus fare case,14the first case that spelled out the doctrine of the separation of Church and state and held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was intended to erect, in Jefferson's words,15"a wall of separations between Church and State." The preamble starts out by asserting that God created the mind free. Since God is the Lord of both body and mind, He could have fashioned man's mind to have certain fixed beliefs, but He did not do this, He left the mind free and made it insusceptible to constraint. Attempts to influence the mind by punishments, or burdens, or civil incapacitations, tend only to beget hypocrisy or meanness. God intended that we should propagate our religion by influence of the reason alone, so that it is an impious imposition when rulers, civil or ecclesiastical, who are themselves fallible, assume dominion over the faith of others, and claim that their opinions alone are true and infallible, and presume to impose them on others, and establish religions, as has been done throughout the world and through all time. The preamble goes on to state that to compel a person to contribute money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical; that even forcing a person to support a minister or religious teacher of his own religious persuasion is wrong. The preamble states that a person's civil rights should not be dependent on his or her religious opinions, any more than on his or her opinions relating to physics or geometry; that depriving a person of public office because of his religious beliefs is to deprive him of privileges and advantages to which he has a natural right. The preamble states that a religion becomes corrupt when honors and benefits are linked with external profession of and conformance to that religion. These propositions that relate to religious liberty and the separation of Church and state are then followed by certainbroad statementsconcerning intellectual freedom and free speech. The opinions of persons are not the object of civil government; that government has no jurisdiction to intrude into men's opinions on the claim of their ill tendency. The concluding sentences are a passionate, grand and moving statement in defense of freedom of thought and speech: for thatit is timeenoughfor the rightfulpurposes civilgovernment its officersto interof ferewhenprinciples breakout into overtacts againstpeaceand good order;and finally, that truthis greatand will prevailif left to herself;that she is the properand sufficient to antagonist error,and has nothingto fearfromthe conflictunlessby humaninterposiand errors tion disarmed hernatural of ceasingto be danweapons,freeargument debate; them. gerouswhen it is permittedfreelyto contradict Is it any wonder that Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom has withstood the ravagesof time; that it is one of the few documents that have been kept from falling into obsolescence and obscurity? A few other thinkers before Jefferson pleaded for religious and intellectual toleration: for example, John Locke, whom Jefferson considered one of the three greatest men of all time (the other two being Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton).16 Locke pleaded, however, not for religious liberty, but for toleration for those who would not share the beliefs of the established Church, and he ex-



cluded from toleration Roman Catholics and atheists. Jefferson went beyond Locke. Sometime in 1776, when he was taking notes on Locke'sLetter on Toleration,Jefferson wrote: "It was a great thing [for Locke] to go so far [in his plea for toleration] but where he stopped short, we may go on."17He did go on, and he drafted a statute that has become a landmark in the history of religious freedom. Interpreting Jefferson's language and reading it into the First Amendment, the United States Supreme Court has held that: Neithera state nor the FederalGovernment set up a church.Neithercan pass laws can whichaid one religion,aid all religions,or preferone religionoveranother.Neithercan force nor influencea personto go to or to remainawayfrom churchagainsthis will or forcehim to professa belief or disbeliefin any religion.No personcan be punishedfor or or entertaining professingreligiousbeliefs or disbeliefs,for churchattendance nonNo attendance. tax in any amount,largeor small,can be leviedto supportany religious formthey may adopt activitiesor institutions, whatever they may be called,or whatever Government openlyor to teachor practicereligion.Neithera statenor the Federal can, in or secretly, participate the affairsof anyreligiousorganizations groupsand vice versa. In the wordsof Jefferson,the clauseagainstestablishment religionby lawwasintended of to erect"a wall of separation betweenChurchand State."' At this point I want to call attention to a paradox. In interpreting the meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has gone back to the intention of the Framers, Jefferson and Madison, and here we are paying tribute to Jefferson for what he drafted as a law that was enacted by Virginia two centuries ago. Yet Jefferson himself was not a man who looked back in time. Ten years before his death, Jefferson wrote that the dead have no rights. "They are nothing," he wrote. A generation that is dead has no right to hold to obedience to their will future generations. This earth, he wrote, and everything upon it, belongs to its present occupants. "Theyalone havea rightto directwhat is the concernof themselvesalone...."19 One might argue from these premises that it is foolish and idolatrous to pay tribute to Jefferson for a document that he wrote in the 1770s and to honor a statute that was adopted two hundred years ago. Yet we are persuaded by a countervailing line of thought. Jefferson was a firm believerin naturallaw and naturalrights;that certainrightsare inherentand inalienable, that they constitute essential aspects of what makes a human being; that government is not the source of these rights; that these rights existed before governments were instituted; that no person can be deprived of his natural rights; that no government can be given the legitimate power to curtail these rights. These propositions are the foundation for the Statute of Religious Freedom. The truth and force of these propositions did not cease with the death of the persons who formulated them. They are as meaningful and pertinent today as they were in 1786. By looking back in such instances to the intention of the Founders, we are not engaged in worship of the dead; we adopt their thoughts and words as our own; we ourselves become the Framers and Founders. It is like the commandment to believe that it is we ourselves, and not only our ancestors, who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, that we ourselves were among those who experienced the Exodus from Egypt, the march from slavery into freedom. It is not fashionable today to speak of natural law or natural rights. No matter,

Jefferson and Mendelssohn


for it is quite permissible speak of humanrights.Indeed,when the heads of the to two super-powers meet, humanrightsare on the agendafor discussionand negotiation. Thereis a Universal of Declaration HumanRights,adoptedby the General AsConvention the Protection Human for of semblyof the UnitedNations;the European of the RightsandFundamental Freedoms, adoptedin 1953; HelsinkiAgreement 1975; all of these and other chartersand conventions translatenaturalrightsinto human and the law of rights, affirmandvindicate natural andnatural rights philosophy Thomas Jefferson.Theyareall basedon the beliefthat therearerightsinherent the human in and that being, and that these rightsareinalienable, that a government deniesthem is a tyranny. even as we havea right Yes,we havea rightand even a duty to look backward, and even a duty to look forward.Thereis a uselesspast, but thereis also a usable past, a pastnessthat is congeniallypresent.The pastnessof Jeffersonis part of our into present,and will be partof the future.Jeffersonhimselfassimilated his presentness John Locke,FrancisBacon, and Isaac Newton. In the same way we assimilate ThomasJefferson.He wrote,as we havenoted, that the dead are nothing.Yetobvibelief ously that was a rhetorical overstatement, owing, I believe,to his exaggerated in progress.He condemnedwhat he called "the Gothic idea"
thatweareto look backwards instead forwards theimprovement the humanmind, of for of andto recurto the annalsof our ancestors whatis mostperfectin government, relifor in

gion & in learning ...20

If werealivetoday,would PeoplewhohavethisGothicideahe called"bigots." Jefferson he thinkthat he wasjustifiedin his radicaldisparagement the pastand in his belief of in the inevitability progress? doubt it. Jeffersonbelievedthat farmersare "the of I most virtuousand independent but that citizens"; "artificers", is, artisansand industrialworkers, wrote,are"thepanders vice & the instruments whichthe liberhe of by ties of a countryaregenerally overturned."21 Todaythereareonly 2,200,000farmsin the United States,only one-thirdof the numberwe had fifty yearsago. Insteadof the agricultural comsocietythat Jeffersonhopedfor,we havethe military-industrial Eisenhower bewailed. Instead a societyin whichswords beaten of are plexthatPresident into ploughshares, aremembers a societyin whichploughshares quiteliterwe of are ally beateninto swords. Yettherehas beenprogress, in a paradoxical but in way:everywhere the civilized worldthereis a firmbeliefin humanrights,that eachandeveryhumanbeing,regardless of race,religion,nationality, sex, has rightsthat areinherent inalienable; or and and thus we havemadethe past partof our present,and we readJefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom if it werewrittenfor us no less than for his own generation. as

As we havenoted, Jefferson's 82, probablydraftedin 1777and not enacted Bill until1786, attracted interest Europe wasreproduced Diderot hisEncyclopedie in and in by whilethe bill waspending.Amongthose who werekeenlyinterested whatwashapin in Virginia in Jefferson's was MosesMendelssohn. and bill Mendelssohn was pening also quite familiarwith the Toleranzpatent, edict of tolerationthat was issued the



by Emperor Joseph II in 1782, originally applicable only to Vienna and Lower Austria, but later made applicable to other provinces. While this edict continued existing restrictions against an increase in the number of tolerated Jews, some economic restrictions were lifted, and Jews were encouraged to establish schools and enter universities. The main thrust of the edict was to encourage upper class Jews to integrate socially. The edict was certainly important as a milestone on the way to Emancipation. Moses Mendelssohn, however, had misgivings, for he feared that it was offered as an enticement to assimilation.22Coincident with the developments in Virginia and in the Holy Roman Empire,there was the publication of ChristianWilhelm von Dohm's book der Ueber die buergerlicheVerbesserung Juden (On the Civil Improvementof the Jews), which essentially was an elaboration of the policies on which the Toleranzpatentwas based. It was these events that motivated Mendelssohn to write his Jerusalem, which was published in 1783, directly following the issuance of the edict by Joseph II and the publication of Dohm's book, and while there was a great deal of public agitation over religious freedom in Virginia. Jerusalem deserves recognition, by both non-Jews and Jews, as one of the most eloquent and reasoned pleas for intellectual liberty and religious freedom. Mendelssohn knew the works of John Locke, but like Jefferson, he takes the argument beyond Locke and formulates a reasoned philosophy of total religious liberty and separation of Church and state. I submit that it is altogether appropriatethat, as we mark the bicentenaryof Jefferson'sStatute for Religious Freedom, we, at the same time, pay tribute to Jerusalem on its bicentennial, and recall with reverence the grandfatherof these monumental achievements, John Locke'sLetter on Toleration, the tricentennial of which should have been celebrated in 1985. MendelssohnsharedLocke'sand Jefferson'sbelief in naturallaw and naturalrights. The human being, as created by God, possesses the ability to reason and to have moral principles. These are God-given qualities and are not dependent on the state or any other institution. Natural man, or man in society, does not need supernatural revelation to teach him that God exists, that there is providential governance, and that the soul is immortal. Merely by the use of his natural reason every person can reach these three fundamental beliefs, which are the basis for his bliss or salvation. Mendelssohn took quite literally the message of Psalm 19: It is the heavens that declare the glory of God; it is day and night that give instruction; yet no words are spoken, and their message goes to the ends of the earth.23True religious beliefs and the principals of virtue are not, therefore, dependent on any special supernatural revelation. They are not dependent on any religion'sholy scriptures.Why, he asked rhetorically,must human beings in remote parts of the earth, such as India, wait until it pleases some persons in Europe to come to them with the message or gospel without which they would remain abandoned by God without virtue or happiness?24 By entering into civil society, man does not surrender the natural rights which he theretoforeenjoyed, and among these rightsis the rightto determinehis own thoughts and his own beliefs. This right is inherent in him as a human being, and is inalienable. A person cannot give up this right, and it is tyranny to deprive him of it. It follows, wrote Mendelssohn, that

Jefferson and Mendelssohn


to and nor neitherchurch statehas a rightto subjectmen'sprinciples convictions anycoerto Neitherchurchnor stateis authorized connectprivilegesand rights cion whatsoever. ... with principlesand convictions.... Not even the social contractcould grantsuch a rightto eitherstate or church.25 No honors or emoluments and no penaltiesmay be connected with opinions or beliefs.26 By their belief in inherent and inalienable human rights, Jefferson and Mendelssohn affirmed that the essential liberty is not a civil liberty but one that transcends any civil or social order, a liberty that is absolute, a liberty that is an essential part of the definition of man, not merely of man as citizen, but of man as man. Inherent in that liberty is the essence of one's religion, for it is there that man knows himself or herself as one who is made in the image of God. It is there that man's alienation is overcome, it is there that he or she discovers one's true essence under the aspect of eternity and divinity, that is, under the aspect of one's true humanity. It is appropriate to close with Mendelssohn's own concluding words, and it was at this point that, in a footnote, he referredto the contemporary agitation over religious freedom in Virginia: Reward punishno doctrine,temptand bribeno one to adopt any religiousopinion! and Let everyone permitted speakas he thinksto invokeGod after his own manneror to be that of his fathers,and to seek eternalsalvationwherehe thinkshe may find it, as long as he does not disturbpublicfelicityand acts honestlytowardthe civil laws, . . . Let no one ... be a searcher heartsand a judge of thoughts;let no one assumea rightthat of unto Caesarwhatis Caesar's, has to the Omniscient reserved Himselfalone!If we render then do you yourselves renderunto God what is God's!Lovetruth! Lovepeace!27 Although Mendelssohn knew of Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom, it is too bad that Jefferson did not know of Mendelssohn's Jerusalem; for they were kindred sprits. There are those who are devoted exclusively to religion; there are those who are devoted exclusively to liberty. the genius of Jefferson and Mendelssohn was that they saw that liberty was inextricably linked with religion, for, where there is no liberty, religion can be only hypocrisy or superstition, or an instrument of cruelty, tyranny and corruption. We pay tribute to Jefferson and Mendelssohn because they were pioneers in establishing the link between religion and liberty.

in of of *Thisessaywasdelivered celebration the 50thAnniversary the Conference JewishSocial on on 1986.Theessaywassponsored TheValentine: Inc.,whichwasheldin NewYork 14December Studies, by in withthe JewishCommunity The Museum the Life and Historyof Richmond of Virginia, cooperation of Federation Richmond. 1. LetterfromJeffersonto Madison,17 February 1826.Jefferson(Library America,New York, of to this 1980),pp. 1,512,1,515.(Hereinafter volumewill be referred simplyas Jefferson). 2. Jefferson,p. 702. DumasMalone,Jeffersonand His Time(Boston, 1948),pp. 116. 3. Malone,Jeffersonand His Time,pp. 115-16. 4. Ibid., pp. 269-73.
5. Ibid., pp. 251-57.



6. Ibid., p. 264. 7. Ibid., p. 269. 8. Ibid., p. 280. 9. Jefferson,p. 703. 10. Malone,Jeffersonand His Time,p. 285. 11.Jefferson,p. 706. 12.AdrienneKoch, ThePhilosophyof ThomasJefferson(New York,1943),p. 47. 13.Jefferson,p. 346. 14.Eversonv. Boardof Education,330 U. S. 1 (1947). 15. Jefferson's letterto DanburyBaptistAssoc., in Jefferson,p. 510. 16.Adrienne Fathers N. and Power, Morals, theFounding Koch, (Ithaca, Y.,1961), 29.Malone p. Jefferson and the Rightsof Man (Boston, 1951),pp. 211,287. 17. Koch,Power,Morals,and the FoundingFathers,p. 24. 18. Eversoncase, cited aboveNote 14. 19. Jeffersonletterto Sam. Kercheval, July 1816:Jefferson,pp. 1,401-403. 12 27 20. Jeffersonletterto Jos. Priestley, January1800:Jefferson,p. 1,703. 21. Jefferson, Noteson Virginia (1787), p. Jefferson, 301;letterto JohnJay,23 August1785: Jefferson, p. 818. 22. Encylopedia Judaica,XV, 1,210. 23. MosesMendelssohn, Jerusalem and by (1783),translated AllanArkush.Introduction CommenAltmann(Hanover, N.H., 1983),p. 126. tary by Alexander 24. Ibid., p. 94. 25. Ibid., p. 70; cf. p. 61. 26. Ibid., p. 71. 27. Ibid., p. 139.