December 8, 1784 – Jefferson Writes to Madison About the Best Way to Handle Patrick Henry

On this day in history, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to James Madison from Paris in which he shared with Madison his animosity toward Patrick Henry. Jefferson had never forgiven Henry for having led the effort to have Jefferson impeached as governor of Virginia, nor for trying to block Jefferson’s resolution for religious freedom in Virginia. Now Patrick Henry was leading the opposition to ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In this letter, Jefferson contemplates a satisfactory way to overcome the opposition:

While Mr. Henry lives another bad constitution would be formed, and saddled for ever on us. What we have to do I think is devoutly to pray for his death, in the mean time to keep alive the idea that the present is but an ordinance and to prepare the minds of the young men.”

You can read the full text of Jefferson’s letter here.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

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