Nock, Jefferson

/ Reading Notes /
Nock, Jefferson
depicting for us the Virginia ThosJeff was born into:

The college shared the privileged position of the Church, however, so there was little incentive to pull up its slack. The Church of England was “established by law” in the colony; it was, as it still is in England, a branch of the civil service, like the Post-office, and the laws protecting its monopoly were severe. At one period, the Virginian had to go to church twice on Sunday under penalty of a fine for the first offence, flogging for the second, and death for the third. To speak lightly of any article of the Christian faith was a capital crime, and one was liable to be flogged for disparaging a clergyman. Swearing was punishable, for the second offence, by having one’s tongue bored through with an awl; for the third offence, by death. Heretics were liable to be burned at the stake. These laws were no more regularly or impartially enforced than such laws ever are; but while they tended to become obsolete, they nevertheless remained as potential instruments against those whom the authorities might dislike for other reasons. The colony had no more religious liberty than civil liberty; Great Britain’s policy towards it was in every respect a policy of sheer dragooning. Hence the Church got on only in a perfunctory and disreputable fashion, and progressively less serious heed was paid it.

George Wythe: disgusted with the slow progress of measures for the general abolition of slavery, he suddenly freed all his slaves at a stroke, apparently without any question whether they would fare better or worse for the change.

colonists in their growing restlessness under the blind voracity of British mercantilism.

Thomas Jefferson: “I believe we may safely affirm that the inexperienced and presumptuous band of medical tyros let loose upon the world destroys more of human life in one year than all the Robin Hoods, Cartouches and Macheaths do in a century.” He remarked on one occasion that he never saw three physicians talking together, without glancing up to see if there were not a turkey-buzzard hovering overhead.

Williamsburg stood as a kind of stark exponent of exploitation through politics.

“superstition in religion exciting superstition in politics,” as John Adams said, “and both united in directing military force.” Williamsburg was the focus of this process.

marriage was the only occupation open to Virginian women

I sure am glad I’m reading this, the notes will catch up.

On state endorsed religion:

Washington and Patrick Henry, for instance, were not for pure voluntaryism in religion. They were for a compromise, whereby a general tax should be imposed for the support of churches, but leaving the individual taxpayer free to designate the denomination to which his contribution should go. “Although no man’s sentiments are more opposed to any kind of restraint upon religious principles than mine are,” Washington wrote to George Mason, “yet I confess that I am not among the number of those who are so much alarmed at the thoughts of making people pay towards the support of that which they profess.” Washington was not impressed, apparently, by the prompt degeneration of a State-owned church into a mere political agency, which was the fact that chiefly impressed Mr. Jefferson, as it had impressed John Adams; and it lay at the root of the disestablishment-bill.

Reading Notes

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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