Extract from Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright
|Monticello in Virginia. June 5. 24.|
the Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead. rights and powers can only belong to persons, not to things, the dead are not even things. not to mere matter, unendowed with will. the dead are not even things. the particles of matter which composed their bodies, make part now of the bodies of other animals, vegetables, or minerals of a thousand forms. to what then are attached the rights and powers they held while in the form of men? a generation may bind itself, as long as it’s majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers [. . .] their predecessors once held and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.