Extract from Thomas Babington Macaulay to Henry S. Randall

You are surprised to learn that I have not a high opinion of Mr. Jefferson and I am a little surprised at your surprise ... I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilisation, or both ... Thinking thus, of course, I cannot reckon Jefferson among the benefactors of mankind. I readily admit that his intentions were good and his abilities considerable. Odious stories have been circulated about his private life; but I do not know on what evidence those stories rest; and I think it probable that they are false, or monstrously exaggerated.

Published in Francis Coleman Rosenberger, ed., Jefferson Reader: A Treasury of Writings About Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1953), 262–3.
Author
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Recipient
Henry S. Randall
Date Range
Date
May 23, 1857
Collection
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson