What was Thomas Jefferson's attitude toward the majority?

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Thomas Jefferson was one of the leaders of the Democratic-Republican Party, one of America's first political parties. One of the main criticisms of the Federalists, the chief opponent of the Democratic-Republicans, was that they tended to support the wealthy and felt that more government power should be entrusted to the...

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wealthy. Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, on the other hand, believed that more power should be entrusted to the common people. Jefferson's views regarding the ability of the common people (the majority) to participate in and influence government demonstrate that he believed this style of government to be appropriate for the United States.

Another example of Jefferson's views of the majority can be seen in the Declaration of Independence. Many of Jefferson's views expressed in the Declaration of Independence came from Enlightenment thinkers who encouraged more rights, protections, and influence on government for common people. One particular excerpt demonstrating Jefferson's views of the majority is in the following:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In this excerpt, Jefferson writes that the power of the government comes from the consent of the governed. In this statement, it can be interpreted that the powers a government has come from the people they rule over, which would certainly include the majority.

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Thomas Jefferson supported a democratic state that made decisions on the basis of majority rule voting by its citizens, and opposed the concept of minority rule as tyrannical. Jefferson argued that a majority vote should be treated as unanimous rule, because dividing decision-making abilities between different groups within a society would fracture it to the point of not existing as a single nation. However, Jefferson also felt it was important to protect the rights of minorities; decisions made by the majority that denied minority groups their access to equal rights were invalid decisions and could not be enforced by law. Ultimately, Jefferson argued for a democratic system of government based on majority-rule voting, and felt that any decision made by the majority and which didn't violate the rights of minorities should be made law. The role of the minority would be to accept and conform to the ruling of the majority.

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