"I Have Sworn Upon The Altar Of God, Eternal Hostility Against Every Form Of Tyranny Over The Mind Of Man"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Perhaps no one has influenced American political thought and ideals more profoundly than Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately, a person in the political limelight is the object of much wilful misrepresentation, bitter abuse, and vicious slander. Most often, the best place to find the true personality of such a person is in his correspondence. Professor Hamilton has remarked of Jefferson's letters, that they thoroughly reveal the man–a "human, tolerant, likable and lovable person, shy, sensitive, and reserved, but affectionate and generally beloved by those with whom he came in close contact." It would be accurate to say that Jefferson was intolerant only in his stanch defense of the rights of the individual. This fact is evident in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, in which he affirms his determination to prevent the establishment of a state church. The Episcopalians and Congregationalists, in particular, hoping for such an establishment, have anticipated opposition from the man who is close to becoming the next President. Jefferson assures Dr. Rush that they will get a rebuff from him:

. . . The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.