The clergy … 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. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion ….

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Benjamin Rush (23 Sep. 1800)

On members of the clergy who had "a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists." Full text. Usually elided to: "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-May-12
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