I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. This, with its echo of the Declaration (
self-evident) was Jefferson at his most terse. Except for the phrase
in usufruct — a legalism meaning the right to use property for a certain time — Jefferson’s words could be chiseled in stone, or shouted on the hustings.
Son of John and Abigail Adams, diplomat, senator, sixth President, congressman; 1767—1848.
Financier, Continental congressman, U.S. senator; 1741/42—1804.
Virginia revolutionary, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator; 1732—94.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, senator for Delaware; 1733—98.
Continental Army general, senator for New York; 1733—1804.
Lawyer and politician from Connecticut; signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1721—93.
James Madison (2011)