Oil on canvas; height: 123.19 cm (48.5 in), width: 101.28 cm (39.88 in). Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME.
Thomas Jefferson, 1805—07
Because democratic self-government requires a special kind of culture — one that fosters self-reliant selves — the Protestantism of the Founding Fathers also helped the Revolution succeed. Their Protestant worldview placed an intense value on the individual — his conscience, the state of his soul, his understanding of Scripture, his personal relation to God, his salvation. It was an easy step for them to assume that, as each man was endowed by his Creator with an immortal soul immediately related to God, so he was similarly endowed with rights that are
not the donation of Law, as Constitution signer William Livingston put it, but
prior to all political Institution and
resulting in the Nature of Man.