Oil on canvas; 235 x 160 cm (92 1/2 x 63 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
General George Washington at Trenton, 1792
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.