Laurens, John

PA — 11 September 1777.
PA — 4 October 1777.
NJ — 28 June 1778.
Charleston, SC — 29 March—12 May 1780.
VA — 28 September - 19 October 1781.

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.

Richard Brookhiser
James Madison (2011)