William Hoare (1707—92)

studio of William Hoare (1707—92)

Oil on canvas; 49 3/4 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1264 mm x 1010 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London, England.

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)