To preserve the freedom of the human mind and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think the condition of man will proceed in improvement. The generation which is going off the stage has deserved well of mankind for the struggles it has made, and for having arrested the course of despotism which had overwhelmed the world for thousands and thousands of years. If there seems to be danger that the ground they have gained will be lost again, that danger comes from the generation your contemporary. But that the enthusiasm which characterizes youth should lift its parricide hands against freedom and science would be such a monstrous phenomenon as I cannot place among possible things in this age and country.
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Source Notes: Source: THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to William Green Mumford, June 18, 1799.Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 616 .In Petersons book, the letter is identified merely as a ringing affirmation of the larger faith to a college student, omitting the recipients name and date. The ellipses stand for a single word that is indecipherable.
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