Jefferson's Return to the Order of Natural Law

The Declaration

The Declaration of Independence

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Cicero pushed the language of natural law, thus developing the notion of  “following nature” or of what is “right according to nature”(Cicero and Natural Law). Cicero's writings on natural law opened the door for enlightenment thinkers, and then later the Founding Fathers to see self-governance of a commonwealth as a divine right of all men, and did not belong to a divine king.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Indepedence that:

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

Thomas Paine quoted Cicero, in his book on Social and Politcal Thought as saying, "The true law is right reason, comfortable to the nature of things, constant, eternal diffuse through all, which call us to duty by commanding, deters from sin by forbidding, which never loses its influence with the good." (Social and Political Thought, 93).

Paine and Jefferson's sentiments on natural reason show their belief that return to the core principles of ancient self-government, was not only rational, but a return to the natural and just relationships of human beings in relation to each other.

Jefferson's Return to the Order of Natural Law