On Friday, to help honor Independence Day, the president appeared in Charlottesville, Virginia, and hosted a naturalization ceremony at Monticello. Bush had quite a bit to say about the president who called Monticello home.
“The principles that Thomas Jefferson enshrined in the Declaration became the guiding principles of the new nation. And at every generation, Americans have rededicated themselves to the belief that all men are created equal, with the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“Thomas Jefferson understood that these rights do not belong to Americans alone. They belong to all mankind. And he looked to the day when all people could secure them. On the 50th anniversary of America’s independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, ‘May it be to the world, what I believe it will be — to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all — the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.’”
That’s very nice, but as Ed Brayton noted, it’s not quite what Jefferson said. Here’s the actual portion from the letter Bush referenced (thanks to R.M. for the heads-up):
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.” [emphasis added]
Hmm. Jefferson’s actual sentiments weren’t quite what Bush wanted to say, so it looks like Bush’s speechwriters gave Jefferson a little touch-up.