In his editorial remarks on May 24, Mr. Gasparotti asserted that “when the founding fathers were debating our constitution…Thomas Jefferson pointed out that the common man wasn’t going to fight the nation’s war unless they had the vote.” That is completely inaccurate. First, when the Constitution was being crafted in 1787, Thomas Jefferson was not even in the country. He was in France and did not participate in the Constitutional Convention. Second, Jefferson’s view of voting rights was that any person who was subject to taxes or participated in a militia had the “natural right” to vote. He did not argue that voting rights needed to be used as a tool to ensure that there was an adequate number of soldiers. It was a matter of fairness. If you are a citizen in your actions (pay taxes, join the military), that establishes the natural right to vote, which is a citizen’s right. Jefferson was so dedicated to this fairness, that, were he alive today, he would completely support granting citizenship to the undocumented, requiring only that there be indication of “a permanent intention of living in the country.” He indicated that such intention would include “having resided a certain time, or having a family, or having property.” His reasoning was that, “Whoever intends to live in a country must wish that country well and has a natural right of assisting in the preservation of it.” [Jefferson quotations taken from a letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1776].
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