Browse our archive of original historical documents on the themes of this book:

- Founding Principles

- Slavery

- Property Rights

- Women and the Right to Vote

- Women and the Family

- Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting

- Poverty and Welfare

- Immigration and the Moral Conditions of Citizenship

- Afterword: Liberals and Conservatives Abandon the Principles of the Founding

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Home > Document Library > Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting > Letter to William Pendleton on requirements for voting


Letter to William Pendleton on requirements for voting

Thomas Jefferson
August 26, 1776


[Voting for the Virginia house of representatives should be open to rich and poor alike. — TGW]

 

Now as to the representative house, which ought to be so constructed as to answer that character truly: I was for extending the rights of suffrage (or in other words the rights of a citizen) to all who had a permanent intention of living in the country. Take what circumstances you please as evidence for this, either the having resided a certain time, or having a family, or having property, any or all of them. Whoever intends to live in a country must wish the country well, and has a natural right of assisting in the preservation of it.

[From Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), 1:504.]





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