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Art. XXIV.

Serious Consideration on the Election
of a President: addressed to the
Citizens of the United States
. 8vo.
pp.
36. New-York. J. Furman.
1800.

IT is the design of the author of
this performance, to state his
reasons why Mr. Jefferson ought
not to be President of the United
States. These reasons are wholly
of a religious nature. The writer
has, with great sincerity and can-
dour, acknowledged the respect
which is due to the intellectual and
moral character of Mr. Jefferson,
while he urges against him, with
great zeal, the weighty charge of
infidelity and irreligion.

“To the declarations of disinterested-
ness and sincerity already made, I think
it proper to add, that I have no personal
resentment whatever against Mr. Jeffer-
son, and that it is with pain I oppose
him; that I never was in his company,
and would hardly know him; that I
honour him as holding a high office in
government; that I admire his talents,
and feel grateful for the services which
he has been instrumental in rendering to
his country; and that my objection to
his being promoted to the Presidency is
founded singly upon his disbelief of the
Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his
rejection of the Christian Religion, and
open profession of Deism.”

From the last words of the pre-
ceding paragraph, we expected to
have found some explicit and pub-
lic declaration of deism by Mr. Jef-
ferson; but no unequivocal and
open avowal of his infidelity is
stated by our author. It is consi-
dered matter of fair deduction, and
the evidence by which this accusa-
tion is to be supported, is drawn

from the writings and conversation
of the accused. In the “Notes
on the State of Virginia,” in re-
marking on the appearance of shells
and other marine productions on
the tops of mountains, Mr. J. re-
jects the belief of an universal de-
luge as the cause of this phenome-
non; and passes by, unnoticed, the
account given in sacred history of
that event.

On the question whence the first
inhabitants of America originated,
Mr. Jefferson is of opinion that
there are a variety of languages in
America radically different, and “a
greater number of those radical
changes of language having taken
place among the red men of Ame-
rica, proves them of greater anti-
quity than those of Asia.” From
certain physical distinctions sup-
posed to exist between the blacks
and whites, Mr. Jefferson is led to
suspect, or believe, that they were
originally distinct races of men,
and that mankind could not have
all descended from a single pair.
These two opinions, founded on a
total disregard of the scriptural ac-
count of the deluge, and of the cre-
ation of man, furnish to the au-
thor of these “considerations,”
satisfactory evidence of the disbelief
of Mr. Jefferson in the scriptures
as of divine revelation. This in-
ference is further supported by the
little importance attached by Mr.
Jefferson to the bible, as a book of
instruction for children.

The following anecdote, our au-
thor believes, puts the deism of Mr.
Jefferson beyond a doubt.

“After what has been produced, who
can refuse his belief of what I shall now
relate? When the late Rev. Dr. John B.
Smith resided in Virginia, the famous
Mazzei happened one night to be his
guest. Dr. Smith having, as usual, as-
sembled his family for their evening de-
votions, the circumstance occasioned some
discourse on religion, in which the Italian
made no secret of his infidel principles.
In the course of conversation he remark-

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ed to Dr. Smith, 'Why, your great
philosopher and statesman, Mr. Jeffer-
son, is rather farther gone in infidelity
than I am;' and related, in confirmation,
the following anecdote; that as he was
once iding with Mr. Jefferson, he ex-
pressed his 'surprise that the people of
this country take no better care of their
public buildings' 'What buildings?' ex-
claimed Mr. Jefferson. 'Is not that a
church?' replied he, pointing to a de-
cayed edifice. 'Yes,' answered Mr. Jef-
ferson. 'I am astonished,' said the other,
'that they permit it to be in so ruinous
a condition.' 'It is good enough, rejoin-
ed Mr. Jefferson, 'for him that was born
in a manger!!'
Such a contemptuous
fling at the blessed Jesus, could issue
from the lips of no other than a deadly
foe to his name and his cause.”*

From a passage in the “Notes
on the State of Virginia,Ӡ and
from a sentiment expressed by Mr.
Jefferson in conversation, “that
he wished to see a government in
which no religious opinions were
held, and where the security for
property and social order rested en-
tirely on the force of laws,” our
author is led to ask whether it is
not natural to suspect him of athe-
ism? We are somewhat at a loss to
know how this is to be reconciled
with the open profession of deism
before charged against him. But
the author does not press so harsh
a conclusion. His mode of rea-
soning may be seen in the follow-
ing passage:

“Putting the most favourable con-
struction upon the words in the Notes,
they are extremely reprehensible. Does
not the belief influence the practice?
How then can it be a matter of indiffer-
ence what a man believes? The doc-
trine that a man's life may be good, let
his faith be what it may, is contradicto-
ry to reason and the experience of man-
kind. It is true, that a mere opinion

of my neighbour will do me no injury.
Government cannot regulate or punish it.
The right of private opinion is inaliena-
ble. But let my neighbour once per-
suade himself that there is no God, and
he will soon pick my pocket, and break
not only my leg, but my neck. If there
be no God, there is no law; no future
account; government then is the ordi-
nance of man only, and we cannot be
subject for conscience sake. No colours
can paint the horrid effects of such a
principle, and the deluge of miseries
with which it would overwhelm the hu-
man race.
“How strongly soever Mr. Jefferson
may reason against the punishment by
law of erroneous opinions, even of athe-
ism, they are not the less frightful and
dangerous in their consequences. He
admits the propriety of rejecting the tes-
timony of an atheist in a court of jus-
tice, and of fixing a stigma upon him.
Just such a stigma the United States
ought to fix upon himself. Though nei-
ther the constitution, nor any law for-
bids his election, yet the public opinion
ought to disqualify him. On account of
his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures, and
his attempts to discredit them, he ought
to be rejected from the Presidency. No
professed deist, be his talents and acquire-
ments what they may, ought to be pro-
moted to this place by the suffrages of a
Christian nation. The greater his talents
and the more extensive his acquirements,
the greater will be his power, and the
more extensive his influence in poisoning
mankind.”

Having shown what are the re-
ligious opinions of Mr. Jefferson,
the author proceeds to point out the
effects which his election would
probably produce. He thinks “it
would give us an unfavourable cha-
racter with foreign nations.” But
he rejects, with disdain, the idea of
suffering our political conduct to
be influenced by the desire to court
the favour of any nation. “How
“* This story I had from Dr. Smith more than once, and he told it to, I know
not how many. I applied to one gentleman, who I knew had heard it from Dr.
Smith, and we agreed in the relation. There is no possibility of contradicting it,
except by the improbable supposition that Mazzei told a downright falsehood. Dr.
Smith was one of the most faithful, zealous, and successful ministers in all this coun-
try. His memory will long be precious to those who knew him.” † Page 169, Philadelphia edition, 1788.

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desirable soever a reputation with
them may be, unless it is founded
on a regard to God and our coun-
try, it cannot be solid and lasting.”
A second and more important con-
sideration, in the view of the writer,
is the effects likely to be produced
on our own citizens, from the in-
fluence of example of the first ma-
gistrate possessed of the opinions
supposed to be entertained by Mr.
Jefferson. Though “no attempts
should be made to unsettle religious
belief,” yet, from the natural dis-
position of human nature, and the
pervading influence of the princi-
ples and manners of the higher
classes of society, it is thought, that
one in the elevated station of Presi-
dent, must shed the rays of his in-
fluence on those around him.

The third and last consideration,
is the fear of incurring the displea-
sure of God in the election of one
who is “an enemy to the religion
of Christ.”

The author here enters into an
earnest and eloquent expostulation
with those whom he supposes to be
liable to have their judgments and
consciences warped by political
views. As this part is too long for
quotation, and would suffer by an
abridgement, we refer our readers
to the pamphlet itself.

The charge here made is of a
personal and very serious kind. We
have endeavoured to state, impar-
tially, the proof and arguments here
adduced in its support. The accu-
sation and evidence have been long
before the public, and they are now
called upon for their decision. An
appeal is made to the religious con-
science
of every elector, and to each
it belongs to say whether he will
listen to it or not. In the decisions
of that forum, our interference
would be improper and useless.
Whether the election of Mr. Jef-
ferson to the presidential chair will
be conclusive evidence of the public
opinion as to his religion, is, con-

sidering the complexity and incon-
sistency of human actions, very
problematical.

Our author delivers his senti-
ments with a great appearance of
honesty and zeal, a zeal which
never leads him into intemperance
or abuse. Whatever difference of
opinion may exist as to the truth of
his deductions, all will unite in
their approbation of the general
spirit of moderation and candour
he has manifested, and of the purity
of those motives by which he pro-
fesses to be actuated.

The style of this performance is
forcible and clear, and the warmth
and earnestness of the writer is such
as must command the attention of
the reader.