- Historic Sites
BOL’SHAYA SOVETSKAYA ENTZIKLOPEDIYA, VOLUME XIV, PAGE 225 AND 226
October 1960 | Volume 11, Issue 6
On finishing his second presidential term of office in 1809, Jefferson dedicated himself to educational activity. He founded the University of Virginia (opened in 1825), where instruction which was independent of the church was introduced for the first time in the U.S.A. The theoretical views of Jefferson showed the influence of Locke, Harrington, and others, as well as of French enlightenment. In philosophy Jefferson supported the naturalism ( q.v. ) of the French materialists, although he polemicized against them as atheists. He stated that he was a supporter of deism ( q.v. ), that is, he recognized God as the first cause, and at the same time he rejected God’s intervention in the works of nature. Rejecting the religious bases of morality, Jefferson spoke, in the spirit of idealism, of the existence in the conscience of man of innate moral principles, by which he meant simply bourgeois “virtues.” He developed the theory of the uninterrupted development of revolution according to the degree of education of the masses and of their realization of their rights. In defending the right of the people to revolution, he considered it essential to have revolutionary changes in society, and to revise the constitution and social institutions every twenty years. He criticized the incompleteness and the limitations of the American revolution of the eighteenth century for not abolishing slavery, for not solving the agrarian question in the interest of society, for not providing it with political rights; and he predicted the necessity of new revolutions in the U.S.A. Jefferson’s ideal of society was close to the petit-bourgeois utopian ideal of J. J. Rousseau ( q.v. ) and it envisaged the division of the land to all workers without compensation. Jefferson idealized the small landowners, and looked upon them as the most valuable members of society. He criticized features of the capitalist system such as the gigantic concentration of ownership in the hands of the few, on the one hand, and the suppression and impoverishment of the working members of society on the other. The Utopian conception of the possibility of the existence of a class of independent small landowners, and the radicalism of his theory, were combined in an attempt at compromise with the slaveowners because of the unlikelihood of realizing his views in the field of politics.
American reactionary bourgeois historians falsify the figure of Jefferson; they gloss over and distort the progressive aspects of his teaching. The proressive forces of the U.S.A. make use of the best traditions of Jefferson in their fight for freedom and democracy.