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The National Association of educational broadcasters presents another in the series of transcribed programs on the Jeffersonian heritage. The ground of Justice starring Claude Raines as Thomas Jefferson. This story is true in a way. Precisely because it is false in a way. Certain of these events have been imagined. But the words of Thomas Jefferson are in the spirit in which he spoke and his spirit is fun now. In the story Jamie telling a journalist to tell the
vituperation of his pain against the United States. Their tact will set into type what I have written. I pay you to print what I write. Go back to your printing room Mr. President do you want the proof of it. I have it. Prison. No Mr. Jennings. Let the world know that John Adams as and agreed to go to a bench and print it and I will take the consequences. James Thompson calendar stand before the buyout of justice.
I have not had a fair trial. Let the prisoner be silent. This court has refused to hear the testimony of defense witnesses. The court warned you again Mr Khaddam to be silent. Why do you not let me prove the truth of my assertions. Because there is no truth in your libel against a great and good man in whose hands the American people have confided their day that interests you have impugned the wisdom of the Sovereign People who have elected John Adams. James Thompson you get into this court finds you the sum of two hundred dollars and sentences you to be imprisoned for nine months. In the year eighteen hundred one I took office as third president of the United States. It was a year in which the prisons of America contained that quota of those proscribed and persecuted but expressions of opinion.
Virtuous opinion. Slanderous opinion. Opinion founded on the honesty of difference. Opinion founded on the corruption of malice. Yet in crowding neither what the offenders have done. Not against whom they had offended. I discharged every person under persecution of the law which violated the freedoms guaranteed by the American Constitution and Mrs. John Adams grew bitter against me. Every gale. Yes. Now I understand why Shakespeare has said many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills. Abigail are you writing a letter to Mr. Jefferson. Or are you trying to draw his blood. Both. Well it's a useless letter calenders been freed. The incident clue not from me. Someone must
inform Mr Jefferson that by letting loose such Viper as James calendar he destroys the distinction between virtue and vice. My dear you are criticizing the president of the United States Mr Jefferson citizen that is my privilege. Calland thought it was his privilege to criticize B John Adams. When you make a jest of this. No Abigail but this thing has been a deep wound. Perhaps I'm not as good a Christian as you. I could not bring myself to write Thomas Jefferson the rancor would spill over there be still long enough for me to finish this letter. Abigail However you're right let it not be with
spitefulness. There is no spitefulness here. I am asking Thomas Jefferson to defying his concept of justice. I mean to have his I'm sorry. Abigail had a how shall I answer you. We are dead joined and John Adams is a justice live. In the name of justice. I freed James Kelly and. Black God. I don't mind you dear madam there was a time long ago when John Adams spoke in my own language and in his own true accent. And Jefferson Jefferson said I have sworn
your hostility against all. If you have forgotten you Mrs. Adams I will recall for you a story of justice and glory. You just see me that I speak because 50 years after the Declaration of Independence on July 4th eighteen hundred twenty six I yielded the ghost. And on the same day John Adams as well his brother in death therefore I would tell you now of that high moment in his life when mercy and truth were met together. When righteousness and peace. Kissed each other and went out of the
bloody trouble. That sprang up in the lesson of justice to all men and in all time. On the night of March 5th. Seventeen hundred and seventy in the colonial city of Boston there was a layout of ice upon the ground and a young man. Like the sky so innocent to behold the fury of a. Red Coat. Why don't your 5 9 quaking British soldiers surrounded by the dregs handoffs coatings of Boston back make him fire at us. First God Young. Man. Who loves to back us and go to your eye. We don't want trouble with you but it would trouble you a man. We need to defend ourselves. Back. All right my Liberty Boys the redcoats to bring
him. Out. Was. Do you remember it for a townsman fell dead and dying upon the ground. They called it the Boston Massacre and before the night was out the mob had accomplished its work. Nine British soldiers went to rest. Break it down. Time Coming. What is it. You are John Adams. Do you break down my door to tell me my name. Nine men are held for murder. I have. Will you
defend them. I will not. But you are a lawyer. They are British soldiers and I am an American patriot. The Tory lawyers enough in Boston city to defend them. I have been to them Mr. Adams. They refuse all of them. Every last one. They are afraid of the vengeance of the mob. And you are you not also afraid. I'm terribly afraid. Then why do you not go home and be safe in your bed. I was bred an Englishman it was told me when I was yet a boy that every man whether he be a thief scoundrel or murderer is entitled to the benefit of counsel and a fair trial. You do not answer me Mr. Adams. My answer is that you go home. That is no answer. I am the sworn enemy of every British red coat in Massachusetts. Mr. Adams there is no virtue in doing justice to those who befriends you. The test of virtue is to do justice to those who would do you harm and whom you have reason to hate. So do I speak for suit you know. You speak what is
true. Then I would speak a further truth. Before I came to you they told me that John Adams was a poor man. If you accept the cause of these soldiers there will be hardly any money of your fee. Perhaps there would be no fee it would be dishonest if I did not tell you so. Now Mr. Adams when you take this case. Your husband Mrs. Adams did not quickly answer. You knew him better than I and he was a stubborn man. Still that is a stubbornness of cowardice and the stubbornness of faith one is true to the surface and one is true to the depths. The accused soldiers were his enemies to defend them would be at the possible cost of his own friend and his hope for political advancement. Moreover he was poor. And these soldiers could not pay you know what he accept.
Yeah. Lawyer Adams was a stubborn man and because there was no advantage in the case out of his stubbornness he made designs. I shall talk to my own partner. We will take the case. Wounded Adams. But do you wonder why I have asked you to ride with me in my carriage. Yes Mr I do wonder a little. Yet you do not ask. I am sure you will tell me that delightful as the new was that you want to defend these poor soldiers has given great satisfaction to the governor and respectable society in Boston. Has this will be brought to the attention of his majesty. I believe my name has already been brought to the attention of his majesty. But now the two acquitted
rebels everything is different. Mr. Sewell. Perhaps you should already your coachman to stop your carriage and watch that evidence. I am a rebel as stubborn and amusing as my cousin Samuel Adams coachman stop the horses. Mr John Adams is leaving us. I was deceived in you sir. You are still part of the rabble of Boston. I am and I suppose you weep for the Russians all been shot. Date. To morrow I shall march behind a coffee house and yes I shall weep for whatever their behavior they were human beings. However they spoke in their own foolish way they spoke for liberty. What I was those soldiers I have elected to defend stand for the perpetuation of tyranny and they are my enemies. Good day Mr. Sewell. I return to my friend. That's.
Good. Yeah. Just what was that. That my dear Abigail unless I am mistaken was a communication from a friend o of a rich college. The cast a stone into a man's house where his child lies sleeping. Although the glass there is no damage the baby sleeps. This must not discourage you. I will tell you something. A man can be your enemy and be without spot on and a man can call himself of your persuasion and your friend and be a liar a fomenting of bloodshed a cheat and a murder. John Adams you are not a simple man. Why would you have other men simple and life itself simple. There is evil among the
Patriots yet the cause is good and will survive the Abigail. We planned this riot not John Adams We provoked the mischief. I didn't and you didn't party my faction did. And the blame for it is also mine. Three men not dead by it and a fourth is dying. Where are you going. To prepare my case to talk to Patrick the dying man. Don't wait for me. I may be late. Mr. Adams the man who is very weak. Patrick I am a lawyer. I need no lawyer. It would be a priest.
If you cannot talk I will come again. No do not go. I would tell. Patrick. Why did you go to the scene of the riot. I am I. I hold no great love for the English. Did you go carrying a cudgel. I did not. But other men did cudgels pieces of ice storm sticks with US soldiers abused. There was. A great deal if the soldiers had not fired would they have been hurt or dead. As I am dead in Ireland I have seen no more talking about you know. Oh I must have seen mobs gather in Ireland and the soldiers called out to quell the people but
never to the U.S. soldiers dead and so much abuse in the name of the net he supplied. But Rick it is not good for you many things if not been good for me and I have done. I would see a priest to tell him he was sent for you head up dry not to drink too much but. Yes Patrick. A man whose bullet kills me. Yes. Mind which one I say to him that Patrick does not blame him. He fired to save himself. I would help him do so.
For I would go to Jesus with no man's blood upon my hands. Patrick Carr died. War was slavery and John Adams in the anguish of his own heart prepared to defend the soldier who slew him. On Nov. 27. 17:00 the cemetery in the colonial city of Boston and in the tent of the reign of George that the prisoners were brought into the court and said to the bar. You know why William when James William McCauley Matthew kill arrived where you have water young cattle you Mongomery. You watch out with
mud. How do you plead not guilty. God send you a good deliverance gentlemen of the jury look upon the prisoners they have pleaded not guilty and for trial or put themselves upon God in that country. Which country you are good men and stand together. Hearken to your evidence. The law is reason free from passion. The law is light in the dark and the. Law is the commandment. Ye shall have but one man or overall as well for the stranger as for one of your own country. The law is open and the law is good. If a man but use it too often. The law is truth. And the good words of the John Josiah Quincy spoke to a Boston jury.
There are eight life issues and in trying these prisoners you are paying a debt you owe the community for your own protection and safety. By the same motive trial are your own rights to receive a determination and in your turn the time may come when you will expect and claim a similar return from some other jury Forman. Did Mr Crean say God must avenge them. The law indulges no man in being his own Avenger it is set down in holy writ. Who so shed if a man's blood by man and shall his blood be shed. Josiah Quincy took his place and playing John Adams rose to speak a word of justice for the redcoats he despised for whom but the despised shall the word be spoken.
Your friends are not required. But someone must rise to speak for the reviled. For the man who was hated. By him who is contemptible. And befriended. John Adams spoke quietly. May it please your honour's and you gentlemen of the jury. I am for the prisoners at the bar and shall apologize for it only in the words of the Marquis but if I can but be the instrument of preserving one life. His blessing and tears of transport shall be a sufficient consolation to me for the contempt of all mankind. It is more beneficial that many guilty persons should escape unpunished than one innocent person should suffer. I call Mr. Bailey again as witness for the defendant.
Mr Bailey on the night of March 5th What did you see. A large crowd of men and boys surrounding these soldiers and forcing them back. How did they force them back by throwing things. What things. Stones sticks pieces of ice. How large were these pieces of ice larger than my fist and hard enough to hurt any man. What words were spoken Mr. Daly. They taunted the soldiers call them collared redcoat and worse things. They cried. Kill them. Were any of the soldiers struck dumb. Yes any of that you yourself saw that soldier. How was he struck down by a club. He fell to his knees and his gun flew out of his hands. As soon as he was able to rise he took it up and another club smote him in the shoulder.
What did the soldier do then. He fired his gun. And what was the consequence of his action. A man died thank you Mr Beattie. You may leave the stand. Gentlemen of the jury this soldier by the testimony you were killed a man you must decide whether it was murder or manslaughter. You must judge whether you had not reason to suppose that his life was in danger. Here's a soldier come among a populace bitter and hostile to the uniform he wear. And he was knocked down by a man who promised that they would kill him. What could he do. The gentleman you expect he should behave like a Stoic philosopher lost an apathy patient as Epictetus while his master was breaking his legs with a cudgel. He asked the justice of our law the law which is devoid of desire and fear lust and anger. The written
reason of our justice which retains some measure of divine perfection the law which is death inexorable inflexible inexorable to the laminations of these prisoners but Deaf deaf as an adder to the clamor of the populace. I'm done. John Adams was wrong. He was not done. But this was the highest in the purities moment of his life. And he spoke with exact justice in a world where reason is subject to the winds of human passion. In the month of November 17:00 same day a journey of Massachusetts man with a true for two hours and a half and returned with their verdict. Yet some of the joy right. How do you say we find William James. What Imma call
a white wooden water and James Carroll not guilty. We find you Montgomery and Matthew Kilroy not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. All right. They had praise the course but use it to Mr Adams. The prisoners Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery praised the benefits of the clergy. Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery. Do you understand if only there's a request made for you. Speak one of you. We understand you're on a bike he asked to go to court and to be branded in the thumb as a man slayer. Do you understand that we are ready to be branded. The bailiff's brought the branding irons and placed them in the fire and two young soldiers held out their hands to be but
ya. Ya. Ya. My Dam is at it. We have allowed ourselves some improvement. Have we not. There is an end of news that is an end of the rack of inquisitor and the smell of his faggots. And there is something better. The constant striving for equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state APO suasion. Religious or political. God bless aspiration. God bless you madam. And God bless John Adams. But in his immortal spirit mercy and truth are met together righteousness and peace of kissed each other and justice. Spring it out the.
The Jeffersonian heritage
Ground of justice
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program dramatizes Thomas Jefferson and John Adams' roles in a criminal trial and its impact on a young country.
Series Description
This series dramatizes the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, which are"the enduring possessions of all Americans and all free peoples," while being "authentic in historical spirit" and "imaginative in form."
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Actor: Rains, Claude, 1889-1967
Advisor: Malone, Dumas, 1892-1986
Composer: Schmidt, Karl
Conductor: Solinsky, Vladimir
Director: Papp, Frank, 1909-1996
Performer: Glazer, Tom
Producer: Papp, Frank, 1909-1996
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Subject: Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Writer: Wishengrad, Morton, 1913-1963
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-23-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “The Jeffersonian heritage; Ground of justice,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 4, 2023,
MLA: “The Jeffersonian heritage; Ground of justice.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 4, 2023. <>.
APA: The Jeffersonian heritage; Ground of justice. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from