Originally posted by Teinosuke
I find that specific quotation rather benign. Surely all Jefferson's saying is that he conceives the United States as a free, democratic society which could, if successful, serve as a model for others. He implies that that model is what mankind (or most of mankind) naturally aspires to, but nothing in these sentences suggests that he thinks that model would need to be imposed on others.
It really depends on the context of the quote, which I'll repeat here for my own convenience:
"We feel that we are acting under obligations not confined to the limits of our own society. It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind; that circumstances denied to others, but indulged to us, have imposed on us the duty of proving what is the degree of freedom and self-government in which a society may venture to leave its individual members."
He uses the word "actions", under what circumstances is he acting? If this were in the context of suppressing native Americans, for example, and so imposing the society he thinks is right on them then finnegan is right. If on the other hand the "actions" he speaks of are the construction of the US state, which seems to be the case based on the second sentence, then he is saying that their duty to produce as free as society as is possible is greater because the US would provide a model of a free society, and finnegan is wrong. So I wonder if anyone could provide the context of the statement for me.