In this June 19, 1802 letter, Jefferson wrote to Joseph Priestley to correct his understand of Jefferson’s role in shaping the Constitution. Jefferson wrote:
one passage, in the paper you inclosed me, must be corrected. it is the following. ‘and all say that it was yourself more than any other individual, that planned & established it.’ i.e. the constitution. I was in Europe when the constitution was planned & established, and never saw it till after it was established. on receiving it I wrote strongly to mr Madison urging the want of provision for the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, the substitution of militia for a standing army, and an express reservation to the states of all rights not specifically granted to the union. he accordingly moved in the first session of Congress for these Amendments which were agreed to & ratified by the states as they now stand. this is all the hand I had in what related to the Constitution.
Of course, Jefferson was not the only one who wanted a Bill of Rights in the new Constitution, but he was influential with Madison.
Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen and Unitarian pioneer, was one of Jefferson’s favorite religious figures. Jefferson praised Priestley’s work and wrote that his own religion owed much to Priestley’s views. Although he thought Jesus was on a divine mission from God, Priestley did not believe in the deity of Jesus. Jefferson wrote a flurry of letters to Priestley on religion while president. In his book The Jefferson Lies, David Barton suggests that Jefferson did not question orthodoxy until 1813. Jefferson’s correspondence with Priestley contradicts Barton’s assessment.
For more on Jefferson’s religion, see Getting Jefferson Right.