I came across the following paragraph when reading Jon Meecham's The Art of Power ( it's a excerpt from the epistle from Jefferson to John Page)
we have both been drawn from our natural passion for study & tranquility, by times which took from us the freedom of choice: times however which, planting a new world with the seeds of just government, will produce a remarkeable aera in the history of mankind. it was incumbent on those therefore who fell into them, to give up every favorite pursuit, and lay the shoulder to the work of the day.
I Googled the phrase but couldn't find matching expressions. The closest one it showed was 'put one's shoulder to the wheel', which means 'work hard at something', and it somehow fits the context herein. Therefore I was wondering if the phrase has fallen out of use or morphed into other forms?