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Thomas Jefferson - Letter of July 12, 1816
From Revolution to Revolution - University of Gronigen ^ | July 12, 1816 | Thomas Jefferson

Posted on 01/08/2010 6:22:18 AM PST by Loud Mime

I recommend you read the entire letter -- about five pages -- at its source.

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.

(Break added by poster)

Our landholders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: conservatism; jefferson; letters

1 posted on 01/08/2010 6:22:20 AM PST by Loud Mime
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To: Vision; definitelynotaliberal; Mother Mary; FoxInSocks; 300magnum; NonValueAdded; sauropod; ...

Historical Documents ping


2 posted on 01/08/2010 6:24:04 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberalism is a Socialist Disease)
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bookmark


3 posted on 01/08/2010 6:31:11 AM PST by ExGeeEye (P.U.M.A.--BC/BG!)
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To: Loud Mime

http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl179.htm

One of my personal favorites. A letter to John Norvell from Thomas Jefferson regaurding Norvell’s request for advice on starting a newspaper and running for office. (Norvell later became Michigan’s first senator)


4 posted on 01/08/2010 6:37:22 AM PST by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
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To: Loud Mime

We hold these truths to be self evident...


5 posted on 01/08/2010 6:39:20 AM PST by WVKayaker (www.wherezobama.org / Obama's Excellent Adventure ...)
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To: Loud Mime
A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

Amazing how 200 plus years later, the truth is still the truth.

It's obvious no one in DC knows or cares about such truths.

6 posted on 01/08/2010 6:40:58 AM PST by spodefly (I have posted nothing but BTTT over 1000 times!!!)
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To: Loud Mime
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.

Thanks for posting this letter. I like this quote. I get a lot of grief from certain posters for "trashing" the Constitution, so allow me to "appeal to authority" and second TJ's thoughts here, that constitutions are not infallible, and that experience ought to translate into advances and corrections of flaws.

7 posted on 01/08/2010 7:03:33 AM PST by Huck (The Constitution is an outrageous insult to the men who fought the Revolution." -Patrick Henry)
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To: Loud Mime

Excellent read. All of those guys understood human nature so well.

My wife and I just finished watching the HBO mini-series on Adams. It is excellent. Our founding fathers put everyting on the line for us. (Although Adams appeared to be a bit of a butt in the series.)

If you have any thoughs of giving up, watch this series, it’ll put you back on track.


8 posted on 01/08/2010 7:09:26 AM PST by super7man
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To: cripplecreek

Thank You === That letter will be a future posting here.

You may find this amusing: I have a friend who is a rabid Obama supporter. She quotes Thomas Jefferson when his writings may be stretched (tortured) to accomodate her religious followship of emperor zero; including a passage from the letter that this thread addresses.

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.


9 posted on 01/08/2010 7:09:32 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberalism is a Socialist Disease)
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To: super7man

thoughs=thoughts

Duh.


10 posted on 01/08/2010 7:10:50 AM PST by super7man
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To: Huck
...that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.

Be careful of this section. This passage is used by socialists to advance their cause, as it is so open to definition that it can accomodate any argument. The entire letter explains the limits of this passage.

I believe that Jefferson was creating room for the abolition of slavery.

The fact of the matter is that the human mind is not subject to progress. It is set. We now have a near-perfect method of distributing knowledge and few people take advantage of it; they will chop and dice the knowledge that is available to them so they may construct a salad of their own political views, while ignoring the importance of liberty.

Moreover, in this letter Jefferson was, for the most part, speaking of a State government -- not the federal. Within the letter Jefferson states the role of the federal and state governments. It deserves to be noted.

11 posted on 01/08/2010 7:21:29 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberalism is a Socialist Disease)
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To: Loud Mime

I found that while digging around for some local history. ( Live in Norvell Michigan)

Jefferson was brutal when he spoke of newspapers as the “polluted vehicle”.


12 posted on 01/08/2010 7:21:44 AM PST by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
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To: super7man

When you find the time, I recommend reading the entire letter. It was written long after Jefferson retired from public service; it holds some impressive observations.


13 posted on 01/08/2010 7:25:27 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberalism is a Socialist Disease)
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To: Loud Mime
Be careful of this section. This passage is used by socialists to advance their cause, as it is so open to definition that it can accomodate any argument.

Be careful. If you apply this same standard to the text of the Constitution--discounting that which can be used by the left to advance their cause--you'll find yourself having serious issues with our founding document.

The fact of the matter is that the human mind is not subject to progress. It is set.

That's the optimistic appraisal. I say cultures devolve. But that's why I base it on experience. The one thing we have is 200 years of operational experience with our constitution. The point is that that ought to produce some revisions. Some people are absolutely batty about the Constitution, in just the way TJ describes. It takes on religious import. Ridiculous.

Moreover, in this letter Jefferson was, for the most part, speaking of a State government -- not the federal. Within the letter Jefferson states the role of the federal and state governments. It deserves to be noted.

It's irrelevant to the quote I posted. The speaks generically of constitutions. He's saying that while yes, we should be prudent and not rashly upend institutions, "prudence dictates, etc", we should realize constitutions are not divinely inspired, and sometimes corrections are advisable. It applies to ANY constitution.

14 posted on 01/08/2010 7:40:33 AM PST by Huck (The Constitution is an outrageous insult to the men who fought the Revolution." -Patrick Henry)
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To: Loud Mime

Thanks. I strated it and clearly it will take more time than I have right now. Have to go to work.

I find that I have to study the writings more than read them. I must disect each sentence to get its meaning. I wish I could write the way these guys did.

In respect for these writings, I will light a fire in the fireplace tomorrow afternoon and take a couple of hours sitting by the fire and reading this letter. Oh wait, when are the Chargers playing?


15 posted on 01/08/2010 7:55:39 AM PST by super7man
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To: Loud Mime

The truth never dies...

Do we not have these great minds in our country today? Or have they all been rotted, as with the rest of our society, with asinine distraction over Tiger Woods’ sexual escapades or how many times Paris Hilton is locked up in a drunk tank?


16 posted on 01/08/2010 8:15:01 AM PST by WKUHilltopper (Fix bayonets!)
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To: super7man
"(Although Adams appeared to be a bit of a butt in the series.)"

Our founders were great men, but they were still men. I say that not to be derisive, but only as a reflection of my admiration for them and how they accomplished so much while dealing with and overcoming many of the very same faults and foibles that we all have.

17 posted on 01/08/2010 8:18:27 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: cripplecreek
"Jefferson was brutal when he spoke of newspapers as the “polluted vehicle”."

You might enjoy doing some quick research for some of William T. Sherman's quotes regarding his opinions of journalists and the medias :-)

18 posted on 01/08/2010 8:20:56 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Joe 6-pack

I love Benjamin Franklin’s comparisons of the press and a tribunal. Even back then, he portrayed the reporters as a bunch of crybabies.


19 posted on 01/08/2010 8:27:56 AM PST by Loud Mime (Liberalism is a Socialist Disease)
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To: Joe 6-pack
“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.”

William Tecumseh Sherman
20 posted on 01/08/2010 8:38:35 AM PST by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
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To: Loud Mime
"they will chop and dice the knowledge that is available to them so they may construct a salad of their own political views, while ignoring the importance of liberty."

Jefferson's political view was liberty. As is mine.

21 posted on 01/08/2010 9:34:02 AM PST by YHAOS
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To: Huck
I say cultures devolve.

Yes, history indicates this time and time again. Best illustrated by the Romans. Another modern example would be the British empire and their devolution continues today.

This is why from time to time the tree of liberty must be watered in the American experiment so that growth begins anew and replenishes the foliage. Our founders anticipated these issues, and the left does it's best to neuter the built-in fixes that the Constitution allows for.

IMHO

22 posted on 01/08/2010 9:48:24 AM PST by Cold Heat
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To: Loud Mime

P4L


23 posted on 01/08/2010 10:10:23 AM PST by JDoutrider
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To: Joe 6-pack
I agree completely.

They were so aware of the foibles of human nature and of their own weaknesses, yet were able craft a system that worked to protect against and counter those weaknesses.

Alas, time has chipped away and corrupted that system. Yet I will remain optimistic that what was done before can be done again.

24 posted on 01/08/2010 10:30:26 AM PST by super7man
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bookmark


25 posted on 01/08/2010 12:17:28 PM PST by Gator113 (Obama is America's First Failed Black Pres-dent.....)
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To: Loud Mime

Bookmark


26 posted on 01/08/2010 3:09:08 PM PST by fortheDeclaration ("Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people".-John Adams)
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To: Loud Mime
...obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.

Just Damn!   TJ even predicted the rise of Revenuers.

27 posted on 01/08/2010 9:19:44 PM PST by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
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