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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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8076. SPANISH AMERICA, Self-government and.—[continued].
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8076. SPANISH AMERICA, Self-government and.—[continued].

The achievement [by
the Spanish Colonies] of their independence of
Spain is no longer a question. But it is a very
serious one, what will then become of them?
Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are
incapable of self-government. They will fall
under military despotism, and become the murderous
tools of the ambition of their respective
Bonapartes; and whether this will be for their
greater happiness, the rule of one only has
taught you to judge. No one, I hope, can doubt
my wish to see them and all mankind exercising
self-government, and capable of exercising
it. But the question is not what we
wish, but what is practicable? As their sincere
friend and brother, then, I do believe the
best thing for them, would be for themselves
to come to an accord with Spain, under the
guarantee of France, Russia, Holland, and the
United States, allowing, to Spain a nominal
supremacy, with authority only to keep the
peace among them, leaving them otherwise all
the powers of self-government, until their experience
in them, their emancipation from their
priests, and advancement in information, shall
prepare them for complete independence. I
exclude England from this confederacy, because
her selfish principles render her incapable
of honorable patronage or disinterested cooperation.—
To Marquis Lafayette. Washington ed. vii, 67. Ford ed., x, 84.
(M. 1817)