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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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243. AGRICULTURE, Societies—
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243. AGRICULTURE, Societies—

I have
on several occasions been led to think on some
means of uniting the State agricultural societies
into a central society; and lately it has
been pressed from England with a view to
a cooperation with their Board of Agriculture.
You know some have proposed to Congress
to incorporate such a society. I am
against that, because I think Congress cannot
find in all the enumerated powers any one
which authorizes the act, much less the giving
the public money to that use. I believe, too,
if they had the power, it would soon be used
for no other purpose than to buy with sinecures
useful partisans. I believe it will thrive
best if left to itself, as the Philosophical Societies
are. There is certainly a much greater
abundance of material for Agricultural Societies
than Philosophical. But what should
be the plan of union? Would it do for the
State societies to agree to meet in a central
society by a deputation of members? If this
should present difficulties, might they not be
lessened by their adopting into their society
some one or more of their delegates in Congress,
or of the members of the Executive
residing here, who assembling necessarily for
other purposes, could occasionally meet on
the business of their societies? Your [New
York] Agricultural Society, standing undoubtedly
on the highest ground, might set
the thing agoing by writing to such State societies
as already exist, and these once meeting
centrally might induce the other States to
establish societies, and thus complete the institution.
This is a mere idea of mine, not
sufficiently considered or digested, and hazarded
merely to set you to thinking on the
subject, and propose something better or to
improve this. Will you be so good as to consider
it at your leisure, and give me your
thoughts on the subject?—
To Robert R. Livingston. Ford ed., vii, 492.
(W. Feb. 1801)