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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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371. ANTI-FEDERALISTS, Jefferson and.—
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371. ANTI-FEDERALISTS, Jefferson and.—

You say that I have been dished up to
you as an anti-federalist, and ask me if it be
just. My opinion was never worthy enough
of notice to merit citing; but since you ask
it, I will tell it to you. I am not a federalist,
because I never submitted the whole system
of my opinions to the creed of any party of
men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in
politics, or in anything else, where I was capable
of thinking for myself. Such an addiction
is the last degradation of a free and
moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but
with a party, I would not go there at all.
Therefore, I am not of the party of federalists.
But I am much farther from that of the
anti-federalists. I approved from the first
moment of the great mass of what is in the
new Constitution; the consolidation of the
government; the organization into executive,
legislative and judiciary; the subdivision of
the legislative; the happy compromise of interests
between the great and little States, by
the different manner of voting in the different
Houses; the voting by persons instead of
States; the qualified negative on laws given to
the Executive, which, however, I should have
liked better if associated with the judiciary
also, as in New York; and the power of taxation.
I thought at first that the latter might
have been limited. A little reflection soon convinced
me it ought not to be. What I disapproved
from the first moment also, was the
want of a bill of rights, to guard liberty
against the legislative as well as the executive
branches of the government; that is to
say, to secure freedom in religion, freedom of
the press, freedom from monopolies, freedom
from unlawful imprisonment, freedom from
a permanent military, and a trial by jury in
all cases determinable by the laws of the land.
I disapproved also the perpetual re-eligibility
of the President. To these points of disapprobation
I adhere. My first wish was that
the nine first conventions might accept the
Constitution, as the means of securing to us
the great mass of good it contained, and that
the four last might reject it, as the means of
obtaining amendments. But I was corrected
in this wish the moment I saw the much better
plan of Massachusetts, and which had
never occurred to me. With respect to the
declaration of rights, I suppose the majority
of the United States are of my opinion; for
I apprehend all the anti-federalists and a very
respectable proportion of the federalists think
that such a declaration should now be
annexed. The enlightened part of Europe
have given us the greatest credit for inventing
this instrument of security for
the rights of the people, and have been
not a little surprised to see us so soon
give it up. With respect to the re-eligibility
of the President, I find myself differing
from the majority of my countrymen;
for I think there are but three States out of
the eleven which have desired an alteration of
this. And, indeed, since the thing is established,
I would wish it not to be altered during
the life of our great leader, whose executive
talents are superior to those, I believe,
of any man in the world, and who, alone, by
the authority of his name and the confidence
reposed in his perfect integrity, is fully qualified
to put the new government so under way,
as to secure it against the efforts of opposition.
But, having derived from our error all
the good there was in it, I hope we shall correct
it, the moment we can no longer have
the same name at the helm. These are my
sentiments, by which you will see I was right
in saying I am neither federalist nor anti-federalist;
that I am of neither party, nor
yet a trimmer between parties. These, my
opinions, I wrote within a few hours after I
had read the Constitution, to one or two
friends in America. I had not then read one
single word printed on the subject. I never
had an opinion in politics or religion which I
was afraid to own. A costive reserve on these
subjects might have procured me more esteem
from some people, but less from myself. My
great wish is to go on in a strict but silent
performance of my duty; to avoid attracting
notice, and to keep my name out of newspapers,
because I find the pain of a little censure,
even when it is unfounded, is more
acute than the pleasure of much praise. The
attaching circumstance of my present office
[Minister] is that I can do its duties unseen
by those for whom they are done.—
To F. Hopkinson. Washington ed. ii, 585. Ford ed., v, 75.
(P. March 13, 1789 )