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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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571. ARTISANS, Explanation of views on.—
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571. ARTISANS, Explanation of views on.—

Mr. Duane informed me that he meant
to publish a new edition of the Notes on Virginia,
and I had in contemplation some particular
alterations which would require little time to
make. My occupations by no means permit me
at this time to revise the text, and make those
changes in it which I should now do. I should
in that case certainly qualify several expressions
* * * which have been construed differently
from what they were intended. I had
under my eye, when writing, the manufacturers
of the great cities in the old countries, at the
time present, with whom the want of food and
clothing necessary to sustain life, has begotten
a depravity of morals, a dependence and corruption,
which render them an undesirable accession
to a country whose morals are sound. My
expressions looked forward to the time when
our great cities would get into the same state.
But they have been quoted as if meant for the
present time here. As yet our manufacturers
are as much at their ease, as independent and
moral as our agricultural inhabitants, and they
will continue so as long as there are vacant
lands for them to resort to; because whenever
it shall be attempted by the other classes to reduce
them to the minimum of subsistence, they
will quit their trades and go to laboring the
earth. A first question is, whether it is desirable
for us to receive at present the dissolute and
demoralized handicraftsmen of the old cities of
Europe? A second and more difficult one is,
when even good handicraftsmen arrive here, is
it better for them to set up their trade, or go to
the culture of the earth? Whether their labor
in their trade is worth more than their labor on
the soil, increased by the creative energies of
the earth? Had I time to revise that chapter,
this question should be discussed, and other
views of the subject taken, which are presented
by the wonderful changes which have taken
place here since 1781, when the Notes on Virginia
were written.—
To Mr. Lithgow. Washington ed. iv, 563. Ford ed., iii, 269.
(W. Jan. 1805)