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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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827. BILL OF RIGHTS (French), History of.—
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827. BILL OF RIGHTS (French), History of.—

After you [M. de St. Etienne] quitted us yesterday evening, we continued
our conversation (Monsr de Lafayette, Mr.
Short and myself) on the subject of the difficulties
which environ you. The desirable
object being to secure the good which the
King has offered and to avoid the ill which
seems to threaten, an idea was suggested,
which appearing to make an impression on
Mons de Lafayette, I was encouraged to
pursue it on my return to Paris, to put it
into form, and now to send it to you and him.
It is this, that the King, in a seance royale should come forward with a Charter of
Rights in his hand, to be signed by himself,
and by every member of the three orders.
This Charter to contain the five great points
which the Resultat of December offered on
the part of the King, the abolition of pecuniary
privileges offered by the privileged orders,
and the adoption of the national debt,
and a grant of the sum of money asked from
the nation. This last will be a cheap price for
the preceding articles, and let the same act
declare your immediate separation till the
next anniversary meeting. You will carry
back to your constituents more good than
ever was effected before without violence,
and you will stop exactly at the point where
violence would otherwise begin. Time will
be gained, the public mind will continue
to ripen and to be informed, a basis of support
may be prepared with the people themselves,
and expedients occur for gaining still
something further at your next meeting, and
for stopping again at the point of force. I have
ventured to send to yourself and Monsieur
de Lafayette a sketch of my ideas of what this
act might contain without endangering any
dispute. But it is offered merely as a canvas


Page 92
for you to work on, if it be fit to work on at
all. I know too little of the subject, and you
know too much of it to justify me in offering
anything but a hint. I have done it too in a
hurry; insomuch that since committing it to
writing it occurs to me that the 5th article
may give alarm, that it is in a good degree
included in the 4th, and is, therefore, useless.
But, after all, what excuse can I make, Sir,
for this presumption? I have none but an
unmeasurable love for your nation, and a
painful anxiety lest despotism, after an unaccepted
offer to bind its own hands, should seize you again with tenfold fury.—
To M. de St. Etienne. Ford ed., v, 99.
(P. June. 1789)

See Rights.