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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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1183. CENTRALIZATION, States' Rights and.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1183. CENTRALIZATION, States' Rights and.—

I see with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the Federal
branch of our government is advancing towards
the usurpation of all the rights reserved
to the States, and the consolidation in itself of
all powers, foreign and domestic; and that
too, by constructions which, if legitimate,
leave no limits to their power. Take together
the decisions of the Federal Court, the doctrines
of the President [John Quincy Adams],
and the misconstructions of the constitutional
compact acted on by the legislature
of the Federal branch, and it is but too evident,
that the three ruling branches of that
department are in combination to strip their
colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers
reserved by them, and to exercise themselves
all functions foreign and domestic. Under the
power to regulate commerce, they assume indefinitely
that also over agriculture and manufactures,
and call it regulation to take the
earnings of one of these branches of industry,
and that, too, the most depressed, and put
them into the pockets of the other, the most
flourishing of all. Under the authority to establish
post roads, they claim that of cutting
down mountains for the construction of roads,
of digging canals, and aided by a little sophistry
on the words “general welfare,” a right
to do, not only the acts to effect that, which
are specifically enumerated and permitted, but
whatsoever they shall think, or pretend will
be for the general welfare. And what is our
resource for the preservation of the Constitution?
Reason and argument? You might as
well reason and argue with the marble columns
encircling them. The representatives
chosen by ourselves? They are joined in the
combination, some from incorrect views of
government, some from corrupt ones, sufficient
voting together to outnumber the sound
parts; and with majorities only of one, two,
or three, bold enough to go forward in defiance.
Are we then to stand to our arms, with
the hot-headed Georgian? No. That must
be the last resource, not to be thought of until


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much longer and greater sufferings. If every
infraction of a compact of so many parties is
to be resisted at once, as a dissolution of it,
none can ever be formed which would last
one year. We must have patience and longer
endurance then with our brethren while under
delusion; give them time for reflection
and experience of consequences; keep ourselves
in a situation to profit by the chapter of
accidents; and separate from our companions
only when the sole alternatives left, are
the dissolution of our Union with them, or
submission to a government without limitation
of powers. Between these two evils,
when we must make a choice, there can be
no hesitation. But, in the meanwhile, the
States should be watchful to note every material
usurpation on their rights; denounce
them as they occur in the most peremptory
terms; to protest against them as wrongs to
which our present submission shall be considered,
not as acknowledgments or precedents
of right, but as a temporary yielding to the
lesser evil, until their accumulation shall
overweigh that of separation. I would go
still further, and give to the Federal member,
by a regular amendment of the Constitution,
a right to make roads and canals of intercommunication
between the States, providing
sufficiently against corrupt practices in Congress
(log-rolling, &c.) by declaring that the
Federal proportion of each State of the moneys
so employed, shall be in works within the
State, or elsewhere with its consent, and with
a due salvo of jurisdiction. This is the course
which I think safest and best as yet.—
To William B. Giles. Washington ed. vii, 426. Ford ed., x, 354.
(M. Dec. 1825)