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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.;
3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1302. CIVILIZATION, Progress of.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1302. CIVILIZATION, Progress of.—

The idea which you present of the progress
of society from its rudest state to that it has
now attained, seems conformable to what May
be probably conjectured. Indeed, we have
under our eyes tolerable proofs of it. Let a
philosophic observer commence a journey
from the savages of the Rocky Mountains,
eastwardly to our seacoast. These he would
observe in the earliest stages of association
living under no law but that of nature, subsisting
and covering themselves with the flesh
and skins of wild beasts. He would next find
those on our frontiers in the pastoral state,
raising domestic animals to supply the defects
of hunting. Then succeed our semi-barbarous
citizens, the pioneers of the advance of
civilization, and so in his progress he would
meet the gradual shades of improving man
until he would reach his, as yet, most improved
state in our seaport towns. This, in
fact, is equivalent to a survey, in time, of the
progress of man from the infancy of creation
to the present day. I am eighty-one years of
age, born where I now live, in the first range
of mountains in the interior of our country.
And I have observed this march of civilization
advancing from the sea coast, passing over us
like a cloud of light, increasing our knowledge
and improving our condition, insomuch
as that we are at this time more advanced in
civilization here than the seaports were when
I was a boy. And where this progress will
stop no one can say. Barbarism has, in the
meantime, been receding before the steady
step of amelioration; and will in time, I
trust, disappear from the earth. You seem
to think that this advance has brought on us
too complicated a state of society, and that we
should gain in happiness by treading back our
steps a little way. I think, myself, that we
have more machinery of government than is
necessary, too many parasites living on the
labor of the industrious. I believe it might
be much simplified to the relief of those
who maintain it. Your experiment seems to
have this in view. A society of seventy


Page 146
families, the number you name, may very possibly
be governed as a single family, subsisting
on their common industry, and holding
all things in common. Some regulators of
the family you still must have, and it remains
to be seen at what period of your increasing
population your simple regulations
will cease to be sufficient to preserve order,
peace, and justice.—
To William Ludlow. Washington ed. vii, 377.
(M. 1824)