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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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1719. CONSTITUTION (Great Britain's ), Root of.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1719. CONSTITUTION (Great Britain's ), Root of.—

I think your book has deduced
the constitution of the English nation
from its rightful root, the Anglo-Saxon. It is
really wonderful that so many able and learned
men should have failed in their attempts to define
it with correctness. No wonder, then, that
[Thomas] Paine, who thought more than he
read, should have credited the great authorities
who have declared, that the will of parliament
is the constitution of England. So Marbois,
before the French Revolution, observed to
me, that the Almanac Royal was the constitution
of France. Your derivation of it from the
Anglo-Saxons, seems to be made on legitimate
principles. Having driven out the former inhabitants
of that part of the island called England,
they become aborigines as to you, and
your lineal ancestors. They, doubtless, had a
constitution; and although they have not left
it in a written formula, to the precise text of
which you may always appeal, yet they have
left fragments of their history and laws, from
which it may be inferred with considerable
certainty. What ever their history and laws
show to have been practiced with approbation,
we may presume was permitted by their constitution;
whatever was not so practiced, was
not permitted. And, although this constitution
was violated and set at naught by Norman force,
yet force cannot change right. A perpetual
claim was kept up by the nation, by their perpetual
demand of a restoration of their Saxon
laws; which shows they were never relinquished
by the will of the nation. In the pullings and
haulings for these ancient rights, between the
nation, and its kings of the races of Plantagenets,
Tudors and Stuarts, there was sometimes gain,
and sometimes loss, until the final re-conquest
of their rights from the Stuarts. The destitution
and expulsion of this race broke the thread
of pretended inheritance, extinguished all regal
usurpations, and the nation reentered into all
its rights; and although in their Bill of Rights
they specifically reclaimed some only, yet the
omission of the others was no renunciation of
the right to assume their exercise also, whenever
occasion should occur. The new King received
no rights or powers, but those expressly granted
to him. It has ever appeared to me, that the
difference between the whig and the tory of
England is, that the whig deduces his rights
from the Anglo-Saxon source and the tory from
the Norman. And Hume, the great apostle of
toryism, says, in so many words (note AA to
chapter 42), that, in the reign of the Stuarts,
“it was the people who encroached upon the
sovereign, not the sovereign who attempted, as
is pretended, to usurp upon the people.” This
supposes the Norman usurpations to be rights
in his successors. And again (C. 159), “the
commons established a principle, which is noble
in itself, and seems specious, but is belied by
all history and experience, that the people are
the origin of all just power.
” And where else
will this degenerate son of science, this traitor
to his fellow men, find the origin of just powers,
if not in the majority of the society? Will it
be in the minority? Or in an individual of that
minority? Our Revolution commenced on more
favorable ground. It presented us an album on
which we were to write what we pleased. We
had no occasion to search into musty records,
to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate
the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous
ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and
found them engraved on our hearts. Yet, we
did not avail ourselves of all the advantages
of our position. We had never been permitted
to exercise self-government. When forced to
assume it, we were novices in its science. Its
principles and forms had entered little into our
former education. We established some, although
not all its important principles.—
To John Cartwright. Washington ed. vii, 355.
(M. 1824)