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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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1940. CRIME, Principles of Punishing.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1940. CRIME, Principles of Punishing.—

In forming a scale of crimes and punishments,
two considerations have principal
weight. 1. The atrocity of the crime. 2.
The peculiar circumstances of a country
which furnish greater temptations to commit
it, or greater facilities for escaping detection.
The punishment must be heavier to counterbalance
this. Were the first the only consideration,
all nations would form the same
scale. But, as the circumstances of a country
have influence on the punishment, and
no two countries exist precisely under the
same circumstances, no two countries will
form the same scale of crimes and punishments.
For example in America, the inhabitants
let their horses go at large in the uninclosed
lands, which are so extensive as to
maintain them altogether. It is easy, therefore,
to steal them, and easy to escape. Therefore,
the laws are obliged to oppose these
temptations with a heavier degree of punishment.
For this reason, the stealing of a
horse in America is punished more severely
than stealing the same value in any other
form. In Europe, where horses are confined so securely that it is impossible to steal them,
that species of theft need not be punished


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more severely than any other. In some countries
of Europe, stealing fruit from trees is
punished capitally. The reason is, that it being
impossible to lock fruit trees up in coffers,
as we do our money, it is impossible to
oppose physical bars to this species of theft.
Moral ones are, therefore, opposed by the
laws. This, to an unreflecting American, appears
the most enormous of all the abuses
of power; because he has been used to see
fruits hanging in such quantities that if not
taken by men, they would rot. He has been
used to consider them therefore, as of no
value, and as not furnishing materials for the
commission of a crime.—
To M. de Meunier. Washington ed. ix, 264. Ford ed., iv, 169.
(P. 1786)