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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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2243. DISPUTATION, Political.—
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2243. DISPUTATION, Political.—

are two classes of disputants most frequently
to be met with among us. The first is of
young students, just entered the threshold of
science, with a first view of its outlines, not
yet filled up with the details and modifications
which a further progress would bring to their
knowledge. The other consists of the illtempered
and rude men in society, who have
taken up a passion for politics. From both of
these classes of disputants, * * * keep
aloof, as you would from the infected subjects
of yellow fever or pestilence. Consider
yourself, when with them, as among the
patients of Bedlam, needing medical more
than moral counsel. Be a listener only, keep
within yourself, and endeavor to establish
with yourself the habit of silence, especially
on politics. In the fevered state of our country,
no good can ever result from any attempt to
set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either
in fact or principle. They are determined as
to the facts they will believe, and the opinions
on which they will act. Get by them, therefore,
as you would by an angry bull; it is not
for a man of sense to dispute the road with
such an animal. You will be more exposed
than others to have these animals shaking
their horns at you, because of the relation in
which you stand with me. Full of political
venom, and willing to see me and to hate me
as a chief in the antagonistic party, your presence
will be to them what the vomit grass is
to the sick dog, a nostrum for producing
ejaculation. Look upon them exactly with
that eye, and pity them as objects to whom
you can administer only occasional ease.
My character is not within their power. It is
in the hands of my fellow citizens at large,
and will be consigned to honor or infamy by
the verdict of the republican mass of our
country, according to what themselves will
have seen, not what their enemies and mine
shall have said. Never, therefore, consider these
puppies in politics as requiring any notice
from you, and always show that you are not
afraid to leave my character to the umpirage
of public opinion.—
To Thomas Jefferson Randolph. Washington ed. v, 391. Ford ed., ix, 232.
(W. 1808)