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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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2341. EARTH, Belongs to the Living.—[further continued].
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2341. EARTH, Belongs to the Living.—[further continued].

The principle that the
earth belongs to the living and not to the
dead, is of very extensive application and
consequences in every country, and most especially
in France. It enters into the resolution
of the questions, whether the nation
may change the descent of lands holden in
tail? Whether they may change the appropriation
of lands given anciently to the
Church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry,
and otherwise in perpetuity? whether
they may abolish the charges and privileges
attached on lands, including the whole catalogue,
ecclesiastical and feudal; it goes to
hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions;
to hereditary orders, distinctions and
appellations; to perpetual monopolies in commerce,
the arts or sciences; with a long train
of et ceteras; and it renders the question of
reimbursement a question of generosity and
not of right. In all these cases the legislature
of the day could authorize such appropriations
and establishments for their own time,
but no longer; and the present holders, even
where they or their ancestors have purchased,
are in the case of bona fide purchasers of
what the seller had no right to convey.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 107. Ford ed., v, 122.
(P. 1789)