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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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2738. ERROR, Officials and.—
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2738. ERROR, Officials and.—

Our Constitution
has wisely distributed the administration
of the Government into three distinct
and independent departments. To each
of these it Belongs to administer law within
its separate jurisdiction. The judiciary in
cases of meum and tuum, and of public
crimes; the Executive, as to laws executive
in their nature; the Legislature in various
cases which belong to itself, and in the important
function of amending and adding to
the system. Perfection in wisdom, as well
as in integrity, is neither required, nor expected
in these agents. It belongs not to
man. Were the judge who, deluded by sophistry,
takes the life of an innocent man, to
repay it with his own; were he to replace,
with his own fortune, that which his judgment
has taken from another, under the beguilement
of false deductions; were the Executive,
in the vast mass of concerns of first
magnitude, which he must direct, to place
his whole fortune on the hazard of every
opinion; were the members of the Legislature
to make good from their private substance
every law productive of public or private injury;
in short, were every man engaged in
rendering service to the public bound in his
body and goods to indemnification for all his
errors, we must commit our public affairs
to the paupers of the nation, to the sweepings
of hospitals and poor houses, who, having
nothing to lose, would have nothing to
risk. The wise know their weakness too
well to assume infallibility; and he who
knows most, knows how little he knows.
The vine and the fig tree must withdraw,
and the brier and bramble assume their
places. But this is not the spirit of our law.
It expects not impossibilities. It has consecrated
the principle that its servants are not
answerable for honest error of judgment.—
Batture Case. Washington ed. viii, 602.