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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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2988. FEDERALISTS, Violations of Constitution.—
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2988. FEDERALISTS, Violations of Constitution.—

Their usurpations and violations
of the Constitution at that period [the
administration of John Adams] and their majority
in both Houses of Congress, were so
great, so decided, and so daring, that after
combating their aggressions, inch by inch,
without being able in the least to check their
career, the republican leaders thought it would
be best for them to give up their useless efforts
there, go home, get into their respective
Legislatures, embody whatever of resistance
they could be formed into, and if ineffectual,
to perish there as in the last ditch. All, therefore,
retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the
House of Representatives, and myself in the
Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President.
Remaining at our posts, and bidding
defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by
which they endeavored to drive us off also,
we kept the mass of republicans in phalanx
together, until the Legislature could be
brought up to the charge; and nothing on
earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly,
placed by my office of Vice-President
at the head of the republicans, had given
way and withdrawn from my post, the republicans
throughout the Union would have
given up in despair, and the cause would have
been lost forever. By holding on, we obtained
time for the Legislatures to come up with
their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky
particularly, but more especially the
former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved
the Constitution at its last gasp. No person
who was not a witness of the scenes of that
gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting
persecutions and personal indignities
we had to brook. They saved our country
however. The spirits of the people were so
much subdued and reduced to despair by the
X. Y. Z. imposture, and other stratagems
and machinations, that they would have sunk
into apathy and monarchy, as the only form
of government which could maintain itself. [190]
Miscellaneous Papers. Washington ed. ix, 507. Ford ed., x, 368.


Jefferson said, in the same paper, that he considered
this action on his part “the most important,
in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion
of his life”.—Editor.