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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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3070. FOREIGN INFLUENCE, Deplored.—
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3070. FOREIGN INFLUENCE, Deplored.—

I do sincerely wish that we could take our stand on a ground perfectly neutral
and independent towards all nations. It has
been my constant object through my public
life; and with respect to the English and
French, particularly, I have too often expressed
to the former my wishes, and made to them
propositions, verbally and in writing, officially
and privately, to official and private characters,
for them to doubt of my views, if they would
be content with equality. Of this they are
in possession of several written and formal
proofs, in my own hand-writing. But they
have wished a monopoly of commerce and
influence with us; and they have in fact obtained
it. When we take notice that theirs
is the workshop to which we go for all we
want; that with them centre either immediately
or ultimately all the labors of our hands
and lands; that to them belongs, either openly
or secretly, the great mass of our navigation;
that even the factorage of their affairs here,
is kept to themselves by factitious citizenships;
that these foreign and false citizens
now constitute the great body of what are
called our merchants, fill our seaports, are
planted in every little town and district of
the interior country, sway everything in the
former places, by their own votes, and those
of their dependents, in the latter, by their insinuations
and the influence of their ledgers;
that they are advancing rapidly to a monopoly
of our banks and public funds, and thereby
placing our public finances under their control;
that they have in their alliance the most
influential characters in and out of office;
when they have shown that by all these bearings
on the different branches of the government,
they can force it to proceed in whatever
direction they dictate, and bend the interests
of this country entirely to the will of another;
when all this, I say, is attended to, it is impossible
for us to say we stand on independent
ground, impossible for a free mind not to
see and to groan under the bondage in which
it is bound. If anything after this could
excite surprise, it would be that they have
been able so far to throw dust in the eyes of
our own citizens, as to fix on those who
wish merely to recover self-government the
charge of observing one foreign influence
because they resist submission to another.
But they possess our printing presses, a
powerful engine in their government of us.
At this very moment they would have drawn
us into a war on the side of England, had it
not been for the failure of her bank. Such
was their open and loud cry, and that of
their gazettes, till this event. After plunging
us in all the broils of the European nations,
there would remain but one act to close our
tragedy, that is, to break up our Union; and
even this they have ventured seriously and
solemnly to propose and maintain by arguments
in a Connecticut paper. I have been
happy, however, in believing from the stifling
of this effort, that that dose was found too
strong, and excited as much repugnance there
as it did horror in other parts of our country,
and that whatever follies we may be led into
as to foreign nations, we shall never give up
our Union, the last anchor of our hope, and
that alone which is to prevent this heavenly
country from becoming an arena of gladiators.
Much as I abhor war, and view it as
the greatest scourge of mankind, and anxiously
as I wish to keep out of the broils of
Europe, I would yet go with my brethren into
these, rather than separate from them. But
I hope we may still keep clear of them, notwithstanding
our present thraldom, and that
time may be given us to reflect on the awful
crisis we have passed through, and to find
some means of shielding ourselves in future
from foreign influence, political, commercial, or
in whatever other form it may be attempted. I
can scarcely withhold myself from joining in
the wish of Silas Deane, that there were an
ocean of fire between us and the old world. [195]
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 172. Ford ed., vii, 121.
(Pa., May. 1797)


In the draft of the letter this paragraph was
changed to the form above printed. Before the
alteration it read: “I shall never forget the prediction
of the Count de Vergennes, that we shall exhibit
the singular phenomenon of a fruit rotten before it
is ripe, nor cease to join in the wish of Silas Deane,
that there were an ocean of fire between us and the
old world. Indeed, my dear friend, I am so disgusted
with this entire subjection to a foreign
power, that if it were in the end to appear to be the
wish of the body of my countrymen to remain in
that vassalage, I should feel my unfitness to be an
agent in their affairs, and seek in retirement that
personal independence without which this world has
nothing I value. I am confident you set the same
store by it which I do; but perhaps your situation
may not give you the same conviction of its existence.
Ford ed., vii, 123.