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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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3163. FRANCE, Policy towards.—
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3163. FRANCE, Policy towards.—

stand completely corrected of the error, that
either the government or the nation of France
has any remains of friendship for us. The
portion of that country which forms an ex
ception, though respectable in weight, is weak
in numbers. On the contrary, it appears evident,
that an unfriendly spirit prevails in the
most important individuals of the government,
towards us. In this state of things,
we shall so take our distance between the two
rival nations, as, remaining disengaged till
necessity compels us, we may haul finally to
the enemy of that which shall make it necessary.
We see all the disadvantageous consequences
of taking a side, and shall be
forced into it only by a more disagreeable
alternative; in which event, we must countervail
the disadvantages by measures which will
give us splendor and power, but not as much
happiness as our present system. We wish,
therefore, to remain well with France. But
we see that no consequences, however ruinous
to them, can secure us with certainty against
the extravagance of her present rulers. I
think, therefore, that while we do nothing
which the first nation on earth would deem
crouching, we had better give to all our communications
with them a very mild, complaisant,
and even friendly complexion, but always
independent. Ask no favors, leave small and
irritating things to be conducted by the individuals
interested in them, interfere ourselves
but in the greatest cases, and then not push
them to irritation. No matter at present existing
between them and us is important
enough to risk a breach of peace; peace being
indeed the most important of all things for us,
except the preserving an erect and independent
To Robert R. Livingston. Washington ed. iv, 448. Ford ed., viii, 173.
(W. Oct. 1802)