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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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3502. GOVERNMENT, Fallibility.—
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3502. GOVERNMENT, Fallibility.—

—Was the government to prescribe to us our
medicine and diet, our bodies would be in
such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in
France the emetic was once forbidden as
a medicine, and the potato as an article of
food. Government is just as infallible, too,
when it fixes systems in physics. Galileo was
sent to the Inquisition for affirming that the
earth was a sphere; the government had declared
it to be as flat as a trencher, and
Galileo was obliged to abjure his error. This
error, however, at length prevailed, the earth
became a globe, and Descartes declared it
was whirled round its axes by a vortex. The
government in which he lived was wise
enough to see that this was no question of
civil jurisdiction, or we should all have been
involved by authority in vortices. In fact,
vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian
principle of gravitation is now more
firmly established, on the basis of reason,
than it would be were the government to step
in, and to make it an article of necessary
faith. Reason and experiment have been
indulged, and error has fled before them. It
is error alone which needs the support of
government. Truth can stand by itself.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 400. Ford ed., iii, 264.