University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
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.;

expand sectionA. 
expand sectionB. 
expand sectionC. 
expand sectionD. 
expand sectionE. 
expand sectionF. 
collapse sectionG. 
3505. GOVERNMENT, Forms of.—
expand sectionH. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionJ. 
expand sectionK. 
expand sectionL. 
expand sectionM. 
expand sectionN. 
expand sectionO. 
expand sectionP. 
expand sectionQ. 
expand sectionR. 
expand sectionS. 
expand sectionT. 
expand sectionU. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionW. 
expand sectionX. 
expand sectionY. 
expand sectionZ. 

expand section 
expand section 

3505. GOVERNMENT, Forms of.—

exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as
among our Indians. 2. Under governments,
wherein the will of every one has a just influence;
as is the case in England, in a slight
degree, and in our States, in a great one. 3.
Under governments of force; as is the case
in all other monarchies, and in most of the
other republics. To have an idea of the
curse of existence under these last, they must
be seen. It is a government of wolves over
sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind,
that the first condition is not the best. But
I believe it to be inconsistent with any great
degree of population. The second state has
a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind


Page 387
under that, enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils, too;
the principle of which is the turbulence to
which it is subject. But weigh this against
the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes
nothing. Malo periculosam libertatem quam
quietem servitutem.
Even this evil is productive
of good. It prevents the degeneracy
of government, and nourishes a general attention
to the public affairs. I hold it that a
little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing,
and as necessary in the political world as
storms are in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions,
indeed, generally establish the encroachments
on the rights of the people,
which have produced them. An observation
of this truth should render honest republican
governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions,
as not to discourage them too much.
It is a medicine necessary for the sound
health of government.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 105. Ford ed., iv, 362.
(P. 1787)