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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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3531. GOVERNMENT, Origin of.—
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3531. GOVERNMENT, Origin of.—

is an error into which most of the speculators
on government have fallen, and which
the well-known state of society of our Indians
ought, before now, to have corrected. In
their hypothesis of the origin of government,
they suppose it to have commenced in the
patriarchal or monarchical form. Our Indians
are evidently in that state of nature
which has passed the association of a single
family; and not yet submitted to the authority
of positive laws, or of any acknowledged
magistrate. Every man, with them, is perfectly
free to follow his own inclinations.
But if, in doing this, he violates the rights
of another, if the case be slight, he is punished
by the disesteem of his society, or, as we say,
by public opinion; if serious, he is tomahawked
as a dangerous enemy. Their leaders
conduct them by the influence of their character
only; and they follow, or not, as they
please, him of whose character for wisdom or
war they have the highest opinion. Hence
the origin of the parties among them, adhering
to different leaders, and governed by
their advice, not by their command. The
Cherokees, the only tribe I know to be contemplating
the establishment of regular laws,
magistrates, and government, propose a government
of representatives, elected from
every town. But, of all things, they least
think of subjecting themselves to the will of
one man. This, the only instance of actual
fact within our knowledge, will be then a
beginning by republican, and not by patriarchal
or monarchical government, as speculative
writers have generally conjectured.—
To F. W. Gilmer. Washington ed. vii, 4. Ford ed., x, 32.
(M. 1816)