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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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3568. GOVERNMENT, Suitability of.—[continued].
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3568. GOVERNMENT, Suitability of.—[continued].

The laws which must
effect[their happiness] must flow from their
own habits, their own feelings, and the resources
of their own minds. No stranger to
these could possibly propose regulations
adapted to them. Every people have their own
particular habits, ways of thinking, manners,
&c., which have grown up with them from
their infancy, are become a part of their nature,
and to which the regulations which are
to make them happy must be accommodated.
No member of a foreign country can have a
sufficient sympathy with these. The institutions
of Lycurgus, for example, would not
have suited Athens, nor those of Solon,
Lacedæmon. The organizations of Locke
were impracticable for Carolina, and those of
Rousseau and Mably for Poland. Turning
inwardly on myself from these eminent illustrations
of the truth of my observation, I
feel all the presumption it would manifest,
should I undertake to do what this respectable
society is alone qualified to do suitably for
itself. [224]
To William Lee. Washington ed. vii, 56.
(M. 1817)


In 1817, a French society, organized for the purpose
of applying to Congress for a grant of two hundred
and fifty thousand acres of land on the Tombigbee
River, requested Jefferson “to trace for them
the basis of a social pact for their local regulations”.
He declined on the grounds set forth in the quotation.—Editor.