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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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7189. REFORM, Generations and.—
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7189. REFORM, Generations and.—

idea that institutions established for the use
of the nation cannot be touched nor modified,
even to make them answer their end, because
of rights gratuitously supposed in those employed
to manage them in trust for the public,
may perhaps be a salutary provision
against the abuses of a monarch, but is most
absurd against the nation itself. Yet our
lawyers and priests generally inculcate this
doctrine, and suppose that preceding generations
held the earth more freely than we do;
had a right to impose laws on us, unalterable
by ourselves, and that we, in like manner,
can make laws and impose burthens on future
generations, which they will have no
right to alter; in fine, that the earth belongs
to the dead and not to the living.—
To Governor Plumer. Washington ed. vii, 19.
(M. 1816)
See Generations.