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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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7856. SHEEP (Merinos), Raising.—
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7856. SHEEP (Merinos), Raising.—

thank you [President Madison] for your promised
attention to my portion of the Merinos.
* * * What shall we do with them? I have
been so disgusted with the scandalous extortions
lately practiced in the sale of these animals,
and with the ascription of patriotism and
praise to the sellers, as if the thousands of dollars
apiece they have not been ashamed to
receive were not rewards enough, that I am
disposed to consider as right, whatever is the
reverse of what they have done. Since fortune
has put the occasion upon us, is it not incumbent
upon us so to dispose this benefit to the
farmers of our country, as to put to shame
those who, forgetting their own wealth, and
the honest simplicity of the farmers, have
thought them fit objects of the shaving art,
and to excite, by a better example, the condemnation
due to theirs? No sentiment is
more acknowledged in the family of agriculturists
than that the few who can afford it should
incur the risk and expense of all new improvements,
and give the benefit freely to the many
of more restricted circumstances. The question
then recurs, what are we to do with them?
I shall be willing to concur with you in any
plan you shall approve, and in order that we
may have some proposition to begin upon, I
will throw out a first idea, to be modified or
postponed to whatever you shall think better.
Give all the full-blooded males we can raise to
the different counties of our State, one to each,
as fast as we can furnish them. And as there
must be some rule of priority for the distribution,
let us begin with our own counties, which
are contiguous and nearly central to the State,
and proceed, circle after circle, till we have
given a ram to every county. This will take
about seven years, if we add to the full descendants
those which will have passed to the
fourth generation from common ewes. To
make the benefit of a single male as general
as practicable to the county, we may ask some
known character in each county to have a
small society formed which shall receive the
animal and prescribe rules for his care and
government. We should retain ourselves all
the full-blooded ewes, that they may enable us
the sooner to furnish a male to every county.
When all shall have been provided with rams,
we may in a year or two more, be in a condition
to give a ewe also to every county, if it
be thought necessary. * * * In the meantime,
we shall not be without a profit indemnifying
our trouble and expense. For if of our present
stock of common ewes, we place with the ram as
many as he may be competent to, suppose fifty,
we may sell the male lambs of every year for
such reasonable price as, in addition to the wool,
will pay for the maintenance of the flock. The
first year they will be half-bloods, the second
three-quarters, the third seven-eighths, and the
fourth full-blooded. If we take care in selling
annually half the ewes also, to keep those of
the highest blood, this will be a fund for kindnesses
to our friends, as well as for indemnification
to ourselves; and our whole State May
thus, from this small stock, so dispersed, be
filled in a very few years with this valuable
race, and more satisfaction result to ourselves
than money ever administered to the bosom
of a shaver. There will be danger that what
is here proposed, though but an act of ordinary
duty, may be perverted into one of ostentation,
but malice will always find bad motives for
good actions. Shall we therefore never do
To President Madison. Washington ed. v, 522.
(M. 1810)