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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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8147. STATES, Barriers of liberty.—
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8147. STATES, Barriers of liberty.—

The true barriers of our liberty are our
State governments; and the wisest conservative
power ever contrived by man, is that
of which our Revolution and present government
found us possessed. Seventeen distinct
States, amalgamated into one as to their
foreign concerns, but single and independent
as to their internal administration, regularly
organized with legislature and governor resting
on the choice of the people, and enlightened
by a free press, can never be so fascinated
by the arts of one man, as to submit
voluntarily to his usurpation. Nor can they
be constrained to it by any force he can possess.
While that may paralyze the single
State in which it happens to be encamped,
sixteen others, spread over a country of two
thousand miles diameter, rise up on every
side, ready organized for deliberation by a
constitutional legislature, and for action by
their governor, constitutionally the commander
of the militia of the State, that is
to say, of every man in it able to bear arms;
and that militia, too, regularly formed into
regiments and battalions, into infantry, cavalry
and artillery, trained under officers general
and subordinate, legally appointed, always
in readiness, and to whom they are already
in habits of obedience. The republican
government of France was lost without a
struggle, because the party of “un et indivisible
” had prevailed; no provisional organizations
existed to which the people might
rally under authority of the laws, the seats
of the directory were virtually vacant, and a
small force sufficed to turn the legislature
out of their chamber, and to salute its leader
chief of the nation. But with us, sixteen out
of seventeen States rising in mass, under
regular organization, and legal commanders,
united in object and action by their Congress,
or, if that be in duresse, by a special convention,
present such obstacles to an usurper as
forever to stifle ambition in the first conception
of that object.—
To M. Destutt Tracy. Washington ed. v, 570. Ford ed., ix, 308.
(M. 1811)