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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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8164. STATES, Government of.—
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8164. STATES, Government of.—

the experiment has not yet had a long enough
course to show us from which quarter encroachments
are most to be feared, yet it is easy
to foresee, from the nature of things, that the
encroachments of the State governments will
tend to an excess of liberty which will correct
itself (as in the late instance), while
those of the General Government will tend
to monarchy, which will fortify itself from
day to day, instead of working its own cure,
as all experience shows. I would rather be
exposed to the inconveniences attending too
much liberty, than those attending too small
a degree of it. Then it is important to
strengthen the State governments; and as
this cannot be done by any change in the Federal
Constitution (for the preservation of that
is all we need contend for), it must be done
by the States themselves, erecting such barriers
at the constitutional line as cannot be
surmounted either by themselves or by the
General Government. The only barrier in
their power is a wise government. A weak
one will lose ground in every contest. To
obtain a wise and a safe government, I consider
the following changes as important:
Render the legislature a desirable station by
lessening the number of representatives (say
to 100) and lengthening somewhat their term,
and proportion them equally among the electors.
Adopt also a better mode of appointing
senators. Render the Executive a more desirable
post to men of abilities by making it
more independent of the legislature. To wit,
let him be chosen by other electors, for a
longer time, and ineligible forever after. Responsibility
is a tremendous engine in a free
government. Let him feel the whole weight
of it then, by taking away the shelter of his
Executive Council. Experience both ways
has already established the superiority of this
measure. Render the judiciary respectable
by every means possible, to wit, firm tenure
in office, competent salaries, and reduction of
their numbers. Men of high learning and
abilities are few in every country; and by
taking in those who are not so, the able part
of the body have their hands tied by the unable.
This branch of the government will
have the weight of the conflict on their hands
because they will be the last appeal of reason.
These are my general ideas of amendments;
but, preserving the ends, I should be flexible
and conciliatory as to the means.—
To Archibald Stuart. Washington ed. iii, 314. Ford ed., v, 409.
(Pa., 1791)