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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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3340. GAGE (General Thomas), Appointment.—

The substitution of Gage for Hutchinson was not intended as a favor, but,
by putting the civil government into military
hands, was meant to show they would enforce
their measures by arms.—
Notes on M. Soules's Work. Washington ed. ix, 300. Ford ed., iv, 307.
(P. 1786)

3341. GAGE (General Thomas), Oppressor.—

General Gage, by proclamation
bearing date the 12th day of June, after reciting
the grossest falsehoods and calumnies
against the good people of these Colonies,
proceeds to declare them all, either by name
or description, to be rebels and traitors, to
supersede the exercise of the common law of
the said province [Massachusetts], and to
proclaim and order instead thereof the use
and exercise of the law martial. This
bloody edict issued, he has proceeded to commit
further ravages and murders in the same
province, burning the town of Charlestown,
attacking and killing great numbers of the
people residing or assembled therein; and is
now going on in an avowed course of murder
and devastation, taking every occasion to
destroy the lives and properties of the inhabitants.
To oppose his arms we also have
taken up arms. We should be wanting to
ourselves, we should be perfidious to posterity,
we should be unworthy that free ancestry
from which we derive our descent,
should we submit with folded arms to military
butchery and depredation, to gratify the
lordly ambition, or sate the avarice of a British
ministry. We do, then, most solemnly, before


Page 371
God and the world declare that, regardless
of every consequence, at the risk of
every distress, the arms we have been compelled
to assume we will use with perseverance,
exerting to their utmost energies
all those powers which our Creator hath
given us, to preserve that liberty which he
committed to us in sacred deposit and to protect
from every hostile hand our lives and our
Declaration on Taking up Arms. Ford ed., i, 473.
(July. 1775)

3342. GALLATIN (Albert), Ability.—

The ablest man except the President [Madison] who was ever in the administration.—
To William Wirt. Washington ed. v, 595. Ford ed., ix, 319.
(M. May. 1811)

3343. GALLATIN (Albert), Ability.—[continued].

Our worthy, our able,
and excellent minister [to France].—
To F. H. Alexander Von Humboldt. Washington ed. vii, 75. Ford ed., x, 89.
(M. 1817)

3344. GALLATIN (Albert), Advertising for.—

The minister for Geneva has desired
me to have enquiries made after the Mr. Gallatin
named in the within paper. I will pray
you to have the necessary advertisements inserted
in the papers, and to be so good as to
favor me with the result.—
To John Jay. Washington ed. i, 525.
(P. 1786)

3345. GALLATIN (Albert), Advertising for.—[continued].

I am to thank you on the
part of the minister of Geneva for the intelligence
it contained on the subject of Gallatin,
whose relations will be relieved by the receipt
of it.—
To John Jay. Washington ed. i, 602.
(P. 1786)

3346. GALLATIN (Albert), Ark of safety.—

There is no truer man than Mr. Gallatin,
and after the President he is the ark of our safety.—
To Dabney Carr. Ford ed., ix, 317.
(M. 1811)

3347. GALLATIN (Albert), Cabinet dissensions.—

In the earlier part of the administration,
you witnessed the malignant and long continued efforts which the Federalists
exerted in their newspapers, to produce misunderstanding
between Mr. Madison and myself.
Those failed completely. A like attempt
was afterwards made, through other channels,
to effect a similar purpose between General
Dearborn and myself, but with no more success.
The machinations of the last session
to put you at cross purposes with us all, were
so obvious as to be seen at the first glance of
every eye. In order to destroy one member of
the administration, the whole were to be set to
loggerheads to destroy one another. I observe
in the papers lately, new attempts to revive
this stale artifice, and that they squint more
directly towards you and myself. I cannot,
therefore, be satisfied, till I declare to you explicitly,
that my affections and confidence in
you are nothing impaired, and that they cannot
be impaired by means so unworthy the notice
of candid and honorable minds. I make the
declaration, that no doubts or jealousies, which
often beget the facts they fear, may find a moment's
harbor in either of our minds.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. v, 23. Ford ed., viii, 475.
(W. Oct. 1806)

3348. GALLATIN (Albert), Cabinet dissensions.—[continued].

I have reflected much
and painfully on the change of dispositions
which has taken place among the members of
the cabinet * * *. It would be, indeed, a
great public calamity were it to fix you in the
purpose you seemed to think possible [resignation].
I consider the fortunes of our republic
as depending, in an eminent degree, on the
extinguishment of the public debt before we
engage in any war: because, that done, we shall
have revenue enough to improve our country
in peace and defend it in war, without recurring
either to new taxes or loans. But if the
debt should once more be swelled to a formidable
size, its entire discharge will be despaired
of, and we shall be committed to the English
career of debt, corruption and rottenness, closing
with revolution. The discharge of the
debt, therefore, is vital to the destinies of our
government, and it hangs on Mr. Madison and
yourself alone. We shall never see another
President and Secretary of the Treasury making
all other objects subordinate to this. Were
either of you to be lost to the public, that great
hope is lost. I had always cherished the idea
that you would fix on that object the measure
of your fame, and of the gratitude which our
country will owe you. Nor can I yield up this
prospect to the secondary considerations which
assail your tranquillity. For, sure I am, they
never can produce any other serious effect.
Your value is too justly estimated by our fellow
citizens at large, as well as their functionaries,
to admit any remissness in their support
of you. My opinion always was, that none
of us ever occupied stronger ground in the
esteem of Congress than yourself, and I am
satisfied there is no one who does not feel your
aid to be still as important for the future as
it has been for the past. You have nothing,
therefore, to apprehend in the dispositions of
Congress, and still less of the President, who,
above all men, is the most interested and affectionately
disposed to support you. I hope, then,
you will abandon entirely the idea you expressed
to me, and that you will consider the
eight years to come as essential to your political
career. I should certainly consider any
earlier day of your retirement, as the most
inauspicious day our new government has ever
seen. In addition to the common interest in
this question, I feel particularly for myself the
considerations of gratitude which I personally
owe you for your valuable aid during my administration
of public affairs, a just sense of
the large portion of the public approbation
which was earned by your labors and belongs
to you, and the sincere friendship and attachment
which grew out of our joint exertions to
promote the common good.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. v, 477. Ford ed., ix, 264.
(M. Oct. 1809)

3349. GALLATIN (Albert), Cabinet dissensions.—[further continued].

The newspapers pretend that Mr. Gallatin will go out [of the cabinet].
That indeed would be a day of mourning for
the United States.—
To Dr. Walter Jones. Washington ed. v, 510. Ford ed., ix, 273.
(M. 1810)

3350. GALLATIN (Albert), Courage.—

believe Mr. Gallatin to be of a pure integrity,
and as zealously devoted to the liberties and
interests of our country as its most affectionate
native citizen. Of this his courage in Congress
in the days of terror, gave proofs which
nothing can obliterate from the recollection of
those who were witnesses of it. * * * An
intercourse, almost daily, of eight years with
him, has given me opportunities of knowing his
character more thoroughly than perhaps any
other man living.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. v, 574. Ford ed., ix, 311.
(M. 1811)

3351. GALLATIN (Albert), Newspaper attacks.—

I have seen with infinite grief the
set which is made at you in the public papers,
and with the more as my name has been so
much used in it. I hope we both know one another
too well to receive impression from
circumstances of this kind. A twelve years'
intimate and friendly intercourse must be bet


Page 372
ter evidence to each of the dispositions of the
other than the letters of foreign ministers to
their courts, or tortured inferences from facts
true or false. I have too thorough a conviction
of your cordial good will towards me, and
too strong a sense of the faithful and able assistance
I received from you, to relinquish
them on any evidence but of my own senses.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. v, 538.
(M. 1810)

3352. GALLATIN (Albert), Support of the bank.—

Mr. Gallatin's support of the bank
has, I believe, been disapproved by many. He
was not in Congress when that was established,
and therefore had never committed himself,
publicly, on the constitutionality of that institution,
nor do I recollect ever to have heard
him declare himself on it. I know he derived
immense convenience from it, because they
gave the effect of ubiquity to his money wherever
deposited. * * * He was, therefore,
cordial to the bank. I often pressed him to
divide the public deposits among all the respectable
banks, being indignant myself at the
open hostility of that institution to a government
on whose treasuries they were fattening.
But his repugnance to it prevented my persisting.
And if he was in favor of the bank,
what is the amount of that crime or error in
which he had a majority, save one, in each
House of Congress as participators?—
To William Wirt. Washington ed. v, 595. Ford ed., ix, 318.
(M. May. 1811)

3353. GALLATIN (Albert), Tribue to.—

They say Mr. Gallatin was hostile to me.
This is false. I was indebted to nobody for
more cordial aid [during my administration] than to Mr. Gallatin, nor could any man more
solicitously interest himself in behalf of another
than he did of myself.—
To William Wirt. Washington ed. v, 594. Ford ed., ix, 318.
(M. 1811)

3354. GALLATIN (Albert), Usefulness.—

I congratulate you sincerely on your safe
return to your own country, and without knowing
your own wishes, mine are that you would
never leave it again. I know you would be useful
to us at Paris, and so you would anywhere;
but nowhere so useful as here.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. vi, 498.
(M. 1815)

3355. GAMBLING, Evils of.—

corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a
habit of hostility against all mankind.—
To Martha Jefferson. Ford ed., iv, 389.


See Horticulture.

3356. GASTRONOMY, English.—

I fancy
it must be the quantity of animal food eaten
by the English which renders their character
insusceptible of civilization. I suspect it is
in their kitchens, and not in their churches
that their reformation must be worked, and
that missionaries of that description from
hence [Paris] would avail more than those
who should endeavor to tame them by precepts
of religion or philosophy.—
To Mrs. John Adams. Ford ed., iv, 100.
(P. 1785)

3357. GASTRONOMY, French.—

In the pleasures of the table they [the French] are
far before us, because, with good taste they
unite temperance. They do not terminate the
most sociable meals by transforming themselves
into brutes.—
To Mr. Bellini. Washington ed. i, 445.
(P. 1785)

3358. GATES (General Horatio) Battle of Camden.—

Good dispositions and ar
rangements will not do without a certain degree
of bravery and discipline in those who are
to carry them into execution. This, the men
whom you commanded, or the greater part of
them at least, unfortunately wanted on that
particular occasion. [207] I have not a doubt but
that, on a fair enquiry, the returning justice
of your countrymen will remind them of Saratoga,
and induce them to recognize your merits.—
To General Gates. Washington ed. i, 314. Ford ed., iii, 52.
(M. 1781)


Battle of Camden.—Editor.

3359. GATES (General Horatio), Civil office for.—

General Gates would supply
Short's place in the Council very well, and
would act.—
To James Madison. Ford ed., iii, 403.
(A. Feb. 1784)

3360. GEISMER (Baron), Friendship for.—

From a knowledge of the man I am
become interested in his happiness. [208]
To Richard Henry Lee. Ford ed., ii, 181.
(M. 1779)


From a letter recommending Geismer's exchange
as a prisoner of war. He was one of the Hessian

3361. GEISMER (Baron), Friendship for.—[continued].

Whether fortune means
to allow or deny me the pleasure of ever seeing
you again, be assured that the worth which
gave birth to my attachment, and which still
animates it, will continue to keep it up while
we both live.—
To Baron Geismer. Washington ed. i, 428.
(P. 1785)

3362. GEM (Doctor), Solicitude for.—

must ask you to see for me * * * and present
my affectionate remembrances to him, Dr.
Gem, an old English physician in the Faubourg
St. Germans, who practiced only for
his friends, and would take nothing, one of the
most sensible and worthy men I have ever
To James Monroe. Ford ed., vii, 19.
(M. 1795)

3363. GENERALS, Brave.—

Our militia
are heroes when they have heroes to lead
To W. H. Crawford. Washington ed. vi, 420. Ford ed., ix, 504.
(M. 1815)

3364. GENERALS, Costly.—

The seeing
whether our untried generals will stand proof
is a very dear operation. Two of them have
cost us a great many men.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 370.
(M. Nov. 1812)

3365. GENERALS, Costly.—[continued].

The Creator has not
thought proper to mark those in the forehead
who are of stuff to make good generals. We
are first, therefore, to seek them blindfold,
and let them learn the trade at the expense
of great losses.—
To General Bailey. Washington ed. vi, 100.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3366. GENERALS, Costly.—[further continued].

Our only hope is that
these misfortunes will at length elicit by trial
the characters qualified by nature from those
unqualified, to be entrusted with the destinies
of their fellow citizens.—
To General Armstrong. Ford ed., ix, 380.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3367. GENERALS, Discipline and.—

Good dispositions and arrangements will not do without a certain degree of bravery and
discipline in those who are to carry them
into execution.—
To General Gates. Washington ed. i, 314. Ford ed., iii, 52.


Page 373

3368. GENERALS, Discovering.—

war on the land has commenced most inauspiciously.
I fear we are to expect reverses
until we can find out who are qualified
for command, and until these can learn
their profession.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. vi, 99.
(M. Jan. 1813)

3369. GENERALS, Discovering.—[continued].

It is unfortunate that
heaven has not set its stamp on the foreheads
of those whom it has qualified for
military achievement; that it has left us to
draw for them in a lottery of so many blanks
to a prize, and where the blank is to be manifested
only by the public misfortunes. If
nature had planted the fœnum in cornu on
the front of treachery, of cowardice, of imbecility,
the unfortunate dèbut we have made
on the theatre of war would not have sunk
our spirits at home, and our character
To General John Armstrong. Washington ed. vi, 103.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3370. GENERALS, Discovering.—[further continued].

These experiments will
at least have the good effect of bringing forward
those whom nature has qualified for
military trust.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 380.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3371. GENERALS, Good.—

Whenever we
have good commanders, we shall have good
soldiers, and good successes.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 380.

3372. GENERALS, Incompetent.—

the land, indeed, we have been most unfortunate;
so wretched a succession of generals
never before destroyed the fairest expectations
of a nation, counting on the bravery
of its citizens, which has proved itself on all
these trials.—
To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Washington ed. vi, 106.
(M. March. 1813)

3373. GENERALS, Incompetent.—[continued].

I am happy to observe
the public mind not discouraged, and that
it does not associate its government with
these unfortunate agents.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 380.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3374. GENERALS, Incompetent.—[further continued].

Will not [General] Van
Rensselaer be broke for cowardice and incapacity?
To advance such a body of men
across a river without securing boats to bring
them off in case of disaster, has cost 700
men; and to have taken no part himself in
such an action, and against such a general
would be nothing but cowardice.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 370.
(M. Nov. 1812)

3375. GENERALS, Incompetent.—[further continued] .

No campaign is as yet
opened. No generals have yet an interest in
shifting their own incompetence on you. [209]
To James Monroe. Washington ed. vi, 410. Ford ed., ix, 499.
(M. 1815)


Monroe had been recently appointed Secretary
of War.—Editor.

3376. GENERALS, Lack of.—

the first campaign [in the war of 1812] we
suffered several checks, from the want of
capable and tried officers; all the higher ones
of the Revolution having died off during an
interval of thirty years of peace.—
To Don V. T. Coruna. Washington ed. vi, 275.
(M. 1813)

3377. GENERALS, Lack of.—[continued].

Perhaps we ought to
expect such trials after deperdition of all
military science consequent on so long a
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 380.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3378. GENERALS, Losses through.—

Three frigates taken by our gallant navy, do
not balance in my mind three armies lost by
the treachery, cowardice, or incapacity of
those to whom they were intrusted. I see
that our men are good, and only want generals.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. vi, 110.
(M. April. 1813)

3379. GENERALS, Plumage of.—

can tell by his plumage whether a cock is
dunghill or game. But with us cowardice and
courage wear the same plume.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 370.
(M. Nov. 1812)

3380. GENERALS, Proving.—

The proof
of a general, to know whether he will stand
fire, costs a more serious price than that of a
cannon; these proofs have already cost us
thousands of good men, and deplorable degradation
of reputation, and as yet have
elicited but a few negative and a few positive
characters. But we must persevere till we
recover the rank we are entitled to.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. vi, 99.
(M. 1813)

3381. GENERALS, Self-sacrificing.—

think with the Romans of old, that the general
of to-day should be a common soldier
to-morrow, if necessary.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 155. Ford ed., vii, 99.

3382. GENERALS, Seniority and.—

are doomed * * * to sacrifice the lives of
our citizens by thousands to this blind principle
[seniority], for fear the peculiar interest
and responsibility of our Executive
should not be sufficient to guard his selection
of officers against favoritism.—
To General Armstrong. Ford ed., ix, 380.
(M. 1813)

3383. GENERALS, Talents and.—

may yet hope that the talents which always
exist among men will show themselves with
opportunity, and that it will be found that this
age also can produce able and honest defenders
of their country, at what further expense,
however, of blood and treasure is yet
to be seen.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. vi, 110.
(M. April. 1813)

3384. GENERALS, Talents and.—[continued].

Experience had just begun
to elicit those among our officers who
had talents for war, and under the guidance
of these one campaign would have planted
our standard on the walls of Quebec, and
another on those of Halifax.—
To F. C. Gray. Washington ed. vi, 438.
(M. 1815)

3385. GENERALS, Talents and.—[further continued].

Our second and third
campaigns * * * more than redeemed the
disgraces of the first, and proved that although
a republican government is slow to
move, yet, when once in motion, its momentum
becomes irresistible.—
To F. C. Gray. Washington ed. vi, 438.
(M. 1815)


Page 374

3386. GENERALS, Unqualified.—

Another general, it seems, has given proof
of his military qualifications by the loss of
another thousand men; for there cannot be a
surprise but through the fault of the commanders,
and especially by an enemy who has
given us heretofore so many of these lessons.—
To President Madison. Ford ed., ix, 379.
(M. Feb. 1813)

3387. GENERALS, Unqualified.—[continued].

Our men are good, but
our generals unqualified. Every failure we
have incurred has been the fault of the general,
the men evincing courage in every instance.—
To Dr. Samuel Brown. Washington ed. vi, 165.
(M. July. 1813)

3388. GENERALS, Unqualified.—[further continued].

Our men are good, but
force without conduct is easily baffled.—
To General Bailey. Washington ed. vi, 100.
(M. 1813)

3389. GENERALS, Usages of war and.—

I would use any powers I have [as Governor
of Virginia] for the punishment of any
officer of our own, who should be guilty of
excesses unjustifiable under the usages of
civilized nations.—
To Colonel Matthews. Washington ed. i, 234. Ford ed., ii, 263.

3390. GENERALS, Usages of war and.—[continued].

The confinement and
treatment of our officers, soldiers and seamen,
have been so rigorous and cruel, that a very
great portion of the whole of those captured
in the course of this war, and carried to
Philadelphia while in possession of the British
army, and to New York, have perished
miserably from that cause alone.—
To Sir Guy Carleton. Ford ed., ii, 249.
(Wg. 1779)

3391. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Interpretation.—

To lay taxes to provide for
the general welfare of the United States, that
is to say, “to lay taxes for the purpose of
providing for the general welfare”. For
the laying of taxes is the power, and the
general welfare the purpose for which the
power is to be exercised. They are not to
lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they
but only to pay the debts or provide
for the welfare of the Union.
In like
manner, they are not to do anything they
to provide for the general welfare, but
only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider
the latter phrase, not as describing the
purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct
and independent power to do any act they
please, which might be for the good of the
Union, would render all the preceding and
subsequent enumerations of power completely
useless. It would reduce the whole instrument
to a single phrase, that of instituting
a Congress with power to do whatever would
be for the good of the United States; and as
they would be the sole judges of the good or
evil, it would be also a power to do whatever
evil they please. It is an established rule of
construction where a phrase will bear either
of two meanings, to give it that which will
allow some meaning to the other parts of the
instrument, and not that which would render
all the others useless. Certainly no such
universal power was meant to be given them.
It was intended to lace them up strictly
within the enumerated powers, and those
without which, as means, these powers could
not be carried into effect.—
National Bank Opinion. Washington ed. vii, 557. Ford ed., v, 286.

3392. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Interpretation.—[continued].

The Constitution says,
“Congress shall have power to lay and collect
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay
the debts, &c., provide for the common defence
and general welfare of the United
States”. I suppose the meaning of this
clause to be, that Congress may collect taxes
for the purpose of providing for the general
in those cases wherein the Constitution
empowers them to act for the general
welfare. To suppose that it was meant
to give them a distinct substantive power, to
do any act which might tend to the general
is to render all the enumerations
useless, and to make their powers unlimited.—
Opinion on Fugitive Slaves. Washington ed. vii, 602. Ford ed., vi, 141.
(Dec. 1792)

3393. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Interpretation.—[further continued].

The construction applied
by the General Government (as is evidenced
by sundry of their proceedings) to those
parts of the Constitution of the United States
which delegate to Congress a power “to lay
and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises,
to pay the debts and provide for the common
defence and general welfare of the United
States”, and “to make all laws which shall
be necessary and proper for carrying into
execution the powers vested by the Constitution
in the government of the United States,
or in any department or officer thereof”,
goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed
to their power by the Constitution. * * * Words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary
only to the execution of limited
powers, ought not to be so construed as
themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a
part to be so taken as to destroy the whole
residue of that instrument.—
Kentucky Resolutions. Washington ed. ix, 468. Ford ed., vii, 299.

3394. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Manufactures.—

I told the President [Washington] that they [the Hamilton party in Congress] had now brought forward a proposition,
far beyond every one ever yet advanced,
and to which the eyes of many were
turned as the decision which was to let us
know, whether we live under a limited or
an unlimited government, * * * [to wit] that in the Report on Manufactures which,
under color of giving bounties for the encouragement
of particular manufactures,
meant to establish the doctrine, that the
power given by the Constitution to collect
taxes to provide for the general welfare of
the United States, permitted Congress to
take everything under their management
which they should deem for the public welfare,
and which is susceptible of the application
of money; consequently, that the subsequent
enumeration of their powers was not
the description to which resort must be had,
and did not at all constitute the limits of
their authority; that this was a very different
question from that of the Bank [of the United


Page 375
States], which was thought an incident to an
enumerated power; that, therefore, this decision
was expected with great anxiety; that,
indeed, I hoped the proposition would be rejected,
believing there was a majority in both
Houses against it, and that if it should be,
it would be considered as a proof that things
were returning into their true channel.—
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 104. Ford ed., i, 177.
(Feb. 1792)

3395. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Manufactures.—[continued].

In a Report on the subject
of manufactures, it was expressly assumed
that the General Government has a
right to exercise all powers which may be for
the general welfare, that is to say, all the
legitimate powers of government; since no
government has a legitimate right to do what
is not for the welfare of the governed. There
was, indeed, a sham limitation of the universality
of this power to cases where money
is to be employed.
But about what is it that
money cannot be employed?—
To President Washington. Washington ed. iii, 461. Ford ed., vi, 103.
(M. 1792)

3396. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Universal power.—

An act for internal improvement,
after passing both houses, was
negatived by the President. The act was
founded, avowedly, on the principle that the
phrase in the Constitution which authorizes
Congress “to lay taxes, to pay the debts and
provide for the general welfare”, was an extension
of the powers specifically enumerated
to whatever would promote the general welfare;
and this, you know, was the federal
doctrine. Whereas, our tenet ever was, and,
indeed, it is almost the only landmark which
now divides the federalists from the republicans,
that Congress had not unlimited powers
to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained
to those specifically enumerated; and
that, as it was never meant they should provide
for that welfare but by the exercise of the
enumerated powers, so it could not have been
meant they should raise money for purposes
which the enumeration did not place under
their action; consequently, that the specification
of powers is a limitation of the purposes
for which they may raise money. * * * This phrase * * * by a mere grammatical
quibble, has countenanced the General Government
in a claim of universal power. For
in the phrase, “to lay taxes, to pay the debts
and provide for the general welfare”, it is
a mere question of syntax, whether the two
last infinitives are governed by the first or
are distinct and coordinate powers; a question
unequivocally decided by the exact
definition of powers immediately following.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. vii, 78. Ford ed., x, 91.
(M. June. 1817)

3397. GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE, Universal power.—[continued].

I hope our courts will
never countenance the sweeping pretensions
which have been set up under the words
“general defence and public welfare”. These
words only express the motives which induced
the Convention to give to the ordinary
legislature certain specified powers which
they enumerate, and which they thought
might be trusted to the ordinary legislature,
and not to give them the unspecified also;
or why any specification? They could not be
so awkward in language as to mean, as we
say, “all and some”. And should this construction
prevail, all limits to the Federal
Government are done away. This opinion,
formed on the first rise of the question, I
have never seen reason to change, whether in
or out of power; but, on the contrary, find it
strengthened and confirmed by five and twenty
years of additional reflection and experience:
and any countenance given to it by any regular
organ of the government, I should consider
more ominous than anything which has yet
To Spencer Roane. Washington ed. vi, 494. Ford ed., ix, 531.
(M. 1815)

3398. GENERATIONS, Binding power.—

The question whether one generation of
men has a right to bind another, seems never
to have been started either on this or our side
of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences
as not only to merit decision, but
place also, among the fundamental principles
of every government. The course of reflection
in which we are immersed here [Paris], on
the elementary principles of society, has presented
this question to my mind; and that no
such obligation can be transmitted, I think
very capable of proof. I set out on this ground,
which I suppose to be self-evident, that the
earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that
the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.
The portion occupied by an individual ceases
to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts
to the society. If the society has formed
no rules for the appropriation of its lands in
severalty, it will be taken by the first occupants,
and these will generally be the wife and
children of the decedent. If they have formed
rules of appropriation, those rules may give it
to the wife and children, or to some one of
them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So
they may give it to its creditor. But the child,
the legatee or creditor, takes it, not by natural
right, but by a law of the society of which he
is a member, and to which he is subject.
Then, no man can, by natural right, oblige the
lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed
him in that occupation, to the payment of debts
contracted by him. For if he could, he might
during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the
lands for several generations to come; and
then the lands would belong to the dead, and
not to the living, which is the reverse of our
principle. What is true of every member of
the society, individually, is true of them all
collectively; since the rights of the whole can
be no more than the sum of the rights of the
individuals. To keep our ideas clear when applying
them to a multitude, let us suppose a
whole generation of men to be born on the
same day, to attain mature age on the same
day, and to die on the same day, leaving a succeeding
generation in the moment of attaining
their mature age, all together. Let the ripe
age be supposed of twenty-one years, and their
period of life thirty-four years more, that being
the average term given by the bills of
mortality to persons of twenty-one years of age.
Each successive generation would, in this way,
come and go off the stage at a fixed moment,
as individuals do now. Then I say, the earth
belongs to each of these generations during its
course, fully, and in its own right. The second
generation receives it clear of the debts and
incumbrances of the first, the third of the second,


Page 376
and so on. For if the first could charge it with a
debt, then the earth would belong to the
dead and not to the living generation. Then,
no generation can contract debts greater than
may be paid during the course of its own existence.
At twenty-one years of age, they May
bind themselves and their lands for thirty-four
years to come; at twenty-two, for thirty-three;
at twenty-three, for thirty-two; and at fiftyfour,
for one year only; because these are the
terms of life which remain to them at the respective
epochs. But a material difference
must be noted between the succession of
an individual and that of a whole generation.
Individuals are parts only of a society, subject
to the laws of a whole. These laws May
appropriate the portion of land occupied by a
decedent to his creditor rather to any other, or
to his child, on condition he satisfies the creditor.
But when a whole generation, that is,
the whole society dies, as in the case we have
supposed, and another generation or society
succeeds, this forms a whole, and there is no
superior who can give their territory to a third
society, who may have lent money to their
predecessors beyond their faculties of paying.

What is true of a generation all arriving to
self-government on the same day, and dying
all on the same day, is true of those on a constant
course of decay and renewal, with this
only difference. A generation coming in and
going out entire, as in the first case, would
have a right in the first year of their self-dominion
to contract a debt for thirty-three
years; in the tenth, for twenty-four; in the
twentieth, for fourteen; in the thirtieth, for
four; whereas generations changing daily, by
daily deaths and births, have one constant term
beginning at the date of their contract, and
ending when a majority of those of full age
at that date shall be dead. The length of that
term may be estimated from the tables of mortality,
corrected by the circumstances of climate,
occupation, &c., peculiar to the country
of the contractors. Take, for instance, the
table of M. de Buffon wherein he states that
23,994 deaths, and the ages at which they
happened. Suppose a society in which 23,994
persons are born every year, and live to the
ages stated in this table. The conditions of
that society will be as follows. First, it will
consist constantly of 617,703 persons of all
ages; secondly, of those living at any one instant
of time, one-half will be dead in twenty-four
years, eight months; thirdly, 10,675 will
arrive every year at the age of twenty-one
years complete; fourthly, it will constantly
have 348,417 persons of all ages above twenty-one
years; fifthly, and the half of those of
twenty-one years and upwards, living at any
one instant of time, will be dead in eighteen
years, eight months, or say nineteen years as
the nearest integral number. Then nineteen
years is the term beyond which neither the
representatives of a nation, nor even the whole
nation itself assembled, can validly extend a

To render this conclusion palpable by example,
suppose that Louis XIV. and XV. had
contracted debts in the name of the French
nation to the amount of ten thousand milliards
of livres, and that the whole had been contracted
in Genoa. The interest of this sum
would be five hundred milliards, which is
said to be the whole rent-roll, or net proceeds
of the territory of France. Must the present
generation of men have retired from the territory
in which nature produced them, and ceded
it to the Dutch creditors? No; they have the
same rights over the soil on which they were
produced, as the preceding generations had.
They derive these rights not from their predecessors,
but from nature. They, then, and
their soil, are by nature clear of the debts of
their predecessors. Again, suppose Louis XV.
and his contemporary generation had said to
the money lenders of Holland, give us money
that we may eat, drink, and be merry in our
day; and on condition you will demand no
interest till the end of nineteen years, you shall
then forever after receive an annual interest
of 12.5 per cent. The money is lent on these
conditions, is divided among the living, eaten,
drunk, and squandered. Would the present
generation be obliged to apply the produce of
the earth, and of their labor to replace their
dissipations? Not at all.

I suppose that the received opinion, that the
public debts of one generation devolve on the
next, has been suggested by our seeing habitually
in private life that he who succeeds to
lands is required to pay the debts of his ancestor
or testator, without considering that this
requisition is municipal only, not moral, flowing
from the will of the society, which has
found it convenient to appropriate the lands become
vacant by the death of their occupant on
the condition of a payment of his debts; but
that between society and society, or generation
and generation, there is no municipal obligation,
no umpire but the law of nature. We
seem not to have perceived that, by the law of
nature, one generation is to another as one independent
nation to another.

The interest of the national debt of France
being in fact but a two thousandth part of its
rent-roll, the payment of it is practicable
enough; and so becomes a question merely of
honor or of expediency. But with respect to
future debts, would it not be wise and just for
that nation to declare in the constitution they
are forming that neither the legislature, nor the
nation itself can validly contract more debt
than they may pay within their own age, or
within the term of nineteen years. And that
all future contracts shall be deemed void as to
what shall remain unpaid at the end of nineteen
years from their date? This would put the
lenders, and the borrowers also, on their guard.
By reducing, too, the faculty of borrowing
within its natural limits, it would bridle the
spirit of war, to which too free a course has
been procured by the inattention of money
lenders to this law of nature, that succeeding
generations are not responsible for the preceding.

On similar ground, it may be proved that no
society can make a perpetual constitution, or
even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always
to the living generation. They may manage
it, then, and what proceeds from it, as they
please, during their usufruct. They are masters,
too, of their own persons, and consequently
may govern them as they please. But
persons and property make the sum of the object
of government. The constitution and the
laws of their predecessors are extinguished,
then, in their natural course, with those whose
will gave them being. This could preserve that
being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer.
Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally
expire at the end of nineteen years. If it
be enforced longer, it is an act of force and
not of right.

It may be said that the succeeding generation
exercising in fact the power of repeal, this
leaves them as free as if the constitution or law
had been expressly limited to nineteen years
only. In the first place, this objection admits
the right, in proposing an equivalent. But


Page 377
the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It
might be, indeed, if every form of government
were so perfectly contrived that the will of the
majority could always be obtained fairly and
without impediment. But this is true of no
form. The people cannot assemble themselves;
their representation is unequal and vicious.
Various checks are opposed to every legislative
proposition. Factions get possession of the
public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal
interests lead them astray from the general
interests of their constituents; and other
impediments arise so as to prove to every practical
man that a law of limited duration is
much more manageable than one which needs a

This principle that the earth belongs to the
living and not to the dead, is of very extensive
application and consequences in every country,
and most especially in France. It enters into
the resolution of the questions, whether the
nation may change the descent of lands holden
in tail; whether they may change the appropriation
of lands given anciently to the church,
to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and
otherwise in perpetuity; whether they May
abolish the charges and privileges attached on
lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical
and feudal; it goes to hereditary orders,
distinctions and appellations, to perpetual monopolies
in commerce, the arts or sciences,
with a long train of et ceteras; and it renders
the question of reimbursement a question of
generosity and not of right. In all these cases,
the legislature of the day could authorize such
appropriations and establishments for their own
time, but no longer, and the present holders,
even where they or their ancestors have purchased,
are in the case of bona fide purchasers
of what the seller had no right to convey.

Turn this subject in your mind, and particularly
as to the power of contracting debts, and
develop it with that perspicuity and cogent
logic which is so peculiarly yours. Your station
in the public councils of our country gives
you an opportunity of forcing it into discussion.
At first blush it may be rallied as a theoretical
speculation; but examination will prove it to be
solid and salutary. It would furnish matter for
a fine preamble to our first law for appropriating
the public revenue; and it will exclude, at
the threshold of our new government, the contagious
and ruinous errors of this quarter of
the globe, which have armed despots with
means not sanctioned by nature for binding in
chains their fellow men. We have already
given, in example, one effectual check to the
dog of war, by transferring the power of letting
him loose from the Executive to the Legislative
body, from those who are to spend to those who
are to pay. I should be pleased to see this second
obstacle held out also in the first instance.
No nation can make a declaration against the
validity of long-contracted debts so disinterestedly
as we, since we do not owe a shilling
which will not be paid with ease, principal and
interest, within the time of our own lives. Establish
the principle also in the new law to
be passed for protecting copyrights and new
inventions, by securing the exclusive right for
nineteen instead of fourteen years [a line entirely
], an instance the more of our taking
reason for our guide instead of English
precedents, the habit of which fetters us with
all the political heresies of a nation, equally
remarkable for its excitement from some errors,
as long slumbering under others. [210]
James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 103. Ford ed., v, 115.
(P. Sep. 1789)


The hurry in which I wrote * * * to Mr. Madison
* * *, occasioned an inattention to the difference
between generations succeeding each other at fixed
epochs, and generations renewed daily and hourly.
It is true that in the formen case the generation, when
at 21 years of age, may contract a debt for 34 years,
because a majority of them will live so long. But a
generation consisting of all ages, and which legislates
by all its members above the age of 21 years, cannot
contract for so long a time, because their majority
will be dead much sooner. Buffon gives us a table of
23,994 deaths, stating the ages at which they happened.
To draw from these the result I have occasion
for, I suppose a society in which 23,994 persons
are born every year and live to the ages stated in
Buffon's table. Then the following inferences May
be drawn. Such a society will consist constantly of
617,703 persons of all ages. Of those living at one
instant of time, one-half will be dead in 24 years 8
months. In such a society, 10,675 will arrive every
year at the age of 21 years complete. It will constantly
have 348,417 persons of all ages above 21 years,
and the half of those of 21 years and upwards living
at any one instant of time will be dead in 18 years, 8
months, or say 19 years. “Then, the contracts, constitutions
and laws of every such society become
void in 19 years from their date.”—
To Dr. Gem.iii, 108. Ford ed., v, 124. (P., 1789,)

3399. GENERATIONS, Binding power.—[continued].

Can one generation of
men, by any act of theirs, bind those which are
to follow them? I say, by the laws of nature,
there being between generation and generation,
as between nation and nation, no other obligatory
To Joseph W. Cabell. Washington ed. vi, 299.
(M. 1814)

3400. GENERATIONS, The Earth and.—

Every generation comes equally, by the laws
of the Creator of the world, to the free possession
of the earth which He made for their subsistence,
unincumbered by their predecessors,
who, like, them, were but tenants for life.—
To John Taylor. Washington ed. vi, 605. Ford ed., x, 28.
(M. May. 1816)

3401. GENERATIONS, The Earth and.—[continued].

That our Creator made
the earth for the use of the living and not of
the dead; that those who exist not can have no
use nor right in it, no authority or power over
it; that one generation of men cannot foreclose
or burthen its use to another, which comes to it
in its own right and by the same divine beneficence:
that a preceding generation cannot
bind a succeeding one by its laws or contracts;
these deriving their obligation from the will of
the existing majority, and that majority being
removed by death, another comes in its place
with a will equally free to make its own laws
and contracts; these are axioms so self-evident
that no explanation can make them plainer;
for he is not to be reasoned with who says
that non-existence can control existence, or
that nothing can move something. They are
axioms also pregnant with salutary consequences.
The laws of civil society, indeed, for
the encouragement of industry, give the property
of the parent to his family on his death,
and in most civilized countries permit him
even to give it, by testament, to whom he
pleases. And it is also found more convenient
to suffer the laws of our predecessors to stand
on our implied assent, as if positively reenacted,
until the existing majority positively repeals
them. But this does not lessen the right
of that majority to repeal whenever a change
of circumstances or of will calls for it. Habit
alone confounds what is civil practice with
natural right.—
To Thomas Earle. Washington ed. vii, 310.
(M. 1823)

3402. GENERATIONS, The Earth and.—[further continued].

Can one generation bind
another, and all others, in succession forever?
I think not. The Creator has made the earth
for the living, not the dead. Rights and


Page 378
powers can only belong to persons, not to
things, not to mere matter, unendowed with
will. The dead are not even things. The particles
of matter which composed their bodies,
make part now of the bodies of other animals,
vegetables, or minerals, of a thousand forms.
To what, then, are attached the rights and
powers they held while in the form of men? A
generation may bind itself as long as its majority
continues in life; when that has disappeared,
another majority is in place, holds all
the rights and powers their predecessors once
held, and may change their laws and institutions
to suit themselves. Nothing, then, is
unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable
rights of man.—
To John Cartwright. Washington ed. vii, 359.
(M. 1824)

3403. GENERATIONS, Government and.—

Let us * * * not weakly believe
that one generation is not as capable as another
of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own
affairs. Let us, as our sisters have done, avail
ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct
the crude essays of our first and unexperienced,
although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning
councils. And lastly, let us provide
in our constitution for its revision at stated
periods. What these periods should be, nature
herself indicates. By the European tables of
mortality, of the adults living at any one moment
of time, a majority will be dead in
about nineteen years. At the end of that
period, then, a new majority is come into
place; or, in other words, a new generation.
Each generation is as independent of the one
preceding as that was of all which had gone
before. It has, then, like them, a right to
choose for itself the form of government it
believes most promotive of its own happiness;
consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances
in which it finds itself, that received
from its predecessors; and it is for the peace
and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity
of doing this every nineteen or twenty
years, should be provided by the constitution;
so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs,
from generation to generation, to the end
of time, if anything human can so long endure.
It is now forty years since the constitution of
Virginia was formed. The same tables inform
us that, within that period, two-thirds of the
adults then living are now dead. Have, then,
the remaining third, even if they had the
wish, the right to hold in obedience to their
will, and to the laws heretofore made by them,
the other two-thirds, who, with themselves,
compose the present mass of adults? If they
have not, who has? The dead? But the dead
have no rights. They are nothing and nothing
cannot own something. Where there is no substance,
there can be no accident. This corporeal
globe, and everything upon it, belong to
its present corporeal inhabitants, during their
generation. They alone have a right to direct
what is the concern of themselves alone, and to
declare the law of that direction; and this declaration
can only be made by their majority.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 15. Ford ed., x, 43.
(M. 1816)

3404. GENERATIONS, Government and.—[continued].

My wish is * * * to
leave to those who are to live under it the settlement
of their own constitution, and to pass
in peace the remainder of my time.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 35. Ford ed., x, 45.
(M. 1816)

3405. GENERATIONS, Government and.—[further continued].

I willingly acquiesce in
the institutions of my country, perfect or imperfect;
and think it a duty to leave their
modifications to those who are to live under
them, and are to participate of the good or
evil they may produce. The present generation
has the same right of self-government which
the past one has exercised for itself.—
To John H. Pleasants. Washington ed. vii, 346. Ford ed., x, 303.
(M. 1824)

3406. GENERATIONS, Government and.—[further continued] .

I willingly leave to the
present generation to conduct their affairs as
they please.—
To William Short. Washington ed. vii, 392. Ford ed., x, 335.
(M. 1825)

3407. GENERATIONS, Succession of.—

It is a law of nature that the generations of
men should give way, one to another, and I
hope that the one now on the stage will preserve
for their sons the political blessings delivered
into their hands by their fathers.—
To Spencer Roane. Washington ed. vii, 211. Ford ed., x, 188.
(M. 1821)

3408. GENERATIONS, Succession of.—[continued].

I yield the concerns of
the world with cheerfulness to those who are
appointed in the order of nature to succeed to
To General Breckendridge. Washington ed. vii, 206.
(M. 1821)

3409. GENERATIONS, Wisdom and.—

Those who will come after us will be as wise
as we are, and as able to take care of themselves
as we have been.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. v, 584. Ford ed., ix, 322.
(M. 1811)

3410. GENERATIONS, Wisdom and.—[continued].

I withdraw from all contests
of opinion, and resign everything cheerfully
to the generation now in place. They are
wiser than we were, and their successors will
be wiser than they, from the progressive advance
of science.—
To Spencer Roane. Washington ed. vii, 136. Ford ed., x, 142.

3411. GENERATIONS, Wisdom and.—[further continued].

The daily advance of
science will enable the existing generation to
administer the commonwealth with increased
To Marquis Lafayette. Washington ed. vii, 327. Ford ed., x, 283.
(M. 1823)

3412. GENEROSITY, Pleasures of.—

Take more pleasure in giving what is best
to another than in having it yourself, and
then all the world will love you, and I more
than all the world.—
To Mary Jefferson. D. L. J.181.
(N.Y., 1790)

3413. GENET (E. C.), Arrival.—

We expect
M. Genet in Philadelphia within a few
days. It seems as if his arrival would furnish
occasion for the people to testify their affections without respect to the cold caution of
their government.—
To James Madison. Ford ed., vi, 232.
(Pa., April. 1793)

3414. GENET (E. C.), Calamitous appointment.—

Never, in my opinion, was so
calamitous an appointment made as that of the
present minister of France here. Hot-headed,
all imagination, no judgment, passionate, disrespectful
and even indecent towards the President,
in his written as well as verbal communications,
talking of appeals from him to Congress,
from them to the people, urging the
most unreasonable and groundless propositions,
and in the most dictatorial style, &c., &c., &c.
If ever it should be necessary to lay his communications
before Congress or the public, they
will excite universal indignation. He renders
my position immensely difficult. He does me
justice personally, and, giving him time to
vent himself, and then cool, I am on a footing
to advise him freely, and he respects it; but he


Page 379
breaks out again on the very first occasion,
so as to show that he is incapable of correcting
himself. To complete our misfortune, we have
no channel of our own through which we can
correct the irritating representations he May
To James Madison. Ford ed., vi, 338.
(July. 1793)

3415. GENET (E. C.), Calamitous appointment.—[continued].

Mr. Genet had been then
but a little time with us; and but a little more
was necessary to develop in him a character
and conduct so unexpected, and so extraordinary,
as to place us in the most distressing
dilemma, between our regard for his nation,
which is constant and sincere, and a regard for
our laws, the authority of which must be maintained,
which the Executive Magistrate is
charged to preserve; for its honor, offended in
the person of that Magistrate; and for its character
grossly traduced in the conversations and
letters of this gentleman.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iv, 31. Ford ed., vi, 372.
(Pa., Aug. 1793)

3416. GENET, Correspondence with.—

We have kept the correspondence with Genet
merely personal, convinced his nation will disapprove
him. To them we have with the utmost
assiduity given every proof of inviolate
attachment. [211]
To Thomas Pinckney. Washington ed. iv, 86.
(G. Nov. 1793)


Marshall, in his Life of Washington says: “The
partiality for France that was conspicuous through
the whole of the correspondence, detracted nothing
from its merit in the opinion of the friends of the Administration,
because, however decided their determination
to support their own Government in any
controversy with any nation whatever, they felt all
the partialities for that Republic which the correspondence
expressed. The hostility of his [Jefferson's] enemies, therefore, was, for a time, considerably
lessened, without a corresponding diminution of
the attachment of his friends.”—Editor.

3417. GENET, Functions.—

Your functions
as the missionary of a foreign nation
here, are confined to the transactions of the affairs
of your nation with the Executive of the
United States: and the communications which
are to pass between the Executive and Legislative
branches, cannot be a subject for your
interference. The President must be left to
judge for himself what matters his duty or the
public good may require him to propose to the
deliberations of Congress. [212]
To E. C. Genet. Washington ed. iv, 100. Ford ed., vi, 496.
(Pa., Dec. 1793)


Genet had sent to Jefferson translations of the
instructions given him by the Executive Council of
France with a request that they should be laid before
Congress by the President. Jefferson returned
the papers to Genet.—Editor.

3418. GENET, Ignorance of.—

Genet has
been fully heard on his most unfounded pretensions
under the treaty. His ignorance of
everything written on the subject is astonishing.
I think he has never read a book of any
sort in that branch of science.—
To James Madison. Ford ed., vi, 362.
(Aug. 1793)

3419. GENET (E. C.), Impetuosity.—

do not augur well of the mode of conduct of the
new French minister; I fear he will enlarge the
circle of those disaffected to his country. I am
doing everything in my power to moderate the
impetuosity of his movements, and to destroy
the dangerous opinion which has been excited
in him, that the people of the United States
will disavow the acts of their Government, and
that he has an appeal from the Executive to
Congress, and from both to the people.—
To James Monroe. Washington ed. iv, 7. Ford ed., vi, 323.
(Pa., June. 1793)

3420. GENET (E. C.), Indefensible conduct.—

His conduct is indefensible by the most
furious Jacobin.—
To James Monroe. Washington ed. iv, 20. Ford ed., vi, 348.
(Pa., July. 1793)

3421. GENET (E. C.), Indefensible conduct.—[continued].

His conduct has given
room for the enemies of liberty and of France,
to come forward in a style of acrimony against
that nation, which they never would have dared
to have done. The disapprobation of the agent
mingles with the reprehension of his nation,
and gives a toleration to that which it never
had before. He has still some defenders in
Freneau, and Greenleaf's paper, who they are
I know not; for even Hutcheson and Dallas
give him up. * * * Hutcheson says that
Genet has totally overturned the republican interest
in Philadelphia. However, the people
going right themselves, if they always see their
republican advocates with them, an accidental
meeting with the monocrats will not be a coalescence.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 53. Ford ed., vi, 402.
(Pa., Sep. 1793)

3422. GENET (E. C.), Instructions.—

is impossible for anything to be more affectionate,
more magnanimous than the purport of [M.
Genet's] mission. “We know that under present
circumstances we have a right to call upon
you for the guarantee of our Islands. But we
do not desire it. We wish you to do nothing
but what is for your own good, and we will
do all in our power to promote it. Cherish
your own peace and prosperity. You have
expressed a willingness to enter into a more
liberal treaty of commerce with us; I bring full
powers (and he produced them) to form such
a treaty, and a preliminary decree of the National
Convention to lay open our country and
its Colonies to you for every purpose of utility,
without your participating the burthens of
maintaining and defending them. We see in
you the only person on earth who can love us
sincerely, and merit to be so loved.” In short,
he offers everything, and asks nothing. Yet I
know the offers will be opposed, and suspect
they will not be accepted. In short, it is impossible
for you to conceive what is passing in
our conclave; and it is evident that one or two
at least, under pretence of avoiding war on
the one side have no great antipathy to run foul
of it on the other, and to make a part in the
confederacy of princes against human liberty.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 563. Ford ed., vi, 260.
(Pa., May. 1793)

3423. GENET, Libelous attack on.—

The Minister Plenipotentiary of France has enclosed
to me the copy of a letter * * * which he addressed to you, stating that some
libelous publications had been made against
him by Mr. Jay, Chief-Justice of the United
States, and Mr. King, one of the Senators for
the State of New York, and desiring that they
might be prosecuted. This letter has been laid
before the President, according to the request
of the Minister; and the President, never
doubting your readiness on all occasions to
perform the functions of your office, yet thinks
it incumbent on him to recommend it specially
on the present occasion, as it concerns a public
character peculiarly entitled to the protection
of the laws. On the other hand, as our
citizens ought not to be vexed with groundless
prosecutions, duty to them requires it to be
added, that if you judge the prosecution in
question to be of that nature, you consider
this recommendation as not extending to it; its
only object being to engage you to proceed in
this case according to the duties of your office


Page 380
[Attorney General], the laws of the land, and
the privileges of the parties concerned.—
To Edmund Randolph. Washington ed. iv, 97. Ford ed., vi, 484.
(Pa., Dec. 1793)

3424. GENET (E. C.), Opposition to Law.—

Genet has, at New York, forbidden a
marshal to arrest a vessel, and given orders to
the French squadron to protect her by force.
Was there ever an instance before of a diplomatic
man overawing and obstructing the
course of the law in a country by an armed
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 64. Ford ed., vi, 418.
(Sep. 1793)

3425. GENET, Recall of.—

[At a cabinet
meeting] to consider what was to be done with
Mr. Genet, * * * the following propositions
were made: 1. That a full statement of
Mr. Genet's conduct be made in a letter to G.
Morris, and be sent with his correspondence, to
be communicated to the Executive Council of
France; the letter to be so prepared, as to serve
for the form of communication to the Council.
Agreed unanimously. 2. That in that letter his
recall be required. Agreed by all, although I
expressed a preference of expressing that de
sire with great delicacy; the others were for
peremptory terms. 3. To send him off. This
was proposed by Knox; but rejected by every
other. 4. To write a letter to Mr. Genet, the
same in substance with that written to G. Morris, and let him know we had applied for
his recall. I was against this, because I
thought it would render him extremely active
in his plans, and endanger confusion. But I
was overruled by the other three gentlemen
and the President. 5. That a publication of
the whole correspondence, and statement of the
proceedings, should be made by way of appeal
to the people. Hamilton made a jury speech of
three-quarters of an hour, as inflammatory and
declamatory as if he had been speaking to a
jury. E. Randolph opposed it. I chose to
leave the contest between them.—
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 162. Ford ed., i, 252.
(Aug. 1793)

3426. GENET, Recall of.—[continued].

The renvoi of Genet was
proposed [in cabinet] by the President. I opposed
it on these topics. France, the only nation
on earth sincerely our friend. The measure
so harsh a one, that no precedent is produced
where it has not been followed by war.
Our messenger has now been gone eighty-four
days; consequently, we may hourly expect the
return, and to be relieved by their revocation
of him. Were it now resolved on, it would be
eight or ten days before the matter on which
the order should be founded, could be selected,
arranged, discussed, and forwarded. This
would bring us within four or five days of
the meeting of Congress. Would it not be better
to wait and see how the pulse of that body,
new as it is, would beat? They are with us
now, probably, but such a step as this may carry
many over to Genet's side. Genet will not
obey the order, &c., &c. The President asked
me what I would do if Genet sent the accusation
to us to be communicated to Congress,
as he threatened in a letter to Moultrie? I
said I would not send it to Congress; but either
put it in the newspapers, or send it back to him
to be published if he pleased. [213]
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 179. Ford ed., i, 267.
(Nov. 1793)


Hamilton and Knox were for dismissal. Randolph
thought Genet was dead in public opinion, and
the measure might restore his popularity. No determination
was arrived at.—Memorandum by Jefferson.

3427. GENET, Recall of.—[further continued].

We have decided unanimously
to require the recall of Genet. He
will sink the republican interest if they do
not abandon him.—
To James Madison. Ford ed., vi, 361.
(Aug. 1703)

3428. GENET, Recall of.—[further continued] .

Lay the case * * * immediately before his government. Accompany
it with assurances, which cannot be
stronger than true, that our friendship for the
nation is constant and unabating; that, faithful
to our treaties, we have fulfilled them in
every point to the best of our understanding;
that if in anything, however, we have construed
them amiss, we are ready to enter into candid
explanations, and to do whatever we can be
convinced is right; that in opposing the extravagances
of an agent, whose character they
seem not sufficiently to have known, we have
been urged by motives of duty to ourselves
and justice to others, which cannot but be
approved by those who are just themselves;
and finally, that after independence and self-government,
there is nothing we more sincerely
wish than perpetual friendship with them. [214]
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iv, 50. Ford ed., vi, 393.
(P. Aug. 16, 1793)


This quotation is the closing paragraph of the instructions
to Gouverneur Morris, respecting the recall
of Genet.—Editor.

3429. GENET, Recall of.—[further continued].

It is with extreme concern
I have to inform you that the proceedings
of the person, whom the [French government] have unfortunately appointed their Minister
Plenipotentiary here, have breathed nothing of
the friendly spirit of the nation which sent
him. Their tendency, on the contrary, has
been to involve us in a war abroad, and discord
and anarchy at home. So far as his acts,
or those of his agents, have threatened our
immediate commitment in the war, or flagrant
insult to the authority of the laws, their effect
has been counteracted by the ordinary cognizance
of the laws, and by an exertion of the
powers confided to me. Where their danger
was not imminent, they have been borne with,
from sentiments of regard to his nation, and
from a sense of their friendship towards us,
from a conviction that they would not suffer
us to remain long exposed to the action of a
person who has so little respected our mutual
dispositions, and, I will add, from a firm reliance
on the firmness of my fellow citizens in
their principles of peace and order.—
Draft of President's Message. Ford ed., vi, 457.
(Nov. 1793)

3430. GENET (E. C.), Reception of.—

was suspected that there was not a clear mind
in the President's counsellors to receive Genet.
The citizens, however, determined to receive
him. Arrangements were taken for meeting him
at Gray's Ferry in a great body. He escaped
that by arriving in town with the letters which
brought information that he was on the road.
* * * The citizens determined to address
Genet. Rittenhouse, Hutcheson, Dallas, Sargent,
&c., were at the head of it. Though a
select body of only thirty was appointed to present
it, yet a vast concourse of people attended
them. I have not seen it; but it is understood
to be the counter address to the one presented
to the President on the neutrality proclaimed.
by the merchants, i. e., Fitzsimmons & Co. It
contained much wisdom but no affection.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 562. Ford ed., vi, 260.
(Pa., May. 1793)

3431. GENET (E. C.), Treachery.—I

sometimes cannot help seriously believing
Genet to be a Dumouriez, endeavoring to draw
us into the war against France as Dumouriez,


Page 381
while a minister, drew on her the war of the
To James Madison. Ford ed., vi, 419.

3432. GENET (E. C.), Washington and.—

His inveteracy against the President leads
him to meditate the embroiling him with Congress.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 75. Ford ed., vi, 439.
(Nov. 1793)

3433. GENET (E. C.), Washington and.—[continued].

Genet, by more and more
denials of powers to the President and ascribing
them to Congress, is evidently endeavoring
to sow tares between them, and at any event to
curry favor with the latter, to whom he means
to turn his appeal, finding it was not likely to
be well received by the people.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 83. Ford ed., vi, 450.
(G. Nov. 1793)

3434. GENET (E. C.), Washington and.—[further continued].

Genet has thrown down
the gauntlet to the President by the publication
of his letter and my answer, and is himself
forcing that appeal to the people, and risking
that disgust which I had so much wished should
have been avoided. The indications from different
parts of the continent are already sufficient
to show that the mass of the republican
interest has no hesitation to disapprove of this
intermeddling by a foreigner, and the more
readily as his object was evidently, contrary to
his professions, to force us into the war. I
am not certain whether some of the more
furious republicans may not schismatize with
To James Madison. Washington ed. iv, 52. Ford ed., vi, 397.
(Pa., Aug. 1793)

3435. GENIUS, Encouraging.—

For promoting
the public happiness, those persons
whom nature has endowed with genius and
virtue, should be rendered by liberal education
worthy to receive, and able to guard the
sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of
their fellow citizens; and they should be
called to that charge without regard to
wealth, birth, or other accidental condition
or circumstance.—
Diffusion of Knowledge Bill. Ford ed., ii, 221.

3436. GENIUS, Higher.—

Though * * * I am duly impressed with a sense of the
arduousness of government, and the obligation
those are under who are able to conduct
it, yet I am also satisfied there is an order
of geniuses above that obligation, and, therefore,
exempted from it. Nobody can conceive
that nature ever intended to throw away a
Newton upon the occupations of a crown.
* * * Cooperating with nature in her ordinary
economy, we should dispose of and
employ the geniuses of men according to
their several orders and degrees.—
To David Rittenhouse. Ford ed., ii, 163.
(M. 1778)

3437. GEOGRAPHICAL LINES, Divisions on.—

A geographical division * * * is a most fatal of all divisions, as no authority
will submit to be governed by a majority
acting merely on a geographical principle.—
To Samuel H. Smith. Ford ed., x, 191.
(M. 1821)

See Missouri.

3438. GEORGE III., Appeal to.—

longer persevere in sacrificing the rights of one
part of the empire to the inordinate desires of
the other; but deal out to all equal and impartial
right. Let no act be passed by any one
legislature, which may infringe on the rights
and liberties of another. This is the important
post in which fortune has placed you, holding
the balance of a great, if a well-poised empire.
This, Sire, is the advice of your great
American council, on the observance of which
may perhaps depend your felicity and future
fame, and the preservation of that harmony
which alone can continue, both to Great Britain
and America, the reciprocal advantages of their
connection. It is neither our wish nor our
interest to separate from her. We are willing,
on our part, to sacrifice everything which reason
can ask to the restoration of that tranquillity
for which all most wish. On their part, let them
be ready to establish union on a generous plan.
Let them name their terms, but let them be just.
* * * The God who gave us life, gave us liberty
at the same time: the hand of force May
destroy but cannot disjoin them. This, Sire,
is our last, our determined resolution. And
that you will be pleased to interpose with that
efficacy which your earnest endeavours may insure
to procure redress of these our great grievances,
to quiet the minds of your subjects in
British America against any apprehensions of
future encroachment, to establish fraternal love
and harmony through the whole empire, and
that that may continue to the latest ages of
time, is the fervent prayer of all British America.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 141. Ford ed., i, 446.

3439. GEORGE III., Bitterness of.—

obstinacy of character we know; his hostility
we have known, and it is embittered by ill success.
If ever this nation, during his life, enter
into arrangements with us, it must be in consequence
of events of which they do not at present
see a possibility.—
To Richard Henry Lee. Washington ed. i, 541. Ford ed., iv, 207.
(L. 1786)

3440. GEORGE III., Control of.—

[George III.] minister is able, and that satisfies
me that ignorance or wickedness, somewhere,
controls him [the King]. [215]
To John Randolph. Washington ed. i, 203. Ford ed., i, 493.
(Pa., 1775)


Parton in his Life of Jefferson, p. 180, says: “This
remark is interesting, as showing that Jefferson, at a
time when the fact was not generally known, felt
that a man of the calibre of Lord North was out of
place in the cabinet of George III., and did not in his
heart approve the King's policy.”—Editor.

3441. GEORGE III., Deposed.—

Be it enacted
by the authority of the people that George—Guelf be, and he hereby is, deposed from
the kingly office within this government [of
Virginia], and absolutely divested of all its
rights, powers, and prerogatives: and that he
and his descendants and all persons acting by
or through him, and all other persons whatsoever
shall be, and forever remain, incapable of
the same: and that the said office shall henceforth
cease and never more, either in name or
substance, be reestablished within this Colony.—
Proposed Virginia Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 12.
(June. 1776)

3442. GEORGE III., Deposed.—[continued].

George Guelf has forfeited
the kingly office, and has rendered it
necessary for the preservation of the people that
he should be immediately deposed from the
same, and divested of all its privileges, powers
and prerogatives.—
Proposed Virginia Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 12.
(June. 1776)

3443. GEORGE III., Early reign of.—

The following is an epitome of the first sixteen years of his reign: The Colonies were taxed
internally and externally; their essential interests
sacrificed to individuals in Great Britain;
their legislatures suspended; charters annulled;


Page 382
trials by jury taken away; their persons subjected
to transportation across the Atlantic,
and to trial before foreign judicatories; their
supplications for redress thought beneath answer;
themselves published as cowards in the
councils of their mother country and courts of
Europe; armed troops sent among them to enforce
submission to these violences; and actual
hostilities commenced against them. No alternative
was presented but resistance, or unconditional
submission. Between these could
be no hesitation. They closed in the appeal to
arms. They declared themselves independent
States. They confederated together into one
great republic; thus securing to every State the
benefit of an union of their whole force.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 358. Ford ed., iii, 221.

3444. GEORGE III., History and.—

Open your breast, Sire, to liberal and expanded
thought. Let not the name of George the
Third be a blot on the page of history.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 141. Ford ed., i, 446.

3445. GEORGE III., Injuries and usurpations.—

The history of the present King of
Great Britain is a history of [unremitting] [216] injuries
and usurpations [among which appears
no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor
of the rest, but all have] in direct object
the establishment of an absolute tyranny over
these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted
to a candid world [for the truth of which
we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood].—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


Congress struck out the words in brackets and
substituted “repeated” for “unremitting”, and
“having” for “have”.—Editor.

3446. GEORGE III., Lunacy.—

The lunacy
of the King of England is a decided fact,
notwithstanding all the stuff the English papers
publish about his fevers, delirium, &c. The
truth is that the lunacy declared itself almost at
once, and with as few concomitant complaints
as usually attend the first development of that
To General Washington. Washington ed. ii, 534.
(P. Dec. 1788)

3447. GEORGE III., Ministers of.—

are surrounded by British counsellors, but remember
that they are parties. You have no
ministers for American affairs, because you
have none taken from among us, nor amenable
to the laws on which they are to give you advice.
It behooves you, therefore, to think and
to act for yourself and your people.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 141. Ford ed., i, 446.

3448. GEORGE III., Our bitterest enemy.—

It is an immense misfortune to the
whole empire, to have a King of such a disposition
at such a time. We are told, and everything
proves it true, that he is the bitterest enemy
we have. His minister is able, and that
satisfies me that ignorance or wickedness, somewhere,
controls him. In an earlier part of this
contest, our petitions told him, that from our
King there was but one appeal. The admonition
was despised, and that appeal forced on
us. To undo his empire, he has but one truth
more to learn; that, after the Colonies have
drawn the sword, there is but one step more
they can take. That step is now pressed upon
us, by the measures adopted, as if they were
afraid we would not take it.—
To John Randolph. Washington ed. i, 203. Ford ed., i, 492.
(Pa., Nov. 1775)

3449. GEORGE III., Perversity of.—

Our friend George is rather remarkable for doing exactly what he ought not to do.—
To Dr. Ramsay. Washington ed. ii, 217.
(P. 1787)

3450. GEORGE III., Perversity of.—[continued].

Has there been a better
rule of prognosticating what he would do than
to examine what, he ought not to do?—
To John Jay. Washington ed. ii, 291.
(P. 1787)

3451. GEORGE III., Policy of.—

I am
pleased to see the answer of the King. It bears
the marks of suddenness and surprise, and as he
seems not to have had time for reflection, we
may suppose he was obliged to find his answer
in the real sentiments of his heart, if that heart
has any sentiment. I have no doubt, however,
that it contains the real creed of an Englishman,
and that the word which he has let escape, is
the true word of the enigma. “The moment
I see such sentiments as yours prevail, and a
disposition to give this country the preference, I will, &c.” All this I steadily believe. But
the condition is impossible. Our interest calls
for a perfect equality in our conduct towards
these two nations; but no preference anywhere.
If, however, circumstances should ever oblige
us to show a preference, a respect for our
character, if we had no better motive, would
decide to which it should be given.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. i, 436.
(P. Sep. 1785)

3452. GEORGE III., Ruinous rule of.—

It is a subject of deep regret to see a great nation
reduced from an unexampled height of
prosperity to an abyss of ruin, by the long-continued
rule of a single chief.—
To Mr. Rodman. Washington ed. vi, 54.
(M. April. 1812)

3453. GEORGE III., Rumored death of.—

We have airumor that the King of England
is dead. As this would ensure a general peace,
I do not know that it would be any misfortune
to humanity.—
To Harry Innes. Washington ed. iv, 315. Ford ed., vii, 412.
(Pa., Jan. 1800)

3454. GEORGE III., Services to America.—

We have a blind story here [Paris] of
somebody attempting to assassinate your [217] King. No man upon earth has my prayers for
his continuance in life more sincerely than he.
He is truly the American Messias, the most
precious life that ever God gave. And May
God continue it. Twenty long years has he
been laboring to drive us to our good, and he
labors and will labor still for it, if he can be
spared. We shall have need of him for twenty
more. The Prince of Wales on the throne,
Lansdowne and Fox in the ministry and we are
undone! We become chained by our habits
to the tails of those who hate and despise us.
I repeat it, then, that my anxieties are all
alive for the health and long life of the King.
He has not a friend on earth who would lament
his loss as much and so long as I should.—
To Mrs. John Adams. Ford ed., iv, 261.
(P. 1786)


Mrs. Adams was then living in London.—Editor.

3455. GEORGE III., Tyranny of.—

[George III.] has endeavored to pervert the
exercise of the Kingly office in Virginia into a
detestable and insupportable tyranny * * * by abandoning the helm of government and
declaring us out of his allegiance and protection.—
Proposed Virginia Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 12.
(June. 1776)

3456. GEORGE III., Unfit to rule.—

A prince whose character is thus marked by
every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit
to be the ruler of a people who mean to be


Page 383
free. Future ages will scarcely believe that
the hardiness of one man adventured within
the short compass of twelve years only, to lay
a foundation, so broad and undisguised for
tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in
principles of freedom. [218]
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


The first sentence was changed so as to read, “A
prince whose character is thus marked by every act
which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of
a free people”, and the second one was struck out.——Editor.

3457. GEORGE IV., Character of.—

As the character of the Prince of Wales is becoming
interesting, I have endeavored to learn
what it truly is. This is less difficult in his case
than in that of other persons of rank, because
he has taken no pains to hide himself from the
world. * * * The total of his education
was the learning a little Latin, but he speaks
French without the slightest foreign accent,
from the circumstance that, when very young,
his father had put only French servants about
him. He has not a single element of mathematics,
of natural or moral philosophy, or of
any other science on earth, nor has the society
he has kept been such as to supply the void of
education. It has been of the lowest, the most
illiterate and profligate persons of the Kingdom,
without choice of rank or mind, and with whom
the subjects of conversation are only horses,
drinking-matches, bawdy houses, and in terms
the most vulgar. The young nobility, who begin
by associating with him, soon leave him,
disgusted with the insupportable profligacy of
his society; and Mr. Fox, who has been supposed
his favorite, and not over-nice in the
choice of company, would never keep him company
habitually. In fact, he never associated
with a man of sense. He has not a single idea
of justice, morality, religion, or of the rights of
men, or any anxiety for the opinion of the
world. He carries that indifference for fame
so far, that he would probably be hurt were he
to lose his throne, provided he could be assured
of having always meat, drink, horses and women.
* * * He had a fine person, but it is
becoming coarse. He possesses good native
common sense, is affable, polite and very good-humored.
* * * The Duke of York, who
was for some time cried up as the prodigy of
the family, is as profligate, and of less understanding.—
To John Jay, Washington ed. ii, 559. Ford ed., v, 60.
(P. 1789)

3458. GEOLOGY, Imperfect knowledge of.—

I have not much indulged myself in geological
inquiries, from a belief that the skindeep
scratches which we can make or find on
the surface of the earth, do not repay our time
with as certain and useful deductions as our
pursuits in some other branches.—
To C. F. Volney. Washington ed. iv, 569.
(W. 1805)

3459. GEOLOGY, Imperfect knowledge of.—[continued].

I could not offer myself as geological correspondent in this State, because
of all the branches of science it was the
one I had the least cultivated. Our researches
into the texture of our globe could be but so
superficial, compared with its vast interior construction,
that I saw no safety of conclusion
from the one, as to the other; and therefore
have pointed my own attentions to other objects
in preference, as far as a heavy load of
business would permit me to attend to anything
To Thomas Cooper. Washington ed. v, 531.
(M. 1810)

3460. GEOLOGY, Limited usefulness.—

To learn * * * the ordinary arrangement
of the different strata of minerals in the earth,
to know from their habitual collocations and
proximities where we find one mineral; whether
another, for which we are seeking, may be expected
to be in its neighborhood, is useful. But
the dreams about the modes of creation, inquiries
whether our globe has been formed by
the agency of fire or water, how many millions
of years it has cost Vulcan or Neptune to produce
what the fiat of the Creator would effect
by a single act of will, is too idle to be worth
a single hour of any man's life.—
To Dr. John P. Emmett. Washington ed. vii, 443.
(M. 1826)

3461. GEOLOGY, Man's reason defied.—

The several instances of trees, &c., found
far below the surface of the earth * * * seem to set the reason of man at defiance.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 67. Ford ed., iv, 335.
(P. 1786)

3462. GEOLOGY, Theories of.—

With respect
to the inclination of the strata of rocks,
I had observed them between the Blue Ridge
and North Mountains in Virginia, to be parallel
with the pole of the earth. I observed the
same thing in most instances in the Alps, between
Cette and Turin; but in returning along
the precipices of the Apennines, where they
hang over the Mediterranean, their direction
was totally different and various. You mention
that in our Western country they are horizontal.
This variety proves they have not been
formed by subsidence, as some writers of the
theories of the earth have pretended; for then
they should always have been in circular strata,
and concentric. It proves, too, that they have
not been formed by the rotation of the earth
on its axis, as it might have been suspected,
had all these strata been parallel with that axis.
They may, indeed, have been thrown up by
explosions, as Whitehurst supposes, or have
been the effect of convulsions. But there can
be no proof of the explosion, nor is it probable
that convulsions have deformed every spot of
the earth. It is now generally agreed that rock
grows, and it seems that it grows in layers in
every direction, as the branches of trees grow
in all directions. Why seek further the solution
of this phenomenon? Everything in nature
decays. If it were not reproduced then
by growth there should be a chasm.—
To Charles Thomson. Washington ed. ii, 276. Ford ed., iv, 448.
(P. 1787)

3463. GERRY (Elbridge), Federalist hatred of.—

As soon as it was known that
you had consented to stay in Paris, there was
no measure observed in the execrations of the
war party. They openly wished you might be
guillotined, or sent to Cayenne, or anything
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 273. Ford ed., vii, 335.
(Pa., Jan. 1799)

3464. GERRY (Elbridge), Federalist hatred of.—[continued].

The people will support
you, notwithstanding the howlings of the ravenous
crew from whose jaws they are escaping.—
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 390. Ford ed., viii, 41.
(W. March. 1801)

3465. GERRY (Elbridge), French negotiations.—

You suppose that you have been
abused by both parties. As far as has come to
my knowledge, you are misinformed. I have
never seen or heard a sentence of blame uttered
against you by the republicans; unless we were
so to construe their wishes that you had more
boldly cooperated in a project of a treaty, and
would more explicitly state, whether there was
in your colleagues [Marshall and Pinckney] that flexibility, which persons earnest after
peace would have practiced? Whether, on the
contrary, their demeanor was not cold, re


Page 384
served, and distant, at least, if not backward?
And whether, if they had yielded to those informal
conferences which Talleyrand seems to
have courted, the liberal accommodation you
suppose might not have been effected, even with
their agency? You fellow citizens think they
have a right to full information in a case of
such great concernment to them. It is their
sweat which is to earn all the expenses of the
war, and their blood which is to flow in expiation
of the causes of it. It may be in your
power to save them from these miseries by
full communications and unrestrained details,
postponing motives of delicacy to those of
duty. It rests with you to come forward independently;
to make your stand on the high
ground of your own character; to disregard
calumny, and to be borne above it on the
shoulders of your grateful fellow citizens; or
to sink into the humble oblivion, to which the
federalists (self-called) have secretly condemned
you; and even to be happy if they will
indulge your oblivion, while they have beamed
on your colleagues meridian splendor.—
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 272. Ford ed., vii, 333.
(Pa., Jan. 1799)

3466. GERRY (Elbridge), Vice-Presidency.—

The resolution of the republicans of
Connecticut to propose you as Vice-President,
* * * is a stamp of double proof. It is an
indication to the factionaries that their nay is
the yea of truth and its best test.—
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. vi, 64. Ford ed., ix, 361.
(M. 1812)

3467. GILES (William B.), Hamilton resolutions.—

Mr. Giles and one or two
others were sanguine enough to believe that the
palpableness of these resolutions rendered it
impossible the House could reject them. Those
who knew the composition of the House, 1, of
bank directors; 2, holders of bank stock; 3,
stock jobbers; 4, blind devotees; 5, ignorant
persons who did not comprehend them; 6,
lazy and good-humored persons, who comprehended
and acknowledged them, yet were too
lazy to examine, or unwilling to pronounce censure.
The persons who knew these characters,
foresaw that the three first descriptions making
one-third of the House, the three latter would
make one-half of the residue; and, of course,
that they would be rejected by a majority of
two to one. But they thought that even this rejection
would do good, by showing the public
the desperate and abandoned dispositions with
which their affairs were conducted. The resolutions
were proposed, and nothing spared to
present them in the fulness of demonstration.
There were not more than three or four who
voted otherwise than had been expected. [219]
The Anas. Washington ed. ix, 139. Ford ed., i, 222.
(March. 1793)


The resolutions, moved in the House of Representatives
on February 28th, against Hamilton.
They were negatived by a majority ranging between
40 to 33, to a minority varying from 15 to 7.—Note in
Ford Edition.

3468. GLORY, Undying.—

The road to
that glory which never dies is to use power
for the support of the laws and liberties of
our country, not for their destruction.—
To Earl of Buchan. Washington ed. iv, 494.
(W. 1803)

3469. GOD, Gifts of.—

The God who gave
us life gave us liberty at the same time.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 142. Ford ed., i, 447.

See Deity and Providence.

— GOLD.—

See Dollar and Money.

3470. GOODRICH (Elizur), Removal of.—

There is one [case] in your State [Connecticut] which calls for decision, and on which
Judge Lincoln will ask yourself and some others
to consult and advise us. It is the case of Mr.
Goodrich, whose being a recent appointment,
made a few days only before Mr. Adams went
out of office, is liable to the general nullification
I affix to them. Yet, there might be reason for
continuing him; or if that would do more harm than good, we should enquire who is the person
in the State who, superseding Mr. Goodrich,
would from his character and standing in
society, most effectually silence clamor, and
justify the Executive in a comparison of the two
characters. For though I consider Mr. Goodrich's
appointment as a nullity in effect, yet
others may view it as a possession and removal,
and ask if that removal has been made to put
in a better man? I pray you to take a broad
view of this subject, consider it in all its bearings,
local and general, and communicate to
me your opinion.—
To Gideon Granger. Ford ed., viii, 44.
(W. March. 1801)

See Bishop.

3471. GOVERNMENT, Abdication.—

He has abdicated government here, withdrawing
his governors, and declaring us out
of his allegiance and
protection. [220]
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


Congress struck out the words in italics, and inserted
“by declaring us out of his protection, and
waging war against us.”—Editor.

3472. GOVERNMENT, Abolition of destructive.—

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that
they are endowed by their Creator with inherent
and [221] inalienable rights; that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness; that to secure these rights, governments
are instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the
governed; that whenever any form of government
becomes destructive of these ends, it
is the right of the people to alter or to abolish
it, and to institute new government, laying
its foundation on such principles, and organizing
its powers in such form, as to them
shall seem most likely to effect their safety
and happiness.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


The words “inherent and” were struck out by
Congress and the word “certain” was inserted—Editor.

3473. GOVERNMENT, Altering.—

The proposition [of Lord North] is altogether unsatisfactory
* * * because it does not propose
to repeal the * * * acts of Parliament
altering the form of government of the Eastern
Reply to Lord North's Proposition. Ford ed., i, 480.
(July. 1775)

3474. GOVERNMENT, Altering.—[continued].

He has combined, with others, * * * for altering, fundamentally,
the forms of our governments.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.

— GOVERNMENT, Ancient.—

See Aristotle.

3475. GOVERNMENT, Arbitrary.—

has combined, with others, * * * for abolishing
the free system of English laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein
an arbitrary government, and enlarging its

No Page Number

No Page Number

No Page Number

Thomas Jefferson
Age about 55 years

Bronze statue by David d'Augers (Pierre Jean David).

This statue was presented to the government of the United States in 1834 by Lieut. Uriah
P. Levy (late commodore) of the United States Navy. It stands in the rotunda of the United
States Capitol.

No Page Number


Page 385
boundaries, so as to render it at once an
example and fit instrument for introducing
the same absolute rule into these States. [222]
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


Congress inserted “Colonies” instead of “States”.—Editor.

3476. GOVERNMENT, Art of.—

whole art of government consists in the art
of being honest.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 141. Ford ed., i, 446.

3477. GOVERNMENT, Censors.—

No government ought to be without censors; and
where the press is free, no one ever will.—
To President Washington. Washington ed. iii, 467. Ford ed., vi, 108.
(M. 1792)

3478. GOVERNMENT, Censors.—[continued].

If virtuous, the government
need not fear the fair operation of attack
and defence. Nature has given to man
no other means of sifting out the truth, either
in religion, law, or politics.—
To President Washington. Washington ed. iii, 467. Ford ed., vi, 108.
(M. 1792)

3479. GOVERNMENT, Censors.—[further continued].

I think it is as honorable
to the government neither to know, nor
notice, its sycophants or censors, as it would
be undignified and criminal to pamper the
former and persecute the latter.—
To President Washington. Washington ed. iii, 467. Ford ed., vi, 108.
(M. 1792)

— GOVERNMENT, Centralization.—

See Centralization.

3480. GOVERNMENT, Changing.—

indeed, will dictate that governments
long established, should not be changed for
light and transient causes; and, accordingly,
all experience hath shown, that mankind are
more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they are accustomed.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.

3481. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—

Governments derive [223] their just powers
from the consent of the governed.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.


“Deriving” in the Declaration.—Editor.

3482. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[continued].

He has kept among us
in times of peace standing armies and ships
of war without the consent of our Legislatures.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.

3483. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued].

Civil government being
the sole object of forming societies, its administration
must be conducted by common
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 331. Ford ed., iii, 189.

3484. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued] .

The General Assembly
of Virginia, at their session in 1785, passed
an act declaring that the district, called Kentucky
shall be a separate and independent
State, on these conditions. 1. That the people
of that district shall consent to it.—
To M. de Meunier. Washington ed. ix, 258. Ford ed., iv, 162.
(P. 1786)

3485. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued].

[We] first in modern
times[took] the ground of government
founded on the will of the people.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iii, 325. Ford ed., v, 428.
(Pa., 1792)

3486. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued] .

I do not indeed wish to
see any nation have a form of government
forced on them; but if it is to be done, I
should rejoice at its being a freer one.—
To Peregrine Fitzhugh. Washington ed. iv, 218. Ford ed., vii, 211.
(Pa., 1798)

3487. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued].

The will of the people
is the only legitimate foundation of any government.—
To Benjamin Waring. Washington ed. iv, 379.
(W. March. 1801)

3488. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued] .

There is only one passage
in President Monroe's message which I
disapprove, and which I trust will not be approved
by our Legislature. It is that which
proposes to subject the Indians to our laws
without their consent. A little patience and
a little money are so rapidly producing their
voluntary removal across the Mississippi, that
I hope this immorality will not be permitted
to stain our history. He has certainly been
surprised into this proposition, so little in
concord with our principles of government.—
To Albert Gallatin. Ford ed., x, 115.
(M. Nov. 1818)

3489. GOVERNMENT, Consent of governed.—[further continued]..

The will[of the nation
is] the only legitimate basis [of government].—
To——. Washington ed. vii, 414.
(M. 1825)

3490. GOVERNMENT, Control of.—

Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their
government, these will be perverted to their
own oppression, and to the perpetuation of
wealth and power in the individuals and their
families selected for the trust. Whether our
Constitution has hit on the exact degree of
control necessary, is yet under experiment;
and it is a most encouraging reflection that
distance and other difficulties securing us
against the brigand governments of Europe,
in the safe enjoyment of our farms and firesides,
the experiment stands a better chance
of being satisfactorily made here than on
any occasion yet presented by history.—
To M. Van Der Kemp. Washington ed. vi, 45.
(M. 1812)

3491. GOVERNMENT, Corruption and.—

In every government on earth is some trace
of human weakness, some germ of corruption
and degeneracy, which cunning will discover,
and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate and
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 390. Ford ed., iii, 254.

3492. GOVERNMENT, De Facto.—

are some matters which, I conceive, might be
transacted with a government de facto; such,
for instance, as the reforming the unfriendly
restrictions on our commerce and navigation.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iii, 489. Ford ed., vi, 131.
(Pa., Nov. 1792)

3493. GOVERNMENT, Despotic.—

the powers of government, legislative, executive


Page 386
and judiciary, result to the legislative body[under the first Virginia Constitution].
The concentrating these in the same hands is
precisely the definition of despotic government.
It will be no alleviation that these
powers will be exercised by a plurality of
hands, and not by a single one. One hundred
and seventy-three despots would surely
be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt
it turn their eyes on the Republic of Venice.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 361. Ford ed., iii, 223.

3494. GOVERNMENT, Despotic.—[continued].

I think the government
in France is a pure despotism in theory, but
moderated in practice by the respect which
the public opinion commands. But the nation
repeats, after Montesquieu, that the different
bodies of magistracy, of priests and
nobles, are barriers between the King and the
people. It would be easy to prove that these
barriers can only appeal to public opinion,
and that neither these bodies, nor the people,
can oppose any legal check to the will
of the monarch.—
To Mr. Cutting. Washington ed. ii, 438.
(P. 1788)

3495. GOVERNMENT, Elective.—

government is * * * the best permanent
corrective of the errors or abuses of
those entrusted with power.—
Reply to Address. Washington ed. iv, 387.
(W. March. 1801)

3496. GOVERNMENT, Energetic.—

American reputation in Europe is not such as to be flattering to its citizens. Two circumstances
are particularly objected to us,—the
non-payment of our debts and the want of
energy in our government. These discourage
a connection with us.—
To Archibald Stuart. Washington ed. i, 518. Ford ed., iv, 188.
(P. 1786)

3497. GOVERNMENT, Energetic.—[continued].

I am not a friend to a
very energetic government. It is always oppressive.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 331. Ford ed., iv, 479.
(P. 1787)

3498. GOVERNMENT, Energetic.—[further continued].

A free government is of
all others the most energetic.—
To John Dickinson. Washington ed. iv, 366. Ford ed., viii, 8.
(W. March. 1801)

3499. GOVERNMENT, Energetic.—[further continued] .

The energy of the government
depends mainly on the confidence of
the people in the Chief Magistrate.—
To Dr. Horatio Turpin. Washington ed. v, 90.
(W. 1807)

— GOVERNMENT, English.—

See England.

3500. GOVERNMENT, Experiments in.—

This I hope will be the age of experiments
in government, and that their basis will be
founded in principles of honesty, not of mere
force. We have seen no instance of this since
the days of the Roman Republic, nor do we
read of any before that.—
To John Adams. Ford ed., vii, 56.
(M. 1796)

— GOVERNMENT, Extensive territory and.—

See Territory.

3501. GOVERNMENT, Extremes of.—

We are now vibrating between too much
and too little government, and the pendulum
will rest finally in the middle.—
To William Stephens Smith. Ford ed., v, 3.
(P. 1788)

3502. GOVERNMENT, Fallibility.—

—Was the government to prescribe to us our
medicine and diet, our bodies would be in
such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in
France the emetic was once forbidden as
a medicine, and the potato as an article of
food. Government is just as infallible, too,
when it fixes systems in physics. Galileo was
sent to the Inquisition for affirming that the
earth was a sphere; the government had declared
it to be as flat as a trencher, and
Galileo was obliged to abjure his error. This
error, however, at length prevailed, the earth
became a globe, and Descartes declared it
was whirled round its axes by a vortex. The
government in which he lived was wise
enough to see that this was no question of
civil jurisdiction, or we should all have been
involved by authority in vortices. In fact,
vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian
principle of gravitation is now more
firmly established, on the basis of reason,
than it would be were the government to step
in, and to make it an article of necessary
faith. Reason and experiment have been
indulged, and error has fled before them. It
is error alone which needs the support of
government. Truth can stand by itself.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 400. Ford ed., iii, 264.

3503. GOVERNMENT, Fear and.—

government can be maintained without the
principle of fear as well as of duty. Good
men will obey the last, but bad ones the
former only. If our government ever fails
it will be from this weakness.—
To J. W. Eppes. Ford ed., ix, 484.
(M. 1814)

— GOVERNMENT, The federal.—

See Federal Government.

3504. GOVERNMENT, Field for.—

Never was a finer canvas presented to work
on than our countrymen. All of them engaged
in agriculture, or in the pursuits of
honest industry, independent in their circumstances,
enlightened as to their rights, and
firm in their habits of order and obedience
to the laws.—
To John Adams. Ford ed., vii, 56.
(M. 1796)

3505. GOVERNMENT, Forms of.—

exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as
among our Indians. 2. Under governments,
wherein the will of every one has a just influence;
as is the case in England, in a slight
degree, and in our States, in a great one. 3.
Under governments of force; as is the case
in all other monarchies, and in most of the
other republics. To have an idea of the
curse of existence under these last, they must
be seen. It is a government of wolves over
sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind,
that the first condition is not the best. But
I believe it to be inconsistent with any great
degree of population. The second state has
a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind


Page 387
under that, enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils, too;
the principle of which is the turbulence to
which it is subject. But weigh this against
the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes
nothing. Malo periculosam libertatem quam
quietem servitutem.
Even this evil is productive
of good. It prevents the degeneracy
of government, and nourishes a general attention
to the public affairs. I hold it that a
little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing,
and as necessary in the political world as
storms are in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions,
indeed, generally establish the encroachments
on the rights of the people,
which have produced them. An observation
of this truth should render honest republican
governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions,
as not to discourage them too much.
It is a medicine necessary for the sound
health of government.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 105. Ford ed., iv, 362.
(P. 1787)

3506. GOVERNMENT, Foundation of.—

The will of the people is the only legitimate
foundation of any government, and to protect
its free expression should be our first
To Benjamin Waring. Washington ed. iv, 379.
(W. March. 1801)

3507. GOVERNMENT, Foundation of.—[continued].

The true foundation of
republican government is the equal right of
every citizen, in his person and property, and
in their management.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 11. Ford ed., x, 39.
(M. 1816)

3508. GOVERNMENT, Frugality.—

I am for a government rigorously frugal.—
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 268. Ford ed., vii, 327.
(Pa., 1799)

3509. GOVERNMENT, Good.—

The first
principle of a good government is certainly
a distribution of its powers into executive,
judiciary and legislative, and a subdivision of
the latter into two or three branches.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. ii, 282. Ford ed., iv, 454.
(P. 1787)

3510. GOVERNMENT, Good.—[continued].

A single good government
is a blessing to the whole earth.—
To George Flower. Washington ed. vii, 84.

3511. GOVERNMENT, Good.—[further continued].

No government can continue
good, but under the control of the people.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. vii, 149. Ford ed., x, 153.
(M. 1819)

3512. GOVERNMENT, Harmony and.—

It is for the happiness of those united in
society to harmonize as much as possible in
matters which they must of necessity transact
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 331. Ford ed., iii, 189.

3513. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—

Experience has shown that
the hereditary branches of modern governments
are the patrons of privilege and prerogative,
and not of the natural rights of
the people, whose oppressors they generally
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 335. Ford ed., iii, 467.
(A. 1784)

3514. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[continued].

What a crowd of lessons
do the present miseries of Holland
teach us! Never to have an hereditary officer
of any sort * * *.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. ii, 283. Ford ed., iv, 455.
(P. 1787)

3515. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[further continued].

Our young Republic
* * * should guard against hereditary
To David Humphreys. Washington ed. ii, 253.
(P. 1787)

3516. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[further continued] .

We have chanced to live
in an age which will probably be distinguished
in history for its experiments in government
on a larger scale than has yet taken place.
But we shall not live to see the result.
The grosser absurdities, such as hereditary
magistracies, we shall see exploded in our day,
long experience having already pronounced
condemnation against them. But what is to
be the substitute? This our children or
grandchildren will answer. We may be satisfied
with the certain knowledge that none
can ever be tried, so stupid, so unrighteous,
so oppressive, so destructive of every end for
which honest men enter into government, as
that which their forefathers had established,
and their fathers alone venture to tumble
headlong from the stations they have so long
To M. D'Ivernois. Washington ed. iv, 115. Ford ed., vii, 5.
(M. Feb. 1795)

3517. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[further continued].

The principles of our
Constitution are wisely opposed * * * to
every practice which may lead to hereditary
Reply to Address. Washington ed. v, 473.
(M. 1809)

3518. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[further continued] .

Hereditary authorities
always consume the public contributions, and
oppress the people with labor and poverty.—
To David Howell. Washington ed. v, 554.
(M. 1810)

3519. GOVERNMENT, Hereditary branches of.—[further continued].

Hereditary bodies, always
existing, always on the watch for their own aggrandizement, profit of every opportunity
of advancing the privileges of their
order, and encroaching on the rights of the
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 319.
(M. 1823)

3520. GOVERNMENT, Inattention to.—

If once the people become inattentive to the
public affairs, you and I, and Congress and
Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all
become wolves. It seems to be the law of
our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions;
and experience declares that man is
the only animal which devours his own kind;
for I can apply no milder term to the governments
of Europe, and to the general prey
of the rich on the poor.—
To Edward Carrington. Washington ed. ii, 100. Ford ed., iv, 360.
(P. 1787)

3521. GOVERNMENT, Liberty and.—

The natural progress of things is for liberty
to yield and government to gain ground.—
To E. Carrington. Washington ed. ii, 404. Ford ed., v, 20.
(P. 1788)

3522. GOVERNMENT, Monarchical.—

Blessed effect of a kingly government, where
a pretended insult to the sister of a king,
is to produce the wanton sacrifice of a
hundred or two thousand of the people who


Page 388
have entrusted themselves to his government,
and as many of his enemies! And
we think ours a bad government.—
To Governor Rutledge. Washington ed. ii, 234.
(P. 1787)

3523. GOVERNMENT, Monarchical.—[continued].

It is a government of wolves over sheep.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 105. Ford ed., iv, 362.
(P. 1787)

3524. GOVERNMENT, Moral principles.—

If ever the morals of a people could
be made the basis of their own government,
it is our case; and who could propose to
govern such a people by the coruption of
a Legislature, before he could have one night
of quiet sleep, must convince himself that the
human soul, as well as body, is mortal.—
To John Adams. Ford ed., vii, 57.
(M. 1796)

3525. GOVERNMENT, Moral principles.—[continued].

When we come to the
moral principles on which the government is
to be administered, we come to what is proper
for all conditions of society. I meet you
there in all the benevolence and rectitude of
your native character; and I love myself always
most where I concur most with you.
Liberty, truth, probity, honor, are declared to
be the four cardinal principles of your Society.
I believe with you that morality, compassion,
generosity, are innate elements of the
human constitution; that there exists a right
independent of force; that a right to property
is founded in our natural wants, in the means
with which we are endowed to satisfy these
wants, and the right to what we acquire by
those means without violating the similar
rights of other sensible beings; that no one
has a right to obstruct another, exercising his
faculties innocently for the relief of sensibilities
made a part of his nature; that justice
is the fundamental law of society; that the
majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty
of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting
on the law of the strongest breaks up the
foundations of society; that action by the
citizens in person, in affairs within their reach
and competence, and in all others by representatives,
chosen immediately, and removable
by themselves, constitutes the essence of a
republic; that all governments are more or
less republican in proportion as this principle
enters more or less into their composition;
and that a government by representation is
capable of extension over a greater surface
of country than one of any other form. These
are the essentials in which you and I agree;
however in our zeal for their maintenance,
we may be perplexed and divaricate, as to the
structure of society most likely to secure them.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. vi, 591. Ford ed., x, 24.

3526. GOVERNMENT, Objects of.—

and property make the sum of the objects
of government.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 106. Ford ed., v, 121.
(P. 1789)
See Generations.

3527. GOVERNMENT, Objects of.—[continued].

The care of human life
and happiness, and not their destruction, is
the first and only legitimate object of good
R. to A. Maryland Republicans. Washington ed. viii, 165.

3528. GOVERNMENT, Objects of.—[further continued].

The freedom and happiness
of man * * * are the sole objects of all legitimate government.—
To General Kosciusko. Washington ed. v, 509.
(M. 1810)

3529. GOVERNMENT, Objects of.—[further continued] .

The only orthodox object
of the institution of government is to
secure the greatest degree of happiness possible
to the general mass of those associated
under it.—
To M. Van Der Kemp. Washington ed. vi, 45.
(M. 1812)

3530. GOVERNMENT, Objects of.—[further continued].

The equal rights of
man, and the happiness of every individual,
are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate
objects of government. Modern times
have the signal advantage, too, of having
discovered the only device by which these
rights can be secured, to wit: government by
the people, acting not in person, but by representatives
chosen by themselves, that is to
say, by every man of ripe years and sane
mind, who either contributes by his purse or
person to the support of his country.—
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 319.
(M. 1823)

3531. GOVERNMENT, Origin of.—

is an error into which most of the speculators
on government have fallen, and which
the well-known state of society of our Indians
ought, before now, to have corrected. In
their hypothesis of the origin of government,
they suppose it to have commenced in the
patriarchal or monarchical form. Our Indians
are evidently in that state of nature
which has passed the association of a single
family; and not yet submitted to the authority
of positive laws, or of any acknowledged
magistrate. Every man, with them, is perfectly
free to follow his own inclinations.
But if, in doing this, he violates the rights
of another, if the case be slight, he is punished
by the disesteem of his society, or, as we say,
by public opinion; if serious, he is tomahawked
as a dangerous enemy. Their leaders
conduct them by the influence of their character
only; and they follow, or not, as they
please, him of whose character for wisdom or
war they have the highest opinion. Hence
the origin of the parties among them, adhering
to different leaders, and governed by
their advice, not by their command. The
Cherokees, the only tribe I know to be contemplating
the establishment of regular laws,
magistrates, and government, propose a government
of representatives, elected from
every town. But, of all things, they least
think of subjecting themselves to the will of
one man. This, the only instance of actual
fact within our knowledge, will be then a
beginning by republican, and not by patriarchal
or monarchical government, as speculative
writers have generally conjectured.—
To F. W. Gilmer. Washington ed. vii, 4. Ford ed., x, 32.
(M. 1816)

3532. GOVERNMENT, Participation in.—

Those who bear equally the burdens of government
should equally participate of its benefits.—
Address to Lord Dunmore. Ford ed., i, 457.


Page 389

3533. GOVERNMENT, Participation in.—[continued].

No Englishman will pretend
that a right to participate in government
can be derived from any other source than a
personal right, or a right of property. The
conclusion is inevitable that he, who had
neither his person nor property in America,
could rightfully assume a participation in its
Notes on M. Soulés's Work. Washington ed. ix, 299. Ford ed., iv, 306.
(P. 1786)

3534. GOVERNMENT, The people and.—

Every government degenerates when trusted
to the rulers of the people alone. The people
themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.
And to render even them safe,
their minds must be improved to a certain degree.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 390. Ford ed., iii, 254.

3535. GOVERNMENT, The people and.—[continued].

The influence over government
must be shared among all the people.
If every individual which composes their mass
participates of the ultimate authority, the government
will be safe; because the corrupting
the whole mass will exceed any private resources
of wealth; and public ones cannot
be provided but by levies on the people. In
this case, every man would have to pay his
own price. The government of Great Britain
has been corrupted, because but one man in
ten has a right to vote for members of Parliament.
The sellers of the government, therefore,
get nine-tenths of their price clear.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 390. Ford ed., iii, 254.

3536. GOVERNMENT, The people and.—[further continued].

Were I called upon to
decide whether the people had best be omitted
in the Legislative or Judiciary department, I
would say it is better to leave them out of the
Legislative. The execution of the laws is more
important than the making them. However,
it is best to have the people in all the three departments, where that is possible.—
To M. L'Abbé Arnond. Washington ed. iii, 82. Ford ed., v, 104.
(P. 1789)

3537. GOVERNMENT, Perversion.—

[While] certain forms of government are
better calculated than others to protect individuals
in the free exercise of their natural
rights, and are at the same time themselves
better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience
hath shown that, even under the best
forms, those entrusted with power have, in
time, and by slow operations, perverted it
into tyranny.—
Diffusion of Knowledge Bill. Ford ed., ii, 220.

3538. GOVERNMENT, Powers of.—

Legislative, Executive and Judiciary offices
shall be kept forever separate; no person exercising
the one shall be capable of appointment
to the others, or to either of them.—
Proposed Va. Constitution. Ford ed., ii, 13.
(June. 1776)

3539. GOVERNMENT, Powers of.—[continued].

The legitimate powers of
government extend to such acts only as are
injurious to others.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 400. Ford ed., iii, 263.

3540. GOVERNMENT, Powers of.—[further continued].

The powers of government
shall be divided into three distinct de
partments, each of them to be confided to a
separate body of magistracy; to wit, those
which are legislative to one, those which
are judiciary to another, and those which are
executive to another. No person, or collection
of persons, being of one of these departments,
shall exercise any power properly
belonging to either of the others, except in
the instances hereinafter expressly permitted.—
Proposed Constitution for Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 442. Ford ed., iii, 322.

3541. GOVERNMENT, Principles of modern.—

Either force or corruption has been
the principle of every modern government,
unless the Dutch perhaps be excepted, and
I am not well enough informed to accept them
To John Adams. Ford ed., vii, 57.

3542. GOVERNMENT, Public welfare and.—

No government has a legitimate right
to do what is not for the welfare of the governed.—
To President Washington. Washington ed. iii, 461. Ford ed., vi, 103.
(M. 1792)

3543. GOVERNMENT, Purchases by.—

I do not know on what principles of reasoning
it is that good men think the public ought
to pay more for a thing than they would
themselves if they wanted it.—
To Henry Dearborn. Washington ed. v, 293.
(M. 1808)

3544. GOVERNMENT, Purity.—

A government
regulating itself by what is wise and
just for the many, uninfluenced by the local
and selfish views of the few who direct their
affairs, has not been seen, perhaps, on earth.
Or if it existed, for a moment, at the birth of
ours, it would not be easy to fix the term of
its continuance. Still, I believe it does exist
here in a greater degree than anywhere else;
and for its growth and continuance, * * * I offer sincere prayers.—
To William Crawford. Washington ed. vii, 8. Ford ed., x, 36.
(M. 1816)

3545. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—

With what kind of government[in France] may you do business? It accords with our
principles to acknowledge any government to
be rightful, which is formed by the will of
the nation substantially declared. The late
government was of this kind, and was accordingly
acknowledged by all the branches
of ours. So, any alteration of it which shall
be made by the will of the nation substantially
declared, will doubtless be acknowledged in
like manner. With such a government every
of business may be done.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iii, 489. Ford ed., vi, 131.
(Pa., Nov. 1792)

3546. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—[continued].

You express a wish * * * to be generally advised as to the tenor of your
conduct in consequence of the late revolution
in France. * * * We certainly cannot
deny to other nations that principle
whereon our government is founded, that
every nation has a right to govern itself internally
under what forms it pleases, and to
change these forms at its own will; and externally
to transact business with other nations
through whatever organ it chooses,


Page 390
whether that be a king, convention, assembly,
committee, president, or whatever it be.
The only thing essential is, the will of the
nation. Taking this as your polar star, you
can hardly err.—
To Thomas Pinckney. Washington ed. iii, 500.
(Pa., Dec. 1792)

3547. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—[further continued].

I am apprehensive that
your situation must have been difficult during
the transition from the late form of government
to the reestablishment of some
other legitimate authority, and that you May
have been at a loss to determine with whom
business might be done. Nevertheless when
principles are well understood their application
is less embarrassing. We surely cannot
deny to any nation that right whereon our
own government is founded, that every one
may govern itself under whatever forms it
pleases, and change these forms at its own
will; and that it may transact its business
with foreign nations through whatever organ
it thinks proper, whether king, convention,
assembly, committee, president, or whatever
else it may choose. The will of the nation
is the only thing essential to be regarded.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Ford ed., vi, 149.
(Pa., Dec. 1792)

3548. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—[further continued] .

On the dissolution of the
late constitution in France, by the removal of
so integral a part of it as the King, the
National Assembly, to whom a part only of
the public authority had been delegated, sensible
of the incompetence of their powers to
transact the affairs of the nation legitimately,
incited their fellow citizens to appoint
a national convention during this defective
state of the national authority. Duty
to our constituents required that we should
suspend payment of the moneys yet unpaid
of our debt to that country, because there
was no person, or persons, substantially authorized
by the nation of France to receive
the moneys and give us a good acquittal. On
this ground my last letter desired you to
suspend payments till further orders, with an
assurance, if necessary, that the suspension
should not be continued a moment longer
than should be necessary for us to see the
reestablishment of some person, or body of
persons, with authority to receive and give
us a good acquittal. Since that we learn that
a convention is assembled, invested with full
powers by the nation to transact its affairs.
Though we know that from the public
papers only, instead of waiting for a formal
annunciation of it, we hasten to act upon it
by authorizing you, if the fact be true, to
consider the suspension of payment, * * * as now taken off, and to proceed as if it had
never been imposed; considering the convention,
or the government they shall have
established, as the lawful representative of
the nation, and authorized to act for them.
Neither the honor nor inclination of our
country would justify our withholding our
payment under a scrupulous attention to
forms. On the contrary, they lent us that
money when we were under their circumstances,
and it seems providential that we can
not only repay them the same sum, but under
the same circumstances.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Ford ed., vi, 150.
(Pa., Dec. 1792)

3549. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—[further continued].

I am sensible that your
situation must have been difficult during the
transition from the late form of government
[in France] to the reestablishment of some
other legitimate authority, and that you May
have been at a loss to determine with whom
business might be done. Nevertheless, when
principles are well understood, their application
is less embarrassing. We surely cannot
deny to any nation that right whereon our
own government is founded, that every one
may govern itself according to whatever form
it pleases, and change these forms at its own
will; and that it may transact its business
with foreign nations through whatever organ
it thinks proper, whether king, convention,
assembly, committee, president, or anything
else it may choose. The will of the
nation is the only thing essential to be regarded.—
To Gouverneur Morris. Washington ed. iii, 521. Ford ed., vi, 199.
(Pa., March. 1793)

3550. GOVERNMENT, Recognition of.—[further continued] .

If the nation of France
shall ever reestablish such an officer as Regent
(of which there is no appearance at present),
I should be for receiving a minister from
him; but I am not for doing it from any
Regent, so christened, and set up by any other
To President Washington. Ford ed., vi, 219.
(Pa., April. 1793)

3551. GOVERNMENT, Representative.—

A representative government, responsible at
short periods of election, * * * produces
the greatest sum of happiness to mankind.—
R. to A. Vermont Legislature. Washington ed. viii, 121.

3552. GOVERNMENT, Representative.—[continued].

A government by representation
is capable of extension over a
greater surface of country than one of any
other form.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. vi, 591. Ford ed., x, 24.

3553. GOVERNMENT, Representative.—[further continued].

The advantages of representative
government exhibited in England
and America, and recently in other countries,
will procure its establishment everywhere in
a more or less perfect form; and this will insure
the amelioration of the condition of the
world. It will cost years of blood, and be
well worth them.—
To Albert Gallatin. Ford ed., x, 262.
(M. 1823)

3554. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—

The republican is the only form of government
which is not eternally at open or secret
war with the rights of mankind.—
Reply to Address. Washington ed. iii, 128. Ford ed., v, 147.

3555. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—[continued].

A just and solid republican
government maintained here, will be a
standing monument and example for the
aim and imitation of the people of other
To John Dickinson. Washington ed. iv, 366. Ford ed., viii, 8.
(W. March. 1801)

3556. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—[further continued].

Governments are more
or less republican as they have more or less
of the element of popular election and con


Page 391
trol in their composition.—
To John Taylor. Washington ed. vi, 608. Ford ed., x, 31.
(M. 1816)

3557. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—[further continued] .

Governments are republican
only in proportion as they embody the
will of the people and execute it.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 9. Ford ed., x, 37.
(M. 1816)

3558. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—[further continued].

A government is republican
in proportion as every member composing
it has his equal voice in the direction
of its concerns (not indeed in person, which
would be impracticable beyond the limits of a
city, or small township, but) by representatives
chosen by himself, and responsible to
him at short periods.—
To Samuel Kerchival. Washington ed. vii, 10. Ford ed., x, 38.
(M. 1816)

3559. GOVERNMENT, Republican.—[further continued] .

It is a misnomer to call a government republican, in which a branch
of the supreme power is independent of the
To James Pleasants. Ford ed., x, 199.
(M. 1821)

3560. GOVERNMENT, Rights and.—

To secure these rights (life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness), governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed.—
Declaration of Independence as Drawn by Jefferson.

3561. GOVERNMENT, Rights and.—[continued].

It is to secure our rights
that we resort to government at all.—
To M. D'Ivernois. Washington ed. iv, 114. Ford ed., vii, 4.
(M. Feb. 1795)

3562. GOVERNMENT, Safety of.—

deem no government safe which is under the
vassalage of any self-constituted authorities,
or any other authority than that of the nation,
or its regular functionaries.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. iv, 519. Ford ed., viii, 285.
(W. 1803)

3563. GOVERNMENT, Scandalizing.—

Few think there is any immorality in scandalizing
governments or ministers.—
To Madame Necker. Washington ed. ii, 570.
(P. 1789)

3564. GOVERNMENT, Simplicity.—

am for a government rigorously frugal and
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 268. Ford ed., vii, 327.
(Pa., 1799)

See Simplicity.

3565. GOVERNMENT, Strongest.—

government which can wield the arm of the
people must be the strongest possible.—
To Mr. Weaver. Washington ed. v, 89.
(W. 1807)

3566. GOVERNMENT, Strongest.—[continued].

That government is the
strongest of which every man feels himself a
To Governor H. D. Tiffin. Washington ed. v, 38. Ford ed., ix, 21.
(W. 1807)

3567. GOVERNMENT, Suitability of.—

The excellence of every government is its
adaptation to the state of those to be governed
by it.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. vi, 589. Ford ed., x, 22.

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.

3569. GOVERNMENT, Suitability of.—[further continued].

The forms of government
adapted to the age[of the classical writers of Greece] and[their] country are
[not] practicable or to be imitated in our day.
* * * The circumstances of the world are
too much changed for that. The government
of Athens, for example, was that of the people
of one city, making laws for the whole
country subjected to them. That of Laced
æmon was the rule of military monks over
the laboring class of the people, reduced to
abject slavery. These are not the doctrines of
the present age. The equal rights of man,
and the happiness of every individual, are now
acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects
of government. Modern times have the
signal advantage, too, of having discovered
the only device by which these rights can be
secured, to wit: government by the people,
acting not in person, but by representatives
chosen by themselves, that is to say, by every
man of ripe years and sane mind, who
either contributes by his purse or person to
the support of his country.—
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 318.
(M. 1823)

— GOVERNMENT, Territory and.—

See Territory.

3570. GOVERNMENT, Too much.—

only condition on earth to be compared with
ours, in my opinion, is that of the Indian,
where they have still less law than we.—
To Governor Rutledge. Washington ed. ii, 234.
(P. 1787)

3571. GOVERNMENT, Too much.—[continued].

I think, myself, that we
have more machinery of government than is
necessary, too many parasites living on the
labor of the industrious. I believe it might
be much simplified to the relief of those who
maintain it.—
To William Ludlow. Washington ed. vii, 378.
(M. 1824)

3572. GOVERNMENT, Usurpation of.—

The government of a nation may be usurped
by the forcible intrusion of an individual into


Page 392
the throne. But to conquer its will, so as to
rest the right on that, the only legitimate
basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation
of all opposition.—
To—. Washington ed. vii, 413.
(M. 1825)

3573. GOVERNMENT, Works on.—

political economy, I think Smith's Wealth of
the best book extant.—
To T. M. Randolph. Washington ed. iii, 145. Ford ed., v, 173.
(N.Y., 17901790)gt;

3574. GOVERNMENT, Works on.—[continued].

Locke's little book on
government is perfect as far as it goes.—
To T. M. Randolph. Washington ed. iii, 145. Ford ed., v, 173.
(N.Y., 17901790)gt;

3575. GOVERNMENT, Works on.—[further continued].

Descending from theory
to practice, there is no better book than the
To T. M. Randolph. Washington ed. iii, 145. Ford ed., v, 173.
(N.Y., 1790)

3576. GOVERNMENT, Works on.—[further continued] .

In the science of government,
Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws is generally
recommended. It contains, indeed, a
great number of political truths; but also an
equal number of heresies; so that the reader
must be constantly on his guard.—
To T. M. Randolph. Washington ed. iii, 145. Ford ed., v, 173.
(N.Y., 17901790)gt;

3577. GOVERNMENT, Works on.—[further continued].

I think there does not
exist a good elementary work on the organization
of society into civil government; I mean a
work which presents in one full and comprehensive
view the system of principles on which
such an organization should be founded, according
to the rights of nature. For want of
a single work of that character, I should recommend
Locke on Government, Sidney, Priestley's Essay on the First Principles of
Chipman's Principles of Government,
and the Federalist; adding, perhaps,
Beccaria on Crimes and Punishments, because
of the demonstrative manner in which he
has treated that branch of the subject. If your
views of political inquiry go further, to the subjects
of money and commerce,
Smith's Wealth
of Nations
is the best book to be read, unless
Say's Political Economy can be had, which
treats the same subjects on the same principles,
but in a shorter compass and more lucid manner.—
To John Norvell. Washington ed. v, 90. Ford ed., ix, 71.
(W. 1807)

See Aristotle.

3578. GOVERNMENTS (American), Blessed.—

My God! how little do my countrymen
know what precious blessings they are
in possession of, and which no other people
on earth enjoy.—
To James Monroe. Washington ed. i, 352. Ford ed., iv, 59.

3579. GOVERNMENTS (American), Contented.—

There are not, on the face of the
earth, more tranquil governments than ours,
nor a happier and more contented people.—
To Baron Geismer. Washington ed. i, 427.
(P. 1785)

3580. GOVERNMENTS (American), Energy of.—

It has been said that our governments,
both Federal and particular, want
energy; that it is difficult to restrain both
individuals and States from committing
wrong. This is true, and it is an inconvenience.
On the other hand, that energy which
absolute governments derive from an armed
force, which is the effect of the bayonet constantly
held at the breast of every citizen, and
which resembles very much the stillness of
the grave, must be admitted also to have its
inconveniences. We weigh the two together,
and like best to submit to the former. Compare
the number of wrongs committed with impunity
by citizens among us with those committed
by the sovereign in other countries,
and the last will be found most numerous,
most oppressive on the mind, and most degrading
of the dignity of man.—
To M. de Meunier. Washington ed. ix, 292. Ford ed., iv, 147.
(P. 1786)

3581. GOVERNMENTS (American), Happy.—

With all its defects, and with all
those of our particular governments, the inconveniences
resulting from them are so
slight in comparison with those existing in
every other government on earth, that our
citizens may certainly be considered as in the
happiest political situation which exists.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. ii, 250.
(P. Aug. 1787)

3582. GOVERNMENTS (American), Happy.—[continued].

With all the defects of
our constitutions, whether general or particular,
the comparison of our governments with
those of Europe, is like a comparison of
heaven and hell. England, like the earth, May
be allowed to take an intermediate station.—
To Joseph Jones. Washington ed. ii, 249. Ford ed., iv, 438.
(P. 1787)

3583. GOVERNMENTS (American), People and.—

We think in America that it is
necessary to introduce the people into every
department of government, as far as they are
capable of exercising it; and that this is the
only way to ensure a long-continued and
honest administration of its powers.
To M. L'Abbé Arnond. Washington ed. iii, 81. Ford ed., v, 103.
(P. 1789)

3584. GOVERNMENTS (American), Powers.—

An elective despotism was not the
government we fought for, but one which
should not only be founded on true free principles,
but in which the powers of government
should be so divided and balanced among
general bodies of magistracy, as that no one
could transcend their legal limits without
being effectually checked and restrained by
the others.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 361. Ford ed., iii, 224.

3585. GOVERNMENTS (American), Principles.—

Every species of government has
its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more
peculiar than those of any in the universe.
It is a composition of the freest principles of
the English constitution, with others derived
from natural right and natural reason. To
these nothing can be more opposed than the
maxims of absolute monarchies.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 331. Ford ed., iii, 189.

3586. GOVERNMENTS (American), Principles.—[continued].

We, of the United States,
are constitutionally and conscientiously democrats.
We consider society as one of the natural
wants with which man has been created; that
he has been endowed with faculties and qualities
to effect its satisfaction by concurrence of
others having the same want; that when, by
the exercise of these faculties, he has procured


Page 393
a state of society, it is one of his acquisitions
which he has a right to regulate and control,
jointly, indeed, with all those who have concurred
in the procurement, whom he cannot
exclude from its use or direction more than
they him. We think experience has proved
it safer, for the mass of individuals composing
the society, to reserve to themselves personally
the exercise of all rightful powers to
which they are competent, and to delegate those
to which they are not competent to deputies
named, and removable for unfaithful conduct,
by themselves immediately. Hence, with us, the
people (by which is meant the mass of individuals
composing the society), being competent
to judge of the facts occurring in ordinary life,
they have retained the functions of judges of
facts, under the name of jurors; but being unqualified
for the management of affairs requiring
intelligence above the common level, yet
competent judges of human character, they
choose, for their management, representatives,
some by themselves immediately, others by electors
chosen by themselves. Thus our President
is chosen by ourselves directly in practice, for
we vote for A as elector only on the condition
he will vote for B; our representatives by ourselves
immediately; our Senate and judges of
law through electors chosen by ourselves.
And we believe that this proximate choice and
power of removal is the best security which
experience has sanctioned for ensuring an
honest conduct in the functionaries of society.
Your three or four alembications have indeed a
seducing appearance. We should conceive,
primâ facie, that the last extract would be the
pure alcohol of the substance, three or four
times rectified. But in proportion as they are
more and more sublimated, they are also farther
and farther removed from the control of the society;
and the human character, we believe, requires
in general constant and immediate control,
to prevent its being biased from right by
the seductions of self-love. Your process produces,
therefore, a structure of government from
which the fundamental principle of ours is
excluded. You first set down as zeros all
individuals not having lands, which are the
greater number in every society of long standing.
Those holding lands are permitted to
manage in person the small affairs of their
commune or corporation, and to elect a deputy
for the canton; in which election, too, every
one's vote is to be an unit, a plurality, or a
fraction, in proportion to his landed possessions.
The assemblies of cantons, then, elect for the
districts; those of districts for circles; and
those of circles for the national assemblies.
Some of these highest councils, too, are in a
considerable degree self-elected, the regency
partially, the judiciary entirely, and some are
for life. Whenever, therefore, an esprit de
or of party, gets possession of them,
which experience shows to be inevitable, there
are no means of breaking it up, for they will
never elect but those of their own spirit.
Juries are allowed in criminal cases only. I
acknowledge myself strong in affection to our
own form, yet both of us act and think from
the same motive; we both consider the people as
our children, and love them with parental affection.
But you love them as infants whom
you are afraid to trust without nurses; and I
as adults whom I freely leave to self-government.
And you are right in the case referred
to you; my criticism being built on a state of
society not under your contemplation. It is,
in fact, like a critic on Homer by the laws of
the Drama.—
To Dupont de Nemours. Washington ed. vi, 589. Ford ed., x, 22.

3587. GOVERNMENTS (American), Reforming.—

We can surely boast of having set
the world a beautiful example of a government
reformed by reason alone without
bloodshed. But the world is too far oppressed
to profit by the example.—
To E. Rutledge. Washington ed. ii, 435. Ford ed., v, 42.
(P. 1788)

3588. GOVERNMENTS (American), Reforming.—[continued].

The example we have
given to the world is single, that of changing
our form of government under the authority
of reason only, without bloodshed.—
To Ralph Izard. Washington ed. ii, 429.
(P. 1785)

3589. GOVERNMENTS (American), Republican.—

The governments[of the proposed
new States] shall be in republican
Western Territory Report. Ford ed., iii, 409.

3590. GOVERNMENTS (American), Republican.—[continued].

From the moment that to
preserve our rights a change of government
became necessary, no doubt could be entertained
that a republican form was most consonant
with reason, with right, with the freedom
of man, and with the character and situation
of our fellow citizens. To the sincere
spirit of republicanism are naturally associated
the love of country, devotion to its liberty,
its rights and its honor. Our preference to
that form of government has been so far
justified by its success, and the prosperity
with which it has blessed us.—
R. to A. Virginia Legislature. Washington ed. viii, 148.

3591. GOVERNMENTS (American), Virtuous.—

I think our governments will remain
virtuous for many centuries; as long as
* * *[the people] are chiefly agricultural,
and this will be as long as there shall be
vacant lands in any part of America. When
they get pited upon one another in large
cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt
as in Europe. [225]
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 332. Ford ed., iv, 479.
(P. 1787)


The text of the Congress edition is: “When we
get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe,
we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go
to eating one another as they do there.”—Editor.

3592. GOVERNMENTS (American), Ward administration.—

The elementary republics
of the wards, the county republics,
the State republics, and the Republic of the
Union, would form a gradation of authorities,
standing each on the basis of law, holding
every one its delegated share of powers,
and constituting truly a system of fundamental
balances and checks for the government.
Where every man is a sharer in the
direction of his ward-republic, or of some
of the higher ones, and feels that he is a
participator in the government of affairs, not
merely at an election one day in the year, but
every day; when there shall not be a man
in the State who will not be a member of
some one of its councils, great or small, he
will let the heart be torn out of his body
sooner than his power be wrested from him
by a Cœsar or a Bonaparte.—
To Joseph C. Cabell. Washington ed. vi, 543.
(M. 1816)


Page 394

3593. GOVERNMENTS (American), Ward administration.—[continued].

How powerfully did we
feel the energy of this organization in the
case of the Embargo? I felt the foundations
of the Government shaken under my
feet by the New England townships. There
was not an individual in their States whose
body was not thrown with all its momentum
into action; and although the whole of the
other States were known to be in favor of
the measure, yet the organization of this little
selfish minority enabled it to overrule the
Union. What would the unwieldy counties
of the middle, the south and the west do?
Call a county meeting, and the drunken
loungers at and about the court houses
would have collected, the distances being too
great for the good people and the industrious
generally to attend. The character of those
who really met would have been the measure
of the weight they would have had in the
scale of public opinion.—
To Joseph C. Cabell. Washington ed. vi, 544.
(M. 1816)

3594. GOVERNMENTS (European), Oppressive.—

The European are governments of kites over pigeons.—
To Governor Rutledge. Washington ed. ii, 234.
(P. 1787)

3595. GRAMMAR, Rigor of.—

strictness of grammar does not weaken expression,
it should be attended to * * *.
But where, by small grammatical negligences,
the energy of an idea is condensed, or a word
stands for a sentence, I hold grammatical rigor
in contempt. [226]
To James Madison. Ford ed., viii, 108.
(W. 1801)

See Languages.


From a note enclosing draft of first annual message
and requesting suggestions thereon.—Editor.

3596. GRANGER (Gideon), Burr's enemy.—

In the winter of 1803-4, another train
of events took place which, * * * I think
it but justice to yourself that I should state.
I mean the intrigues which were in agitation,
and at the bottom of which we believed Colonel
Burr to be; to form a coalition of the five Eastern
States, with New York and New Jersey,
under the appellation of the seven Eastern
States; either to overawe the Union by the
combination of their power and their will, or by
threats of separating themselves from it. Your
intimacy with some of those in the secret gave
you opportunities of searching into their proceedings,
of which you made me daily and
confidential reports. This intimacy to which I
had such useful recourse, at the time, rendered
you an object of suspicion with many as being
yourself a partisan of Colonel Burr, and engaged
in the very combination which you were
faithfully employed in defeating. I never failed
to justify you to all those who brought their
suspicions to me, and to assure them of my
knowledge of your fidelity. Many were the individuals,
then members of the Legislature, who
received these assurances from me, and whose
apprehensions were thereby quieted. This first
project of Burr having vanished in smoke, he
directed his views to the Western country.—
To Gideon Granger. Washington ed. vi, 330. Ford ed., ix, 455.
(M. 1814)

3597. GRANGER (Gideon), Supreme Court.—

I shall be perfectly happy if either
you or[Levi] Lincoln is named, as I consider
the substituting, in the place of[Judge] Cushing,
a firm unequivocating republican, whose
principles are born with him, and not an occasional
ingraftment, as necessary to complete
that great reformation in our Government to
which the nation gave its fiat ten years ago.—
To Gideon Granger. Ford ed., ix, 286.
(M. 1810)

3598. GRATITUDE, Happiness and.—

have but one system of ethics for men and
for nations—to be gratful, to be faithful to
all engagements, under all circumstances, to
be open and generous, promoting in the long
run the interests of both, and I am sure it
promotes their happiness.—
To La Duchesse D'Auville. Washington ed. iii, 135. Ford ed., v, 153.
(N.Y. 1790)

3599. GRATITUDE, National.—

I think
* * * that nations are to be governed with
regard to their own interest, but I am convinced
that it is their interest, in the long
run, to be grateful, faithful to their engagements
even in the worst of circumstances,
and honorable and generous always.—
To M. de Lafayette. Washington ed. iii, 132. Ford ed., v, 152.
(N.Y., 1790)

3600. GRATITUDE, Principles of.—

say that gratitude is never to enter into the
motives of national conduct is to revive a
principle which has been buried for centuries
with its kindred principles of the lawfulness
of assassination, poison, perjury, &c. All of
these were legitimate principles in the dark
ages, which intervened between ancient and
modern civilization, but exploded and held in
just horror in the eighteenth century.—
To James Madison. Washington ed. iii, 99. Ford ed., v, 111.
(P. 1789)


See Languages.

3601. GREEKS, Ancient.—

Should these
thoughts [227] on the subject of national government
furnish a single idea which may be useful
to them[the Greeks], I shall fancy it a
tribute rendered to the manes of your Homer,
your Demosthenes, and the splendid constellation
of sages and heroes, whose blood is still
flowing in your veins, and whose merits are still
resting, as a heavy debt, on the shoulders of
the living, and the future races of men.—
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 324.
(M. 1823)


Jefferson, at the request of M. Coray, wrote a
paper outlining a system of government for Greece.—Editor.

3602. GREEKS, Government of.—

was the first of civilized nations which presented
examples[in government] of what man
should be.—
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 318.
(M. 1823)

3603. GREEKS, Sympathy for.—

No people
sympathize more feelingly than ours with the sufferings of your countrymen, none offer
more sincere and ardent prayers to heaven for
their success. And nothing indeed but the fundamental
principle of our government, never
to entangle us with the broils of Europe, could
restrain our generous youth from taking some
part in this holy cause. Possessing ourselves
the combined blessing of liberty and order, we
wish the same to other countries, and to none
more than yours, which, the first of civilized
nations, presented examples of what man should
To M. Coray. Washington ed. vii, 318.
(M. 1823)

3604. GREENE (Nathaniel), Estimate of.—

Greene was truly a great man. He had not, perhaps, all the qualities which so peculiarly
rendered General Washington the fittest man


Page 395
on earth for directing so great a contest under
so great difficulties. * * * But Greene was
second to no one in enterprise, in resource, in
sound judgment, promptitude of decision, and
in every other military talent.—
To William Johnson. Ford ed., x, 222.
(M. 1822)

3605. GRIEF, Stuperfying.—

Your letter
found me a little emerging from the stupor of
mind which had rendered me as dead to the
world as was she whose loss occasioned it. [228]
To the Chevalier de Chattellux. Washington ed. i, 322. Ford ed., iii, 64.
(Am. 1782)


The death of Mrs. Jefferson.—Editor.

3606. GRIEF, Value of.—

When we put
into the same scale the abuses[of grief] with
the afflictions of soul which even the uses of
grief cost us, we may consider its value in the
economy of the human being, as equivocal at
least. Those afflictions cloud too great a portion
of life to find a counterpoise in any benefits
derived from its uses. For setting aside its
paroxysms on the occasions of special bereavements,
all the latter years of aged men are overshadowed
with its gloom. Whither, for instance,
can you and I look without seeing the
graves of those we have known? And whom
can we call up, of our early companions, who
has not left us to regret his loss? This, indeed,
may be one of the salutary effects of
To John Adams. Washington ed. vii, 37.
(M. 1816)

3607. GRIMM (Baron de), Genius.—

A man of genius, of taste, of point, an acquaintance,
the measure and traverses of whose mind
I know.—
To John Adams. Washington ed. vii, 27.
(M. 1816)


See Canal, 1116.

3608. GUNBOATS, Naval views.—

On this subject professional men were consulted
as far as we had opportunity. General Wilkinson,
and the late General Gates, gave their
opinions in writing, in favor of the system, as
will be seen by their letters now communicated.
The higher officers of the navy gave the same
opinions in separate conferences, as their appearance
at the seat of government offered occasions
of consulting them, and no difference
of judgment appeared on the subjects. Those
of Commodore Baron and Captain Tingley,
* * * are * * * transmitted herewith to
the Legislature.—
Special Message. Washington ed. viii, 80. Ford ed., ix, 23.
(Feb. 1807)