The Purpose of Government - Thomas Jefferson

In a letter to James Madison,  taken from " The Living Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson ", accumulated by John Dewey,  Jefferson gives his opinion on the purpose of government and the importance of educating everyone in the functions of government,  as well as warn us of the evils coming when urbanization flourishes over rural peoples..

" One may conclude too hastily,  that nature has formed man insusceptible of any other government than that of force,  a conclusion not founded in truth nor experience.  Societies 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 under that,  enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness.  It has it's evils,  too;  the principle which is the turbulence to which it is subject.  But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy,  and it becomes nothing.  Malo periculoasam libertatem quam quietam 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 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.

...And say, finally whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government,  or information to the people.  This last is the most certain,  and the most legitimate engine of government.  Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.  Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order,  and they will preserve them.  And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this.  They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.  After all,  it is my principle that the will of the majority should prevail.  If they approve the proposed constitution in all its parts,  I shall concur in it cheerfully in hopes they will amend it,  whenever they shall find it works wrong.  This reliance cannot deceive us,  as long as we remain virtuous;  and I think we shall be so,  as long as agriculture is our principle object,  which will be the case,  while there remains vacant lands in any part of America.  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.

    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.  Were I called upon to decide,  whether the people had best be omitted in the legislature or judiciary department,  I would say it better to leave them out of the legislative.  The execution of the laws is more important than the making them. "

 

In summary - Jefferson points to several areas where we have failed to meet his criteria for keeping our government honest.   The cities have played a major part in this - if we cut them out of the elections altogether,  we would forever remain America,   as the founders saw it.  We have lost virtue in every aspect of our daily lives.,  and we do not educate the masses to the workings of government or the truth in the daily legislation,  by design of the left.   We owe it to the Founders,  to the heroes throughout the many wars fought to keep our liberties,  and most of all,  to the next generations,  to amend this Constitution,  because it is doing wrong.  We have both cause and effect here,  foretold by the greatest republican mind of this nations times.   We can continue the revolution of 2010 by making the republicans force our will upon the party as a whole.   We are about to reap the most toxic crop ever sowed,  if we allow these sloths in the legislature to not make a balanced budget,   allowing the military cuts to happen by default.  If the events of the past two weeks have not convinced the most liberal among us that this is foolhardy,  then all surely is lost.

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Comment by Hugh Akston on September 20, 2012 at 2:00pm

It’s Ok John I understood what you meant. I to have so much mixed blood that I can hate no one without hating myself. Throw a dart at a world map and most likely I have ancestors from there somewhere in my background.

Your intent was clear when you said “but this is one of my biggest pet peeves in history revision.  The nomad hunter-gatherers versus the agriculturally based Tribes all over this nation makes a mockery of the history texts calling the 600 Nations”

My comment was about “There could not be many families in the colonies at that time which did not have a relative or friend killed in these wars.” This is true but unlike the Blacks and Slavery, white people have gotten past that; maybe I should have stated it more eloquently, but I was rushed for time when I wrote “No need to fight old wars again.”

Of the Eastern tribes the Cherokee were one of the most peaceful, but that was from a position of strength, a form of Pax Romana, only the Seminole were strong enough to war with them until the coming of the White colonists. This is a point our current government could learn from.

God Bless.

Comment by John Tripp on September 20, 2012 at 12:53pm

Hugh - I dd not mean to infer any longstanding hatred still raging through my veins.  All this is only a historic perspective.  I have Abanaki,  Penobscot and Mic Mac blood in my veins.  It would be hard to find manyfamilies from that area who do not have mixed marrages along the way.  It was the only way to make peace with them.

My angst is with the revised history books.

Comment by Hugh Akston on September 19, 2012 at 2:28pm

As my wife and I are both descended from Native American tribes, her relation is closer than mine. I know something of both sides of that argument; I am also a descendant of the early settlers at Williamsburg. Currently I am buying back the lands of the Cherokee a few acres at a time. Both side committed atrocities and both sides made valiant efforts at peace. No need to fight old wars again.

God Bless.

Comment by John Tripp on September 19, 2012 at 2:08pm

Hugh - I also did not understand his statement on the Indians not having governments.  What would he call a tribal council ?  They had hieracrchies,  usually elected or won in battle and pecking orders,  so I agree with your statement here.  I do not see why this topic should have even been brought up in this letter to Mdison,  as the disagreement only involved the Tryrannies or Monarchies of the world,  versus the semi-republican English and our republican / federal combination.  He then only discusses the differences between ours and Britains principles.   The man wrote four letters a day on average,  so I guess I can cut him a little slack !

As to the Trail opf Tears and other atrocities,  as written in our history books,  I have much less empathy of the natives as most do,  at least the Eastern Tribes.  The vast majority of the Eastern Tribes were opportunist,  and chose the wrong side,  not once but twice,  and their way of torture is legendary.  My ancestors fought the Abinaki on a daily basis in Southern Maine,  and the blood of my not so old relatives still lies in the dirt here.  There were no friendly tribes here to make pacts with.  The myth that white man taught the Indian how to scalp is pure B.S.  They had specialty knives made for this sole purpose before we ever landed on the shores of Plymouth Bay.   The inter-Tribal wars were as notorious as the Hutus and Zulus in Africa. 

Sorry for that last rant,  but this is one of my biggest pet peeves in history revision.  The nomad hunter-gatherers versus the agriculturally based Tribes all over this nation makes a mockery of the history texts calling the 600 Nations,  peaceful peoples who just had their land "stolen" ( every inch of land on earth was taken by force many times over ) and the members of the Tribes brutally slaughtered, ( after brutally murdering colonists as allies of the French and then he British ).  These people were treated as the enemies of Americans that they were.  There could not be many families in the colonies at that time which did not have a relative or friend killed in these wars.  The Western Tribes is another story,  but not one that differs from any hostile takeover of lands in history anywhere on the globe.

The urban situations which he was concerned about is a worldwide phenomenon in every form of governance.  The soup kitchens and welfare centers are always located in these densely populated areas in much more abundance than elsewhere.  The living conditions invite disease and foster crime,  providing many more opportunities.  These and many more X factors make a domino effect that cripple economies.   This is also a major difference in the thinking of conservatives and progressives.  Conservatives would force able bodied people to move to where there is work,  and progresssives view this as somehow cruel.  Establishing self esteem,  self reliance and gathering more revenues in taxes ( just as a side benefit ),  versus keeping people in economic slavery - not much of a choice if you ask me.

Comment by Hugh Akston on September 18, 2012 at 1:38pm

City living marks the brain

Epidemiologists showed decades ago that people raised in cities are more prone to mental disorders than those raised in the countryside. But neuroscientists have avoided studying the connection, preferring to leave the disorderly realm of the social environment to social scientists.

 

Now you know why highly populated areas vote Democrat

Jefferson stated :

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.

Here I must disagree with his conclusions; many Native American Indians had Governments, often the most democratic in the world, everyone had an equal say, including women. At one time, before the Trail of tears as ordered by President Jefferson, the Cherokee had a Tricameral government of elected officers, a judicial system of Judges and trial by peers. The Navaho and the Apaches had their own form of government too.

God Bless.

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