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eous indignation, “ Millions for defence, but not a cent for tribute!* Thus in the year 1798, a war was brought about with France, and peace was not restored till after the downfall of the Directory, in September, 1800. Among the very many stipulations then made, this at least is worthy of mention, that free ships make free goods.
During the dissensions in France and the excitement exhibited in America, two laws were promulgated, entitled the Alien and Sedition Bills. The former allowed the president to send away suspicious foreigners who could give no security for their good behavior, and granted the right of American citizenship only after a residence of fourteen years. The Sedition Law was directed against unlawful unions, malicious publications, libels on the government, &c., and raised the penalties therefor to 2,000 dollars, or two years' imprisonment. While many approve ed of these laws as adapted to present circumstances, others termed them injudicious and tyrannical; and the great opposition between parties and tendencies, between federalists and republicans, assumed continually a clearer and more important position in the foreground.
Adams stood at the head of the former, and Jefferson at the head of the latter party. Yet Jefferson declares:
66 Adams was the chief support of the Declaration of Independence in Congress, and its most able defender against numerous attacks. Not captivating or elegant, not always fluent in his public speeches, he yet came forward with such power, both of thought and expression, that he moved us all. Never did a man of more perfect eloquence issue from the hands of the Creator."
Such is the testimony to the second president of the American republic, as furnished by his greatest opponent!
* Hinton, i. 431
Birth, Descent, and Education-Declaration of Independence- Jefferson in Paris
Jefferson President-Jefferson on Freedom of the Press Jefferson on Christianity-Jefferson on Plato--Federalists and Republicans-Jefferson's PrinciplesJefferson on Slavery, Jefferson on Political Union Jefferson's AdministrationJefferson's Message-Louisiana- Contest with the Maritime Powers-Jefferson's Private Life--Jefferson, Adams, and Washington-- Jefferson's Death-Jefferson's Fame.
Thomas JEFFERSON, the eldest of eight brothers and sisters, was born on the 2d of April, 1743, at Shadwell
, in Albemarle county, Virginia.* His father's education had been neglected in youth; but as he was gifted by nature with a strong mind, he acquired by after industry a considerable share of knowledge. His early death prevented him from effecting much towards forming the mind of his son; but he left the latter sufficient means wherewith to procure himself an independent position. Thomas Jefferson was as destitute as Washington and Adams of those qualities which are often over-estimated on account of their superficial brilliancy; but on the other hand, be possessed that industry, firmness, constancy, and force of will, which he needed throughout life. An ardent fondness for philosophy, art, and classic antiquity, furnished and enlarged his mind in many ways. He spoke and wrote admirably, and obtained a reputation at the bar, although his bodily powers were hardly adequate to severe exertion as a speaker. Jefferson's conversation was fluent and instructive, and he won almost every one that came near him by the affability of his address. This dexterity and versatility, however, never impaired his firmness and resolution; and those opposite qualities of his mind were found equally necessary and beneficial, on the breaking out of the quarrel with England. From the beginning, Jefferson cherished the most fixed conviction, that a reconciliation with the mother-country was advisable only on the broadest foundations and with the most satisfactory concessions.f “I steer my bark,” said he, “ with hope in the head, leaving fear astern." } The stormy sea of liberty was the element on which
See Rayner's and Tucker's Lives of Jefferson ; the Encyclopædia Americana; but above all, his most highly instructive Memoir and Correspondence, published in four volumes. † American Review, vi. 497.
Jefferson's Writings, iv. 271.
he sailed more boldly and further than ever man did before ;— without injury to himself, and—who can now deny it ?-10 the advantage of his contemporaries and of posterity.
6 From Him," was the motto of his seal-ring, “comes liberty, from whom the spirit comes ” (ab eo libertas, a quo spiritus); and resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
Jefferson was a principal founder of the associations for the preservation of the rights of North America; and of these he drew up a summary view in so convincing a manner, that Burke furnished it with additions and had it printed in England. The idea of the naturalness, justice, and necessity of the complete independence of North America was first fully developed by him ;* and Congress properly appointed himself, Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston, to consult respecting it in close committee. By the choice of these his friends, (or should we not rather say, by the gracious election of God ?) Jefferson was appointed to the task of drawing up the Declaration of Independence of North America; with which a new period in the history of social relations and human development begins.
That Jefferson was not thus brought into the list of men of undying reputation by any undeserved piece of good fortune, is shown by the ideas and plans which he propounded and to a great extent executed, as member of the legislative assembly (as early as 1769), and afterwards (in 1779) as governor of Virginia. Among these were: the abrogation of all restrictions on the free use of property, the abrogation of the right of primogeniture, freedom in matters of religion, no taxes or tithes in support of other creeds, the abolition of the slave-trade, the gradual abolition of slavery,t abolition of capital punishment (except for treason and murder), a simpler code of laws, provision for general education, &c.
After the independence of the United States had been established and acknowledged, so that the principal object was attained, Jefferson went, in May, 1784, as minister plenipotentiary to Paris, and remained there until October, 1789. The people who had joyfully greeted the birth-day of a new quarter of the world, or rather the day in which it came of age, and who had contributed to bring about the event, were now zealously employed in breaking the chains of effete customs and partial rights, and in founding for themselves a new and more happy existence. The coldest and dullest natures, as has been said, could not resist the enthusiastic feelings which this new dawn of liberty inspired;
* Rayner, p. 72.
The 'Statute Book, consisting of 90 folio pages, was prepared (1779—1785) chiefly by Jefferson and Madison.
how then could the American republican Jefferson, placed in the midst of that brilliant horizon, keep himself from sympathy and even predilection, and not share in the glowing anticipations whose fulfilment was already shown in happy America! Accordingly he speaks often and vehemently against the king, nobles, and priests; looks for the best from all innovatious; finds nothing scarcely but injustice and misery in old France; and entertains none or but little fear of errors and excesses."
By Lafayette and other friends of weighty improvements, Jefferson was respectfully and confidently applied to for advice-advice, however, which they rarely or never pursued. In the beginning of June, 1789, he sketched a Charter of Rights for France, the main contents of which were : The States General shall have the right of levying taxes and making laws, with the consent of the king. Every person shall be treated in conformity with the existing laws; and the military shall be subordinate to the civil authority. The press shall be free, but answerable for publishing false facts and libels. The States General shall now separate, and meet again on the first day of November next.t
These propositions of Jefferson's seem very moderate. He also wrote on the 3d of June, 1789, on the occasion of sending this sketch to St. Etienne : “ If you obtain this, you will carry back to your constituents more good than ever was effected before without violence, and you will stop exactly at the point where violence would otherwise begin. Time will be gained, and the public mind will begin to ripen and to be informed."
As soon as the king conceded more than the majority anticipated, Jefferson expressed himself in favor of not demanding more, but of securing what had already been obtained. In a letter relative hereto, written on the 14th of February, 1815, to Lafayette, he says: “My dear friend, your letter of August the 14th has been received and read, again and again, with extraordinary pleasure. The newspapers told us only that the great beast was fallen; but what part in this the patriots acted, and what the egoists, whether the former slept while the latter were awake to their own interests only, the hireling scribblers of the English press said little or knew less..... A full measure of liberiy is not now perhaps to be expected by your nation; nor am I confident they are prepared to preserve it
. More than a generation will be requisite, under the administration of reasonable laws favoring the progress of knowledge in the general mass of the people, and their
habituation to an independent security of person and property, before they will be capable of estimating the value of freedom, and the necessity of a sacred adherence to the principles on which it rests for preservation. Instead of that * Jefferson's Writings, ii. 45, 63, 224.
† Writings, ii. 472
liberty which takes root and growth in the progress of reason, if recovered by mere force or accident, it becomes, with an unprepared people, a tyranny still, of the many, the few, or the one.
Possibly you may remember, at the date of the jeu de paume (June 20th, 1789), how earnestly I urged yourself and the patri. ots of my acquaintance, to enter then into a compact with the king, securing freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and a national legislature (all of which it was known he would then yield), to go home, and let these work on the amelioration of the condition of the people, until they should have rendered them capable of more, when occasions would not fail to arise for communicating to them more. This was as much as I then thought them able to bear soberly and usefully for themselves. You thought otherwise, and that the dose might still be larger. And I found you were right; for subsequent events proved they were equal to the constitution of 1791. Unfortunately, some of the most honest and enlightened of our patriotic friends (but closet politicians merely, unpractised in the knowledge of man) thought more could still be obtained and borne. They did not weigh the hazards of a transition from one form of government to another ; the value of what they had already rescued from those hazards, and might hold in security if they pleased; nor the imprudence of giving up the certainty of such a degree of liberty under a limited monarch, for the uncertainty of a little more under the form of a republic. From this separation of the republicans from the constitutionalists flowed all the subsequent sufferings and crimes of the French nation. Let the restored dynasty read a lesson in the fatal errors of the republicans ; let them be contented with a certain portion of power, secured by formal compact with the nation, rather than, grasping at more, hazard all upon uncertainty, and risk meeting the fate of their predecessor or a renewal of their own exile."*
From what is here communicated there will be seen at once the essential difference between the American and French republicans. “ If science,” says Jefferson in another place,“ bears no better fruits than tyranny, murder, robbery, and destruction of the morals of the people, I would rather wish that our country should remain as ignorant and honorable as the neighboring savages."
Jefferson left France shortly before the unhappy days of October, 1789, and was appointed by Washington secretary of state. Differences of views already manifested themselves; but Washington knew how to hear with calmness and decide with firmness.f When Genet attacked Washington and the government in the presumptuous, rude, and unlawful manner already related, * Jefferson's Writings, iv. 246.
† Writings, iv. 161.