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As Jefferson had noted in a letter from France to James Madison in 1785, "A heavy aristocracy and corruption are two bridles in the mouths of [a people] which will prevent them from making any effectual efforts against their masters." ( The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition ; volume 8, p. 40; 1904 .) Jefferson was well aware of the history of corporations in Europe: it was the history of monopolies dominated by the few, and exploiting the many, at every stage of their business.

Jefferson was not blind to the faults of humanity. He did not believe the common man would suddenly be imbued with the sort of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims today for the Pope. In this, and understanding the appetites and desires that drive human beings, Jefferson was far ahead of Karl Marx, or utopian Socialists like Robert Owen. Jefferson did believe that the needs expressed by an informed and educated public, whose opinions were then enacted through their elected representatives and magistrates, would provide the best possible governance for the nation in the long-term, as evidenced by the following six quotes from our Third President:

"The will of the people...is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object." (Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waring, 1801. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 10, p. 236; 1904.)

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." (Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 7, p. 253; 1904.)

"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." (Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 15, p. 278; 1904.)

"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 contributes either by his purse or person to the support of his country." (Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 15, p. 482; 1904.)

"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." (Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 14, p. 490; 1904.)

"The want or imperfection of the moral sense in some men, like the want or imperfection of the senses of sight and hearing in others, is no proof that it [the want of a moral sense] is a general characteristic of the species." (Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, 1814. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 14, p. 142; 1904.)

Thomas Jefferson also has the two most important and succinct statements for the necessity of a well-educated and broadly-based electoral franchise for a successful constitutionally limited, representative democracy (such as the United States is theoretically) that I have ever read:

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." (Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 14, p. 384; 1904.)


"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights." (Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 7, p. 253; 1904.)

In his philosophy, Jefferson's theoretical ethical standards were as high as any moral philosopher or theologian, and at the same time, he understood that justice--the highest of all ethical standards--is not the same for every society, at every time, and every place:

"God...has formed us moral agents...that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He has placed us in society, by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own." (Thomas Jefferson to Miles King, 1814. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 14, p. 197; 1904.)

"The non-existence of justice is not to be inferred from the fact that the same act is deemed virtuous and right in one society which is held vicious and wrong in another; because as the circumstances and opinions of different societies vary, so the acts which may do them right or wrong must vary also; for virtue does not consist in the act we do, but in the end it is to effect." (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1816. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; Volume 15, p. 76; 1904.)

Regrettably, Jefferson in his personal life showed himself to be just a man with "feet of clay," and not the secular saint that many Americans, myself included, wishes that he was. In this he follows in the footsteps of many past philosophers, including Socrates and Jefferson's favorite, Marcus Tullius Cicero (see my OpEdNews articles "BBuilt on Shifting Sands ," " Re sponsibility and Respect ," and " T he Caesar Factor ," for more on Socrates and Cicero), as well as philosophers of succeeding generations, including Marx and the Nazi-supporting Martin Heidegger (see my OpEdNews articles " Social Capitalism , " " Submitted for Your Consideration ," and " Parabolic Thinking ," for more on Marx).

Henry Wiencek's recent article on Jefferson and his slaves in the October 2012 issue of Smithsonian magazine, "Master of Monticello," demonstrates that even Jefferson could fall victim to the economic enticements of slavery: where the birth of slave children earned him a four percent return on his investment every year (as he wrote in a letter to George Washington in 1792), and his slave-staffed nail smithy made him on average $3000 (equivalent to $150,000+ today) of additional income per year. This corresponds closely with a figure I once read from James Madison, who reckoned that a slave cost him $12 per year, but returned him $230.

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)
 
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...until a friend of mine told me about the articl... by Richard Girard on Monday, Oct 15, 2012 at 2:58:54 PM