Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Gysbert K. van Hogendorp
|Paris Oct. 13. 1785.|
You ask what I think on the expediency of encouraging our states to be commercial? were I to indulge my own theory, I should with them to practice neither commerce nor navigation, but to stand with respect to Europe precisely on the footing of China. we should thus avoid wars, and all our citizens would be husbandmen. whenever indeed our numbers should so increase as that our produce would overstock the markets of those nations who should come to seek it, the farmers must either employ the surplus of their time in manufactures, or the surplus of our hands must be employed in manufactures, or in navigation. but that day would, I think be distant, and we should long keep our workmen in Europe ... but this is theory only, & a theory which the servants of America are not at liberty to follow. our people have a decided taste for navigation & commerce.