I considered the British as our natural enemies, and as the only nation on earth who wished us ill from the bottom of their souls. and I am satisfied that were our continent to be swallowed up by the ocean, Great Britain would be in a bonfire from one end to the other.
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a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.
I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. when they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.
as to the new Constitution I find myself nearly a Neutral. there is a great mass of good in it, in a very desireable form: but there is also to me a bitter pill, or two.
the people ... are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.
the precept however is wise which directs us to ‘try all things, & hold fast that which is good.’
we are now vibrating between too much & too little government, & the pendulum will rest finally in the middle.
you know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the trade but of the condition of slavery: and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacrifice for that object.
Mr. Jefferson is in my opinion without exeption the wisest and most amiable man I have seen in Europe.
nothing in Europe can counterbalance the freedom, the simplicity, the friendship & the domestic felicity we enjoy in America.
they have the good sense to value domestic happiness above all other, and the art to cultivate it beyond all others. there is no part of the earth where so much of this is enjoyed as in America.
there are two amendments only which I am anxious for. 1. a bill of rights, which it is so much the interest of all to have ... the 2d amendment which appears to me essential is the restoring the principle of necessary rotation, particularly to the Senate & Presidency: but most of all to the...
I was much pleased with many & essential parts of this instrument from the beginning. but I thought I saw in it many faults, great & small. what I have read & reflected has brought me over from several of my objections of the first moment, and to acquiesce under some others.
when you are doubting whether a thing is worth the trouble of going to see, recollect that you will never again be so near it, that you may repent the not having seen it, but can never repent having seen it.
Architecture worth great attention. as we double our numbers every 20 years we must double our houses. ... it is then among the most important arts: and it is desireable to introduce taste into an art which shews so much.
Gardens. peculiarly worth the attention of an American, because it is the country of all others where the noblest gardens may be made without expence. we have only to cut out the superabundant plants.
Objects of attention for an American ... lighter mechanical arts and manufactures. some of these will be worth a superficial view. but circumstances rendering it impossible that America should become a manufacturing country during the time of any man now living, it would be a waste of attention...
the example we have given to the world is single, that of changing the form of our government under the authority of reason only, without bloodshed.
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 of the example.
I have often seen a leg of the bow below my level. my situation at Monticello admitted this, because there is a mountain there in the opposite direction of the afternoon’s sun, the valley between which & Monticello is 500 feet deep. I have seen a leg of a rainbow plunge down on the river...
The Refinery for whale oil lately established at Rouen, seems to be an object worthy of national attention. in order to judge of it’s importance, the different qualities of whale oil must be noted ... the Spermaceti whale found by the Nantucketmen in the neighborhood of the Western islands ......
wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.
as far as I can judge from the experiments which have been made, to give liberty to, or rather, to abandon persons whose habits have been formed in slavery is like abandoning children.
I will put off till my return from America all of them except Bacon, Locke and Newton, whose pictures I will trouble you to have copied for me: and as I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived.
we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.