Saturday, April 19, 2008

I am not among those who fear the people.

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the
rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve
their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual
debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or
profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we
must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and
our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and
our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must
come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of
fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily
expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we
must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to
think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to
obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the
necks of our fellow-sufferers.
Our landholders, too, like theirs,
retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs,
but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs,
in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile,
and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary
lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by
private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human
governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a
precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the
bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and
to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then
begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers
observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the
natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of
this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in
its train wretchedness and oppression.

Letter from Thomas Jefferson
To Samuel Kercheval - Monticello, July 12, 1816

You can read the letter in its entirety, here:

No comments: