close
joshedwards.com joshedwards.com
Search
Jefferson on Liberty

In the John Lewis piece the other day I quoted Thomas Jefferson, his “tree of liberty” quote. I mentioned how the militias and the other hate groups of our time love that shit.

Well I love history, I love Jefferson, and I love proving people wrong. So lets delve into this a little more, shall we?

The quote references an 1786 armed uprising of farmers in western Massachusetts called Shays’ Rebellion. If you’re not familar with that incident, go read the wikipedia entry. I’ll wait.

There. Now here’s a good chunk of the letter in question that TJ wrote from France about Mr. Shay and his pals:

Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.

It’s so rich! And so much more complex than the one line that hateful bastards put on tee-shirts.

What does TJ say? That rebellions such as Shays’ are necessary in our government, for lethargy is “the forerunner of death to the public liberty.”

However, the “people cannot be all, & always, well informed.” Sometimes they’re just ignorant, not wicked.

And then this: “The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.”

Brilliant!

But how do we fix this?

“The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them.”

Everyone needs the facts straight.

Especially on this quote.

“Hummel from Alcatraz, out.”

Comments are closed.