Friday, September 26, 2008

Writings of Thomas Jefferson


Below is part of Thomas Jefferson's letter to John Melish, January 13, 1831. He is discussing the motivations of the then competing political parties, the federalists and republicans, and whether their first interest is power or country.

"This I verily believe, after an intimacy of forty years with the public councils and characters, is a true statement of the grounds on which they are at present divided, and that it is not merely an ambition for power. An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. And considering as the only offices of power those conferred by the people directly, that is to say, the executive and legislative functions of the General and State governments, the common refusal of these, and multiplied resignations, are proofs sufficient that power is not alluring to pure minds, and is not, with them, the primary principle of contest. This is my belief of it; it is that on which I have acted; and had it been a mere contest who should be permitted to administer the government according to its genuine republican principles, there has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends and books."

(excerpted from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904)