Socialism in America
"The struggle of History is not
between the bourgeoisie and the
proletariat; it is between government
and the governed."
Written for the "common
sense" Patriot and the Tea
Party Movement. A must
read for every Patriot.
Background: Near the end of his life, Jefferson found himself deeply in debt. He wished ***
to pay those debts by selling off some partials of property. Due to a decline in real estate
prices at the time he believed the only way he could get a reasonable price for the
property was through a lottery. The Virginia Legislature had passed a law forbidding the
operation of a private lottery without the express permission of the state legislature. In
his petition to the legislature, Jefferson recapped his sixty-five years of public service to
The following excerpt contains that recap. It is important to us today because of his
description of his four year term as President of the Senate during the term of John
Adams. (1797 - 1801) which he termed "the most important in its consequences, of any
transaction in any portion of my life;" After discussing the moral aspect of lotteries and
relating previous instances of cases where the legislature approved lotteries for various
purposes he continues with his petition.
...These cases relate to the emolument of the whole State, to local benefits of education, of
navigation, of roads, of counties, towns, religious assemblies, private societies, and of
individuals under particular circumstances which may claim indulgence or favor. The latter is the
case now submitted to the legislature, and the question is, whether the individual soliciting their
attention, or his situation, may merit that degree of consideration, which will justify the
legislature in permitting him to avail himself of the mode of selling by lottery, for the purpose of
paying his debts.
That a fair price cannot be obtained by sale in the ordinary way, and in the present depressed
state of agricultural industry, is well known. Lands in this State will not now sell for more than a
third or fourth of what they would have brought a few years ago, perhaps at the very time of the
contraction of the debts for which they are now to be sold. The low price in foreign markets,
for a series of years past, of agricultural produce, of wheat generally, of tobacco most
commonly, and the accumulation of duties on the articles of consumption not produced within
our State, not only disable the farmer or planter from adding to his farm by purchase, but reduce
him to sell his own, and remove to the western country, glutting the market he leaves, while he
lessens the number of bidders. To be protected against this sacrifice is the object of the present
application, and whether the applicant has any particular claim to this protection, is the present
Here the answer must be left to others. It is not for me to give it. I may, however, more readily
than others, suggest the offices in which I have served. I came of age in 1764, and was soon
put into the nomination of justices of the county in which I live, and at the first election
following I became one of its representatives in the legislature.
I was thence sent to the old Congress.
Then employed two years, with Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Wythe, on the revisal and reduction to a
single code of the whole body of the British statutes, the acts of our Assembly, and certain parts
of the common law.
Then elected Governor.
Next to the legislature, and to Congress again.
Sent to Europe as Minister Plenipotentiary.
Appointed Secretary of State to the new government.
Elected Vice President, and President.
And lastly, a Visitor and Rector of the University.
In these different offices, with scarcely any interval between them, I have been in the public
service now sixty-one years; and during the far greater part of the time, in foreign countries or
in other States. Every one knows how inevitably a Virginia estate, goes to ruin, when the owner
is so far distant as to be unable to pay attention to it himself; and the more especially, when the
line of his employment is of a character to abstract and alienate his mind entirely from the
knowledge necessary to good, and even to saving management.
If it were thought worth while to specify any particular services rendered, I would refer to the
specification of them made by the legislature itself in their Farewell Address, on my retiring from
the Presidency, February, 1809. There is one, however, not therein specified, the most
important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life; to wit, the
head I personally made against the federal principles and proceedings, during the administration
of Mr. Adams.
Their usurpations and violations of the constitution at that period, and their majority in both
Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their
aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the republican
leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into
their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if
ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch.
All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in
the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding
defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept
the mass of republicans in phalanx together, until the legislatures could be brought up to the
charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office
of Vice-President at the head of the republicans, had given way and withdrawn from my post,
the republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair, and the cause would have
been lost for ever.
By holding on, we obtained time for the legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of
Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated
resolutions, saved the constitution, at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the
scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal
indignities we had to brook. They saved our country however. The spirits of the people were so
much subdued and reduced to despair by the X. Y. Z. imposture, and other stratagems and
machinations, that they would have sunk into apathy and monarchy, as the only form of
government which could maintain itself.
If legislative services are worth mentioning, and the stamp of liberality and equality, which was
necessary to be impressed on our laws in the first crisis of our birth as a nation, was of any
value, they will find that the leading and most important laws of that day were prepared by
myself, and carried chiefly by my efforts; supported, indeed, by able and faithful coadjutors
from the ranks of the House, very effective as seconds, but who would not have taken the field
The prohibition of the further importation of slaves, was the first of these measures in time.
This was followed by the abolition of entails, which broke up the hereditary and high-handed
aristocracy, which, by accumulating immense masses of property in single lines of families, had
divided our country into two distinct orders, of nobles and plebeians.
But further to complete the equality among our citizens so essential to the maintenance of
republican government, it was necessary to abolish the principle of primogeniture. I drew the
law of descents, giving equal inheritance to sons and daughters which made a part of the revised
The attack on the establishment of a dominant religion, was first made by myself. It could be
carried at first only by a suspension of salaries for one year, by battling it again at the next
session for another year, and so from year to year, until the public mind was ripened for the bill
for establishing religious freedom, which I had prepared for the revised code also. This was at
length established permanently, and by the efforts chiefly of Mr. Madison, being myself in
Europe at the time that work was brought forward.
To these particular services, I think I might add the establishment of our University, as
principally my work, acknowledging at the same time, as I do, the great assistance received
from my able colleagues of the Visitation. But my residence in the vicinity threw, of course, on
me the chief burthen of the enterprise, as well of the buildings, as of the general organization and
care of the whole. The effect of this institution on the future fame, fortune, and prosperity of
our country, can as yet be seen but at a distance. But an hundred well educated youths, which it
will turn out annually, and ere long, will fill all its offices with men of superior qualifications, and
raise it from its humble state to an eminence among its associates which it has never yet known;
no, not in its brightest days.
That institution is now qualified to raise its youth to an order of science unequalled in any other
State; and this superiority will be the greater from the free range of mind encouraged there, and
the restraint imposed at other seminaries by the shackles of a domineering hierarchy, and a
bigoted adhesion to ancient habits. Those now on the theatre of affairs will enjoy the ineffable
happiness of seeing themselves succeeded by sons of a grade of science beyond their own ken.
Our sister States will also be repairing to the same fountains of instruction, will bring hither their
genius to be kindled at our fire, and will carry back the fraternal affections which, nourished by
the same alma mater, will knit us to them by the indissoluble bonds of early personal friendships.
The good Old Dominion, the blessed mother of us all, will then raise her head with pride among
the nations, will present to them that splendor of genius which she has ever possessed, but has
too long suffered to rest uncultivated and unknown, and will become a centre of ralliance to the
States whose youths she has instructed, and, as it were, adopted.
I claim some share in the merits of this great work of regeneration. My whole labors, now for
many years, have been devoted to it, and I stand pledged to follow it up through the remnant of
life remaining to me. And what remuneration do I ask? Money from the treasury? Not a cent. I
ask nothing from the earnings or labors of my fellow-citizens. I wish no man's comforts to be
abridged for the enlargement of mine. For the services rendered on all occasions, I have been
always paid to my full satisfaction. I never wished a dollar more than what the law had fixed on.
[My request is, only to be permitted to sell my own property freely to pay my own debts. To sell
it, I say, and not to sacrifice it, not to have it gobbled up by speculators to make fortunes for
themselves, leaving unpaid those who have trusted to my good faith, and myself without
resource in the last and most helpless stage of life. If permitted to sell it in a way which will
bring me a fair price, all will be honestly and honorably paid, and a competence left for myself,
and for those who look to me for subsistence. To sell it in a way which will offend no moral
principle, and expose none to risk but the willing, and those wishing to be permitted to take the
chance of gain. To give me, in short, that permission which you often allow to others for
purposes not more moral.
Will it be objected, that although not evil in itself, it may, as a precedent, lead to evil? But let
those who shall quote the precedent bring their case within the same measure. Have they, as in
this case, devoted three-score years and one of their lives, uninterruptedly, to the service of their
country? Have the times of those services been as trying as those which have embraced our
Revolution, our transition from a colonial to a free structure of government? Have the stations of
their trial been of equal importance? Has the share they have borne in holding their new
government to its genuine principles, been equally marked? And has the cause of the distress,
against which they seek a remedy, proceeded, not merely from themselves, but from errors of
the public authorities, disordering the circulating medium, over which they had no control, and
which have, in fact, doubled and trebled debts, by reducing, in that proportion, the value of the
property which was to pay them?
If all these circumstances, which characterize the present case, have taken place in theirs also,
then follow the precedent. Be assured, the cases will be so rare as to produce no
embarrassment, as never to settle into an injurious habit. The single feature of a sixty years'
service, as no other instance of it has yet occurred in our country, so it probably never may
again. And should it occur, even once and again, it will not impoverish your treasury, as it takes
nothing from that, and asks but a simple permission, by an act of natural right, to do one of
|Selected Papers of Thomas Jefferson:
|Excerpt From Thomas Jefferson's Thoughts on Lotteries
Petition to Virginia Legislature 1825
|The Illinois Conservative