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CHAPTER XX.

Letter to Judge Johnson. History of parties in the United States.

General Washington's Farewell Address. Decisions of the Supreme Court. How constitutional questions are to be settled. Letter to Mr. Adams on the progress of civil liberty. Publication of Cunningham's correspondence. Letter to Mr. Adams. Mr. Pickering's review. Letter of vindication to Mr. Monroe. Letter to the president on resisting the interference of the Holy Allies in the affairs of Spanish America. To La Fayette on government. Universal political parties. To Mr. Sparks--on colonization in Africa. Exempting imported books from duty. To Mr. Livingston-roads and canals by the federal government. To Major Cartwright on the English constitution. Arrival of La Layette in the United States-Visits Mr. Jefferson. National joy. Donation suggested by Mr. Jefferson.

1823—1824.

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In a letter to Judge Johnson, of South Carolina, then engaged in writing the life of General Greene, Mr. Jefferson adverts to the advantage which the federal party had obtained over their opponents “in preparations for placing their cause favourably before posterity,” and expresses pleasure in hearing that Judge Johnson meant to continue his history of parties; and his views of the respective tenets and objects of the two parties, being here fully and carefully presented to one who was professedly undertaking to transmit their history to posterity, it is now given without abridgment.

He says "that at the formation of our government, many

had formed their opinions on European writings and practices, believing the experience of old countries, and especially of England, abusive at it was, to be a safer guide than mere theory. The doctrines of Europe were, that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained within the limits of order and justice, but by forces physical and moral, wielded over them by authorities independent of their will. Hence their organization of kings, hereditary nobles, and priests. Still further to constrain the brute force of the people, they deem it necessary to keep them down by hard labour, poverty, and ignorance, and to take from them, as from bees, so much of their earnings, as that unremitting labour shall be necessary to obtain a sufficient surplus barely to maintain their privileged orders in splendour and idleness, to fascinate the eyes of the people, and excite in them an humble adoration and submission, as to an order of superior beings. Although few among us had gone all these lengths of opinion, yet many had advanced, some more, some less, on the way. And in the convention which formed our government, they endeavoured to draw the cords of government as tight as they could obtain them, to lessen the dependence of the general functionaries on their constituents; to subject to them those of the states; and to weaken their means of maintaining the steady equilibrium which the majority of the convention had deemed salutary for both branches, general and local. To recover, therefore, in practice the powers which the nation had refused, and to warp to their own wishes those actually given, was the steady object of the federal party. Ours, on the contrary, was to maintain the will of the majority of the convention, and of the people themselves. We believed, with them, that man was a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice; and that he could be restrained from wrong, and protected in right, by moderate powers, confided to persons of his own choice, and held to their duties by dependence on his own will. We believed that the complicated organization of kings, nobles, and priests, was not the wisest or best to effect the happiness of associated man; that wisdom and

virtue were not hereditary; that the trappings of such a machinery consumed, by their expense, those earnings of industry they were meant to protect, and, by the inequalities they produced, exposed liberty to sufferance. We believed that men enjoying in ease and security the full fruits of their own industry, enlisted by all their interests on the side of law and order, habituated to think for themselves, and to follow their reason as their guide, would be more easily and safely governed, than with minds nourished in error, and vitiated and debased, as in Europe, by ignorance, indigence and oppression. The cherishment of the people was then our principle, the fear and distrust of them, that of the other party. Composed, as we were, of the labouring interests of the country, we could not be less anxious for a government of law and order than were the inhabitants of the cities, the strong holds of federalism. And whether our efforts to save the principles and form of our constitution have not been salutary, let the present republican freedom, order, and prosperity of our country determine. History may distort truth, and will distort it for a time, by the superior efforts at justification of those who are conscious of needing it most. Nor will the opening scenes of our present government be seen in their truc aspect, until the letters of the day, now held in private hoards, shall be broken up and laid open to public view. What a treasure will be found in General Washington's cabinet,* when it shall pass into the hands of as candid a friend to truth as he was himself! When no longer, like Cæsar's notes and memorandums in the hands of Anthony, it shall be open to the high priests of federalism only, and garbled to say so much and no more, as suits their views?"

Of General Washington's farewell address, he gave that account which has been confirmed since Mr. Madison's death, by the publication of the letters actually written by General Washington and Mr. Madison on the subject.

He remarks, "I have been blamed for saying, that a prevalence of the doctrines of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution. I answer by asking, if a single state of the Union would have agreed to the constitution, had it given all powers to the general government? If the whole opposition to it did not proceed from the jealousy and fear of every state, of being subjected to the other states in matters merely its own? And if there is any reason to believe the states more disposed now than then, to acquiesce in this general surrender of all their rights and powers to a consolidated government, one and undivided?"

* These papers have lately been purchased by Congress, and many of the most interesting had been previously selected for publication by Mr. Sparks.

He answers the judge's inquiry whether the supreme court had passed beyond its constitutional limits at great length, and thinks that it had: and instances the case of Cohens against the state of Virginia, and the case of Marbury against Madison, in which the doctrines laid down by the court were objectionable, not only because they were not applicable to the precise case before the court, and were therefore extrajudicial, but because they extended the powers of the general government, both legislative and judicial, beyond the fair meaning of the constitution. He refers, in support of his views, to several essays published in the Richmond Enquirer, particularly a series of essays under the signature of Algernon Sidney, by judge Roane.

He says he agrees with the chief justice that "there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere." "True," he says, “there must; but does that prove it is either party? The ultimate ar. biter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress, or of two-thirds of the states. Let them decide to which they mean to give an authority claimed by two of their organs. And it has been the peculiar wisdom and felicity of our constitution, to have provided this peaceable appeal, where that of other nations is at once to force."

In a government like ours, which has been framed by a written constitution, where only a portion of power has been delegated by the people to their functionaries, and this has been distributed among three distinct and independent departments, questions must often arise whether any one of these depart

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ments has transcended the limits prescribed to it by the constitution, either by exercising powers delegated to some other department, or not delegated at all. The probable recurrence

. of such questions is multiplied in a federal government, as questions of power may arise between the different departments of the general government; and also between that government and the state governments; and that government and the people. Questions of nearly all these descriptions have, in fact, already arisen, and in one of them they have been frequent between the general government and the states, and occasionally of an agitating and dangerous character. It has, therefore, been a desideratum that a tribunal should be provided that should settle these questions, so as to prevent hazardous collisions, or even the appeals to the people which Mr. Jefferson refers to, which are always agitating, are difficult and tedious in the execution, and are unsatisfactory to some, if they are decided by a bare majority, and to others, if a majority should not prevail. But this desideratum has never yet been discovered, and it seems to be too probable that no such tribunal could be provided, that would obviate any of the apprehended evils of an appeal to the people. Judge Roane did once form a project of this kind, and proposed it in the newspapers, but the scheme not being seconded, or in fact, exciting much interest in other states, it was soon forgotten. We must, then, perhaps, be compelled to submit to these inconveniencies, as inseparable from our form of government, and console ourselves with the reflection that all human institutions are imperfect, that this evil to which we must submit, is amply compensated by numerous other advantages, and possibly that time may gradually bring men's minds to become settled on some of those questions which have most disturbed and alarmed us. In the meanwhile, a more general conviction that there is no tribunal for settling them definitely, will increase the caution of the different functionaries of coming into collision. This temper has already eluded many controversies which might have been inflamed into angry and violent conflicts.

Age seems to have had no effect in tempering Mr. Jefferson's

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