“ And what country can preserve it's 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 and 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 and tyrants. It is it's natural manure.” Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787This is more powerful than just patriot’s blood.
The date for this was November, 1787. This was not written in defiance of the British Crown. The fighting of the American Revolution had been over since 1981 and the treaty was signed in 1783. This is the interlude between the end of the war and the ratifying of the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention had finished its work in September and passed it to the states. The Federalist Papers are being written and published in the nations newspapers. The debate in on. Jefferson is in France as an ambassador and is obviously frustrated because he has had little input.
This reflects the time when the states were trying to have the security of a national government without giving it any power. The national government was totally powerless. In this context Jefferson is writing about armed rebellion, against a government with no power. He is writing as France is moving toward its bloody revolution. How would he write today?
Will it come to violence here? It already has. Did you read about Shay’s Rebellion in school? Does the Whiskey Rebellion come up? Does the Civil War ring any bells? Does Waco, Texas mean nothing to you? Will we see things like this grow and spread?
I hope not. The thing that tyrants don’t understand is that you can push people too far. We still have wiggle room. We still have good will. We still have patience. We also still have pushy people trying to control how hot your shower is, how much water your toilet uses, how you define marriage and whether your 14 year old has the right to an abortion.
We have people who want to take away your freedom of movement. We have people who want you arrested for protecting yourself against violent criminals in your own home. We have people who want the government appointed social workers to tell you how to raise your children. We have people who believe that a small fish needs water more than people do. If you pay attention, I am sure you have you own list.
Some day this will be history.
Stay tuned as it unfolds.
homo unius libri