Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, Whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth? Whether a government … can be written down by falsehood & defamation [in the newspapers]? the experiment has been tried. you have witnessed the scene. our fellow citizens looked on cool, & collected … when the constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict, honorable to those who had served them, and consolatory [life-affirming, cheerful] to the friend of man, who believes that he may be trusted with the controul of his own affairs.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confident leaders trust their constituents to act wisely.
Thomas Jefferson claimed the world was watching the American “experiment,” whether open discussion without government intervention was all that was needed for truth to triumph over error. In 1804, the citizens, “cool & collected,” made their choice. In re-electing the President and a Republican Congress, they affirmed Jefferson’s leadership for less government, fewer taxes, and more individual freedom, i.e. a man’s “controul of his own affairs.”