We have just received here the news of the decapitation of the king of France. Should the present ferment in Europe not produce republics every where, it will at least soften the monarchical governments by rendering monarchs amenable to punishment like other criminals, and doing away that aegis [protection] of insolence and oppression, the inviolability of the king’s person. We I hope shall adhere to our republican government, and keep it to it’s original principles by narrowly watching it.
To Joseph Fay, March 18, 1793
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
No leader is above the law forever … or safe from the mob.
The beheaded king was Louis XVI, whom Jefferson had known during his tenure as ambassador to France, 1784-89. Jefferson had seen some good qualities in the man, but those were compromised by personality defects, a fondness for alcohol and pleasure, and an overbearing wife, Marie Antoinette. She lost her head, too.
Jefferson hoped the turmoil in France would lead to a more republican government there and an inspiration toward that end in other countries. Even if this act of supreme violence against the king didn’t “produce republics every where,” at least it would serve as a warning to other monarchs. They were not above the law.
Jefferson continued to espouse America’s “republican government” and the necessity of “narrowly watching it.” Devotion to our “original principles” would keep America from becoming like European monarchies.
“… what a magnificent job you did as President Thomas Jefferson …
I have no idea how you pulled it off so well, but you certainly did.”
Substantive Program Chair, Judicial Conference, 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
(Endorsement was from the Chair in that capacity, not from the Court itself.)
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to pull it off so well for your audience!
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739