Tag Archives: Aristocracy

How to eliminate tyrants and empower citizens?

I considered 4 of these bills, passed or reported, as forming a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of antient or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican.
The repeal of the laws of entail …
The abolition of primogeniture…
The restoration of the rights of conscience …
the bill for a general education…
To these too might be added, as a further security, the introduction of the trial by jury
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders despise privileged and guaranteed status.
We have dealt with these provisions individually in the preceding posts. Here, Jefferson summarized them and explains their importantance. They will:
1. Eliminate any past or future aristocracy (some more equal than others)
2. Found a “truly republican” government (where all are created equal)

The heart of these four provisions:
1. Entail repealed – prescribing by law that property will be kept in just a few hands
2. Primogeniture abolished – an entire estate having to pass to the first born
3. Rights of conscience guaranteed – dis-establishing the official, tax-supported church
4. General education provided – publicly funded for all boys and girls (though not slave children)

He recommended a fifth protection, trial by jury, taking some legal authority away from the courts and entrusting it to juries of one’s peers.

“I don’t believe anyone left the room once you started talking because everyone
was so captivated by your portrayal of Mr. Thomas Jefferson, citizen farmer.”

North Carolina Agribusiness Council
Mr. Jefferson will captivate your audience, too!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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What kind of aristocracy would you prefer?

I obtained leave to bring in a bill declaring tenants in tail to hold their lands in fee simple … To annul this privilege, and instead of an aristocracy of wealth, of more harm and danger, than benefit, to society, to make an opening for the aristocracy of virtue and talent, which nature has wisely provided for the direction of the interests of society, & scattered with equal hand through all it’s conditions, was deemed essential to a well ordered republic. To effect it no violence was necessary, no deprivation of natural right, but rather an enlargement of it by a repeal of the law.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Democratic leaders seek equality of opportunity.
Colonial law in Virginia provided for lands to be inherited only by the eldest male child. Privileged individuals had long before obtained large grants of land from the king. The law allowed families to keep those vast holdings in very few hands as the generations passed. Those few hands achieved even greater wealth and power, eventually controlling much of the Colony. This resulted in “an aristocracy of wealth, of more harm and danger, than benefit, to society …”

Jefferson’s bill would end that practice and allow lands to be inherited by all heirs, not just one. This action would “make an opening for the aristocracy of virtue and talent.”

This contrast between aristocracies was a lifelong theme for Jefferson. It was not the wealthy and well-born who were to be favored but rather those in whom nature had broadly distributed talent and integrity. Those qualities were “essential to a well ordered republic.”

No revolution was needed for this revolutionary change. No one’s natural rights would be limited. Rather, those natural rights for all would be enlarged by the abolition of unnatural rights for a few.

Jefferson’s bill was adopted by the Virginia legislature.

“You gave us an excellent program! Our members were well served … “
New Mexico Federal Reserve Board
Mr. Jefferson will serve your audience well!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Whose voices are most important?

..whether the power of the people, or that of the aristoi [aristocracy] should prevail..
… we broke into two parties, each wishing to give a different direction to the government; the one to strengthen the most popular branch, the other the more permanent branches, and to extend their permanence. here you & I separated for the first time …

To John Adams, June 27, 1813

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders seek to understand differences of opinion.
Jefferson was a year and a half into his resurrected friendship with Adams. They had taken different paths 25 years earlier over the direction the new nation should pursue. Jefferson summed up one of their main differences:
– Those who favored “the power of the people” wanted a stronger Congress, which was more responsive to citizens’ voices.
– Those who favored “the aristoi” [the elites, well-connected, wealthy or well-born]  wanted to empower “the more permanent branches” of government, Executive and Judicial. The Executive [President] didn’t have to answer to the voters as often. The Judicial [courts] didn’t have to answer at all.

Jefferson stood at the head of the first camp, Adams of the second. The years-long breach between the two patriots began here.

“City officials are a “tough crowd” and the ovation they gave you was well-deserved.”
Executive Direction, Missouri Municipal Association

Mr. Jefferson hopes your audience will not be a “tough crowd,”
but if they are, he is up to the task!
Invite him to speak! Call 573-657-2739

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Who’s your daddy?

Hereditary bodies, on the contrary, always existing, always on the watch for their own aggrandizement [to make themselves greater or to appear so], profit of every opportunity of advancing the privileges of their order, and encroaching on the rights of the people …
To Monsieur A. Coray, October 31, 1823
Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 649-650

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
True leaders recognize ancestry as a false basis in a representative society.
Jefferson’s answer to the title of this post would be: It makes no difference.

His position had its roots in the Declaration of Independence, pledging equal rights and opportunities for all. A hereditary society was built, not on merits of the individual (“Who are YOU?”), but on the individual’s connection to someone else (“Who’s your DADDY?”). America fought its war for independence to free itself from the dominion of a hereditary body.

What’s wrong with these bodies?
– They never cease to exist.
– They always want to grow larger.
– They seek to profit by their privileged status.
– They interfere with the rights of others.

“Every county official I spoke with who attended the Opening Session
was grateful that we had you as a speaker.”
Executive Director, Association of Indiana Counties

Your audience will be grateful for the encouragement Thomas Jefferson brings.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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