Thomas Jefferson:A Multifaceted Individual

    Lately on this discussion group we have been treated to the spectacle of people who are denigrating the militia movement as a whole, and making a show of drawing their support from some of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

   The main problem with that is Thomas Jefferson was a multi-faceted individual who was aware of the realities of human nature and history. He definitely understood that in order for a free people to preserve their liberties that they must have access to and training in the means to preserve those liberties by force.

   The quotations which follow are taken from a broad selection of Jefferson's writings which was edited by Saul K. Padover titled, "Thomas Jefferson on Democracy." This work was published by Mentor Book. This work was copyright in 1939 and the copy that I have does not have an ISBN number. The order or item number assigned to it by Mentor is MT 722. Notations in parenthesis following the quotations are an indication of who Jefferson was writing to or what speech the quote is drawn from and the year Jefferson made the comment. Page number notations in brackets indicate the page the quotation can be found on in Padover's book.

"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."
(To Madison, 1787) {pp 19-20}

"God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is a lethargy, a forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had thirteen States independent for 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half, for each State. What country before, ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts and to 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 its natural manure."
(To Wm. S. Smith, 1787) {p 20}  

" ... a well-disciplined militia - our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them;" 
(First Inaugural, March 4, 1801) {p 32}  

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. For a people who are free and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security."
(Eighth Annual Message, 1808) {p 153}  

"Rather than it [the French Revolution] should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated; were there but an Adam and Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is." 
(To Wm. Short, 1793) {p 168} 


   I could go on citing similar quotations for pages, but I feel that which I have presented already is enough to make my point. Thomas Jefferson was keenly aware of human nature and well aware that there were times when it was necessary for people to use force in order to preserve their rights. Those who would quote Jefferson in order to denigrate people who are trying to form militia units as a counterbalance to the ever increasing power being wielded by the federal government show that they have at best a minimal understanding of human nature, history and the thought and writings of Thomas Jefferson.

Mike Johnson/Militia at large
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These  are the personal views of Mike Johnson. He was the elected spokesman of the North Central Florida Regional Militia. They are neither endorsed nor supported by Citizens For Better Government. They are presented for informational purposes only. 

Last Revision: March 31, 1998