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10 August 2007

It's Petition-Your-Government Time...

Take advantage of this "quaint" tradition while you still can. It's a lot harder to do inside a prison -- or a prison-nation.

  1. Petition Congress to hold Bush administration figures in contempt. (The legal kind; if you're not already holding them in moral contempt, seek help.)
  2. Petition Congress to reinstate the Fourth Amendment and repeal the wireless surveillance powers they cravenly handed to the Bush administration -- and to every other administration, if the sun does not truly set on this imperial diktat.
Below are some wise words, often truncated to the point of meaninglessness, from Thomas Jefferson from a letter to William S. Smith, sent from Paris, November 13, 1787 (reproduced in full on pages 910-912 in the Library of America volume of Jefferson's writings).

The subject, as you'll see, is the effect of Shays' rebellion in Western Massachusetts on the composition of the new Constitution. (For comparison with Jefferson's viewpoint: here's a socialist viewpoint; here's Donald Rumsfeld's viewpoint; here's the official U.S. government's viewpoint.)

Note that the American Revolution was, at least to Jefferson, truly a revolution. I bet you'll be surprised to read what Jefferson had to say about revolution, rebellion, and the power of the people in general. This ain't Mount Rushmore history.

I've kept the spelling as is, but I've introduced paragraphing for clarity:
I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America.

There are very good articles in it: & very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: & what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent & persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves.

Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quietly under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner to the death of public liberty.

We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & 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 & 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 & tyrants. It is it's natural manure.

Our [Constitutional] Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusetts: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen-yard in order. I hope in God this article [re-electability of the President; since limited to two terms] will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.

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