Quote of the day—Thomas Jefferson

On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?

Thomas Jefferson
Notes on Virginia, 1782.
From here.
[Translating to a simpler form, “Just because we haven’t yet rebelled due to the government overstepping of the constitution in the past doesn’t mean that we won’t hold the government responsible for those infringements in the future.”—Joe]


2 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Thomas Jefferson

  1. You must remember that the Articles of Confederation were in full affect, producing a largely ineffective central government. The State Legislature had more power and authority over the people of Virginia, and as such the state Legislature would have a better feel of the pulse of the people of Virginia. So Jefferson was likely saying that the people of Virginia were consenting to be governed by “silence means assent”.

    And what happened after the adoption of the Constitution? The Whiskey Rebellion, and the first time an internal revolt was crushed by the FedGov. While George Washington was right to crush the rebellion, it set a dangerous precedent that continually expanded the power of the fedgov.

  2. The truth Jefferson observes is the main reason I have trouble with the notion that “the world is run by the people who show up.” That “rule” (if you will) makes two assumptions I find odious, albeit not unwarranted.

    First, it assumes that there are no rules that those who show up must run the world by. In our Republic, such is not the case, though that is honored more in the breach here of late.

    Second, as Jefferson says, it takes silence for assent. In my notsoveryhumble opinion, the opposite ought to hold sway — that silence must be taken for dissent. As my old man used to say, “No answer is a ‘NO’ answer.”


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