Thomas Jefferson Papers

Inaugural Address version A, 4 March 1805

4 Mch 1805

6.  In the transaction of your forn. affairs we have endeavd to cultivate the frdshp of all nations & especially of those with whom we have the most importt. relations: we have endeavored to evince by our conduct that we do justice on all occasions, and frdly offices where our duty to others will permit that peace and happiness are our first objects, and mutual exchanges of superfluities as a great means thereto, promoted by us on fair & equal terms.
2. C. at home you best know f.e. whether we have done well or ill. the suppression of unnecessary offices & of unnecessary expences enabled us to suppress unnecessary taxes, & especially those collected internally which coud. the face of our country with tax-gatherers & exhibited already the appearance of countries already far advanced in the unfortunate process of feeding the many in idleness on the labours of the few. these f.c. we have now done away, and tho with those taxes which all felt, `some inconsiderable ones which affected the rich alone fall in the common ruin, but these could not have been contind without continuing the breed of locusts which would always have been in readiness to spread themselves over your fields the locusts which were spreading over at this day I may confidently ask what farmer or mechanic ever sees the face of a tax–gatherer? our contributions are now collected in the seaport towns only. they are levied on the consumption of foreign articles, consequently on those alone who are sufficiently at their ease to afford themselves foreign luxuries in addition to domestic productions. an economical admn of these has enabled us to support the currt expences of government, to fulfill contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish native rights still within our former limits, to enlarge those limits, and to apply still a large surplus to the discharge of our public debt, so as to bring within a short period it’s compleat & final extinction and to leave a revenue liberated from all burthens & hyperexhaustion growing with your growth sufficient to meet within the year every possible future exigency, and to render unnecessary any other future tax. a vigorous adherence to economy, and avoiding useless institutions, will enable you forever to exclude the evils of internal taxn, which like a wedge when once entered will force it’s own way, and take from the labourer the whole earnings of his industry. I do not f.c. arrogate these things to myself. they are the consequences of wise laws made by your representatives, and executed with the aid of able cooperators auxiliares which these have enabled me to associate in the executive duties.
see 1. Lastn: 34. the effects of the horror of innovation in Agriculture. the plants which innovators have added to indigenous.
 the improved processes in agriculture.
 in mechanics what innovations.
‘Rome hurled her thunders against innovators; princes armed for the defence of ignorance & superstition; scaffolds flowed with the blood of men rash enough to think the pope not infallible, that the sun did not move round the earth, and sorcerers were burnt.’ 2. Segur. 67.
Williams’s Claims of literature { that science disqualifies men for the direction of the public affairs of the nation is one of the artful dogmas of ignorance & bigotry important to them as affording some means of competition.
the action & counteraction of knolege & ignorance
all govmts which forbid their own examinn & criticism do, ipso facto, acknolege their injustice.
tho’ reputn be dearer than life, it’s punmt was left by the antients to public contempt
3. f. great efforts are made to inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for antient & steady habits, to persuade them that it is better to eat acorns in the ways of their fathers than to admit the innovation of bread to p[. . . .] and b[. . . .] their grain than to let in the novelty of a mill, to till the earth with a stick rather than plough that ignorance is safety & knolege full of danger. in short my friends there are among them also is seen the action and counteraction of knolege & ignorance, they too have their Antiphilosophists, who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who tell them it is safer to commit their reason & their interests into the hands of these pure & sinless teachers who will take more disinterested care of them than they will themselves. nor are these efforts without effect. they are able to retard for a while the amelioration of their condn. but light will at length break in from their more enlightened nbors: and the day is not very distant when adventuring to trust their reason they will become candidates for the benefits of art & industry & take their stand in the line with their friends & brethren of the same land.
f e religion
c d Louisa.
6g during this course of admn and in order to disturb it the artillery of the press has been levelled agt myself personally, agt my executive associates, agt the members of the legislature, charged with every thing which malice could inspire, fancy invent, falshood advance, & ridicule & insolence dare. treason itself has been in full whereby trying all it’s efforts to draw on us wars from abroad & disarm us by division at home & by destroying the confdce of the people in their govmt.
 this might in a great degree have been repressed by inflicting the punmts provided by the laws of the several states agt. falsehood & defamation. but tho’ valuing character as much as all do who deserve to possess it and particularly sensible to whatever might alienate the affections of my fellow citizens I thot it more important for them that the experiment should be fairly & fully tried how far whether freedom of discussion, unaided by coercion is not sufficient for the propagation & protection of truth, and for preserving the affections attamt. to a govmt conducting itself with fidelity & zeal, and doing no act which it would not be willing the whole world should witness. the experiment has been tried, and we must say a scene has been exhibited such as never before was seen in any nation civilized or savage, but our fellow citizens remained cool & collected. they saw the spirit from which these falsehoods & atrocities proceeded. they adhered they gathered to their functionaries, & when the constn served them in the [. . . .]called for their suffrages of election, they pronounced their sentence of approbn, honorable to those who had served them, & consolatory to those who believe that man may be trusted with the controul of his own affairs. the distinguished portion of these calumnies which were concentrated on me, rendered it necessary that I should once more put myself on my country for trial. that country has passed their verdict of acquittal, which has rendd future appeal to them it unnecessary for me again to appeal to them (and will leave me free to indulge) or again to controul that wish for tranquility which nature & time render more & more desireable.
I shall proceed then to the duties with which my fellow citizens have again charged me.
7 ‘and to meet within the year every probable future contingency.’ not excepting even that of war. by the time the public debt is discharged, the revenue from import alone will be equal to the averaged annual expences of the revolutionary war. & no war need to us be more expensive then that. if, after that period, by an amendmt of the constn, Congress cd be authorised to apply the annual surplus of revenue to the construction of canals & other internal improvements, war would only produce a suspension of improvement, without bringing the necessity of either debt or new burthen.
a. 8.  Proceeding f.c. to that qualificn which the constn requires before my entrance on the charge which has been again conferred on me, it is my duty to express the deep sense I entertain of this new proof of confidence from my fellow citizens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires me is to conduct myself as may best satisfy their just expectations. on taking this station on a former occasion, I laid down the principles by which I believed it my duty to administer the affairs of our comwealth.
 The public act which placed me here was perfectly understood to be a manifestation of the public will that a different course should be pursued in the admn of their affairs. it was of course to be expected that the person destined to the task of making that change would become the object of the concentrated dissatisfn of the leading persons in opposition to the change. altho’ the whole body of public officers with scarcely a solitary exception were of that opposition, past ones were yet removals for that cause did not extend to a tenth part of them. it was hoped that this modern world have tended to conciliate the minds of all. with our fellow citizens at large that effect seems to have been produced; but not so with those who considd themselves as leaders. under their auspices the whole artillery of the press &c
4. e. The free exercise of religion being placed by the constitution independant of the powers of the Genl. govmt, the acts of fasting praying, thanksgiving, and the times, manner, and matter thereof, are religious exercises, which from us must neither be prescribed nor controuled by us: I have left them therefore as the constn found them, under the discipline direction of the state or church authorities acknoleged by the several sects.

When it was vain to deny that our measures were good, they resorted to motives, & alledged they proceeded from bad motives. the taxes they admitted were unnecessary, but we did not suppress them because they were unnecessary, but because it would be popular. to the public however this question is of no importance. whether their agents do good, because they are good, or because it will please their constts. is unimportant. whether we are popular because we are honest, or act honestly that we may be popular is of no consequence to the public. for if their functionaries shall be honest, they will do good for conscience sake, if they have no conscience they will do good to be popular. so good will be done at all events.

the advantages of a peaceful system. that if once our debt is paid & taxes liberated, the surplus (after supportg. govmt) will supply annual exp. of war so that no other tax need ever be laid.

removals from office.


licentiousness of press.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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