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royal governor's little partie quarrée in Williamsburg, settled on his broad acres at Monticello with his numerous slaves and dependants, retiring in nature, silent in public, ultra-sensitive, a litterateur and musician, a philosopher and scientist. By all the canons of probability Jefferson should have been the aristocratic Federalist and Hamilton the Democratic Republican. Dis aliter visum!
Jefferson's democracy was not a pose or a pretext: it was a deep-seated principle. He devoted himself wholly to the reform of the evils which “the shameless corruption of a portion of the representatives in the first and second Congresses” had introduced, as he wrote to his successor in the State Department, Edmund Randolph, “because on the success of such exertions the form of the government is to depend.” “Were parties here," he writes to the Virginia congressman, Giles, “divided merely by greediness for office as in England, to take a part in either would be unworthy of a reasonable or moral man; but where the principle of difference is as substantial and as strongly pronounced as between the Republicans and Monocrats of our own country, I hold it as honorable to take a firm and decided part and as immoral to pursue a middle line as between the parties of honest men and rogues into which every country is divided." Jefferson believed in the common people as “the most honest and safe, tho' not always the most wise depository of the public interest.” He confessed that he was not among those who feared the people. George Washington wrote: “Mankind left to themselves are unfit for their own government.” John Marshall said: “I fear, and there is no opinion more degrading to the dignity of man, that those have truth on their side who say that man is incapable of governing himself.” But Thomas Jefferson never experienced such disillusionment. His optimism was too deeply founded in the philosophy of human perfectibility through education to be shaken even by revolutions, whether tiny as Shays's or mighty as Danton's. He didn't dread wiping the slate clean-of constitutions, national debts, religious creeds, privileged orders, or even a whole generation of men and women-if liberty depended on the issue of the contest. The September massacres in Paris he deplored, but rather than have seen the cause of the Revolution fail, he wrote to William Short, he would have had half the earth desolated. “Were there but an Adam and Eve left in every country and left free, it would be better than it now is.”
There is obviously much ridiculous exaggeration in these sentiments, just as there is in the expressions of the Federalists in the countercharges that the Republicans were "a composition of incongruous materials all tending to mischief,” led by "an atheist in religion and a fanatic in politics” (the words are Hamilton's). Jefferson may well have been mistaken in his estimate of the effect on the country of the Hamiltonian measures of funding, assumption, the tariff, excise duties, and the bank; but to make jealousy of their author the source of Jefferson's opposition to them is to take the effect for the cause. Jefferson distrusted and even detested Hamilton, not because he was a successful rival for the favor of the President and Congress, but because he was the advocate of principles which Jefferson believed his life long to be destructive of genuine democracy. One need not agree with Jefferson's political philosophy to accord him the justice of the recognition of this truth.
When Jefferson left the cabinet the "treasury phalanx” was still intrenched in Congress and the courts. The opposition to Hamilton's political and financial centralization was wide-spread but unorganized. "Are the people in your quarter as well contented with the proceedings of our government as their representatives say they are?” asked Jefferson of R. H. Lee as early as February, 1791. “There is a vast mass of discontent gathered in the South, and how and when it will break God knows. I look forward to it with some anxiety.” To organize this "vast mass of discontent,” not only in the South, but all through the land, was the task which Jefferson undertook in the enthusiasm of his democratic faith. He believed that the great majority of the American people, if they found their voice, would protest against the Hamiltonian policy through which our country was fast "galloping into monarchy.” There was no further help in an unreformed Congress which passed Hamilton's bills at his bidding. "The only correction of what is corrupt in our present form of government,” wrote Jefferson to George Mason, “will be the augmentation of the numbers in the lower house, so as to get a more agricultural representation, which may put that interest above that of the stock-jobbers."
Jefferson had so strong a prejudice in favor of the agricultural classes that he was even partially reconciled to the ravages of the yellow fever in the cities. It swept away the "artificers” (mechanics), whom he considered "the panders of vice and the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned.” The cultivators of the soil, on the other hand, he wrote to John Jay in 1785, "are the most valuable citizens: they are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds." Hence Jefferson's opposition to the mercantile and industrial interests which were encouraged by Hamilton's funding policy and protective tariff. Jefferson was a "physiocrat.” If he had any French tutor it was not the eccentric Rousseau with his “virtuous savage," but the practical Turgot, who sought to build the state on the broad foundations of local liberties, resting on the ultimate base of the nation's wealth-the soil. It was not because Jefferson was "stupid” or “lacking any capacity for financial matters” that he rejected the whole structure of Hamilton: industrial stocks resting on the bank issues, and these on the consolidated public debt, and all on the foundation of taxation. It was rather because he saw in it what to him was the vicious principles of a perpetual debt with its double curse of speculative attraction for the rich and burdensome taxation for the poor. He looked askance on Hamilton's cunning in figures, as Luther did on the great Augsburg bankers, the Fuggers. "I am not skilled in accounts,” said Brother Martin, “but I do not understand how 100 guldens can gain 20 in a year, or how one can gain another, and that not from the soil or cattle, where success depends not on the wit of men but on the blessing of God.”
The skill and diligence with which Jefferson organized the opposition to the policy of the administration has been recognized by his friends and his foes alike. “Almost never," says Professor Channing, “has a political party been so efficiently or so secretly marshalled and led.” Jefferson had need of all the patient optimism of his nature in building up a Republican party, for not only were the “Monocrats” firmly intrenched in public office, with the private support of wealth and of that social deference which was common in the days of our fore