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he assumed the position that the Federal Government alone possessed the right of acquiring title to Indian lands from the Indian tribes, and that this should be done by treaty. This became a settled policy of the Government, and until within the last few years, we treated the Indian tribes as a sort of subordinated foreign powers, ceding us their lands by solemn treaty.
Apportionment Under Washington's administration the ratio of one representative to every thirty thousand inhabitants was fixed, but when the bill for the first apportionment of Representatives in Congress passed instead of applying the ratio to each State, it was applied to the population of the entire country. Jefferson gave the President a Cabinet opinion to the effect that this violated the true intent of the Constitution, and urged an executive veto. The President agreed with Jefferson, notwithstanding Hamilton's opinion to the contrary, and vetoed the bill. The House then passed the bill, applying the ratio to the population of each State separately, and this has become the permanent custom after every succeeding census.
Power of Congress over Interstate Commerce On February 28, 1803, Congress passed a law "prohibiting the importation of any negro, mulatto, or other person of color into any State where, by the laws thereof, their admission is prohibited,” and affixing penalties for the violation of the act. Jefferson signed the act. This is curious and valuable right now, inas
much as it furnishes a precedent for a bill, now pending in Congress, to prohibit the importation of alcoholic stimulants into any State, where, “by the laws thereof," their sale is prohibited.
This Jeffersonian precedent is of high permanent value. Congress should not obstruct, but should coöperate with the States, when exercising their police powers for the protection of public health, or public morals, whenever Congress thinks the end, sought by the State, not violative of natural right, nor of national policy.
Electoral College Jefferson advocated a constitutional amendment which would enable Presidents to be elected by a direct vote of the people, thus abolishing the electoral college, the people, however, voting in each State as citizens of the State, each State's vote counting to the extent of the sum of its Senators plus its Representatives. That amendment ought to be passed now. Some day we shall have trouble in the electoral college because of some elector's not keeping faith and voting as his constituents have voted. There is no law to prevent him. There is no legal penalty to which he would be subjected. There is only a pledge on honor - sometimes even that is only impliedly made.
Freedom of the Press In his second inaugural address, after referring to the licentiousness of the press and to the calumnies and slander, etc., he announces what was his, and what ought forever to remain, the permanent policy of the Republic, by asking:
“Whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, was not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth – whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no acts which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness — can be written down by falsehood and defamation.”
He proudly refers to the fact that the Federalist experiment to throttle and suppress free speech and printing had been tried and failed, and to the result of the Republican experiment of the contrary theory which “had been honorable to those who served them, and consolatory to the friends of man, who believed he might be intrusted with his own affairs." You will agree that he was justified in this pæan of self-congratulation. He had kept the same faith in office that he had preached when out of it, though everybody knew that he had suffered more from the license of the press than any man, who has ever been prominent in American history, and suffered because he was not the victim of the hatred of individuals, but of classes.
SUMMING UP Meanwhile his administration had paid off thirtythree millions of the public debt, which had been somewhat increasing before he came in; it had reduced taxes very much; it had reduced patronage, thereby simplifying the Government a great deal, and had added to the national domain the vast area of the Louisiana Territory, and put down Burr's conspiracy without war or bloodshed; so adeptly that the Federalists were beginning to deny that there ever had been a conspiracy at all; it had laid the foundations for the
future successful contention for the possession of the Oregon country; it had benefited its own commerce and that of the civilized world by putting down the Barbary powers; it had kept the peace amid untold difficulties and with unspeakable benefit; it had captured the common sense and imagination of the country; it had destroyed quasi-monarchical forms, ceremonials, cavalcadings and “demnition nonsense” generally; it had given a practical illustration of the fact that government can be carried on successfully without tying to itself the monied, or any other special interest, and that it could be carried on by those, who regarded it as a public trust; he had given practical demonstration of the fact that a democracy is not irresponsible or dangerous, and that restraints upon freedom of speech and of the press are not necessary to make a government strong; he had put the example of George Washington in declining a third term upon a basis of reason and general principle, destined to appeal for all time to the American people, and although his embargo policy had pressed hard upon the navigating States, the pressure had been no harder, nor the dissatisfaction any greater, than war would have brought in its train, as was afterwards demonstrated.
JEFFERSON'S INFLUENCE ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION
IN AMERICA IN connection with his devotion to the cause of freedom of religion and speech, and to the idea that government ought not to attempt to stifle the expression of opinion, but that church and state should be separate, this is worth quoting from Jefferson's “Notes on Virginia”:
“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ..."It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion and whom will ye make your inquisitors? Fallible men, governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? Difference of opinion is advantageous to religion. The several sects perform the office of censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. Let us reflect that the earth is inhabited by thousands of millions of people; that these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion; that ours is but one of the thousand; that if there be but one right, and ours be that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But, against such a majority, we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged by them; and how can we wish others to indulge it, while we refuse it ourselves?!!