Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Obama's Jefferson

The letter Obama quoted from is instructive for its understanding of what compromise means.  Obama quoted from Jefferson's letter to John Dickinson, July 23, 1801, "Every man cannot have his way in all things -- without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society."  But note Jefferson's denunciation of his rival Federalists later on in the letter:

The greatest good we can do our country is to heal it's party divisions & make them one people. I do not speak of their leaders who are incurable, but of the honest and well-intentioned body of the people. I consider the pure federalist as a republican who would prefer a somewhat stronger executive; and the republican as one more willing to trust the legislature as a broader representation of the people, and a safer deposit of power for many reasons. But both sects are republican, entitled to the confidence of their fellow citizens. Not so their quondam leaders, covering under the mask of federalism hearts devoted to monarchy. The Hamiltonians, the Essex-men, the revolutionary tories &c. They have a right to tolerance, but neither to confidence nor power. It is very important that the pure federalist and republican should see in the opinion of each other but a shade of his own, which by a union of action will be lessened by one-half: that they should see & fear the monarchist as their common enemy, on whom they should keep their eyes, but keep off their hands. (emphasis added) 

Categories > Presidency

Discussions - 3 Comments

Good post, Ken. If memory serves, in Jefferson's first inaugural address the line "we are all republicans, we are all federalists" has the "r" and the "f" in lower case in TJ's version, but was printed with caps. That's the import of the line about "federal and republican principles" a bit later. To Jefferson, all Americans are "federalists" in that they believe in the federal system. He did not think that was true of Hamilton

Thanks, recall FDR comparing Republicans to Nazis in his 1944 SOTU.

Sadly (or, perhaps, blessedly) we have finally come to a point where we can no longer split the difference. Both sides see the other as, well, the "other". The ONLY solution is victory for one side, defeat and unconditional surrender by the other.

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