Quotations - Centralization

by Thomas Jefferson


My general plan would be to make the States one as to everything connected with foreign nations and several as to everything purely domestic.

(Letter to Edward Carrington, Paris, August 4, 1787). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 133 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption, indifferent and incapable of a wholesome care over so wide a spread of surface. This will not be borne, and you will have to choose between reform and revolution. If I know the spirit of this country, the one or the other is inevitable. Before the canker is become inveterate, before its venom has reached so much of the body politic as to get beyond control, remedy should be applied.

(Letter to W.T. Barry, 1822). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 65-66 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

(Letter to C. Hammond, 1821). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 163 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

(T)he way to have a good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many...What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government has ever existed under the Sun? The generalizing and the concentrating [of] all cares and powers into one body.

(Letter to Joseph C. Cabell, 1816). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 162 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens, and the same circumstance, by rendering direction impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder and waste. And I do verily believe, that if the principle were to prevail, of a common law being in force in the United States...it would become the most corrupt government on the earth...

(Letter to Gideon Granger, Monticello, August 13, 1800). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 97 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

(S)hould look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin, will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people; when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price.

My idea is that we should be made one nation in every case involving foreign affairs, and separate ones in whatever is merely domestic...