Letter from Thomas Jefferson to La Fayette, November 14th 1823
For, in truth the parties of Whig and Tory are those of Nature. They exist in all countries, whether called by these names or by those of Aristocrats and Democrats, Côté Droite et Côté Gauche, Ultras and Radicals, Serviles and Liberals. The sickly, weakly, timid man, fears the people and is a Tory by Nature. The healthy, strong and bold cherishes them and is formed a Whig by Nature… The Tories are for strengthening the Executive and General Government; the Whigs cherish the representative branch, and the Right reserved by the States, as the bulwark against consolidation, which must immediately generate monarchy.
In this letter written in 1823 by Thomas Jefferson who was eighty years old to La Fayette we may think that he explains his ideas about politics and nature but in fact he wants to help La Fayette who is one of his best friends, whom he met during the Independence War. In 1823, La Fayette, who was called “the citizen of both worlds”did not precisely know which of these two worlds he belonged in, as he had been born an aristocrat in France but he had fought for democracy in America, which he later often visited as a French ambassador. This double nationality led to his being really welcome in neither country. This is why Jefferson in this letter alludes to the break between Whigs and Tories , a natural division according to him, which justifies La Fayette’s taking side for democracy.
Indeed, this letter is extremely well written because it is extremely well balanced, although not totally symmetrical: from Whigs to Tories to Whigs. The vision it conveys is typical of the Eighteenth century’s philosophy of Enlightenment. In it, Thomas Jefferson explores nature and extols democracy. He tries to persuade his friend that political positions are not really a question of ideals or ideas but rather a kind of physical determination. Indeed, at the time sciences were... [continues]
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