Letter: We can learn from Jefferson's words to MadisonIn 1787, a group of angry farmers in Massachusetts rebelled against oppressive taxes, credit regulations, and foreclosure laws that put many into debt, foreclosure, and jail.
By: Scott Thomson, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
In 1787, a group of angry farmers in Massachusetts rebelled against oppressive taxes, credit regulations, and foreclosure laws that put many into debt, foreclosure, and jail. They closed the courts and freed many debtors and protestors from jail.
John Adams, the president at the time, created the Riot Act which outlawed illegal assemblies. The rebellion was suppressed by military force and caused some leaders in the new nation to push for a stronger central government.
Today, we have such a government and the destruction of life, liberty, and property is our inheritance. Thomas Jefferson, in the same year as what has become known as “Shays rebellion,” wrote some interesting comments.
To James Madison he wrote:
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and is necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Commenting on Shays rebellion, to a friend he wrote:
“God forbid that we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. A lack of rebelliousness among the people would demonstrate lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty … . And what country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?”
Writing to someone abroad, Jefferson outlined our protection from an oppressive central government, our states’ rights:
“But the true barriers of our liberty in this country are our State governments; and the wisest conservative power ever contrived by man, is that of which our Revolution and present government found us possessed. Seventeen distinct States amalgamated into one as to their foreign concerns, but single and independent as to their internal administration.”
Consider the “occupy” movement. What happens when this oppressive central government concurs with and even instigates rebellion? Could a “national emergency” suspend our God-given rights?