Spoke too Soon

Publicola has a post up I think everyone ought to read.

I mean everyone.

He doesn’t title his posts, but if he did, I’d recommend Patriots & Tyrants, because it reminded me of something Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend William Smith after Shay’s Rebellion in 1787. The first time I read it, I thought to myself “What a radical SOB Jefferson was.”

Now I read it, and I understand his fear. He feared apathy, and believed it could be the downfall of the nation.

This is what he said:

The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Death-by-a-thousand-cuts. Frog in a pot. Use whatever analogy you want, we the people have been lethargic since 1865, and it has cost us – dearly. And the worst thing is, we haven’t misconceived, we’ve ignored obvious wrongs. And not so obvious ones. Lethargy indeed.

Tytler was right. The cycle is: bondage, faith, courage, liberty, abundance, selfishness, complacency, apathy, dependence, and then back into bondage.

How far into dependence are we?

Read the post below it, too. And the link.

And wonder what happened to our liberty.

(Edited to add:) In light of Jefferson’s advice, I think Claire Wolfe is wrong. It’s not too early to shoot the bastards, it’s too late. They’re too entrenched to respond as Jefferson advises they should.

Which brings to mind Churchill’s quote…

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