DEMOCRACY: DID JEFFERSON ADVOCATE IT?
>Will you please help me find any quotes of Jefferson >advocating democracy? Democracy is a tricky word, and is often misunderstood. In its root meaning, it means simply government by the people, i..e., subject to their control. PURE democracy means government directly by the people, and is impractical except, perhaps, in a small township. Representative democracy is government by representatives selected by the people, and it is that kind of democracy that Jefferson is usually speaking of when he uses the term democracy or democrat, as in: "the excellence of a representative democracy compared with the misrule of kings," --Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:279 "Democrats... consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them, therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent." --Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1825. ME 16:96 "We of the United States are constitutionally and conscientiously democrats." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. ME 14:487 "The full experiment of a government democratical, but representative, was and is still reserved for us. The idea... has been carried by us more or less into all our legislative and executive departments; but it has not yet, by any of us, been pushed into all the ramifications of the system, so far as to leave no authority existing not responsible to the people; whose rights, however, to the exercise and fruits of their own industry can never be protected against the selfishness of rulers not subject to their control at short periods... My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our government may be pure and perpetual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1816. ME 15:65 But Jefferson DID favor a pure democracy on the ward basis, as in: "The article... nearest my heart is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of which taken together composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:70 When using the word democracy or democrat, it is necessary to determine from the context whether it is being used in the general sense, or in the special "pure" sense, as in: "A democracy [is] the only pure republic, but impracticable beyond the limits of a town." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1816. ME 15:65 In general, whenever Jefferson uses the term "democrat," he is referring to one who believes in government of the people, not one who supports a "pure" democracy.
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