JEFFERSON'S VIEWS ON FREE TRADE
> I would like to inquire with you on a more modern topic: MFN for > China. What do you think Jefferson would think?Who's side would he come down > on? I mean I believe in free trade and open markets, and I also believe that > other nations have a right to a different form of government than us. I suspect that Jefferson would not be in either camp on the China issue. Perhaps the new and pervasive capitalist economy would cause him to alter his views somewhat, but as radical as it may sound, I think Jefferson would support free trade without regard to the kind of government a nation had. He wrote: "Though forbidden by my character to meddle in the internal affairs of an allied state, it is the wish of my heart that their troubles may have such an issue as will secure the greatest degree of happiness to the body of the people: for it is with the mass of the nation we are allied, and not merely with their governors." --Thomas Jefferson to C. W. F. Dumas, 1787. ME 6:342, Papers 12:360 He naturally desired that all people live in a free society, but he recognized that this was not always possible. But most importantly, he recognized that it was not our business to interfere in the affairs of a foreign state. That is the business of the people who live there. "We surely cannot deny to any nation that right whereon our own government is founded, that every one may govern itself according to whatever form it pleases and change these forms at its own will... The will of the nation is the only thing essential to be regarded." --Thomas Jefferson to Gouverneur Morris, 1792. ME 9:36 He wrote many things on this issue, which I have collected under the section "The Rights of Nations" at the Jefferson quotes website, especially: "The right of nations to self-government being my polar star, my partialities are steered by it without asking whether it is a Bonaparte or an Alexander [Emperor of Russia] toward whom the helm is directed." --Thomas Jefferson to M. Correa de Serra, 1815. ME 14:330 "[We would be] guilty of great [error] in [our] conduct toward other nations [if we endeavored] to force liberty on [our] neighbors in [our] own form." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jun 24, 1793.
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