Thank you for your message regarding the quotations under the heading
"Patents, Monopolies & Inventions."  The quotations you recommend for
inclusion ARE included in the collection, though perhaps not at the
places you would prefer them.  Below is a complete analysis of the
quotes and an explanation of why they are located where they are.

At 02:58 PM 10/25/98 -0800, you wrote:
>Your website "Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government," while
>of valuable information, gives, I believe, a distorted view of
>Jefferson's position in some areas. In the section "Commerce &
>Agriculture," subheading "Patents, Monopolies, & Inventions," for
>example, Jefferson is given the aspect of a monopolist. The section
>should include the following quotes:

>"I wish with all my soul, that the nine first conventions may accept
>the new constitution, because this will secure to us the good it
>contains. which I think great and important. But I equally wish, that
>the four latest conventions, which ever they be, may refuse to accede
>to it, till a declaration of rights be annexed...

That portion of the quote is basically of historical interest, and would not
normally be included, since my collection emphasizes principles of
politics and government.

>By a declaration of
>rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom
>of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries
>in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing
>armies." (To Alexander Donald 1788.)

This portion of the quote is included in the collection under "The Bill of
Rights," sub-section "Basic Contents of a Bill of Rights," since it relates
to a list of various rights which should be included as an amendment to
the Constitution.  The quotation also includes the sentence which
follows, which is "These are fetters against doing evil which no honest
government should decline."  Notice that this is a LIST.  This is not a
complete description of any of the elements that Jefferson would have
included in a "declaration of rights."

An examination of ALL the relevant quotes reveals that Jefferson's
thoughts on monopolies developed somewhat over time.  The phrase,
"freedom of commerce against monopolies," would almost suggest that
Jefferson meant an absolute prohibition.  And, indeed, the first quote in
my section on "Patents, Monopolies & Inventions" would also seem to
suggest an absolute prohibition.  This quote expresses the same idea
(and more fully) that is included in the catch-all list in the letter to
Alexander Donald, and for that reason (and because the Donald list was
related to the Bill of Rights), I thought it not necessary to include it under
the Patents sub-heading.  The point is better and more thoroughly made
by the quote that I did include.  The first quote under that heading reads
as follows:

"The saying there shall be no monopolies lessens the
incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope of a
monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen years; but the benefit
of even limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that
of their general suppression." --Thomas Jefferson to James
Madison, 1788.  ME 7:98

"General suppression" certainly suggests an absolute prohibition.  But it
is obvious from the remainder of his writings that if he intended an
absolute prohibition in 1788, he modified that view in 1789, 1803, and
1807, concluding that "Certainly an inventor ought to be allowed a right
to the benefit of his invention for some certain time."  Considering his
views on this subject as a totality, we are compelled to conclude that
Jefferson embraced the idea that there should be monopolies, but that
they should be strictly limited.

>To James Madison, a similar quote in 1787: "I will now add what I do
>not like. First the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly &
>without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the
>press, protection against standing armies, restriction against

This quote is also included under the chapter on "The Bill of Rights."  As
a bare statement, "restriction against monopolies," conveys very little
information outside its relevance to what a bill of rights should include.
You will notice that the other components of this "laundry list" of rights
that should be included are also just a bare mention.  "Freedom of
religion," for example, is just the heading for a right whose full statement
would include much more than just that mention.

>On patents, to Isaac McPherson in 1813 (reflecting more maturity than
>your earlier dated quotes):  It has been pretended by some, (and in
>England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right
>to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but
>inheritable to their heirs...It would be curious then, if an idea, the
>fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right,
>be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any
>one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it
>is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an
>individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself;
>but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of
>everyone, and the reciever cannot dispossess himself of it...He who
>recieves an idea from me, recieves instruction himself without
>lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, recieves lights
>without darkening mine. That ideas should freely spread from one to
>another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man,
>and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and
>benevolently designed by nature...Inventions then cannot, in nature,
>be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the
>profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas
>which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according
>to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint
>from anybody...England was, until we copied her, the only country on
>earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the
>exclusive use of an idea...generally speaking, other nations have
>thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than
>advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which
>refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and
>useful devices."

This quotation is included in the chapter on "Property Rights,"
subsection "Rights Associated With Ownership," because Jefferson was
discussing the matter as a attribute of property.  It was a theoretical
discussion of the natural rights associated with property.  Notice he
wrote, "It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of
an individual brain, could, OF NATURAL RIGHT, be claimed in exclusive
and stable property."  This is a discussion of the natural rights adhering
to property.  As Jefferson wrote further, "Society may give an exclusive
right to the profits arising from them [i.e., inventions], as an
encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but
this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of
the society, without claim or complaint from anybody."  In other words,
he is saying that society may grant limited monopolies to encourage
inventions; but whether it does or does not is within its own sphere of
judgment, and no one can complain one way or the other (based on
natural rights) however it decides.  That certainly does not support a
suggestion that Jefferson was for an absolute ban on monopolies.

>I feel strongly on this issue, as currently "intellectual property
>rights" are being used to grant corporations monopolies, often over
>genetic materials that are not even their own invention. Creativity is
>preserved through a free flow of information and freedom to use our
>hands to implement that information. I think Jefferson would be
>embarrassed to be quoted justifying corporate monopolies.

The quotations listed under the section on "Patents" are genuine
Jefferson quotes; I did not make them up.  Reading them in conjunction
with his other thoughts related to property leaves the unmistakable
impression that Jefferson definitely DID support a limited monopoly on
inventions, though certainly NOT one for life, or inheritable by the
inventors heirs.

Therefore, I am compelled to disagree with you.  As a matter of
commercial policy, I think the section on "Patents" just about perfectly
reflects Jefferson's views, even including his initial sentiment opposing
all monopolies, which was later modified to include a limited monopoly to
encourage invention.  It does not at that point go into the theoretical
aspect of natural rights as they relate to property because that does not
relate specifically to commercial policy.  The bare mention of "freedom of
commerce against monopolies" is not more than a heading, not a
complete statement of his views on monopolies, and to include that in
the section on "Patents" as though it were a complete statement would
indeed be a distortion of his true views.  Finally, the theoretical
discussion on the ownership of ideas and the impossibility of
maintaining exclusive ownership, relates to the rights inherent in
property, and not directly to "Patents," which depend entirely on the
arbitrary decision of society itself, not on any natural rights that may
reside in property.

I would be entirely willing to add to, alter or re-arrange the collection in
order to more perfectly convey Jefferson's true intent; but I honestly do
not believe it is called for in this instance.

Best wishes,

Eyler Coates