Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson



>I was wondering if you have or can direct me to the Jeffersonian
>that discuss the Fourth Estate?
>Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Jefferson's comments on the Fourth Estate -- that is, the public press --
are scattered throughout his writings.  Chapter 50 on Freedom of the
Press, a part of my website "Thomas Jefferson on Politics &
Government," has quotations covering most all the essential points he
makes in his writings.  You can find that following the URL in the
signature below.  Go to the table of contents, and then to Chapter 50.

If you wanted more background information on the quotes listed there,
you would need to go to a large collection of TJ's writings, such as the
Memorial Edition (Lipscomb and Bergh, editors) and look up the
individual letters.

Good luck,

Eyler Coates

> A few months ago I was watching a show about Thomas Jefferson on either the > History Channel or A&E, which I believe was called View from The > Mountaintop, or something like that. In any case, I can't find it to roder > it, and the main reason I want it is because of a quote he made in later > life of why he distrusted the press. I would like help in finding that > quote, or in having you provide me with a transcript of it. I believe he > said it in response to some things written about him in later life, after > he retired from active politics and statesmanship. I'm afraid I cannot help with a transcript of the TV program. Below are several quotes that express Jefferson's feelings about the press. You will find several more in the section on Freedom of the Press at my website, Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government at the following URL: "It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood." --Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 1807. "The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false." --Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 1807. "During the course of [my] administration [as President], and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation." --Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural Address, 1805. "I deplore... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them... These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief... This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. Hope that helps. Eyler Coates


Table of Contents