The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I never knew an instance of the English parliament's undertaking to relieve the poor, by a distribution of bread in time of scarcity. In fact, the English commerce is so extensive and so active, that though bread may be a little more or less plenty, there can never be an absolute failure. This island is so narrow, that corn can be readily carried from the seaports to its interior parts. But were an absolute want to happen, and were the parliament to undertake a distribution of corn, I think, that according to the principles of their government, they would only vote a sum of money, and address the King to employ it for the best. The business is, in its nature, executive, and would require too great a variety of detail to be managed by an act of parliament. However, I repeat it, that I never heard or read of an instance of the parliament's interfering to give bread.

to Marquis de Lafayette, 12 June 1789