The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
FOREIGN RELATIONS / FRANCE
Here I discontinue my relation of the French Revolution. The
minuteness with which I have so far given its details, is
disproportioned to the general scale of my narrative. But I have
thought it justified by the interest which the whole world must take
in this Revolution. As yet, we are but in the first chapter of its
history. The appeal to the tights of man, which had been made in the
United States, was taken up by France, first of the European nations.
From her, the spirit has spread over those of the South. The tyrants
of the North have allied indeed against it; but it is irresistible.
Their opposition will only multiply its millions of human victims;
their own satellites will catch it, and the condition of man through
the civilized world, will be finally and greatly ameliorated. This is
a wonderful instance of great events from small causes. So inscrutable
is the arrangement of causes and consequences in this world, that a
two-penny duty on tea, unjustly imposed in a sequestered part of it,
changes the condition of all its inhabitants. I have been more minute
in relating the early transactions of this regeneration, because I was
in circumstances peculiarly favorable for a knowledge of the truth.
Possessing the confidence and intimacy of the leading Patriots, and
more than all, of the Marquis Fayette, their head and Atlas, who had
no secrets from me, I learned with correctness the views and
proceedings of that party; while my intercourse with the diplomatic
missionaries of Europe at Paris, all of them with the court, and eager
in prying into its councils and proceedings, gave me a knowledge of
these also. My information was always, and immediately committed to
writing, in letters to Mr. Jay, and often to my friends, and a
recurrence to these letters now insures me against errors of memory.
from Notes for an Autobiography, 6 January 1821