The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I have hoped this country would settle her internal disputes advantageously and without bloodshed. As yet none has been spilt, though the British newspapers give the idea of a general civil war. Hitherto, I had supposed both the King and parliament would lose authority, and the nation gain it, through the medium of its States General and provincial Assemblies, but the arrest of the deputies of Bretagne two days ago, may kindle a civil war. Its issue will depend on two questions. 1. Will other provinces rise? 2. How will the army conduct itself? A stranger cannot predetermine these questions. Happy for us that abuses have not yet become patrimonies, and that every description of interest is in favor of national and moderate government. That we are yet able to send our wise and good men together to talk over our form of government, discuss its weaknesses and establish its remedies with the same sang-froid as they would a subject of agriculture. The example we have given to the world is single, that of changing our form of government under the authority of reason only, without bloodshed.

to Mr. Izard, 17 July 1788