The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
UNITY / PARTY POLITICS / DISSENSION A LESSER EVIL THAN DESPOTISM
You have found on your return a higher style of political difference
than you had left here. I fear this is inseparable from the different
constitutions of the human mind, and that degree of freedom which
permits unrestrained expression. Political dissension is doubtless a
less evil than the lethargy of despotism, but still it is a great
evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the
philosopher, to exclude its influence, if possible, from social life.
The good are rare enough at best. There is no reason to subdivide them
by artificial lines. But whether we shall ever be able so far to
perfect the principles of society, as that political opinions shall,
in its intercourse, be as inoffensive as those of philosophy,
mechanics, or any other, may well be doubted.
to Thomas Pinckney, 29 May 1797