The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


As to the affairs of this country, they have hitherto gone on well. The Court being decided to call the States General, know that the form of calling and constituting them would admit of cavil. They asked the advice of the Notables. These advised that the form of the last States General of 1614 be observed. In that, the commons had but about one-third of the whole number of members, and they voted by orders. The Court wished now that they should have one-half of the whole number of members, and that they should form but one house, not three. The parliament have taken up the subject, and given the opinion which the Court would have wished. We are, therefore, in hopes that, availing themselves of these contrary opinions, they will follow that which they wished. The priests and nobles threaten schism; and we do not know yet what form will ultimately be adopted. If no schism of this kind prevents it, the States will meet about March or April, and will obtain, without opposition from the Court, 1. Their own periodical convocation; 2. A share in the legislation; 3. The exclusive right to tax and appropriate the public money. They will attempt also to obtain a habeas corpus law and free press; but it does not appear to me that the nation is ripe to accept of these, if offered.

to Thomas Paine, 23 December 1788