When Thomas Jefferson was in France, he heard news of poor Massachusetts farmers who took up arms in rebellion against their creditors. He sided with the rebels, or as he calls them, “patriots”:

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

I appreciate the suspicion of centralized governmental power coming from many of my friends on the right, but Jefferson’s critique of power was more well-rounded. He was suspicious of those who had the money and used their power to hold people down. The inequality in today’s America would certainly astonish him.

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