Thomas Jefferson
To Horatio Gates Spafford
(March 17, 1814)

To Horatio G. Spafford

Monticello, March 17, 1814

DEAR SIR, -- I am an unpunctual correspondent at best. While my affairs permit me to be within doors, I am too apt to take up a book and to forget the calls of the writing-table. Besides this, I pass a considerable portion of my time at a possession so distant; and uncertain as to its mails, that my letters always await my return here. This must apologize for my being so late in acknowledging your two favors of December 17th and January 28th, as also that of the Gazetteer, which came safely to hand. I have read it with pleasure, and derived from it much information which I did not possess before. I wish we had as full a statement as to all our States. We should know ourselves better, our circumstances and resources, and the advantageous ground we stand on as a whole. We are certainly much indebted to you for this fund of valuable information. I join in your reprobation of our merchants, priests, and lawyers, for their adherence to England and monarchy, in preference to their own country and its Constitution. But merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains. In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes. With the lawyers it is a new thing. They have, in the Mother country, been generally the firmest supporters of the free principles of their constitution. But there too they have changed. I ascribe much of this to the substitution of Blackstone for my Lord Coke, as an elementary work. In truth, Blackstone and Hume have made tories of all England, and are making tories of those young Americans whose native feelings .of independence do not place them above the wily sophistries of a Hume or a Blackstone. These two books, but especially the former, have done more towards the suppression of the liberties of man, than all the million of men in arms of Bonaparte and the millions of human lives with the sacrifice of which he will stand loaded before the judgment seat of his Maker. I fear nothing for our liberty from the assaults of force; but I have seen and felt much, and fear more from English books, English prejudices, English manners, and the apes, the dupes, and designs among our professional crafts. When I look around me for security against these seductions, I find it in the wide spread of our agricultural citizens, in their unsophisticated minds, their independence and their power, if called on, to crush the Humists of our cities, and to maintain the principles which severed us from England. I see our safety in the extent of our confederacy, and in the probability that in the proportion of that the sound parts will always be sufficient to crush local poisons. In this hope I rest, and tender you the assurance of my esteem and respect.

from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Volume XIV
Letters Written After Return to the United States from 1813 to 1815
Albert Ellery Bergh, editor