Using Jefferson as a Cloak for Revolution

Using Jefferson as a Cloak for Revolution 

Steve Farrell May 26, 2000

Tyranny will never bind a great and free people by preceding its
terrible deed with a confession of ill intent. To believe that is to
believe nonsense. In free societies slavery is won by consent; and
consent is won with a disarming smile, a sympathetic heart, a list of
promises to groups, a series of solutions to crises, and above all by
attachment to a seemingly good cause.

Third Way plotters (also called futurists) are not unaware of such
stratagems. They live by them. That is why that although their
foundational literature abhors the Constitution in both subtle and
direct language, their public statements focus almost exclusively on one
thing - Jeffersonian democracy - that is: the belief that direct or
semi-direct democracy is best for America, best for Europe, and best for
a high-tech, highly interconnected world. (1)

Yes, this is good strategy. Posturing yourself shoulder to shoulder with
Thomas Jefferson appeals to a freeman’s common sense desire for the best
of two worlds - that is, progression, tempered with time-tested values.

The problem is the Third Way really has no respect for any values, for
its dogma embraces the idea that each new wave of civilization
(including the one they are now promoting) necessarily must crush the
values of the previous one. Values are relative. Beyond that, the
greater hoax is that there really is no such thing as Jeffersonian

Jefferson believed in the republican form of government. He rejected
pure democracy as a dangerous form (being possibly workable in small
communities only); he championed fixed laws and morals - something the
Third Way despises - as the very backbone of a free society; and as he
matured, he threw out any notion that the American experiment could and
should be repeated in nations which lacked the educational and moral
fiber to live as a free people.

A quick glance back to Jefferson’s own words and deeds provides
sufficient proof of this.

The Founder of the Democratic Party Believed in a Republican Form of

During the Federalist era, Thomas Jefferson, like so many other American
founders, was concerned about the rash, crisis-imposed solution for
union the American colonists had fashioned under the Articles of

As extreme on one end was the arbitrary power of the crown to “bind the
colonies in all cases whatsoever” (2) during the 1760s and 1770s, this
had only been matched on the other end by the much too democratic,
powerless and nearly anarchist U.S. government of the Articles of
Confederation in the 1770s and 1780s.

Jefferson wrote: “We are now vibrating between too much and too little
government.” (3)

Hamilton summed up this too little government mess as a scene of
“national disorder, poverty, and insignificance,” which, ironically,
“befalls a community so peculiarly blessed with natural advantages.” (4)

Washington forecast to Madison: “No day was ever more clouded than the
present . . . We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion.” (5)

Washington had grounds for such a gloomy assessment.

Not only had he been the victim of a democracy of states so perverse in
its notion of liberty that individuals and state governments were free
to refuse sending troops, ammunition, clothing, foodstuffs, and other
supplies to their brethren, even as they froze, starved, and died in
defense of those supposed rights (Note: Ellsworth described this freedom
of one state to bully or ignore the will of the majority - via hostile
laws or non compliance - as minority rule or monarchy - (6) Not
coincidentally, Third Way Democracy embraces minority rule (7)),- but
now, four years after a miraculous victory, Washington anxiously watched
as democracy gave play to runaway inflation (the federal Congress
lacking power to tax, printed unbacked paper money to pay its bills),
rampant bankruptcies, moral decay, lawlessness, riots and bloody
rebellions, threats of mass executions by former patriots, and
international disrepute. (8)

The situation had reached the “last stage of national humiliation.” (9)
The nation even lacked the resolve to freely navigate its own rivers,
and to boot out of its territories a collection of standing foreign
armies who anxiously stood by waiting for their prey to collapse from
within. (10)

Washington knew what would shortly appear had we failed to back away
from democracy. He warned: “There is a natural and necessary progression
from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny.” (11)

Little surprise, then, that in short order the disorder of democracy set
the stage for financial and military interests to combine in a scheme to
anoint Washington as King George I of America so that “order, confidence
and credit” might be restored.

The character of Washington saved the day, and he put forth a better
proposal. He petitioned the state governments to meet in convention so
that a republic, which featured the mixture of “a liberal and energetic
constitution, well guarded and closely watched to prevent encroachments,
might restore us.” (12)

Which is precisely what emerged to save the day. Jefferson happy about
the outcome stated: “The pendulum will rest finally in the middle.” (13)

What Jefferson meant by “the middle” was that the new United States
rejected pure monarchy, pure oligarchy and pure democracy - for all
three were known to produce tyranny (and democracy the worst of
tyrannies) - and instead chose to mix the best elements of each, while
placing checks upon the worst of them.

The central hope of those checks was, for a long time, to prevent the
legislative, judicial, and executive powers from combining under the
leadership of the one, the few, or the many (the very definition of

The founders mixed republic included:

* Separation of powers

* Checks and balances

* A government both national and federal in character * Mixed modes of

* Mixed duration of time in office (short, long, and permanent)

* Staggered elections (for stability and continuity)

* Rejection of legislative term limits (check on executive power)

* The rule of law (that is fixed laws which apply equally to all -a
check on privileged class and office) * Limited and defined powers
(check on federal power)

* Unalienable rights (check on all law and power)

* Public virtue (defender of rights, promoted via freedom of religion)

* An arduous amendment process (check on democracy)

* Common-law jury (a people’s check against unjust law)

* An armed citizenry (a final check on tyranny)

* Free trade between the states, taxed trade abroad * A mandate that
every state government be republican.

This then was the solution to the abject failure of democracy, a
constitutional republic - and while Third Way Pure Democracy lovers
Gingrich and Toffler denounce this Republican form as “increasingly
obsolete . . . oppressive and dangerous to our welfare” (14) - Thomas
Jefferson, the man they say they represent to the world, dubbed this new
republican form “unquestionably the wisest ever yet presented to men.”

Jefferson’s Republican Beliefs

A good place to unveil Jefferson’s allegiance to republicanism rather
than to democracy is to review a few of the principles young Jefferson
incorporated into the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (a document
that never once mentioned the word democracy), examine a number of his
statements concerning our republican Constitution of 1787 (which also
was void of the word democracy), and throw in a number of comments of
the men who did rub shoulders with Jefferson; men who opposed pure
democracy just as much as Jefferson did.

Jefferson Believed in the Precedence of a Higher Law

Pure democracies create rights and give governments power to give or
take away civil and personal rights according to majority vote – plain
and simple.

On that point, we often forget, it was not the king of England, only,
but the king’s elected Parliament, that deprived the colonists of their

Jefferson wrote in the original draft of the Declaration of
Independence: “They (the English) have by their free election,
reestablished [the disturbers of our harmony] in power.” (16)

Indeed, the British commons (the freely elected branch) could have
exercised their check, at a key moment, against a measure which pushed
the colonists to complete unity and war against their mother country.

But we read in Bancroft’s "History of the United States": “The bill
passed the commons by a vote of more than four to one.” The reason? “The
British government inflamed the passions of the English people against

Jefferson rejected a repeat of that possibility with this Declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty [especially Religious
Liberty], and the Pursuit of Happiness [Private Property].” (19)

The English Magna Charta granted these same rights, but it was a
government grant, which in theory and practice meant the government
(elected or not) could void the same. The English government did just
that, and the colonists, our forefathers, were the victims.

Jefferson, therefore, appealed to a higher law, pronouncing the biblical
conviction that these rights are the pre-existent gifts of God to all
his children; rights that no king, no House of Lords, no House of
Commons can abridge, eradicate, or claim to create.

This is a Republican principle.

Jefferson Believed These Higher Laws Should Be Fixed, First, and

Jefferson felt so strongly about the priority of God’s law over man’s
law that he prearranged to have “The Author of Religious Liberty” placed
on his tombstone.

Few shouted louder than Jefferson in favor of adding a Bill of Rights to
the U.S. Constitution - and it was not an anomaly that first on that
list of rights, with the strongest protection of all was - “Congress
shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (19) - for it was Jefferson, in
his letter of praise to James Madison about the new Constitution, who

“I will now add what I do not like. First the omission of a bill of
rights providing clearly & without the aid of sophisms for freedom of
religion . . . ” (20)

Jefferson put religion first, for he believed with Thomas Paine that the
“King Of America, reigns Above” - that “the Divine Law” was the law of
free governments (21) - and with James Madison, the Father of the
Constitution, that “religion . . . [is] the basis and foundation of
government.” (22)

Jefferson called these higher laws “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s
God;”(23) and while men could strategically fine tune the administrative
application of these great general laws, yet the underlying precepts
remain fixed and foremost; and free and independent men and nations
should forever cling to them.

This idea was not new. Jefferson found this fierce loyalty to higher law
in the writings of Israel’s Moses, Rome’s Cicero, and in the traditions
of England’s Anglo-Saxons.

From Cicero, the great defender of the Roman Republic, he learned:

“True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal
application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its
commands, and averts from wrong doing by its prohibitions . . . It is a
sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of
it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from
its obligations by senate or people. And there will not be different
laws . . . now or in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law
will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one
master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this
law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge.” (24)

Jefferson echoed: “Bear in mind this sacred principle . . . the will of
the majority . . . to be rightful must be reasonable; . . . to violate
[this principle] would be oppression.” Reason, he argued, confirmed that
rights came from God and could not be abridged by decree, verdict, or
majority vote. (25)

This was the common feeling of the era.

Theft, for example, under natural law is always theft. In 1773, Daniel
Leonard, a prominent Massachusetts lawyer wrote: “All demands upon our
purse, on [any term but consent], are illegal; and put into execution,
robbery; if the demand be made sword in hand [by government tax
collectors], the crime is still more atrocious; it is robbery with
murderous intention!” (26)

Jefferson explained, when a government “under the pretense of taking
care of us” (27) contradicts this or any natural law, it is wrong and
will never produce happiness.

Jefferson knew that governments and ambitious men will often dream up
ways of convincing the electorate that times have changed, that
expediency is superior to principle, and that exceptions to the rule
should become the standard rule, thus producing a constant revolution of
the law.

He was not for this.

“Prudence . . . will dictate that Governments long established should
not be changed for light and transient Causes;” he believed. (28)

He also wrote to Madison: “The instability of our laws is really an
immense evil.” (29)

To insure change would not occur by every light and transient cause
(which is what happens in democracies), Jefferson spoke of the necessity
of “limited constitutions” with “fixed limits to which and no farther
our trust (in elected officials) can go,” “to bind down those whom we
are obliged to trust.” (30)

He wanted another check too: “that there shall always be a twelve-month
[waiting period] between the engrossing a bill & passing it; that is
should then be offered to its passage without changing a word.” (31)

No fast track, no last minute tricks in committee, no Third Way
Republican-sponsored line-item veto that passes into law, in the
interest of speed, laws, by kingly prerogative, which differ from those
debated in Congress.

Fixed general laws, and labored debate for all changes in the law,
whether great or small, was Jefferson’s republican belief.

To his credit, as president, even when periodic exceptions were
precipitated by what he considered emergencies, i.e. piracy at sea, holy
alliance plotting to force a weak United States into an alliance with
Great Britain (which led to the Louisiana Purchase), President Jefferson
“threw himself before” Congress, acknowledged the act as a deviation,
not a future precedent, and put it back upon them (the people through
their representatives), where it belonged, for their debate and consent,
or if need be, their reproof. This way, the law remained supreme, and an
exception remained an exception, at best. (32)

Null and Void

To claim that Jefferson’s had a belief in majority rule, and nothing
else, just has no foundation in fact.

Jefferson reasoned Cicero-like, in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798,
which he secretly penned: “[All federal laws] which create, define, or
punish crimes other than those enumerated in the Constitution . . . are
altogether void and of no force.” (33)

Thus, “The Act of Congress [our democratically elected representatives
passed by majority vote] entitled ‘An Act in Addition to the Act for the
Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States’ which does
abridge the freedom of the press, is not law, but is altogether void and
of no effect.” (34)

The presence of higher laws, which should be fixed, first, and foremost,
is another Republican principle Jefferson defended.

The American Revolution Did Not Overthrow the Law, Rather It Returned to
the Law and Improved Its Administration

Consistent with Jefferson’s reverence for the primacy of natural law and
inalienable rights, it should be noted that the cause of separation
which Jefferson argued for in his Declaration of Independence (after 16
years of legal appeals – another sign of reverence for the law), was not
that America sought to disrespect and revolutionize the law (35), far
from it, rather it was that America asserted her rights under the
existing laws of Magna Charta and heaven.

It was England, not America who had turned its back on the law - had it
not, a revolt would have been far less likely. The natural separation of
ocean and culture, mixed with promises (once kept under the king’s
charters) of self-government, would have done their job nicely and

The legitimacy, therefore, of the American Revolution, was that it was
not a revolution at all, but a return to established and eternal law on
the one hand, and on the other hand, that it was an evolutionary step
forward, erecting upon the foundation of sound and fixed law, a more
glorious structure. So argued Edmund Burke.

Of this homecoming, Jefferson wrote in 1776: “Is it not better now that
we return at once unto that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest
and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man?” (36) (He was
referring to the government and laws of the Anglo-Saxons, which
Jefferson read in the original tongue.)

That was Jefferson.

But Third Wayer Toffler, unlike his “hero” Jefferson, both rejects fixed
laws, and the supposition that America re-embraced pre-existent law.

He lambastes “traditional verities” as the “dreams . . . of Ozzie and
Harriet,” of the “frenetic fringe,” of “the religion-based wing of the
Republican Party,” and of “nostalgia pushers.” (37)

In his communist-based transformational Third Wave theory he describes
the war and constitutional work of our founders as the product of men
who “understood the concept of political obsolescence, (38)” men who
were “compelled (the Marxian term most frequently used to deny the
agency of man, but to portray him as materialistically driven) . . .
along by the tidal force of events”(CNC 89) to reject agricultural
society, and set up a completely new political system - to sustain

Here is Charles Beard’s pro-Marxist 1913 Founders Debunking Economic
Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, come to life
again - asserting, as do all anti-capitalist works, that the founders
were driven to revolution and the Constitution by the personal greed of
a few economically elite land owners, rather than by an unselfish
free-will offering which sacrificed property, comfort, convenience, and
life, for higher principle. (39)

“Ex” Marxist Toffler and “Conservative futurist” and Republican icon
Newt Gingrich, like Marxist Beard, are entitled to their opinion, but it
is a bold-faced lie to contend that such principles are Jeffersonian
(this is especially the position of Gingrich who markets Toffler to
Republicans). Indeed, even on the issue of the coming industrialism, it
was Jefferson who famously argued in favor of preserving

“I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as
long as they are chiefly agricultural . . . When they get piled upon one
another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in
Europe.” (40)

Jefferson believed that it was on the farm, on the ranch and in
small-town America where the moral values that temper and preserve
liberty are found, while it was in industrial society, where such values
were derided and true liberty was most easily destroyed by a love of
luxury, indolence, amusement and pleasure, where liberty met its demise.

Jefferson sought to restore the roots of the law, and to secure its
longevity, in the virtuous base of a religious and educated citizenry
and the preservation of agricultural and small town life, was a key.

Toffler would uproot the law, curse at morality (41), let chaos reign,
and dare to call his moral and political anarchy Jeffersonian democracy.
This he would do, so that he and his fellow socialists in drag might
usurp every principle, every institution of stability, and every vestige
of national strength, without a soul suspecting it, till every citizen
reduced to the pursuit of the least common denominator (the pursuit of
wealth - at any political cost), democratically raises his or her hand
in favor of every schemer that promises to deliver just that. Till they
vote themselves a tyranny.


Keep your eye open for the conclusion of “Third Way Direct Democracy:
Using Jefferson as a Cloak for Revolution, Part II.” Please visit
Steve’s archives to view his full groundbreaking examination
of the Third Way.

Please e-mail your comments and/or media requests to Steve at

Footnotes: 1. Gingrich, Newt; Armey, Dick. “Contract With America.”
United States: Times Books/Republican National Committee, 1994, pg. 192.
See, also, Newt Gingrich’s forward to: Toffler, Alvin and Heidi,
“Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave.” Atlanta:
Turner Publishing, Inc.1995, p. 16.; also Toffler’s comments on pages
90, 96-99. Toffler, Alvin. “The Third Wave.” Toronto, New York, London:
Bantam, 1981, pgs. 71, 417-419, 427-434.

2. Bancroft, George. “History of the United States.” Washington D.C.,
1834, Volume 3, p. 196.”

3. Ford, Paul Leicester. “The Writing of Thomas Jefferson, 10 vols.” New
York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892-99, 5:3. Hereafter cited as Ford.

4. Hamilton, “Federalist Papers” #15

5. Fitzpatrick, John C. ed., “The Writings of George Washington, 39
Volumes. Washington: United States Government Printing Office 1931-44,
Volume 29, pgs. 51-52. Hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick.

6. Elliot, Jonathan, ed., “The Debates In the Several State Conventions
on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 5 Vols.” Philadelphia: J.B.
Lippincott Company, 1901, Volume 2, p.197. Hereafter cited as Elliot. 7.
Toffler, Alvin. “The Third Wave.” Toronto, New York, London: Bantam
Books, 1981, pgs. 419-427

8. Skousen, Cleon. “The Making of America.” Washington D.C.: The
National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1985 Chapter 5 (for a full
account of how bad it really was).

9. Hamilton, Federalist Papers #15.

10. Elliot, Volume 4, pgs. 16-20

11. Fitzpatrick, Volume 26, p. 489

12. Ibid. Volume 29, pgs.51-52

13. Ford, Volume 5, pg 3

14. Toffler, Third Wave, p. 417.

15. Bergh, Albert Ellery, ed., “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20
Volumes.” Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1907,
Volume 7, p. 322

16. “We The States: An Anthology of Historic Documents and Commentaries
thereon, Expounding the State and Federal Relationship.” Richmond,
Virginia: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, The William
Byrd Press, Inc., 1964, p. 16. 17. Bancroft, Volume 3, p. 481.

18. Declaration of Independence. Note: That the pursuit of Happiness
referred to acquiring and possessing Property, see the Virginia Bill of
Rights, as but one example.

19. The Constitution of the United States, First Amendment.

20. We the States, p. 232.

21. Van der Weyde, William M. “The Life and Works of Thomas Paine:
Patriots Edition, Volume II. New Rochelle, New York, Thomas Paine
National Historical Association, 1925. p. 147.

22. Rudland, Robert, ed. “The Papers of James Madison Vol. VIII”
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, pgs. 299, 304.

23. Declaration of Independence

24. Ebenstein, William. “Great Political Thinkers.” New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1963, p. 133.

25. Bergh, Volume 3, p. 318.

26. Hyneman, Charles S. and Lutz, Donald S. “American Political Writing
during the Founding Era 1760 - 1805, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty
Press, 1983, p. 211.

27. Bergh, Volume 10, p. 342.

28. Declaration of Independence.

29. We the States, p. 235.

30. Adler, Mortimer J., et al., eds. “The Annals of America. 20 Vols.”
Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968-, Volume 4, pgs. 65-66.

31. We the States, p. 235.

32. For numerous examples of Jefferson’s humility regarding stretches in
the law, see Schlesinger, Arthur M. Jr. “The Imperial Presidency.”
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1973, 1989. And, especially, Wormurth,
Francis D. & Firmage, Edwin B. “To Chain the Dog of War.” Urbana
Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986, 1989.

33. We the States, pgs. 143-146.

34. Ibid. 143-146.

35. Third Wave, 416.

36. Boyd, Julian P. ed., “The Paper of Thomas Jefferson, 20 Volumes.”
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1950-, Volume 1, pg

37 Toffler, Alvin and Heidi (forwarded by Newt Gingrich). “Creating A
New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave.” Atlanta: Turner
Publishing, Inc. 1995, p. 77.

38. Ibid. p. 90.

39. Beard, Charles. “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of
the United States.” New York: The Macmillian Company, 1913, p. 13.

40. We the States, p. 235 (Letter to James Madison, dated Dec. 20,
1787.). See also, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

41. The Third Wave, Chapter 17, Families of the Future.