Manuscript/Mixed Material Image 1 of Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

About this Item

TO JOHN NORVELL J. MSS.

Washington, June 14, 1807.

Sir, —Your letter of May 9 has been duly received. The subject it proposes would require time & space for even moderate development. My occupations limit me to a very short notice of them. I think there does not exist a good elementary work on the organization of society into civil government: I mean a work which presents in one full & comprehensive view the system of principles on which such an organization should be founded, according to the rights of nature. For want of a single work of that character, I should recommend Locke on Government, Sidney, Priestley's Essay on the first Principles of Government, Chipman's Principles of Government, & the Federalist. Adding, perhaps, Beccaria on crimes & punishments, because of the demonstrative manner in which he has treated that branch of the subject. If your views of political inquiry go further, to the subjects of money & commerce, Smith's Wealth of Nations is the best book to be read, unless Say's Political Economy can be had, which treats the same subject on the same principles, but in a shorter compass & more lucid manner. But I believe this work has not been translated into our language.

History, in general, only informs us what bad government is. But as we have employed some of the best materials of the British constitution in the construction of our own government, a knowledge of British history becomes useful to the American politician. There is, however, no general history of that country which can be recommended. The elegant one of Hume seems intended to disguise & discredit the good principles of the government, and is so plausible & pleasing in it's style & manner, as to instil it's errors & heresies insensibly into the minds of unwary readers. Baxter has performed a good operation on it. He has taken the text of Hume as his ground work, abridging it by the omission of some details of little interest, and wherever he has found him endeavoring to mislead, by either the suppres-

About this Item

Title
Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, June 11, 1807
Created / Published
1807-06-11
Subject Headings
-  Correspondence
Genre
Correspondence
Call Number/Physical Location
series: Series 1: General Correspondence. 1651-1827
Microfilm Reel: 038
Source Collection
The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
Repository
Manuscript Division
Digital Id
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib017268
Online Format
image
online text
pdf

Rights & Access

Rights assessment is your responsibility.

The Library of Congress is providing access to The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress for noncommercial, educational and research purposes. While the Library is not aware of any copyrights or other rights associated with this Collection, the written permission of any copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for reproduction, distribution, or other use of any protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with the persons desiring to use the item.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.

The following items are included in this Collection with permission:

The essay "American Sphinx: The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson" by Joseph J. Ellis was originally published in the November-December 1994 issue of Civilization: The Magazine of the Library of Congress and may not be reprinted in any other form or by any other source.

The essay "The Jamestown Records of the Virginia Company of London: A Conservator's Perspective" by Sylvia R. Albro and Holly H. Krueger was originally published in a slightly different form in Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of the Institute of Paper Conservation, 6-9 April 1997 and may not be reprinted in any other form or by any other source.

Rembrandt Peale's 1800 Thomas Jefferson portrait on the Thomas Jefferson Time Line is from the White House Collection, courtesy of the White House Historical Association.

The image of Thomas Jefferson on the home page is from a photomechanical print held in the Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division, Presidential File, and is a reproduction of the popular 1805 Rembrandt Peale portrait in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell. -06-11, 1807. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mtjbib017268/.

APA citation style:

(1807) Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell. -06-11. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mtjbib017268/.

MLA citation style:

Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell. -06-11, 1807. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/mtjbib017268/>.