Two Measures If Not Taken, We Are Undone

Liberty Letters, Thomas Jefferson: 1821

There are two measures which if not taken, we are undone.

1st. to check these unconstitutional invasions of state rights by the federal judiciary. How? not by impeachment in the first instance, but by a strong protestation of both houses of Congress that such and such doctrines, advanced by the supreme court, are contrary to the constitution: and if afterwards they relapse into the same heresies, impeach and set the whole adrift. For what was the government divided into three branches, but that each should watch over the others, and oppose their usurpations?

2. To cease borrowing money and to pay off the national debt. If this cannot be done without dismissing the army and putting the ships out of commission, haul them up high and dry, and reduce the army to the lowest point at which it was ever established. There does not exist an engine so corruptive of the government and so demoralizing of the nation as a public debt. It will bring on us more ruin at home than all the enemies from abroad against whom this army and navy are to protect us.


Source: Thomas Jefferson. “Thomas Jefferson, The Works, Volume 12, Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826”, Letter to Nathanial Macon, August 19, 1821.

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