Traveling abroad, Part 5: How can America benefit from what you learn?


Objects of attention for an American.-

1. Agriculture. Everything belonging to this art … Useful or agreeable animals which might be transported to America. Species of plants … according the climate of the different States.
2. Mechanical arts … necessary in America, and inconvenient to be transported  …  forges, stone quarries, boats, bridges, (very especially,) etc., etc.
3. Lighter mechanical arts, and manufactures … a waste of attention to examine them minutely.
4. Gardens …
5. Architecture … among the most important arts …
6. Painting. Statuary … Too expensive … for us … They are worthy seeing but not studying.
7. Politics of each country … Examine their influence on the happiness of the people …
8. Courts … under the most imposing exterior, they are the weakest and worst part of mankind …

Source: Travelling Notes for Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Shippen, June 3, 1788
From Koch and Peden’s Selected Writings, P. 137-9

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

The discerning leader accurately assesses benefits and hazards from others’ ways of life.

Jefferson’s recommendations:
#1. His primary interest was farming, so it’s natural he put all-things-agriculture first.

2 & 3 Manufacturing was important only if we needed it and couldn’t make it for ourselves. He had no interest in copying the manufactures of Europe. Let America produce raw goods and trade them for their finished ones.

4, 5 & 6 Practical culture was important for improving the tastes of his countrymen.

7 & 8 Government. Ah, yes. Do the politics help or hinder the people? Are the courts just? He likened the courts to the Tower of London or the zoo in Versailles, very imposing but everyone inside was a captive.

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