Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had different points of view on a few subjects. One significant point of departure, at least in Adams’ mind, was on the supposed benefits of party spirit.
Jefferson informed the Adamses (John and Abigail) on more than one occasion that there were two kinds of spirit always present among men, Whig and Tory, and that their rumblings against each other were generally beneficial.
To Adams, who had witnessed, in the name of party, truth being censored, reputations being scorched, mobs and violence threatening his life and limb, as well as threatening the overthrow of the rule of law and with it, the republic itself, party spirit was more than mere rumblings. In one of several notes to Thomas Jefferson, he writes on July 9, 1813:
The same political parties which now agitate us have existed through all time. Precisely. And this is precisely the complaint in the preface to the first volume of my defence. While all other Sciences have advanced, that of Government is at a stand; little better understood; little better practiced now than 3 or 4 thousand years ago. What is the reason? I say parties and factions will not suffer, or permit improvements to be made. As soon as one man hints at an improvement his rival opposes it. No sooner has one party discovered or invented an amelioration of the condition of man or the order of society, than the opposite party belies it, misconstrues it, misrepresents it, ridicules it, insults it, and persecutes it. Records are destroyed. Histories are annihilated or interpolated or prohibited sometimes by democratic assemblies and sometimes by mobs.
Aristotle wrote the history and description of eighteen hundred republics, which existed before his time. Cicero wrote two volumes of discourses on government, which, perhaps were worth all the rest of his works. The works of Livy and Tacitus etc. that are lost, would be more interesting than all that remain. Fifty Gospels have been destroyed and where are St. Luke’s World of Books that had been written? If you ask my opinion, who has committed all the havoc? I will answer you candidly; ecclesiastical and imperial despotism has done it, to conceal their frauds.
Why are the histories of all nations, more ancient than the Christian Era, lost. Who destroyed the Alexandrian Library? I believe that Christian Priests, Jewish Rabbies, Grecian Sages and Roman Emperors has as great a hand in it as Turks and Mahomitans.
Democrats, Rebels, and Jacobins, when they possessed a momentary Power, have shewn a disposition, both to destroy and to forge records as vandalical, as priests and despots. Such has been and such is the world we live in.
Let it be said, because it needs to be said, to every Democrat, Republican, Libertarian and Independent out there, each group has its party partisans, its power hungry, its absolute ideologues who will cut down and stamp out all that is good and true for no better reason than it came out of the mouth of the opposing group, or that it risks rocking the boat of media support, or because it is at odds with a hidden political, economic, ideological, or cultural agenda of the party, or a faction within the party, and yes, for the sake of party there will always be some who are willing to go so far as to take, overthrow, or undermine life, liberty, property, as with them God, family, and country.
It happens … all the time.
The question we all need to ask ourselves is this: Are we friends of principle or party, of enlightened self-interest or unbridled power, of the Constitution or of some foreign ism, of the rule of law or of moral and political anarchy (and its historical offspring, absolute tyranny)? Hopefully, we can answer with a clear conscience that we have, do now, and are determined to yet choose the better part … and that we are committed to help others do the same.
More on this subject next time.