“Did Jefferson Really Mean It When He Said Liberty Now and Then Requires the Shedding of Blood?” | History News Network

M. Andrew Holowchak challenges some popular interpretations of Jefferson’s contention that “[t]he tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
After reviewing Jefferson’s thinking on the relationship between the people and the government, he concludes: “The people ‘preserve the spirit of resistance,’ and that spirit of resistance in turn preserves their rights and liberties. Governors cannot be trusted.  Yet Jefferson did not always appeal to hyperbole or rebellion to make his point apropos of acting on behalf of preserving liberty. He recognized that once a constitution was in place, there would be a limited role for rebellion. He says to C.W.F. Dumas (10 Sept. 1787), ‘Happy for us, that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers and set it to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms to amend or to restore their constitutions.’”

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