Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (June 1, 1888)
nation. If it be not true, it is due to every student of history
to know the truth.
Washington placed the welfare of his country above every
personal ambition. In him patriotism overcame selfishness
Those who are to stand "next to him in public estimation''
must give evidence of the same spirit. He who docs not
possess this spirit is a mere politician.
Jefferson did not place his country above everything else
His dominant ambition was lobe popular. When Genet was
French minister to the United States, Jefferson was the ac
knowlcgcd leader of his party, and of his countrymen.
When, Genet aroused sympathy for French communism, in
sulted Washington, and fired the people with a frantic desire
to imitate the French commune, a word from Jefferson would
have checked the frenzy. No such word was spoken. By
his silence, Jefferson gave the people every reason to bcliev
they had his sympathy. As a recognized leader, it was hig
duty to guide and check the masses. Little as he approved
of the conduct of the people, he declined to interfere, be
cause he would not endanger his popularity.
Jefferson ever sought to gratify popular expectation, and
win popular approval. The sentiment of the people he ncvcr
dared to oppose. This is the key to his political career.
He made himself conspiciously untidy in dress on state oc
casions, that it might be known he was not an aristocrat;
while at heart he was an aristocrat of the aristocrats. lie as
sumed a hypocritical mask of outward equality with the people
that he might win their sympathy. He claimed to be head
of the nation, not because he was wiser or greater than the
masses, but because he was like them. He even denounced
a positive and conscientious leadership, and proposed to sub
stitutc for it a subservient acquicscnce in popular opinion.
He opposed the constructive schemes of Hamilton as uncon
stitutional and dangerous. The idea was gratifying to Amer
ican pride. The national officers were no longer to be lead,
crs, but servants of the people. Full of love for Jefferson,
they placed him at their head, looking to him to realize for
them the ideas he had so long preached. Rut once in power,
Jefferson treated his former theories as chimerical, and proved
his former professions to have been insincere. The construc
tive schemes he once denounced, he now supported. What
was unconstitutional in Hamilton, under his magic adminis
nation, became constitutional.
During Jefferson's fust presidential term little was done
that did not follow the course marked out by the great Feder
alist leaders who had precccded him. Still the remembrance
of Jefferson as a sympathizer with the French, as the Amer
ican Communist, as the ulta-democrat, blinded the people to
his ical course. lie still retained the shallow pretence of
democratic mannf rs in speech and dress, and the people be
lieved him honest.
A statesmen must not only have practical theories of gov
ernment, but he must also have the ability to apply them.
Otherwise he is a mere visionary.
During Jefferson's second term, political affairs became
complicated, and a statesman was needed to manage the
government so as to avoid a war with England. Such states
manship Jefierson did not display. He formed a weak
theory of passive retaliation, and announced it to congress in a
voice of authority, never before known, and never since
equalled, except by Jackson. Yet such was his confidence,
that even Adams, a member of the opposition, said, "the
president has recommended this measure on his high respon
sibility. I would not consider, I would not deliberate, I wo.jld
act. The president doubtless possesses such further informa
tion as will justify the measure." This but voiced the im
plicit conndcncc oi all. Hut Jefferson had no 'such further
information.' Weeks passed and war grew more imminent.
The embargo had reduced the country to extremities' and
from every side came petitions to have the measure re
pealed. Now was an opportunity to show himself the ser
vant of the people t'.i he had professed to be. With the
unreasonableness of an obstinate man Jefferson clung to his
plan and refused to yield. In the face of the popular will, of
which he had always professed to be the servant, he still
urged Congress to continue the embargo. His wish was
granted, but it was soon demonstrated that even Jefferson
could not reconcile the people to this measure. State legisla
tures denounced it as "unjust, oppressive, and unconstitu
tional." The embargo failed to accomplish the purpose ex
pected of it. Congress now looked to Jefferson for advice.
Always without the resources of statesmanship, Jefferson
had no substitute to offer. At a time when his country most
needed his services, this was the answer made to the urgent
appeal: "I think it fair that my successor should now
originate those measures, of which he will be charged with
the execution and responsibility." So for weeks he remained
helpless, anxiously awaiting the close of his term and a suc
cessor to rise equal to the emergency.
It is often said that our country as it is to day is the ideal
government of Jefferson. The truth of this statement may be
estimated from Jefferson's comments on Shay's Rebellion.
He said: "of the commotions offer nothing threatening; they
are a proir that the people have liberty enough. If the happi
ness of the people can be seemed at the expense of a little
tempest now and then or even a little blood, it would be a
precious purchase. To punish these errors too severely would
be to suppress the safeguard of public liberty. A little rebel
lion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary
to the sound health of government. God .forbid that we
should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. What
signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The ttee of lib
erty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of
patriots and tyrants." The absurdity of these words is evi
dent without comment.
Popular opinion exalts Jefferson for the purity and gran
deur of his'character. But his private life was corrupt and
immoral; while in his "Anas" there are many records of vile
slander, blackening the fair fame of his rivals. These remain
an imperishable mark of a base and ungenerous mind.
Grack M. Bakrktt.
STRA Y PICK-UPS.
"Sir, I report as orderly."
An arm of the service Pound's left.
A rubicund olfactory protuberance Smith's.
Ask Haft why he ran so fast when the girls came.
What's the matter with McMullcn? She's all right.
"Give me some more of Fletcher's French toast, please."
Stout and Gillespie haven't got over their trip to Beatrice
"Stop that car sir. Sir, the car is stopped. Take your
Prof. Hunt received news of the death of his sister in the
East last week.
Mrs. Lloyd has so far recovered from her sickness as to
be able to return to the laboratory and begin her work again.
She was warmly welcomed by her classes, and, although she
Powered by Open ONI