Skip to main content

The Tea party and militias (including Tim Mcveigh) love this Thomas Jefferson quote:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants

Jefferson was actually describing Shays' Rebellion, which was on the minds of the folks at the Constitutional Convention. Although Jefferson saw the short-lived uprising as ignorant people being whipped up, he still regarded them as patriotic, if not very bright.

I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all and always well-informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive..... Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon, and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Jefferson said rebellion sprouts among the ignorant, and the death of the occasional rebellious dingbat was also the price of liberty. He and several of the Founders also emphasized pardoning the rebels.

James Iredell picks up the theme of Shays' Rebellion, ignorance, and mercy

We have seen a happy instance of the good effect of such an exercise of mercy in the state of Massachusetts, where, very lately, there was so formidable an insurrection. I believe a great majority of the insurgents were drawn into it by false artifices. They at length saw their error, and were willing to disband. Government, by a wise exercise of lenity, after having shown its power, generally granted a pardon; and the whole party were dispersed. There is now as much peace in that country as in any state in the Union.

I'm sure there are more nuanced interpretations of Shays' Rebellion, which involved settlers being pushed off their land by real estate developers, currency speculators, lawyers, and corrupt judges.

But Jefferson's comments about these rebels-without-a-clue seems to have held up quite well. When today's armchair rebels use this Jefferson quote that describes them as ignorant and misinformed, they certainly seem to lack any sort of self awareness or even basic reading skills.

It really caught my eye over at RedState where they were having their monthly Civil War II circle jerk where they relive the trauma of school integration in Little Rock and fantasize about walling off the cities as if they were the Warsaw Ghetto. The writer used the Jefferson quote, and I said, wait, that guy just called himself an idiot. Not surprisingly, a similar lack of self awareness can be seen in the Paultards.

Originally posted to bernardpliers on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:08 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site