Talk:Those who hammer their guns into plows...(Quotation)
From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
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I think whoever created the entry regarding a quotation possibly mistakenly attributed to Mr. Jefferson may have added a bit too much of their personal editorial to the entry. They imply that Jefferson was in fact all for hammering their arms into plowshares and living in some passive agrarian utopia. These qutoes disagree with any such assumption of not being armed and ready and he seems to view it as not only a right but a duty of members of a free society to have arms in the home.
The Right to Bear Arms
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks." --Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1785. ME 5:85, Papers 8:407
"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:45
"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1796. ME 9:341
"I learn with great concern that [one] portion of our frontier so interesting, so important, and so exposed, should be so entirely unprovided with common fire-arms. I did not suppose any part of the United States so destitute of what is considered as among the first necessaries of a farm-house." --Thomas Jefferson to Jacob J. Brown, 1808. ME 11:432
"No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements)." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution (with his note added), 1776. Papers 1:353
"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important." --Thomas Jefferson to -----, 1803. ME 10:365
- Thank you for your comments. You are correct that Jefferson was not against the right to bear arms. However, the quotation I included (Jefferson to John Jay) and my accompanying comment are not meant to speak to Jefferson's views on firearms, but rather give evidence of his opinion on the relative merit of farming as an occupation. The quotation in question ("Those who hammer their guns into plows") implies a negative result to giving up a military career for a life of farming, or exchanging weapons for the tools of a farmer. In Jefferson's letter to John Jay, he expresses his admiration of farming and farmers, and says that he would not like to see them exchange it for a different occupation. Therefore, given Jefferson's well-known views on farmers, it seems unlikely that he would express reservations about the advisability of turning to farming as an occupation. I will try to make this more clear in the main article. --ABerkes 10:38, 20 February 2008 (EST)
- Aberkes, the important point is that your discussion and quote completely miss the obvious intent of the (spurious) quote. As the above-quoted comment to Jacob J. Brown demonstrates, Jefferson felt that a firearm was an important farm implement. Your comment does nothing to prove the unlikeliness that Jefferson spoke those words; it only serves to indicate that your feelings about guns are so emotional that you would imagine that the quote had the implication you infer. Balfson 07:40, 21 May 2008 (EDT)
- The intent in including the Jay letter was to help clarify the answer to the essential question, "did Thomas Jefferson write this quotation?" It seems that it is having quite a different effect, so I've changed this page to conform to our new format for debunking spurious quotations. I hope it is more helpful to people. --ABerkes 14:35, 15 October 2008 (EDT)
I believe the quote probably originated from a paraphrase by I.L. Robertson in his 1830 book , pp. 67-68:
- "The successor of Mr. Adams was quite different from him in his mental organization and political views. He had drank deeply of the new school of philosophy, made conspicuous by Mandeville, Bollingbroke, and their successors, on both sides the Alps. It was studied in Italy and France, had reached Germany, and swept over the Netherlands. It had in it many good points ; it inculcated the broad doctrines of equality in civil rights, and wared with the hierarchies every where. The theories formed in this school were beautiful and splendid, and have in part been realized by the present age. The predecessors of Mr. Jefferson had acted upon the maxim, Adhere to that which has been found to be good and practical, and be cautious of the untried and theoretical; his, to venture on the untried, if it promised more happiness to mankind, fearless of the consequences. They distrusted human nature, he reposed implicit confidence in it. Perhaps the change at this time in the parties was fortunate for the nation ; it checked the vaulting ambition of many, and prostrated the pride of some who were beginning to think that they were made to rule. Some began to talk of family connexions and distinctions, who have now passed away, and are forgotten ; and who, from a momentary political or pecuniary elevation, began to think that some way might be devised to give permanency to their importance by securities to succession. The policy of Jefferson and his party sunk all these visions in night, and broke down all the hopes of the aristocracy of the nation. The change that followed was not without its evils. New men arose, and many of them, the creatures of circumstances, were destitute of political wisdom or true patriotism ; and not a few who assisted in building up the republic, were not allowed to assist in administering the government. The navy was reduced, the vessels of war sold off, the army not thought much of, and the dreams of perpetual peace indulged. This did not last long, and Mr. Jefferson found that it would not answer, in the present state of mankind, to beat swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks too soon. He revived some of the doctrines he intended to explode, and consented to think it was better to whip insolent foes, than to buy their good will at too dear a rate. Public opinion is always fluctuating, but never so far out of the way as closet reasoners believe, particularly when the public are as enlightened as this."
- Robertson, Ignatius Loyola, L.L.D. "Sketchs of Public Characters: Drawn from the Living and the Dead." E. Bliss: New York (1830).
OklahomaPatriot 12:55, 3 July 2009 (EDT)