Jefferson: Trust the people, not the government, with the press 

Among the most regrettable results of the decline in academic standards in American public education in the past several decades has been the how the wisdom of the Founders has been stuffed into a closet and forgotten.

Now, I confess that among my great pleasures in life is a little reading time in The Federalist Papers (especially the numbers written by James Madison), and that's probably not something most people would consider among their first three choices for what to do with a suddenly free half hour.

That said, the Founders' wisdom is still accessible in countless ways and one of the best is the Founders Quote Daily email service from Patriot Post. Today's selection from Thomas Jefferson warms my heart because it captures both practical wisdom and theoretical insight:

"It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness."

Jefferson wrote those words in a letter to a M. Pictet in 1803. The separation analogy must have been on Jefferson's mind because it recurs in another line concerning religion and the state, with "wall of" added to complete the thought.

That quote suggests that Jefferson would be outraged by things like this.


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Mark Tapscott

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