Quote of the moment: Thomas Jefferson on public works

Map of "internal improvements" in Virginia - Library of Congress

Map of "internal improvements" in Virginia - Library of Congress: "What is the transportation improvement between Fairfax Courthouse and Warrenton - the Alexandria-Warrenton turnpike, or the Orange and Alexandria Railroad? Can you spot the Columbia Pike connecting the Little River Turnpike to Washington DC, via Alexandria (now Arlington) County? Note how roads do not connect Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley... Source: A map of the internal improvements of Virginia; prepared by C. Crozet, late principal engineer of Va. under a resolution of the General Assembly adopted March 15th, 1848, Library of Congress"

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, they called public works, “internal improvements.”

The fondest wish of my heart ever was that the surplus portion of these taxes, destined for the payment of that debt, should, when that object was accomplished, be continued, by annual or biennial re-enactments, and applied, in time of peace, to the improvements of our country by canals, roads, and useful institutions, literary or others; and, in time of war, to the maintenance of the war.

♦  Thomas Jefferson, in letter to John Wayles Eppes, Poplar Forest, September 11, 1813; found in The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John P. Kaminski, Princeton University Press, 2006


One Response to Quote of the moment: Thomas Jefferson on public works

  1. Jim says:

    Alas, poor Mr. Jefferson. Such Socialistic notions about “the common good”, “the general welfare” and “public works” are clearly un-American. If only he were more like our founding fathers, who understood the importance of the individual and who — because of that courageous conviction — regarded taxation as theft by force.

    This Thomas Jefferson fellow sounds like a tyrant to me– supporting infrastructure improvements with tax money. I’m guessing he’ll be defeated in the primary when the Tea Party challenges him. Hopefully, we’ll be able to nip his Marxist ideas in the bud with ballots instead of bullets. But since he is obviously a tyrant and since all good ‘Murricans know that the tree of liberty is thirsty…he’d best watch his step.

    Vigilance, fellow patriots. Vigilance!


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