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Historical Context- Letter From Thomas Jefferson

Submitted by Vaughn McClain (emphasis is his)

Letter to James Madison – October 28,1785 from France
by Thomas Jefferson

To James Madison

Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1785

Seven o’clock, and retired to my fireside, I have determined to enter into conversation with you; this [Fontainebleau] is a village of about 5,000 inhabitants when the court is not here and 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley thro’ which runs a brook, and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains most of which are naked rock. The king comes here in the fall always, to hunt. His court attend him, as do also the foreign diplomatic corps. But as this is not indispensably required, and my finances do not admit the expense of a continued residence here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the king’s levees, returning again to Paris, distant 40 miles. This being the first trip, I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about a league.

As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the labouring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstance. She told me she was a day labourer, at 8. sous or 4 d. sterling the day; that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no employment, and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude which I could perceive was unfeigned, because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.

The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards.
These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not labouring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers, and tradesmen, and lastly the class of labouring husbandmen.
But after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work.
I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are kept idle mostly for the sake of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured.
I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one.
Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.
The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state. But I find that I am wandering beyond the limits of my walk and will therefore bid you adieu.

Yours affectionately,  Thomas

Historical note on taxation in pre-revolutionary France:

Financial crisis

Louis XVI ascended to the throne amidst a financial crisis; the state was nearing bankruptcy and outlays outpaced income. This was because of France’s financial obligations stemming from involvement in the Seven Years War and its participation in the American Revolutionary War. In May 1776, finance minister Turgot was dismissed, after he failed to enact reforms. The next year, Jacques Necker, a foreigner, was appointed Comptroller-General of Finance. He could not be made an official minister because he was a Protestant. Necker realized that the country’s extremely regressive tax system subjected the lower classes to a heavy burden, while numerous exemptions existed for the nobility and clergy. He argued that the country could not be taxed higher; that tax exemptions for the privileged must be reduced; and proposed that borrowing more money would solve the country’s fiscal shortages.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Notes from meeting and action on October 19, 2011

We, as representatives of the Occupy Canon City group, agreed that we stand, first and foremost behind the Occupy Wall Street group, and their ideals. Agreed to make signs stating that we support Occupy Wall Street.

We agree that we are uncomfortable with the End the Fed group, their Anonymous masks, and their elect Ron Paul agenda and feel it is confusing the message of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Canon City.

As there were no End the Fed folks present at the meeting, we could not come to a resolution of these issues and decided instead to move all Occupy Canon City actions to the Veterans Park on the West end of Canon City.

We agreed that there will be no candidate signs at any Occupy Canon City actions, nor will there be signs promoting other ideas or websites not involved with promoting the Occupy Wall Street Message. (See Declaration of Occupation for relevant topics for signage.)

We decided not to pursue McClain’s offer of helping Occupy Canon City become a non-profit entity, as this is a movement for the people, by the people and does not follow a business model of any variety.

We decided, in the spirit of health and general politeness, that all smokers should move their smoking activities away from the group and group’s children.

It has been shared that if we would like to reserve the community space in the Sunflower building, we must give McClain at least one week’s notice.

A new Occupier has a lead on another space for meetings, north on 9th st. Waiting for more information on that.

We all agreed that Occupy Canon City needs to grow as a movement and are talking about how to spread the message, in support of Occupy Wall Street.

We agreed that Occupy Canon City will respect and remain off of private property, unless otherwise invited to be there. This means that we will remain in the public right of way or in park spaces when holding actions.

We agreed that Occupy Canon City will clean up after its group activities, leaving no trash, litter, or cigarette butts behind, and leave the Occupied site in as good a condition, if not better than the condition we found it in.

We agreed on next Occupy Canon City action to take place in Veteran’s Park on Sunday, October 23, at 12pm.

Join us in solidartiy for OWS and the Global Occupation on OCt 15

On October 15, 2011, Occupy Canon City will join in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy event to allow our Global voices to be heard.

At 12pm we will meet in the park on 9th St and Highway 50/Royal Gorge Blvd.

Occupy Canon City will hold it’s first official General Assembly at 12 pm, followed by a fun time of protest against the Big Banks, sign waving, excited chit chat and other Occupation activities which may include sign making, sidewalk chalk art, singing, chanting, and drumming.

Come out and join in the Occupation! Bring your family and friends and let’s make it a day to remember!

Everyone is welcome. We are the 99%. Let us join together and discuss the future of America and share our visions of a peaceful and united world.

Bring your sign making gear, your musical instruments, your ideas, hopes and dreams.

See you tomorrow!

K.A. Bennett

Occupy Canon City has a web page!

Welcome to the Occupy Canon City web page.

Our first Occupation will be Wednesday, October 12 from 4 – 6 pm in front of the Wells Fargo at 532 Main St in Canon City, at the west end of Highway 50. Bring your signs, your drums and your dinner if you wish. Please stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets and off of the banks property. Do not block traffic into and out of the bank.  No violence or rudeness will be allowed. This is a peaceful demonstration.

We join together in solidarity for our brothers and sisters in NYC at the Occupy Wall Street event and stand in solidarity with Occupy Together Movements all over the world.

If you are interested in blogging on this site, contact us. If you are interested in helping out with this site or any other aspect of Occupy Canon City, please contact us. This is a movement for the people, by the people!

Let your voices be heard!

-KAB

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