Letter from Machiavelli

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Dear Thomas Jefferson, This is Niccolo Machiavelli of Florence. I read the document that you have composed in order to save the states from the tyranny of the Great Britain. Now that you have the power to rule yourselves, I have a number of suggestions that may be helpful in operating and ruling a powerful yet obedient country.

I understand that you believe that all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These Rights cannot be protected unless there is a powerful government to enforce the rules. Therefore, if the government is there to protect these Rights, it must have the authority that is necessary to defend these rights for the citizens and the government must do whatever is necessary to keep this power. The consent of the citizens for the power of the government will derive naturally without any difficulty if these Rights are appropriately protected and secured because that is the main reason why the citizens try to form a government.

For a powerful government to function, it is likely that it will be feared, and not loved, by the people. Because being loved is based on obligations and it will fickle accordingly. On the otherhand, being feared is very permanent that will never lose its grip on the power and controllable by the government itself. An example of being feared is to have a cruel army which will protect your citizens from the foreign world. However, you must remember that the government cannot interfere with the citizen?s property and it must give a proper reason for a death penalty. Otherwise, the government will be hated and despised, not feared.

The suggestions that I have provided for you above may be difficult to carry out but the most important thing of all is being able to pretend. Because most men learn only by what they see and hear, the government must know how to pretend to have these qualities. Those few that may be able to see the real qualities of the government will never be able to speak out due to the majority who only judge by the shallow surface of the government. I hope that you do not think of this suggestion as telling you to deceive them. If the results and outcomes of the actions of the government is successful and it helps the states to flourish, that is the only thing that the people will remember and celebrate.

I do not mean to bring any controversy to the states by suggesting you to do whatever is necessary to govern, be feared, and pretend when the government needs to. I have analyzed the great rulers in the history of humankind and have concluded that in order to bring about a great country, these things need to be carefully considered.