In his last years – after a lifetime of learning and experience, Jefferson had one thing preeminently on his mind: the principle of decentralized government.
Rather than saying “centralization,” Jefferson used the word “consolidation,” but they mean the same thing. Here’s his core statement on the subject, from his autobiography, written in 1821:
It is not by the consolidation, or concentration, of powers, but by their distribution, that good government is effected.
This statement put Jefferson at odds with the political leaders of his time and raised difficulties for him, as he writes in a letter to Judge William Johnson in 1823:
I have been blamed for saying, that a prevalence of the doctrines of consolidation would one day call for reformation or revolution.
For the following passage – a letter to William Johnson, written in 1822 – Jefferson’s words are set in italics…