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The famous tree of liberty quote, in full reads:

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them.** What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure.

My question is, who is TJ referring to when he says "The remedy is to set them right as to facts..."

Because right before the previous sentence "Let them take arms." is referring to the rebels during Shays Rebellion, so it is assumed the "them" in the second sentence would also be the rebels, but if that is the case, would it not be contradicting the whole letter up to this point if them was referring to the same people who TJ just said periodic rebellion is necessary?

Is the them in the second sentence referring to the governing body at the time and NOT the rebels?

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The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. . . . The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them.

Those who are discontented will take up arms; the response of civil society is to set them right as to the facts, then pardon and pacify those whose contentment is newly restored.

  • Your are connecting two sentences together which are clearly so separated. Why would he suggest a "remedy" when he so clearly said that rebellion is necessary? – Lanet Rino Mar 20 '17 at 20:28
  • @Levydee His ideal rebellion isn't a permanent thing, but something that happens and then we move on from. It's not necessary for the rebels to win. (they didn't in the the events he's referring to) Though I guess if they did win they would be the ones passing out facts, pardons and pacification. – user22111 Mar 20 '17 at 21:02
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It refers to the people then and the people now, just the people in general who aren't happy with their government.

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