Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thomas Jefferson Opposes Potential U.S. State Department Import Restrictions?

I think we should add to the voices of the three Europeans objecting to the US regulation of imports of illegally exported cultural property the voice of Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, barrow-digger and first Secretary of State in the newly-founded State Department initially appointed by Washington (1789-1793). He had various ideas in his time - this apparently is one of them:
The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign affairs. Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.

Of course the internet-based postal sale of dugup ancient coins from all over the classical world was not around at the end of the eighteenth century, but even iof it was, one suspects Jefferson might have been on the no-questions-asked coiney side:
Money and not morality is the principle of commerce and commercial nations.
So we see the notions of the ACCG and their coin dealing and collecting pals are firmly set in America's long eighteenth century. I wonder if we will see those arguments turning up in the ACCG/IAPN/PNG court cases?

Vignette: Jefferson, Monticello.

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