The text is quoted from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in 1785. (source)

I am conscious that an equal division of property is impractable. 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.

I'm not quite sure how "But the consequences of [...]" and "legislators cannot invent [...]" are connected together using a comma.

Is it correct that this sentence means "Because of the consequences of [...], legislators cannot invent [...]"?

Thanks :)

  • 1
    That is correct. The passage is merely archaic, as might more easily be seen by dropping But the consequences of and starting the sentence at This enormous… Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


Yes, that's right. I'd translate to:

Because enormous inequality produces widespread misery, legislators should always look for new ways to subdivide property.

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