31 JULY 1964, Page 14

SIR,—You see an irony in Senator Goldwater being 'acclaimed by

the party of Jefferson and Lincoln' (Portrait of the Week, July 17).

In linking the present Republican Party with Jefferson you ignore the fact that the Democratic Party also claims to be the heir of Jefferson. There is indeed equal justification (or lack of it) in the claims of both parties. Institutionally there is little truth in it, particularly on the national level. Until recently American parties existed nationally only once every four years. The enduring organisations existed only at state level. The national parties con- sisted of coalitions of state parties which had little in common with one another except a compromise national policy and a desire for the fruits of power; this would hardly be surprising in so vast and diverse a country. The motives of the voters of course might have been different. This situation prevailed between the presidencies of Jefferson and Lincoln. The present Republican Party was founded in 1854 and was initially a combination of various remnants of previously opposed parties of the Old Northwest. By then the Republican Party of Jefferson had disap- peared and its constituent parts at the most survived separately, one of them—its New York organisation —becoming an important Democratic Party strong- hold. Institutionally Jefferson bequeathed nothing to Lincoln.

In any case, the irony is not as you see it. Has not Goldwater Republicanism very much in common with Jeffersonian and Lincoln Republicanism in its hatred of sophistication and foreign influences and its contempt for the propertyless? Was not Jefferson the prime advocate of laissez-faire, and did not Lincoln's party before the Civil War call itself The

White Man's Party'? M. A. FARADAY 2 Wilmot's Way, Pill, Somerset