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Is there “good” folly and “bad” folly?

We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will always be afloat. But ours shall be the follies of enthusiasm, not of bigotry, not of Jesuitism. Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both. We are destined to be a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism … I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
To John Adams, August 1, 1816

The Adams-Jefferson Letters, Edited by Lester J. Cappon, P. 484-5

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Hopeful leaders encourage the right kind of folly.
John Adams had asked his friend if he was familiar with a certain four volume history of the Jesuits. Jefferson was not. Neither was he fond of the Jesuits, in the same way he wasn’t fond of any individual or group that dictated a certain way of thinking to the exclusion of other ways. He considered that bigotry. He thought America was and would continue to be anti-bigotry, a shining light to the world.

Folly would always be around, but America’s folly would be one of enthusiasm for the future, not the “ignorance and barbarism” of the past.


Jefferson may have been the most avid history student in the world, but the purpose of knowing it was to guide the present and protect the future. So guided, he dreamed of an even better days to come for his nation.

“You not only enthralled our general session, you…  entertain[ed]our spouses …
came in costume to our reception … And our members loved it all.”
Director of Member Services and Education, Minnesota Rural Electric Association

Your audience will be enthralled! Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

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I just want you to know …

Very early in the course of my researches into the laws of Virginia, I observed that many of them were already lost, and many more on the point of being lost, as existing only in single copies …
This leads us then to the only means of preserving those remains of our laws now under consideration, that is, a multiplication of printed copies. I think therefore that there should be printed at public expense, an edition of all the laws ever passed by our legislatures which can now be found; that a copy should be deposited in every public library in America, in the principal public offices within the State, and some perhaps in the most distinguished public libraries of Europe, and that the rest should be sold to individuals, towards reimbursing the expences of the edition …
To George Wythe, January 16, 1796

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders appreciate a government of laws, not of men.
George Wythe was Jefferson’ mentor and friend, directed his study to become a lawyer, and was a co-signer of the Declaration of Independence. During the Revolutionary War, Jefferson devoted himself to a revision of the laws of Virginia, many which existed only as a single copy. Other laws, he feared, were lost forever. To combat this, he proposed printing at public expense “all the laws every passed by our legislatures,” a work that might be contained in four volumes.
This was practical, not just some academic exercise. He wanted that work placed in every public library in the nation, in Virginia’s public offices, even in the best libraries of Europe. In other words, he wanted the laws to be distributed as widely as possible, accessible by all.
Ever conservative about public expenditures, some of the printing cost might be recaptured by selling copies, too.

“Mr. Lee has the ability to successfully BE the personage he is impersonating.
He has the requisite knowledge … and the artistic skills ..
.”

The Delta Queen Steamboat Company
Engage Patrick Lee to BE Thomas Jefferson for your audience.
Call 573-657-2739

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Now, where did I put that ….?

   … while I was Secretary of State … I saw the importance of [taking notes] …  in aid of my memory. Very often, therefore, I made memorandums on loose scraps of paper, taken out of my pocket in the moment, and laid by to be copied fair [recopied neatly] at leisure, which, however, they hardly ever were. These scraps, therefore, ragged, rubbed, and scribbled as they were, I had bound with the others by a binder who came into my cabinet, did it under my own eye, and without the opportunity of reading a single paper. At this day, after the lapse of twenty-five years, or more, from their dates, I have given to the whole a calm revisal, when the passions of the time are passed away… Some of the informations I had recorded, are now cut out from the rest, because I have seen that they were incorrect, or doubtful, or merely personal or private …
Introduction to The Anas, February 4, 1818

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders keep records for posterity (and recognize their errors).
In 1821, at age 78, Jefferson wrote a partial autobiography, from birth until 1790. But several years before, he took on the task organizing the post-1790 portion of his copious notes. The result was three private volumes known as The Anas, covering from 1791 until the end of his Presidency in1809.
Some interesting things to note from his introduction:
1. His memory wasn’t perfect, even as young man. He needed to take notes.
2. The note-taking was methodical but casual, done on “loose scraps of paper.”
3. His intention was to recopy these notes, but that hardly ever happened. (Sound familiar?)
4. Now, 25 years later, he hired a bookbinder to work directly under his supervision to bind these “loose scraps of paper” into book form.
5. Upon reflection years later, “when the passions of the time are passed away,” he recognized some of his observations were wrong, without foundation or nobody else’s business. These he deleted from his “official” record.
The title to this post, “Now, where did I put that …?,” is almost a joke. It may be a question Jefferson rarely if ever asked himself. His ability to organize and retrieve material was phenomenal.

Mr. Jefferson’s recollections have value for your audience today!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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