I served with General Washington in the legislature of Virginia before the revolution, and, during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point which was to decide the question. They laid their shoulders to the great points, knowing that the little ones would follow of themselves.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders deal in great things, not little ones.
Note the two characteristics Thomas Jefferson ascribed to both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin when they spoke to persuade others:
– They always spoke for less than 10 minutes.
– They devoted themselves only to the main point, the deciding point of an issue.
Jefferson seldom spoke in public debate, and he was impressed by those who could do so effectively. While legislators ranged from people like him, who spoke rarely, to ones like Patrick Henry, who spoke movingly and at length, Jefferson reserved his praise for those who spoke briefly and directly.
And what about the side issues, “the little ones,” Jefferson called them, the ones that distracted lesser men? Those would fall in line by themselves when great men focused on the great issues.