and with respect to myself particularly, after eight & thirty years of uniform action in harmony with those now constituting the republican party, without one single instant of alienation from them, it cannot but be my most earnest desire to carry into retirement with me their undivided approbation [approval] & esteem. I retain therefore a cordial friendship for both the sections now so unhappily dividing your state.
Thomas Jefferson to Michael Leib, August 11, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders near retirement safeguard their legacy.
In the previous post, Jefferson wrote as matter of policy and as a federal official, he must take no side in state political quarrels. Here, he went from the philosophical to the personal.
For almost four decades, he had allied himself consistently with the republican (small r) cause. No person of that persuasion had ever distanced themselves from him over intra-party differences. He was nearing the end of his public life and wished to carry with him into retirement “their undivided approbation & esteem.” Thus, he would remain friends with both sides, regardless of the damage they were doing to the republican cause in Pennsylvania.
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