Tag Archives: Folly

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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