Tag Archives: Future

What was I writing about? Oh, yes … that.

… It was not till yesterday I received information that you were still there [Philadelphia], had been very ill, but were on the recovery. I sincerely rejoice that you are so.

… We can no longer say there is nothing new under the sun. For this whole chapter in the history of man is new. The great extent of our Republic is new. Its sparse habitation is new. The mighty wave of public opinion which has rolled over it is new …


But I have got into a long disquisition on politics, when I only meant to express my sympathy in the state of your health, and to tender you all the affections of public & private hospitality…

To Joseph Priestly, March 21, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders get distracted occasionally.
Jefferson wrote to Priestly, a friend and confidante, just days after his March 4 inauguration as President. Elsewhere in this letter, he decried bigots, barbarians, backward-only lookers and those who had perverted “Christian philosophy, – the most sublime and benevolent.”

He didn’t name names, but he was clearly commenting on the more extreme elements in the nation’s first 12 years. He saw his election as a sea-change, putting those base influences behind, making America’s future new and bright once again.

He intended to write only to inquire about his friend’s health. He couldn’t help going into “a long disquisition on politics.” He concluded with an invitation to come be his guest in Washington City and stay at the President’s House.

“Your statesman humor and common sense discussion as Thomas Jefferson helped us to understand ourselves, our country and our association much better.”
President, Indiana Telecommunications Association

Humor, common sense & understanding – Thomas Jefferson brings all three!
Invite him to speak to your audience. 573-657-2739

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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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Doom-and-gloom folks: Beware!

When I contemplate the immense advances in science and discoveries in the arts which have been made within the period of my life, I look forward with confidence to equal advances by the present generation, and have no doubt they will consequently be as much wiser than we have been as we than our fathers were, and they than the burners of witches.
To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, March 3, 1818

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What kind of leader has GREAT HOPE for the future?
This letter addressed the question: What person was responsible for the beginning of America’s move toward the revolution of 1776? Jefferson’s conclusion was that no single person was responsible, that “one new idea leads to another,” and altogether and eventually, the task was accomplished. He saw value and progress in the contribution of each person.

He expressed that same confidence in this closing thought:
1. Our forefathers burned witches.
2. Our fathers did not.
3. We have seen “immense advances” in science and arts in my lifetime.
4. By these examples, I expect similar progress in the next generation.
And by implication, he expected even more from each generation to follow.

In light of this, what would Jefferson’s response be to the challenges of population growth, adequate food production, pollution, epidemics, global warming? Does his example encourage you?

“Your wonderful presentation as Daniel Boone
was well-received and appropriate to the interests of our group.”
Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association

Thomas Jefferson (and Boone and Clark) stand ready to inspire your audience!
Call Patrick Lee to schedule all three of them, 573-657-2739

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