Tag Archives: Pride

They have too much pride to admit their error.

[I] had before observed what was said in the Chronicle of it’s conciliatory tendency. some are of opinion that attempts at conciliation are useless. this is true only as to distinguished leaders who had committed themselves so far that their pride will not permit them to correct themselves. but it is not true as to the mass of those who had been led astray by an honest confidence in the government & by misinformation. the great majority of these has already reconciled itself to us, & the rest are doing so as fast as the natural progress of opinion will permit.
Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Elwyn, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders value humility.
Elwyn wrote a political pamphlet that was published in Boston and had received a favorable review in the Chronicle newspaper. He sent a copy of his pamphlet to the President, who apparently had read the Chronicle’s review. The tone of the pamphlet must have hoped for some reconciliation between political opponents.

Jefferson disagreed with those who maintained “attempts at reconciliation are useless.” That was true of leaders whose views were so rigid that pride prevented them from changing their minds. It was not true of the “mass” of citizens who had been led astray “by misinformation.” Reconciliation had happened for most already and would for the remainder in due time.

In an 1825 letter to a child, summarizing what he had learned in 81 years, Jefferson wrote, among other things, “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.”

“… thank you for your excellent presentation …
your portrayal and your responses to questions from the audience were right on the mark.”
Secretary/Treasurer, Virginia Association of Surveyors
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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How do you change minds?

… some are of opinion that attempts at [re]conciliation [with the political opposition] are useless. this is true only as to distinguished leaders who had committed themselves so far that their pride will not permit them to correct themselves. but it is not true as to the mass of those who had been led astray by an honest confidence in the government & by misinformation. the great majority of these has already reconciled itself to us, & the rest are doing so as fast as the natural progress of opinion will permit.
To Thomas Elwyn, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know it takes both time and results to change minds.
Elwyn had sent Jefferson a pamphlet on some subject, and the President replied with his thanks. Something in Elwyn’s submission must have dealt with reconciliation between the political parties, a subject much on Jefferson’s mind. He made these observations:

1. Reconciliation of differences is always a worthwhile goal.
2. Too much pride would keep some from ever changing their minds.
3. “honest confidence in the government” had deceived some people.
4. “misinformation” had deceived others.
5. The majority of those “led astray” had changed their minds already.
6. The rest would do so, given enough time to consider the evidence.

“As a meeting planner, it was a pleasure to work with you …”
Director of Member Services, Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives
Mr. Jefferson is a pleasure to work with!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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REALLY bad leadership can end like this.

Having been, like him [Napoleon], intrusted with the happiness of my country, I feel the blessing of resembling him in no other point. I have not caused the death of five or ten millions …the devastation of other countries, the depopulation of my own, the exhaustion of its resources, the destruction of its liberties, nor its foreign subjugation. All this he has done to render more illustrious the atrocities perpetrated for illustrating [adorning] himself and his family with plundered diadems [crowns] and scepters [emblems of authority].
To Count Dugnani, February 14, 1818
Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 625

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Overly ambitious leaders ruin people and nations.
Jefferson observed that he and Napoleon had the same responsibility, the happiness of their nations. What were the outcomes of Napoleon’s “leadership”?
    – Millions dead
    – Countries devastated
    – France’s
                – population decimated
                – resources exhausted
                – liberties destroyed
                – domination by foreigners
And for what purpose? All to add trappings of power over others to himself and his family.

In the next post, September 16, Jefferson will contrast Napoleon’s “accomplishments” with his own.

“Your opening keynote for our convention had the audience spellbound … “
Program Chair, MO Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science


Your audience will be spellbound, too. Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.

Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

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