… a part of my occupation, & by no means the least pleasing, is the direction of the studies of such young men as ask it. they place themselves in the neighboring village, and have the use of my library & counsel, & make a part of my society. in advising the course of their reading, I endeavor to keep their attention fixed on the main objects of all science, the freedom & happiness of man. so that coming to bear a share in the councils and government of their country, they will keep ever in view the sole objects of all legitimate government.
To Tadeusz Kosciuszko, February 26, 1810
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders can still shape the future.
Nearing the end of a long letter to a like-minded friend, Jefferson explained yet another aspect of his retirement life. He mentored young men who asked his help, welcoming them into his home, library and society.
He advised which books to read, ones that furthered the cause of “all science,” man’s freedom and happiness. The young men he mentored would be from the privileged class, ones most likely eventually to take an active role in government. By directing their studies in this direction, he would nurture future leaders who would understand what “the sole objects of all legitimate government” truly were.