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WHAT is he writing about? (The S-word)

The subject of your letter of April 20, is one on which I do not permit myself to express an opinion, but when time, place, and occasion may give it some favorable effect. A good cause is often injured more by ill-timed efforts of its friends than by the arguments of its enemies. Persuasion, perseverance, and patience are the best advocates on questions depending on the will of others.
The revolution in public opinion which this cause requires, is not to be expected in a day, or perhaps in an age; but time, which outlives all things, will outlive this evil also. My sentiments have been forty years before the public. Had I repeated them forty times, they would only have become the more stale and threadbare. Although I shall not live to see them consummated, they will not die with me; but living or dying, they will ever be in my most fervent prayer  …
To James Heaton, Monticello, May 20, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders understand that big change comes very slowly.
The subject is slavery. (There’s a new book, a grossly inaccurate one, I think, on Jefferson, the evil slaveholder.) Consider this letter, written by the frail, ailing Jefferson just six weeks before his death. These are his last words on this grievous issue.

1. He expressed an opinion only when it could have “some favorable effect.” Otherwise, he kept his thoughts to himself.
2. By poor timing, friends could injure a good cause more than its enemies.
3. When change depends on the will of others, rely on “persuasion, perseverance and patience.”
4. Revolutionary change in thinking comes not in a day and maybe not in a lifetime.
5. Time will outlive slavery, which he called evil. The practice would end … sometime.
6. Since the late 1760s, his views on slavery were well-known. To harp on them year after year would have made his voice irrelevant.
7. He wouldn’t live to see this evil ended, but he wouldn’t give up. Slavery’s end would be his “most fervent prayer,” even in death.
Do these principles apply today where a “revolution in public opinion” is required?

Let Thomas Jefferson express his thoughts on change to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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2 Responses to WHAT is he writing about? (The S-word)

  1. Jane Flink says:

    To answer your question, those conditions do indeed apply today. And as Jefferson says, the tears in our democracy will take time to heal. I do wish however that somebody would correct the loudest of those who rant about “the government.” I was taught in childhood that it isn’t “the” government. It is my government, our government, and its faults are our faults. Jane

  2. ripuree11 says:

    Jefferson did had no better feelings for black humans, any more than he did when he claimed that All Men Are Created Equal. If he did he would’ve made provisions for them to be freed, upon his death, just as easily as he had the ability to still write.

    It is disingenuous to continuously try to make out the evil of those evil men as praiseworthy, while no attempt has ever been made to highlight the supernatural degree of humanity that a people had to have released from within them to live for so many century not having the opportunity to use their lives for their own benefit, and yet, the majority did not end up completely crazy, or even half as inhumane to their owners, as those claimed owners were to them.

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