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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!
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One Response to What was I writing about? Oh, yes … that.

  1. Often there is more wisdom in these off-the-cuff comments than in prepared speeches. Typical advice to speakers is to speak as if it is one-on-one instead of addressing a throng of a thousand.

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