… I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents … There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society … May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi [aristocrats] into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendancy …
To John Adams, Oct. 28, 1813
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
True leaders achieve their status by natural gifts, not artificial ones.
Some will rise to the top of every society. How do they get there?
In all other societies, the aristocrats achieved their status by heredity (Who’s your Daddy?) or wealth (I have more than you.) Jefferson called that an “artificial aristocracy,” one created by the wealthy and well-born for the maintenance of their own privileged position.
A true aristocracy, one based on natural law, promoted individuals on the twin foundations of virtue (What kind of person are you?) and talent (What skills do you possess that will benefit society?).
Jefferson wanted to prevent the artificial ones, “a mischievous ingredient,” from having any significant role in government. He welcomed natural aristocrats into government, believing they were prepared by nature for that role.
The best government was one that nurtured the selection, recognition and ascendency of people with talent and integrity.
Thomas Jefferson will inspire your audience to integrity and talent.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739