Thomas Jefferson on the 2004 Election

1st November 200410:30 am

Sociologist and political theorist Jeff Weintraub passes along the following timely passage from one of Thomas Jefferson’s letters circa 1798 which, as Jeff notes, seems to capture the right spirit for the present moment:

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to it’s true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience til luck turns and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake.

To which Jeff adds:

We’d better not trust to luck (though I doubt that Jefferson meant that literally), but otherwise this should be taken to heart. The essential message is also conveyed by a well-known aphorism of Antonio Gramsci’s: “pessimism of the intelligence, optimism of the will.”

Link to complete copy of Thomas Jefferson letter.

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