Sunday, February 22, 2009


On several occasions I have referred to the American Patriot’s Almanac and this commentary was generated from that wonderful source. Way back in 1824 a friend and political ally of Thomas Jefferson asked him to give some advice to his young son. The letter was to be given to the young lad at some date in the future when he could fully understand the contents. The letter was written one year before Jefferson’s death.

“Monticello, February 21, 1885

This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something which might have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into which you have entered, be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be under my regard. Farewell.

Thomas Jefferson”

I was struck at the civility of the letter’s tone as it was written to his namesake Thomas Jefferson Smith. It is reported, too, that Jefferson enclosed some added practical advice, such as “Pride cost us more than hunger, thirst and cold.” Also, “When angry, count ten before you speak. If very angry, a hundred”.

Your Commander recently wrote a very personal letter to my grandchildren, and at some date in the future I may release the contents, but only after receiving the approval of my grandchildren. I strongly recommend that you consider writing a personal letter to your grandchildren or even children before it is too late.


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