Monday, July 18, 2011

Thomas Jefferson: Enduring Icon of Leadership

As one enters the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., one is immediately confronted with the conviction and strength of the third President of the United States. Inscribed around the inside of the dome are the words,
"For I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
The sense of awe one experiences upon entering the memorial is so powerful that, to this day, I can clearly recall my visit fifty years ago as a 3 year old child and still feel the presence, strength and influence of Thomas Jefferson, the man honored there.

Thomas Jefferson is truly an American icon for the ages, in his brilliance and dedication to the ideals of democracy. As someone providentially born into a unique period of history, he had the courage to stand against the tyranny of England and to inflame the sentiments of a nation.

[Reprinted from]

From Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address
Wednesday, March 4, 1801

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

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