… I shall need too the favour of that being in whose hands we are: who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land; and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries & comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, & our riper years with his wisdom & power: & to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, & prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, & shall secure to you the peace, friendship, & approbation of all nations.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know man’s help is not enough.
I excerpted several of the opening paragraphs of this major address and skipped ones that followed. The omitted ones dealt with native Americans and the challenges of their assimilation, the abuses printed by some newspapers, a reiteration of the limited, essential purposes of American government, and a plea for forgiveness for errors in his judgment.
This is the conclusion to Jefferson’s address, a plea for divine help. Jefferson rarely refers to that source as God and never as Jesus, yet he recognized and petitioned “that being” who had:
– Led us to a land blessed with abundant resources
– Protected us in “our infancy”
– Gave us wisdom and power as we matured
Jefferson asked his fellow citizens to join him in “supplications” (earnest or humble requests) for wisdom for America’s leaders, that their actions would result in “your good” at home, and peace, friendship and approval abroad.