Thomas Jefferson Leadership
… some are of opinion that attempts at [re]conciliation [with the political opposition] are useless. this is true only as to distinguished leaders who had committed themselves so far that their pride will not permit them to correct themselves. but it is not true as to the mass of those who had been led astray by an honest confidence in the government & by misinformation. the great majority of these has already reconciled itself to us, & the rest are doing so as fast as the natural progress of opinion will permit.
To Thomas Elwyn, March 8, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know it takes both time and results to change minds.
Elwyn had sent Jefferson a pamphlet on some subject, and the President replied with his thanks. Something in Elwyn’s submission must have dealt with reconciliation between the political parties, a subject much on Jefferson’s mind. He made these observations:
- Reconciliation of differences is always a worthwhile goal.
- Too much pride would keep some from ever changing their minds.
- “honest confidence in the government” had deceived some people.
- “misinformation” had deceived others.
- The majority of those “led astray” had changed their minds already.
- The rest would do so, given enough time to consider the evidence.