Rogues! Scoundrels! Beware! Be gone!

Thomas Jefferson Leadership

I do most anxiously wish to see the highest degrees of education given to the higher degrees of genius, and to all degrees of it, so much as may enable them to read & understand what is going on in the world, and to keep their part of it going on right: for nothing can keep it right but their own vigilant & distrustful superintendence.

I do not believe with the Rochefoucaults & Montaignes, that fourteen out of fifteen men are rogues: I believe a great abatement from that proportion may be made in favor of general honesty. But I have always found that rogues would be uppermost, and I do not know that the proportion is too strong for the higher orders, and for those who, rising above the swinish multitude, always contrive to nestle themselves into the places of power & profit. These rogues set out with stealing the people’s good opinion, and then steal from them the right of withdrawing it, by contriving laws and associations against the power of the people themselves.

Source: Thomas Jefferson to Mann Page, Aug. 30, 1795


Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Wise leaders promote education as a protection from scoundrels.

Jefferson wanted literacy and the ability to understand for all citizens, plus the highest possible education for the very brightest. Americans could protect themselves and their society only by vigilance and skeptical oversight. That protection came only through education.

Without an educated citizenry, the result would be a multiplication of rogues and schemers. These scoundrels would rise above the uneducated, always seeking “power & profit” for themselves. They would steal their way into people’s hearts, and then figure out ways, legal and otherwise, to preserve their power over those people.

Chances are Jefferson was reflecting on European society, where he lived for five years. Roguish domination (whether kings, priests and nobles) was the rule there. Education alone, for everyone from the simplest to the brightest, would keep America from the same dangerous destiny.


Protect your audience from rogues, scoundrels and schemers!
Thomas Jefferson will show you how.
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Self-Educated American Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

His business address is ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com.