Can there be cooperation in the midst of war?


I mention these things, to shew the nature of the correspondence which is carried on between societies instituted for the benevolent purpose of communicating to all parts of the world whatever useful is discovered in any one of them. These societies are always in peace, however their nations may be at war. Like the republic of letters, they form a great fraternity spreading over the whole earth, and their correspondence is never interrupted by any civilized nation. Vaccination has been a late and remarkable instance of the liberal diffusion of a blessing newly discovered.

Source: To John Hollins, February 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders encourage societies for the public good.
Prior to this excerpt, Jefferson described the sharing of seeds, wool, a new weaving machine and a plow between men, himself included, in benevolent societies in different nations. All of these items were for improving the human condition.

Even if tangible items were not exchanged, a regular flow of letters between men in these societies kept their contemporaries in other nations up-to-date with the latest discoveries in the scientific realm. Jefferson himself was president of the American Philosophical Society, America’s premier society of learned men, from 1797-1815. (APS, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, the year of Jefferson’s birth, still thrives today.)

Jefferson extolled the value of such societies, a “great fraternity” which continued its humanitarian efforts even when their nations were at war. They had recently lent their efforts to promoting public health through vaccination.

Jefferson wrote this letter just two weeks before retiring the Presidency. His joy at finally abandoning politics for family, farming, books and science at Monticello must have been palpable!

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President, Linn State Technical College
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The Moral Liberal 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.

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