History quote of the day: Dreams of the future

I noticed this quote from Thomas Jefferson many years ago, but never posted it because I blog about history, not the future.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

But I just looked up the letter where this quote appears in the Monticello database, and really like its source: a letter to John Adams in 1816.

“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both. We are destined to be a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism. Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders, and to hobble along by our side, under the monkish trammels of priests and kings, as she can. What a Colossus shall we be when the Southern continent comes up to our mark! What a stand will it secure as a ralliance for the reason & freedom of the globe! I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. So good night. I will dream on, always fancying that Mrs Adams and yourself are by my side marking the progress and the obliquities of ages and countries.” – Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, Monticello, 1 August 1816[1]

Adams replied, “May we be ‘a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism’! ‘What a colossus shall we be’! But will it not be of brass, iron and clay? Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future than the history of the past. Upon this principle I prophesy that you and I shall soon meet and be better friends than ever.”[2]

What an exciting time it must have been in the early years of our nation. The world was stretched out before us. Anything was possible.

Thomas_Jefferson's_Monticello

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