The Jeffersonian Perspective

Commentary on Today's Social and Political Issues
Based on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson


Brief Notes on Jeffersonian Topics

Jefferson on Youth and Inexperience

Q. Do you know of a Thomas Jefferson quote on not running for political office because of being too young or not having enough experience?

I am not familiar with such a quote; nevertheless, it might very well exist. Most of what I have read of Jefferson suggests that he had high hopes for, and great confidence in, the youth of the country.

In fact, Jefferson seemed to be concerned more with ability than with youth or inexperience as such.

Somewhat contrary to the idea of a person not running for political office because of being too young or not having enough experience, Jefferson seems to have looked to the youth of our country for its advancement.

Sometimes he expressed a disappointment in the younger generation, as in their failure to deal properly with the question of slavery.

But towards the end of his life, he realized that our only hope is in our young people.

The conservative view that age and experience are primary assets is not seen much in the writings of Jefferson. His was a more progressive spirit, and he looked to the young and to experiment, not experience, for our advancement.

I would be very much surprised if there was a quotation from Jefferson strongly condemning persons running for elective office who were "too young or too inexperienced."


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© 1999 by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.