Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography

By Merrill D. Peterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
President:
Second Administration

And many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been known to exist in reality; for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that be who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin than his preservation. A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must come to grief among so many who are not good. Therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.

Machiavelli, The Prince, 1532

IN MARCH 4, 1805, three months after Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of France midst the splendor of Notre Dame in Paris, Thomas Jefferson rode up Pennsylvania Avenue to the half-finished Capitol, strolled into the half-empty Senate chamber, and in a ceremony more austere than the last again swore the Presidential oath, delivered, inaudibly, an inaugural address, and quietly departed. He conceived of this address as a compte rendu, showing the conformity of his administration to the principles of the first inaugural. "The former was promise: this is performance." Jefferson's

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