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Letter from Thomas Jefferson

Letter To James Heaton - Monticello, May 20, 1826

        _To James Heaton_
        _Monticello, May 20, 1826_

        DEAR SIR, -- The subject of your letter of April 20, is one on
which I do not permit myself to express an opinion, but when time,
place, and occasion may give it some favorable effect.  A good cause
is often injured more by ill-timed efforts of its friends than by the
arguments of its enemies.  Persuasion, perseverance, and patience are
the best advocates on questions depending on the will of others.  The
revolution in public opinion which this cause requires, is not to be
expected in a day, or perhaps in an age; but time, which outlives all
things, will outlive this evil also.  My sentiments have been forty
years before the public.  Had I repeated them forty times, they would
only have become the more stale and threadbare.  Although I shall not
live to see them consummated, they will not die with me; but living
or dying, they will ever be in my most fervent prayer.  This is
written for yourself and not for the public, in compliance with your
request of two lines of sentiment on the subject.  Accept the
assurance of my good will and respect.