Thomas Jefferson and hope for the more shy, quiet writers

I often listen to different audio programs while I work on something else. While I might be challenged, at times, to multi-task, I’m thankful that I’m able to at least handle this sort of “brain-splitting”, from time to time. Nonetheless, while listening to the American Experience biography of Thomas Jefferson (the episode has its issues, but that’s not why I’m writing this blog post), I came across one small segment that put the brakes on whatever busied me externally, and gave greater attention to the thing that had compelled the other side of my brain (the internal, listening part) to take notice. It struck me as something of value for those who might find oral presentations a challenge, but feel confident in their abilities to express themselves via the written word. To those who struggle with that divide in talent, consider this morsel…

Observation by John Adams on Thomas Jefferson:

During the while time I saw with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together. Though a silent member of Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees…

This quote was followed by commentary from one historian and then another. From historian #1, regarding Jefferson:

He is a shy man. He has perhaps a slight speech impediment and he has a high-pitched and weak voice, and is not given to asserting himself.

Historian #2:

He’s not comfortable talking in public. He’s not a great orator. In fact, he’s, when as a lawyer, not very good at making presentations to juries. He’s much more comfortable crafting language in private where he has control.

For those who find similarities in their own abilities, and feel better at expressing themselves in the written word vice the spoken word… take hope. 🙂







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