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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

4637 Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
QUOTATION:Of the various executive abilities, no one excited more anxious concern than that of placing the interests of our fellow-citizens in the hands of honest men, with understanding sufficient for their stations. 1 No duty is at the same time more difficult to fulfil. The knowledge of character possessed by a single individual is of necessity limited. To seek out the best through the whole Union, we must resort to the information which from the best of men, acting disinterestedly and with the purest motives, is sometimes incorrect.
ATTRIBUTION:Letter to Elias Shipman and others of New Haven, July 12, 1801.
Note 1.
This passage is thus paraphrased by John B. McMaster in his “History of the People of the United States” (ii. 586): “One sentence will undoubtedly be remembered till our republic ceases to exist. ‘No duty the Executive had to perform was so trying,’ he observed, ‘as to put the right man in the right place.’” [back]