From Imprimis, abridged transcript of a speech by David McCullough, an awarded author and Historian,
"We are not just known by our failings, by our weaknesses, by our sins. We are known by being capable of rising to the occasion and exhibiting not just a sense of direction, but strength."
Written by Abigail Adams to her son, John Quincy Adams, when he was faced with crossing the Atlantic for the second time while still a child,
"These are the times in which genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman."
These words really spoke to me and I wanted to share them with you. This next one struck me as kind of funny:
And later, upon learning he had become enamored with himself, she wrote,
"If you are conscious to yourself that you posess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world and obtaining knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book, but it has been supplied to you. That your whole time has been spent in the comany of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have turned out a blockhead."
I love how she builds him up, mentions all the things he was given, and then tells him through all these things of course you're smart, if not you'd have to be really dull.
Elsewhere in the transcript is written how both John Adams and George Washington wrote about not being able to guarantee success, but being able to deserve it. John Adams writes to his wife at home, "We can't guarantee success, but we can do something better. We can deserve it." They were actually quoting a line from the play Cato, a line from the language of the time. How interesting is it that such great men, with such great words, have something more that they hold themselves to.
In the words of the play,
"`Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we`ll do more, Sempronius; we`ll deserve it."