That You Have Enemies, You Must Not Doubt, When You Reflect That You Have Made Yourself Eminent

Creator: Thomas Jefferson, Statesman, U.S. President

Context: Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter dated November 26, 1782 to George Rogers Clark, and he discussed the unavoidability of facing enemies when one’s actions are momentous enough to be recorded in history books. Emphasis added to this excerpt: 1

That you have enemies you must not doubt, when you reflect that you have made yourself eminent. If you meant to escape malice you should have confined yourself within the sleepy line of regular duty. When you transgressed this and enterprized deeds which will hand down your name with honour to future times, you made yourself a mark for malice and envy to shoot at.

Related Article 01: You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed. Victor Hugo


  1. U.S. National Archives: Founders Online, Letter From: Thomas Jefferson, Letter To: George Rogers Clark, Letter Date: November 26, 1782, Description of Document Source: “Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 6, 21 May 1781–1 March 1784, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952, pp. 204–205.”, Description of Website: “Founders Online is an official website of the U.S. government, administered by the National Archives and Records Administration through the NHPRC, in partnership with the University of Virginia Press, which is hosting this website.” (Accessed at in September 10, 2018) link