The Thought for the Day – Slavery and Forward Thinking

Joseph Fossett spent ten years at his anvil and forge earning the money to buy back is wife and children. Others might be content with what was; he could think only in terms of what should be. – Henry Wiencek, Master of the Mountain

Joseph Fossett was an American slave, owned by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Fossett was one of five slaves freed under the terms of Jefferson’s will, however Jefferson did not see fit to free Fossett’s wife or his children, who were sold at auction after Jefferson’s death, obliging Fossett to buy his family. He did, and they later settled in Ohio.

It’s regrettable Fossett had to waste his foresight and talents to purchase his family. Free, he probably would have been a man of substantive accomplishment, however that’s the way the world was built back then – and in some places may still be.

Fossett’s story shows, in a nutshell, what is required for success: a plan, the skill to execute that plan, the determination to stick with it when the going gets tough – and if you were a freed slave trying to earn the money to purchase your family it was probably tough 24 hours a day – and hard work. Progress, whether you are purchasing your family or building a chair or revolutionizing an industry takes all these things.

Forward thinkers are found everywhere, in people of every status and station. This is also true of status quo thinkers, those who are unwilling or unable to think beyond today and are happy with what is.

Others might be content with what was; he could think only in terms of what should be

Fossett was not content with what was: his family held in bondage while he remained free. Fossett’s only concern was what should be: his family as free as he was. He formed a plan to purchase them and for a decade made the execution of that plan his sole endeavor.

We should be the same way. We may not be obliged to purchase our family’s freedom, but if we are to have any success in this life, we must think in terms what we should be, and not of merely being what we are.



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