inspire a confidence

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lymptus

New Member
Chinese (Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese)
Hi all, here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson where there is a phrase which seems confusing to me.

It is from a book about the US government.

Jefferson’s frequent use of the secret fund was rooted in his belief that it was the president’s prerogative, when he thought circumstances warranted it, to conceal certain actions of government not only from the public, but from Congress as well. Jefferson’s use of secrecy was especially pronounced in matters of foreign policy where he often dispatched private citizens to deliver diplomatic messages to foreign officials. Despite the official nature of their missions, Jefferson’s private emissaries operated not only free of Congressional oversight, but often without the knowledge of the Secretary of State. Jefferson defended his use of the secret fund in a letter to James Monroe: “I can make private friendships instrumental to the public good by inspiring a confidence which is denied to public and official communications.”

I have no idea what it might mean in this context. Whose confidence, and in what?

Thank you.
 
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This is tricky because it's a case where a normally uncountable noun becomes countable, e.g.

    “I can make private friendships instrumental to the public good by inspiring confidence in many people." (here 'confidence' is uncountable)

    You can think of it this way:

    “I can make private friendships instrumental to the public good by inspiring a type of confidence which is denied to public and official communications.”

    Here 'confidence' becomes countable because we are implying there are different types of confidence. On the one hand there is my 'privately-inspired' confidence and, on the other, a lesser 'public and official' confidence.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It seems to mean that Jefferson had messages delivered secretly to foreign officials in order to form private friendships with them, which enabled him to come to agreements with them that were for the public good but would not have been possible had he conducted his negotiations openly, in the “correct” way. In other words, the public interest was served by his inspiring confidence in the foreign officials with whom he was dealing surreptitiously.
     
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