the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.


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The meaning of this statements ?

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson
"We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?"

Can anyone explain to me what do 2 above sentences what ?
mean and
an An angel , the whirlwind and this storm here refer to
Thanks in advance.
  • Hi.
    I think I got it.
    The great Britain was stronger than the USA at that time.
    The great Britain was the fast runner (=the swift) than the USA, if we talk about the race.
    The great Britain was the strong, if the two countries got fight.

    But the USA could declare the independence from the Britain.
    So Thomas Jefferson says that "We know the running-race is not to the swift (=Britain), not the battle winner is not the strong (=Britain).
    The less fast runner (the USA) won the race and the weak (=the USA) won the battle.

    I think "the storm" is the figurative expression of "independence".
    I think you can paraphrase "the storm" to "Change" like in today's America.

    He says that the supernatural power (like God or Angel) suddenly brought us the change/storm/independence.

    I think
    the Angel = current of the times or "the histry" or "destiny"
    whirlwind = the change comes so fast, or suddenly or abruptly, without notice
    this storm = independence of the USA.
    Last edited:
    'The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong' is from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:11. The other sentence is an alteration of lines from Addison:

    So when an angel by divine command
    . . .
    And, pleased th' Almighty's orders to perform,
    Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm

    These would have been familiar words to both Page and Jefferson. I think Wishfull has the metaphorical meanings about right.