Search Results for: martha

Give it to me straight!

Your letter of the 11th. was recieved and gave me the first intimation of your illness. it has filled me with anxiety respecting you, and this is increased by your not having communicated it to me. because in endeavoring to spare my feelings on your real situation it gives me the pain of fearing every thing imaginable; even that the statement of your recovery may not be exact. let me pray you always to give me the rigorous state of things that I may be sure I know the worst.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 21, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Should a leader prefer bad news to no news at all?
Martha’s January 11 letter to her father has disappeared, so we do not know the nature or extent of her illness. Just eight months before, her sister and Thomas Jefferson’s only other child had died. He greatly feared for Martha’s safety.

Not only had Martha’s letter filled him “with anxiety,” he feared she was trying to spare his feelings. That made his worry all the worse, even doubting her assurances about her own recovery.

He wanted to “know the worst” about his only child’s health. That was not as bad as not knowing and an imagination run amok.

“Your wonderful presentation as Daniel Boone
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Member Services Specialist, Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association
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I hate the thought of four more years of this!

my heart fails me at the opening such a campaign of bustle & fatigue: the unlimited calumnies [untrue accusations designed to damage another’s reputation] of the federalists have obliged me to put myself on the trial of my country by standing another election. I have no fear as to their verdict; and that being secured for posterity, no considerations will induce me to continue beyond the term to which it will extend. my passion strengthens daily to quit political turmoil, and retire into the bosom of my family, the only scene of sincere & pure happiness. one hour with you & your dear children is to me worth an age past here.
To Martha Jefferson Randolph, November 6, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some leaders sacrifice personal happiness for a greater good.
The President wrote his daughter that Congress was convening, and the political season was about to begin. The opposition attacks on him required him to prove them wrong, by standing for re-election. He knew the vote would vindicate him and cement the reforms his first term had established. (There was no single election day in Jefferson’s time. Results dribbled in over a period of weeks, as each state chose its delegates to the electoral college.)

There was no constitutional limit on the number of terms the President could serve. Jefferson would have none of that. He would serve a second term only and be out of there! He had no happiness in Washington, and all of his time there wasn’t worth one hour with his daughter and grandchildren.

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1 Comment Posted in Congress, Family matters, Presidency Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

We are all equal here. Fooey on them!

On Friday Congress give a dinner on the acquisition of Louisiana. they determine to invite no foreign ministers, to avoid questions of etiquette, in which we are enveloped by Merry’s & Yrujo’s families. … [their conflict will continue] until they recieve orders from their courts to acquiesce in our principles of the equality of all persons meeting together in society, & not to expect to force us into their principles of allotment into ranks & orders.
To Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 23, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Just leaders do not show favoritism, especially when it is expected.
President Jefferson disdained the aristocratic expectations of England’s and Spain’s ambassadors to America. They insisted on favored treatment and were incensed not to receive it. Thus, they were excluded from a Congressional dinner.

Although Jefferson wished his elder daughter could be with him in Washington City, it was better for her that she was absent. His Cabinet Secretary’s wives had already been abused in the press for not fawning over the ambassadors’ wives. His daughter would receive even worse treatment from foes who wanted to distress him.

The President was clear. Other nations:
– Must acquiesce to America’s equality for all in society.
– Should keep their privileged society, “allotment into ranks & orders,” to themselves.

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Chief, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
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1 Comment Posted in Congress, Diplomacy Tagged , , , , , , , , |

“a knock of the elbow,” but get the doctor, too.

Not knowing the time destined for your expected indisposition, I am anxious on your account. you are prepared to meet it with courage I hope. some female friend of your Mama’s (I forget who) used to say it was no more than a knock of the elbow. the material thing is to have scientific aid in readiness, that if any thing uncommon takes place, it may be redressed on the spot, and not be made serious by delay. it is a case which least of all will wait for Doctors to be sent for. therefore, with this single precaution, nothing is ever to be feared.
To Mary Jefferson Eppes, December 26, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confident leaders can still be anxious fathers.
Mary Eppes, known as Maria, was the President’s younger daughter. She was one of two Jefferson children who survived childhood, which had claimed four others.

The “expected indisposition” referenced was the upcoming delivery of her third child. Her first son, born in 1800, lived only a few days. Her second son, Francis, was now 27 months old. Like her mother who died of childbirth complications in 1782, Maria was not a strong, healthy woman. She had suffered considerably after the birth of her first two children.

Very rarely did Jefferson refer to his long deceased wife Martha, but he did so here. No doubt wanting to lesson Maria’s anxiety, and probably his own, he relayed a comment of a friend of his wife’s that childbirth “was no more than a knock of the elbow.” Even so, he urged his daughter “to have scientific aid in readiness,” i.e. a doctor. The onset of labor would provide time to summon the doctor so any help could be rendered immediately. A knock or not, with this precaution, Maria had nothing to fear.

Time would tell that both daughter and father had plenty to fear.

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was just uncanny.”
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I want you to know how highly I think of you!

… the shade [mental state] into which you throw yourself neither your happiness nor mine will admit that you remain in … certainly there could not have been an alliance on earth more pleasing to me from the beginning or rendered more dear to me in the sequel of it’s continuance … in matters of interest I know no difference between yours & mine. I hope therefore you will feel a conviction that I hold the virtues of your heart and the powers of your understanding in a far more exalted view than you place them in; and that this conviction will place your mind in the same security and ease in which mine has always been.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, November 2, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sensitive leaders are alert to the mental health of those closest to them.
Randolph was married to Jefferson’s older daughter, Martha, a 13 year union which had produced numerous children. Randolph was a skilled farmer and a leader of some competence but given to emotional disturbances. He had written a flowery letter to his father-in-law, exalting him but debasing himself, doubting his status within in the family.

Jefferson knew of his son-in-law’s weakness and was quick to pen this encouraging reply. He:
1. Pleaded that Randolph could not remain in this frame of mind.
2. Praised the “alliance” which brought them together (the marriage to his daughter) and its ongoing nature.
3. Assured the younger man of no significant differences of opinion between them.
4. Acknowledged his opinion of Randolph was far higher than Randolph’s opinion of himself.
5. Hoped Randolph would have the same confidence in himself that he (Jefferson) always had in him.

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Google Maps, Thomas Jefferson Style

NOTE: Glance over the text then skip to the explanation

From Edgehill to Gordon’s 18. miles.  

 

A good tavern, but cold victuals on the road will be better than any thing which any of the country taverns will give you. lodge at Gordon’s go

to Orange courthouse 10. miles to breakfast. a good tavern. on leaving Orange courthouse be very attentive to the roads, as they begin to be difficult to find.
Adams’s mill 7. miles. here you enter the flat country which continues 46. miles on your road.
Downey’s ford 2. here you ford the Rapidan. the road leads along the bank 4 miles further, but in one place, a little below Downey’s, it turns off at a right angle from the river to go round a gut. at this turn, if not very attentive, you will go strait forward, as there is a strait forward road still along the bank, which soon descends it & crosses the river. if you get into this, the space on the bank is so narrow you cannot turn. you will know the turn I speak of, by the left hand road (the one you are to take) tacking up directly towards some huts, 100 yards off, on a blue clayey rising; but before getting to the huts, your road leads off to the right again to the river. no tavern from Orange courthouse till you get to
Stevensburg 11. miles. you will have to stop here at Zimmerman’s tavern (brother in law of Catlett) to feed your horses, and to feed yourselves, unless you should have brought something to eat on the road side, before arriving at Stevensburg. Zimmerman’s, is an indifferent house. you will there probably see mr Ogilvie: he will certainly wish to be sent for to see mr Randolph.
mr Strode’s 5. miles. it will be better to arrive here in the evening. on stopping at his gate, you will see Herring’s house about 2 or 300 yards further on1 the road. you had better order your servants (except your nurse) horses & carriage & baggage (not absolutely wanting at night) to go straight there, where those sent from here will be waiting for you.
Bronaugh’s tavn. at Elkrun church. 13. miles. the only tavern you will pass this day. obliging people.
Slate run church. 14 ½ miles. here you leave the flat country & engage in a very hilly one.
Brown’s tavern 5 ½ miles. here you will have to dine & lodge being the first tavern from Bronaugh’s.2 a poor house, but obliging people.
Fairfax court house 15. miles. you can either breakfast here, or go on to
Colo. Wren’s tavern 8. miles. a very decent house and respectable people.
George town ferry 6. miles.

Enclosure to Martha Jefferson Randolph, June 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Detail-obsessed leaders/fathers/grandfathers just can’t help themselves.
In an accompanying letter, Jefferson wrote his daughter that he was at Monticello, and she and her family should join him there soon. He warned her the measles were everywhere, so they were in no greater danger with him than someplace else. He described the itinerary in general, calling attention to where the road was narrow, obscure, and when she’d have to get out of the carriage and walk.

He enclosed this detailed breakdown of the 115 mile trip from Edgehill, where the Randolph’s lived, to the George town ferry, where he would send horse and carriage for her. It appears they would have to lodge five or six nights on their journey.

“Thanks again for the wonderful presentation by President Jefferson.”
Program Committee Chair, National American Wildife Enforcement Officers Association
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They hated him. He revered them.

I recieved yesterday evening your letter … informing me of the death of mrs Washington: [I was a]        witness of her constant course in whatsoever was benevolent and virtuous in life, had marked her in my judgment as one of the most estimable of women, and had inspired me with an affectionate and respectful attachment to her. this loss is the more felt too as it renews the memory of a preceding one, of a worthy of that degree which providence, in it’s wise dispensations, sees fit rarely to bestow on us, whose services in the cause of man had justly endeared him to the world, and whose name will be among the latest monuments of the age wherein he lived, which time will extinguish.
To Thomas Law, May 31, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders don’t sacrifice friendships over business differences.
On numerous occasions, Jefferson lamented that former friends had distanced themselves from him over political differences. It was one of the things that repelled him about public life. He maintained he was never the one to end a friendship because of politics.

Jefferson was critical of President Washington during his second term, and of President Adams, who continued his policies. Those were political disagreements only, never personal. The Washingtons took the criticisms personally and developed an intense dislike for Jefferson. (See the footnote at the link above for a description of Martha Washington’s scathing comments about Jefferson a few months prior to this letter!)

Receiving word of Mrs. Washington’s death, he had nothing but praise for her, a position he had always held. Her death reminded him of her husband’s passing two and a half years earlier, and of the stunning contributions George Washington had made to the new nation.

“I received so many great compliments
on your performance of Thomas Jefferson …”
Missouri Land Title Association
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My grandson wants to meet you!

My grandson Th: Jefferson Randolph, being on a visit to Boston, would think he had seen nothing were he to leave it without having seen you … like other young people, he wishes to be able, in the winter nights of old age, to recount to those around him what he has heard and learnt of the Heroic age preceding his birth, and which of the Argonauts particularly he was in time to have seen …my solicitude for your health by enabling him to bring me a favorable account of it. mine is but indifferent, but not so my friendship and respect for you.
To John Adams, March 25, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Near-death grandparent leaders want their grandchildren to remember.
In honor of President’s Day (yesterday, February 20), this week’s posts are devoted to the last letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Today will be Jefferson’s letter, Thursday Adams’ reply.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792 – 1875) was the 2nd child and 1st son of his eldest daughter, Martha. Always a favorite of his grandfather, Jeff as he was known, supervised the elder man’s lands and perilous finances. Now, the 34 year old grandson was coming to Boston and wanted to meet Adams. Jefferson apologized for the intrusion but asked Adams for the indulgence, so that when Jeff was old, he might have some first-hand accounts to give his grandchildren.

Jefferson, almost 83, reported his health as “indifferent,” but hoped his grandson would bring a “favorable account” from the 90 year old Adams. Jefferson died just over three months later on the same day as Adams, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

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Let us meet ONLY when we can come to a conclusion!

I recieved yesterday from the Master Commissioner Ladd a notification in the suit of Gilliam v. Fleming to attend at his office on the 1st of Aug. … our meeting whenever it takes place should be rendered effectual & final, by the attendance of all material persons …. I have therefore proposed to mr Ladd to change the day to one in the healthy season, say in October after the frosts will have set in …
To Skelton Jones, June 25, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders avoid ineffectual meetings.
The lawsuit referenced arose from the 1770 death of Bathurst Skelton, the first husband of Jefferson’s wife, Martha. The issues were complicated and irrelevant here. What was relevant was that the matter had been contested for nearly 35 years, and Jefferson wanted it settled before his heirs, who knew nothing of the details, could be dragged into the prolonged fight.

The proposed date for the hearing was August 1 in the tidewater region of Virginia, a time of the year prone to outbreaks of the deadly yellow fever. Anyone who could fled inland for August and September to avoid the scourge. That meant some of the parties to the case would not attend.

He was eager to settle the case but had no interest in attending a meeting where a final result could not be reached. He proposed a later day, “say in October after the frosts will have set in.” At that time, everyone would be available and the issues could be finally resolved.

(The spread of yellow fever by virus-carrying mosquitoes would not be discovered until after Jefferson’s lifetime. They did know the disease was worst in late summer in swampy areas affected by changing tides. Fall frosts killed the mosquitoes and the scourge would end for another year.)

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One daughter died. I fear the other will die, too.

… I have had the inexpressible misfortune to lose my younger daughter, who has left me two grandchildren, & my elder one has such poor health, that I have little confidence in her life. she has 6 children. determined as I am to retire at the end of 4 years, I know not if I shall have a family to retire to. I must learn philosophy from you, & seek in a family of plants, that occupation & delight which you have so fortunately found in them …
To Madam de Tesse′, March 10, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What private fears do our leaders labor under?
de Tesse′ was the aunt of the French hero of the American revolution, Marquis de Lafayette. She was an accomplished woman and became friends with Jefferson during his service in France in the mid-late 1780s. The two shared a strong interest in horticulture, exchanging plants and seeds for years. All the rest of this letter pertained to that subject. At the end came this surprisingly personal and unusual observation.

Jefferson’s daughter Maria died the year before, leaving his firstborn Martha as the only surviving child of the six born to him and his late wife. Martha was well-educated and capable. Her husband was not an emotionally stable man, and the responsibility for managing the family and estate (and some of her father’s estate, Monticello) fell on her. Everything I have read about Martha has given the impression that she inherited her father’s genes for good health and long life. Here, her already grieving father feared for her life, too. Jefferson confided that his love of plants might be the only the only family he had left when his Presidency ended four years hence.

His fears were unfounded. Martha outlived her father and presented him with 12 grandchildren, 11 who survived him.

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