Speaking on leadership & wisdom
                       ... from the past ... to the present ... for your future
"Were we directed from Washington
when to plant and when to reap,
we would soon want bread."
Thomas Jefferson, 1821
Rounded Corner
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No one would more willingly than myself pay the just tribute due to the services of Capt Barry, by writing a letter of condolance to his widow as you suggest. but when one undertakes to administer justice it must be with an even hand, & by rule, what is done for one, must be done for every one in equal degree. to what a train of attentions would this draw a President? how difficult would it be to draw the line between that degree of merit entitled to such a testimonial of it, & that not so entitled? … however well affected to the merit of Commodore Barry, I think it prudent not to engage myself in a practice which may become embarrassing.
To Benjamin Rush, October 4, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some expressions of compassion have unintended consequences.
The President’s old friend Rush had asked him to write a “letter of condolance” to the widow of a Philadelphia Navy officer. If Jefferson expressed his sympathies in this case, he would feel obligated to do it in all cases. The varying merits of the deceased and the potential for giving offense made this a minefield for the President.

In the excised portion of this letter, Jefferson explained that when Benjamin Franklin died, the King of France and the U.S. House of Representatives went into official mourning. The U.S. Senate did not. President Washington rejected the recommendation of his Secretary of State (Thomas Jefferson) that the Executive Branch “should wear mourning.” Washington’s position was if he started that policy for Franklin, he didn’t know where he would draw the line for ones less deserving. Best not to start down that slippery slope.

President Jefferson took a page from his wise predecessor’s playbook and followed the same hands-off policy.

“Thank you for playing a key role in making
our 118th Annual Conference such a great success.”
Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Mr. Jefferson will play a key role in the success of your conference, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Grief & loss, Military / Militia, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

Can you believe this guy?!

Th: Jefferson … regrets that, having no acquaintance in the mercantile line, at Philadelphia, there is not a single house there of whom he is authorised to ask the favor desired by mr Mery, & that his entire unacquaintance with every person & thing connected with money-matters disables him from indicating any other resource for the advance of money mr Mery may have occasion for. he returns him the note from the Marquis de la Fayette … & presents him his salutations.
To Méry, October 6, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need a diplomatic way to say, “Get lost!”
An unknown Frenchman wrote Jefferson from Philadelphia, asking for money. He said the British had robbed him of his reference letters of credit. He needed cash until more could arrive from home. All Méry could offer to establish credibility was to include with his letter one from the President’s old friend, Lafayette, written to someone else.

Jefferson, who innately desired to be helpful, was diplomatic but uncharacteristically abrupt. He knew of no one or no resource who could help Méry. He was returning the letter from Lafayette with his greetings only, and nothing more.

“Organizations of lawyers rarely agree on many things,
but I received unanimous praise for your presentation.”
Chair, Programs Committee, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
New Orleans, LA
If Mr. Jefferson can impress lawyers, he can impress anyone.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

Family & health come first, before leadership!

Having understood that you have been unwell, & that your family is still so, I have not asked your attendance here, lest these circumstances should stand in the way. Mr. Madison, Dearborne & Gallatin are here & mr Lincoln expected tomorrow … should your own health or that of your family not render it inconvenient we should be very happy to see you on Monday & to recieve your aid at a meeting which I propose for Tuesday next. but this is not meant to be pressed against considerations of health or of family distress.
To Robert Smith, September 30, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders are sensitive to the difficulties of their associates.
Smith (1757-1842) was Jefferson’s Secretary of the Navy. As a member of the Cabinet, his attendance was needed very soon. All the other cabinet members would arrive in Washington City the following day. In addition to other business to bring before Congress, they faced the critical issue of the constitutional amendment needed to authorize the purchase of Louisiana. Prompt action from a united front was critical.

Yet, both Smith and his family were ill. While the President greatly hoped for his Secretary’s attendance and help at the Cabinet meeting four days hence, he stressed that Smith’s health and family came first.

“Mr. Lee has the ability to successfully BE
the personage he is impersonating.”
Director of Entertainment, Delta Queen Steamboat Company
Patrick Lee will BECOME Thomas Jefferson for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , |

For those less fortunate than myself …

I pray you to recieve & apply the within sum of one hundred dollars to the use of those among you afflicted with the present sickness, who may be in need of it. I further request that no acknolegement may be made of it in the public papers, nor otherwise in any manner. I offer my best wishes for the reestablishment of the health of Alexandria, & to yourself my respectful salutations.
To Samuel Snowden, September 29, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders CAN keep their thoughtful acts private.
Jefferson always fled the coast, the area he called the tidewater, for Monticello in August and September to escape the deadly yellow fever. Its cause was unknown but was believed to result from bad air that circulated in low-lying areas that time of year. In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia killed 5,000, more than 10% of the city’s population. It would be almost a century later, in 1900, before doctors determined that mosquitoes spread the deadly disease.

The President knew that not everyone could escape the tidewater and yellow fever. Thus, he made a $100 contribution to a newspaper publisher in tidewater-surrounded Alexandria, VA, for the relief of those ravaged by the disease, requesting his donation be kept anonymous.

“Patrick Lee was our first guest speaker and he set the bar very high
with his remarkable portrayal of Thomas Jefferson.”
Board of Directors, Sedalia Heritage Foundation
Mr. Jefferson will set the bar equally high at your conference.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Leadership styles, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

What I wrote 6 days ago? Fuhgeddabout it!

On the 10th. inst. I wrote you on the subject of Louisiana, and mentioned the question of a supplement to the constitution on that account. a letter recieved yesterday renders it prudent to say nothing on that subject, but to do sub silentio [in silence] what shall be found necessary. that part of my letter therefore be so good as to consider as confidential.
To Thomas Paine, August 16, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders know when to walk back their previous positions.
Six days earlier, the President had written Paine about Louisiana and how Congress would need to pass an authorizing constitutional amendment at the same time they ratified the treaties. The day before, Jefferson received a letter from his Ambassador Livingston in France, saying Napoleon was looking for any excuse to cancel the sale.

The President updated his friend in this letter, but only to this extent: Make no mention of a constitutional amendment. The President and Congress would do whatever they had to do to complete the deal, but they would do it quietly. Thus, he warned his friend not to reveal that portion of his August 10 letter, lest his political opponents use it to scuttle the purchase of Louisiana.

“…how excellent it was having Mr. Jefferson
be our conference keynote speaker … Thank you, greatly.”
Deputy Executive Director, Missouri Rural Water Association
Mr. Jefferson will be excellent for your audience, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Diplomacy Tagged , , , , , , , |

These are not good places to stay. The others are worse.

… all roads appear bad to the traveller …[but I] recommend to you the Threenotched road through the whole way. it is well known by that name. it … crosses few streams, & offers few hills. your first stage should be at Leek’s, 20 miles from Richmond. the only one afterward’s at which you can lodge is Price’s about 35. miles from Leek’s. the next morning you have 22. miles to breakfast here … the two houses I have recommended, Leek’s & Price’s are bad enough, but less bad considerably than any others on the road.
To John Page, August 14, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders sometimes have to recommend the best out of multiple poor choices.
Page (1743-1808), just 15 days younger than his lifelong friend Jefferson, was a noted Virginia politician and Governor of Virginia at the time of this letter. When the President learned his old friend would be bringing his family for visit at Monticello, he was quick to recommend the route to travel the 77 miles from Richmond.

“Threenotched road” was the best one to use. It would require spending two nights at boarding houses en route. The two he recommended, Price’s and Leek’s, were bad places, but they weren’t as bad as all the alternatives.

“Many in the audience were impressed by the fact
that you had ‘done your homework about us’.”
Executive Vice President, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will research your organization
and tailor his remarks to the interests of your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Monticello, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Was Thomas Jefferson just a very smart snake?

THIS POST WAS SUPPOSED TO GO OUT JULY 4, BUT I’VE HAD A MAJOR GLITCH WITH MY BLOG. 😥

 

On our nation’s 242nd birthday, I’m addressing the increasing tide of criticism leveled against Thomas Jefferson. While commended for his accomplishments, he is belittled for being highly flawed, a hypocrite, a racist, perhaps even a rapist.

This latter view was on full display in a June 15 column in the Washington Post. To their credit, my local newspaper, the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune published my rebuttal. The links below offer both editorials.

A very smart snake

Very smart, and not a snake at all 

Happy Birthday to the marvelous work-in-progress that is the USA!

Happy Birthday to one of its Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.

There! I feel better already!

The real Thomas Jefferson
… the one who is principled, moral, spiritual and generous …
would be honored to share his experiences with your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Monticello, Sally Hemings, Slavery Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is another way to go about this.

I have recieved your petition praying for the discharge of your son Jehiel Goff from military service on the ground of his being under age … the discharge in such a case does not rest on the will of the military alone, but that on your application to a judge of the US. he will issue a Habeas Corpus & the fact of infancy will be enquired into under the civil authority, & the discharge be ordered by the same. as this process may be troublesome to you, you need not resort to it, unless in the enquiry ordered by the military officer, he should decide the fact contrary to what you deem proveable; in which case the Habeas Corpus will furnish you relief.
To Aaron Goff, August 13, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Again, thoughtful leaders provide options.
Jefferson forwarded Goff’s petition for his son’s discharge from the army to the Secretary of War, who had the authority to act on it. But there was another authority, a non-military one, Goff should know about.

A civil judge could command the boy’s presence in court (habeas corpus) and order his release if the facts warranted it. It wasn’t a simple process, but it was an option. Goff might prefer to let the military investigation proceed and revert to civil procedure only of the army refused to discharge his son.

For a different take on the same issue, see this 12-17-17 post, “Get your hands off him.”

“Your presentation, particularly your response to questions,
was most impressive.”
Program Chair, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
Mr. Jefferson trusts that your audience, too, will be most impressed!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Judiciary, Military / Militia Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Go this way or that way but NOT that way.

… you will find us in the hilliest & healthiest country in the world. I would recommend to you to come & return by different routs. the shortest and levellest is by Fairfax court house, Songster’s, Brown’s, Slate run church, Elk run church & Orange court house. the best country and entertainment, tho’ along a hilly road, is by Fairfax C. H. the Red house Prince Wm. C. H. Fauquier C. H. Culpeper C. H. and Orange C. H. the worst, longest, & most uninteresting road is by Fredericksburg.
To Henry Dearborn, August 13, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders encourage exploration and provide options.
Jefferson was at Monticello for two months, escaping what he called the “sickly season” along the coast and tidewater region, where the yellow fever sickened and killed many in late summer. Learning that Dearborn, his Secretary of War, was traveling with his family to see James and Dolley Madison at their home, the President invited him to come 30 miles further and visit him.

While this region of central Virginia was dotted with towns, there were no public roads to speak of, only acknowledged bare-earth segments or trails from one courthouse, tavern or inn to another. Fording creeks and climbing hills in a horse drawn carriage, especially after a rain, added extra challenges. Ever the explorer, Jefferson advised Dearborn not to come and go by the same route but to see more of the countryside.

Jefferson suggested the three most likely routes:
1. The shortest, fastest and most level (If you just want to get here)
2. The most appealing, though hillier (Challenging but enjoy the journey)
3. “the worst, longest, & most uninteresting” (You have been warned!)

“I highly recommend Mr. Lee for both formal and informal presentations:
he does extremely well with question-and-answer sessions
and adapts well to scenarios requiring some improvisation and quick thinking.”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Mr. Jefferson will meet the needs of your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Exploration, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , |

We cannot do that! Here is a way around it. (Shhhh!)

the rigorous rules of the treasury oppose insurmountable obstacles … the expences of your journey here cannot be repaid, your salary cannot begin till that of your predecessor ends … no advance can be made under the head of salary. there is no doubt but that in 99. cases in 100. these rules are proper, and it is only to be regretted that the obligation to adhere to rule in all cases, disables us from doing what would be right in some … [however a] draught for 800. D. on account of the purchase of instruments … proves a desire to accomodate you as far as is practicable ….
To Jared Mansfield, July 18, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective Leaders find a way!
Mansfield (1759-1830), a skilled mathematician and surveyor, was appointed by President Jefferson to be a professor at West Point in 1801 and Surveyor General of the U.S. in 1803. Mansfield met with Treasury Secretary Gallatin and learned that none of the cost of relocating his family to Washington would be covered nor was any advance possible on his salary. He also had the mistaken notion from Gallatin that no money could be provided in advance for the purchase of necessary surveying instruments. Mansfield wrote to Jefferson about the impossibility taking the new position without some kind of financial help.

Jefferson concurred with Gallatin that the law prohibited moving expenses or salary advances. It was wise policy, but in very rare instances, like this one, counterproductive. Yet, he said Mansfield was in error thinking that buying instruments in advance was also prohibited. Thus, Gallatin would advance $800 for that purpose. The amount just happened to be more than the instruments would cost. Mansfield could use unspent funds as he wished (such as for moving expenses). That amount would be debited against his future salary.

The President warned Mansfield that this accommodation was for him alone and to keep it confidential, lest it be “injuriously perverted” by his political opponents.

“…Patrick Lee gave a very impressive performance for the
National Unemployment Insurance Tax Conference …”
Director, Missouri Division of Employment Security
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |
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