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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not having written any three lines of this without interruption it has been impossible to keep my ideas rallied to the subject. I must let these hasty outlines go therefore as they are. some are premature, some probably immature; but make what use you please of them except letting them get into print.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know attribution can be a liability.
Jefferson was nearing the end of a long letter, describing in both grand terms and lesser ones his vision for a top-notch university in Virginia. Some letters he answered as time permitted. This one he answered immediately.

He had read Tazewell’s letter the evening before, on a subject dear to his heart and responded the next day, squeezing it in among his presidential duties. As such, he said he hadn’t written more than three lines at a time “without interruption.” He claimed he couldn’t keep his thoughts clear on the project.

Still, he was so eager to contribute to the debate, he would let his thoughts go out immediately, jumbled or not, well-thought-out or not. Tazewell could pick and choose as he liked.

The only thing he insisted on was anonymity, not wanting to give his political foes more to use against him or the university-to-be.

“When Patrick Lee appeared on stage in full costume …
he commanded the surveyors’ immediate attention.”
Assistant Executive Director, Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
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Let us be smart about this. (5 of 7)

4. buildings. the greatest danger will be their over-building themselves, by attempting a large house in the beginning, sufficient to contain the whole institution. large houses are always ugly, inconvenient, exposed to the accident of fire, and bad in cases of infection. a plain small house for the school & lodging of each professor is best. these connected by covered ways out of which the rooms of the students should open would be best. these may then be built only as they shall be wanted. in fact an University should not be an house but a village. this will much lessen their first expences.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders occasionally upset conventional thinking.
Building were the last of four specific areas requiring the University Visitors’ attention. A student of architecture and frugal with public funds, Thomas Jefferson had specific, counter-cultural thoughts:
No Big Buildings! Do not house professors, students and classrooms in one big, ugly, expensive, disease-incubating building, where a fire would wipe out the entire university.

Jefferson proposed one “plain small house for the school” itself and separate buildings to house each professor and students. Covered walkways would protect all as they moved from building to building. More structures could be added as the school grew, lessening expenses on the front end.

He proposed an academical “village.” It would be 20 years before the University of Virginia opened, but you can see Jefferson’s vision today in the original grounds of UVa.

“Thank you for  very excellent presentation.”
Executive Director, Associated General Contractors of Missouri.
Mr. Jefferson will make an excellent presentation for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Let us get down to specifics. (4 of 7)

The charter being granted & the Visitors named, these become then the Agents as to every thing else. their first objects will be 1. the special location. 2. the institution of professorships. 3. the emploiment of their capital. 4. necessary buildings. a word on each…
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders provide guidelines then let the experts work.
Once the legislature had authorized a university in Virginia and painted its mission in broad strokes, specific planning would be turned over to gifted, knowledgeable and unpaid trustees, to be known as Visitors. As the legislature had four broad directives, the Visitors would have four narrow ones:
1.  A specific location – “needs no explanation,” he wrote.
2. Professors – He went into great detail, insisting on the best men to teach only the most useful sciences. They were to be multi-disciplinary scholars, so that each might teach several subjects, lessening the number required. Their salaries “should be very liberal.” This would bring the brightest scholars, give the university high status from the very beginning, and attract young men from all the states.
3. How to best use their endowment – Here Thomas Jefferson did something rare for him, deferring because “on this subject others are so much better judges than myself.”
4. The campus itself, the subject of the next post.

“…[you] received a very high score for speaker as well as content.
Out of a possible 5.0, you received 4.6 …”
Executive Director, Illinois Court Reporters Association
In both presentation and content,
Thomas Jefferson will score high with your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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“Hamilton”? Shmamilton!

This mini-rant is my tribute to Mr. Jefferson on his favorite day, July 4.

Of all the piling on Thomas Jefferson has endured the last 20 years, most of it unfounded and undeserved, much “credit” can be given to the incredible popularity of the play, “Hamilton.” It is a clever, rap music account of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and Jefferson’s arch political foe.

I have not seen the play, though I have read plenty about it. I have read Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton, which inspired the play. Chernow’s characterization of Jefferson was unfavorable. The play followed suit.

Two authors have taken a little of the bloom off the “Hamilton” rose in the article below. I wrote to them immediately, with an email that began and ended:
“Hello, Valerie & Cameron –
FINALLY! Finally someone has taken on the myth of “Hamilton.” Thank you! … “Hamilton,” like “1776,” might be great entertainment, but they are lousy history.””


Enough With Hamilton, Say Fans of Other Founding Fathers

By Valerie Bauerlein and Cameron McWhirter
https://www.wsj.com/articles/enough-with-hamilton-say-fans-of-other-founding-fathers-11561312822

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—It’s a hard time to be a Founding Father if your name isn’t Alexander Hamilton.

The runaway Broadway success of “Hamilton: An American Musical” has meant that Thomas Jefferson isn’t even the sole attraction in his own home-turned-museum, Monticello. Visitors can take a standard house tour—or a $40 “Hamilton Takeover” one that focuses on Jefferson’s political adversary.

Long after its 2015 Broadway debut, “Hamilton” continues to make the Revolutionary period hip, and to the dismay of many history buffs, steal the limelight from other Founding Fathers. Fans of the other giants of early American history have been trying to fight the tide and grab some attention for their overlooked favorites. It hasn’t been easy.

On a recent afternoon, Monticello tour guide Carrie Soubra stopped in the library of Jefferson’s sunlit private suite to try to shore up the former president’s reputation, taking a dig at Hamilton along the way. Yes, the musical portrays Jefferson as a self-absorbed patrician, she said, but he trusted the voice of the people more than his rival did.

“Alexander Hamilton declared we should have a president for life,” Ms. Soubra said, pointing to an engraved copy of the Declaration of Independence, of which Jefferson was the principal author. “That sounds a lot like what this was trying to get rid of.”

In Philadelphia, crowds line up for a Hamilton exhibit at the National Constitution Center, but a beer-trolley tour led by a Benjamin Franklin impersonator is no longer offered because of lack of interest.

Warren Royal, the owner of Royal Bobbles in suburban Atlanta, says he produced a run of nonpresidential Founding Father bobbleheads a few years before the musical. He made Hamiltons, Franklins, Thomas Paines, John Hancocks and Sam Adamses.

After the musical hit Broadway, sales of the Hamiltons skyrocketed, outselling all other founders but George Washington. Hamilton is now closing in on Negan, a zombie-apocalypse survivor on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Mr. Royal discontinued Paine and Hancock. Other founders are foundering, including the nation’s fourth president, James Madison. “He’s no Elvis, I’ll put it that way,” Mr. Royal says.

Historian Nancy Isenberg, author of “Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr” and other books on Revolutionary leaders, published a series of essays saying Burr was principled and progressive, not the “stand-for-nothing” sycophant portrayed in the musical. She says she was inundated with emails from “rabid fans with an attachment to an imaginary, invented Hamilton.”

“That’s not history,” she says. “That’s rooting for your favorite team.”

Sarah Maria Everett, a 30-year-old James Madison superfan and impersonator living in Juneau, Alaska, says she is “appalled and confused” by the hit musical’s depiction of Madison as unstable. She says the biggest problem for her favorite president is public ignorance.

Yet she has scant opportunity to don her tricorn hat and plead his case, with a lone coming appearance this summer in a July Fourth parade. No theater groups have agreed to perform her five-hour play, “Jemmy Madison: The Mind and the Man Behind Religious Liberty.” Jemmy was Mr. Madison’s nickname.

“There is not a lot of demand for James Madison in Alaska,” says Ms. Everett, who is considering impersonating German composer Richard Wagner in the future.

One Philadelphia-area Franklin impersonator, Brian Patrick Mulligan, posted a tongue-in-cheek audition video when casting directors were recruiting for a “Hamilton” national tour. His headshot was the $100 bill. The show’s casting director didn’t reach out, and Franklin remains absent from the show.

“It’s so young and hip and fresh,” Mr. Mulligan, 58 years old, says of the musical. “I can understand why they wouldn’t have an old man in the show.”

Mr. Mulligan has a few gigs lined up as Franklin, including an AARP internet commercial. He supplements his income with appearances as his backup characters, which include Winston Churchill and Uncle Fester from the 1960s sitcom “The Addams Family.”

Descendants and supporters of Burr, who killed Hamilton in an 1804 duel in Weehawken, N.J., have debated how hard to push back on the play’s characterization that Burr dishonorably fired on Hamilton.

“The play adopts the theory as true that Hamilton deliberately missed Burr,” says Stuart Fisk Johnson, a criminal-defense attorney distantly related to Burr who heads the Aaron Burr Association. “Throwing away your shot, they called it. But no one really knows what happened.”

The association debated sending a letter of protest to playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. Its members couldn’t agree on whether to take a stand.

A spokesman for Mr. Miranda didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“Some members really leaned on me to make a big stink,” Mr. Johnson says. “We thought it’s going to make the Aaron Burr Association look like a bunch of kooks.” going to make the Aaron Burr Association look like a bunch of kooks.”

Some of the group’s 80 or so members complained when the association took no action, and one, the group’s webmaster, quit in protest, a blow since no one else knows how to update the website, Mr. Johnson says.

The group did decide to protest statues of Burr and Hamilton erected in Weehawken, recently sending a sternly worded letter to township Mayor Richard Turner.

“The statues are despicable,” explained Antonio Burr, an association member who has impersonated his forebear at debates and a duel re-enactment. “Burr looking at Hamilton with intense hatred, and Hamilton is shooting in the air and looking like he is receiving the Good Lord.”

Mayor Turner didn’t reply to the letter, according to the association. The mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“What are we going to do about it?” Mr. Johnson says. “We can’t issue a duel anymore.”

Veteran Jefferson interpreter Bill Barker recently joined the staff at Monticello as curators experiment with programming to reverse a recent dip in attendance.

He made his debut at a “Pursuit of Happiness Hour” on the west lawn earlier this month. Mr. Barker prepared a raft of responses to questions about Hamilton, ready to respond to questioning teens while posing for selfies.

But he says it is possible that Jefferson ends up a bad guy to a generation of fans.

“They would have every right if they should choose,” he said, speaking in character. “That is a founding principle of our nation.”

For now, boosters of non-Hamilton founders are pinning their hopes on the planned 2021 revival of the Tony Award-winning musical “1776.” It stars Franklin, Jefferson and Adams. There is no Hamilton.

Write to Valerie Bauerlein at valerie.bauerlein@wsj.com and Cameron McWhirter at cameron.mcwhirter@wsj.com

Appeared in the June 24, 2019, print edition.

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Duh! First things first! (3 of 7)

The first step in this business [creating a university in Virginia] will be for the legislature to pass an act of establishment, equivalent to a charter. this should deal in generals only. it’s provisions should go 1. to the object of the institution. 2. it’s location. 3. it’s endowment. 4. it’s Direction.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Far-sighted leaders build a strong foundation first.
These four broad principles, in this case for a new university, could guide the establishment of any grand new endeavor:
1. Object – Why are we doing this? ”for teaching the useful branches of science”, not something for everyone
2. Location – Where will we do this? “the …[ ge]neral position, within certain limits,” rather than a specific spot, allowing for local input and control
3. Endowment – How will we protect the funding source? “bank stock, or public stock … should be immediately converted into real estate,” an appreciating asset rather than a speculative one
4. Direction – Who will provide oversight?” “in the hands of Visitors.” No more than five curators or trustees, men “of real science,” not political appointees. They were to be unpaid, but of such significance as to be “properly rewarded by honor, not by money.”

“Even though there was no formal evaluation of the speakers,
many of the participants remarked on the value of Lee’s presentation.”

Executive Director, Greater St. Louis Federal Executive Board
Your audience members will value Mr. Jefferson’s presentation!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I am happy to start with just half a loaf. (2 of 7)

this [securing our liberty] requires two grades of education. first some institution where science in all it’s branches is taught, and in the highest degree to which the human mind has carried it … secondly such a degree of learning given to every member of the society as will enable him to read, to judge & to vote understandingly on what is passing. this would be the object of township schools. I understand from your letter that the first of these only is under present contemplation. let us recieve with contentment what the legislature is now ready to give. the other branch will be incorporated into the system at some more favorable moment.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders take what they can get gratefully and work for more later.
Responding to Tazewell’s inquiry about a university, Thomas Jefferson replied that a university alone wasn’t enough. It needed to be coupled with general education for all. Higher education in all the sciences was essential for preparing the gifted for leadership. General education was necessary, too, enabling all men “to read, to judge & to vote understandingly.”

Jefferson accepted willingly that the legislature was considering only higher education. It was an essential step in the right direction. He would welcome the addition of general education at a later time.

About 30 years before, Jefferson authored a “Bill for the General Diffusion of Knowledge” in Virginia. It proposed three years of free public education for all boys and girls, two additional levels of advanced, fee-based schooling, and a scholarship program for the brightest but poorest students. Of course, slave children were not considered, but his proposal was radical in a time when the only ones privileged to have any advanced education were those born male, white and to parents with the means to pay for it privately. His proposals were never completely adopted, but he lobbied for the cause for the remaining 50 years of his life.

“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson…
[and]
tailored his presentation to fit in with our theme of “Exploring New Frontiers.” “
Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
Mr. Jefferson will also tailor his remarks to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Finally! Our liberty will be (partially) secured! (1 of 7)

Your favor of December [24. never] came to my hands till last night. it’s importance induces me to hasten the answer. no one can be more rejoiced at the information that the legislature of Virginia are likely at length to institute an University on a liberal plan. convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, & that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand the connection between education and freedom.
Tazewell (1774-1860), 31 years younger than Thomas Jefferson, was a Virginia lawyer, landowner and politician. He wrote that the Virginia legislature might be willing to consider some form of higher education in the state and wanted the President’s thoughts on “one great seminary of learning.”

Few things turned Jefferson’s crank in a good way more than the subject of education. He responded at length the very next day. Excerpts from his lengthy reply will comprise seven posts.

Only educated citizens who understood their liberty belonged to them as a natural right and not a privilege granted by their leaders would be able to keep that liberty secure. Otherwise, the freedom they now enjoyed would be a “short-lived possession.” A university would be an essential part of that education.

“I was especially impressed with the question and answer session …
and the ability to have a free-flowing exchange with an audience.”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson enjoys interacting with his audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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This is my problem, not yours. Go. (Part 2 of 2)

I must now turn to the painful task of finding a successor. altho you had prepared me for this event, I am as much unprovided as if it were now for the first time mentioned. I see not who is to fill the chasm. but this labour is my lot. be yours that of domestic felicity, of health & long life: and with this wish accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great & constant esteem & respect.
Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, December 28, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Departing trusted lieutenants are one of a leader’s greatest challenges.
In the previous post, Thomas Jefferson reluctantly but with understanding accepted the resignation of his Attorney General for family reasons. Filling the vacancy now posed a “painful task.”

In a series of recent posts, the President explained how personnel issues were the most difficult part of his job. Governing was easy. Picking the people who would govern with him was not. Although Jefferson knew this day was coming, he was still unprepared with a successor. No one could “fill the chasm.”

Stoic in this regard, Jefferson acknowledged his job was to deal with it. Lincoln’s was to enjoy family, “health & long life.” Although unspoken, Jefferson must have envied Lincoln’s escaping Washington. It would be four more years before he could enjoy what Lincoln would have immediately.

John Breckenridge and then Caesar Rodney would serve as Attorney General in the President’s second term.

“Not only was the portrayal realistic,
but it was technically and historically accurate.”

Conference Chairman, Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
Patrick Lee will bring the real deal!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I have been where you are. Go. (Part 1 of 2)

I recieved last night your letter of the 26th. proposing to resign your office, and I recieved it with real affliction. it would have been my greatest happiness to have kept together, to the end of my term, our executive family: for our harmony & cordiality has really made us but as one family … yet I am a father and have been a husband. I know the sacred duties which these relations impose the feelings they inspire, & that they are not to be resisted by a warm heart. I yield therefore to your will. you carry with you my entire approbation of your official conduct, my thanks for your services, my regrets on losing them, and my affectionate friendship.
Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, December 28, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Compassionate leaders know family must come before work.
Massachusetts born Lincoln (1749-1820) was a close political ally of Thomas Jefferson. Elected to Congress in 1800, the President immediately appointed him Attorney General, instead. Lincoln intended to serve two years in Congress and return home. Instead, he had served the President almost four years. He had spoken to Jefferson of his interest in retiring, but now he put it in writing.

Jefferson’s cabinet had been with him for his first administration. He appreciated their counsel, cooperation and friendship, regarding them “as one family.” He was planning on a second term and hoped his cabinet would remain with him to enjoy the acclaim of a grateful nation four years hence.

But Lincoln said no. His family needed him. Jefferson, father and widower, understood those “sacred duties.” Though it pained him, the President acceded to Lincoln’s request, offering his highest possible professional and personal commendation.

“Mr. Jefferson’s presentation on leadership
was a wonderful and unique way to kick off an extremely successful conference.”
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
Leadership. Wonderful. Unique. Successful.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Not enough paper to write to his wife!

I have the pleasure to inform you that mr Briggs & his companion were in good health at Colo. Hawkins establishment near the Talapousee river, which place they left on the 3d. of Oct. and expected to be at Fort Stoddart in a week from that time. mr Briggs having been able to procure but a single half sheet of paper, which he was obliged to fill with a report to me, had no means of writing to you. the Indians had recieved & treated him with great kindness. we may shortly expect to hear of his arrival at New Orleans.
Thomas Jefferson to Hannah Briggs, December 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep wives informed.
Isaac Briggs, Surveyor General of the Mississippi Territory, was traveling between Washington City and New Orleans to make astronomical observations for the development of a new southern postal road. He reported to the President on October 2 about their arduous progress.

He did not have enough paper to write both his boss and his wife. He put his job first, concluding his report with a request that the President inform his wife of his well-being.

In a reply two weeks later, Hannah Briggs thanked the President, claiming this was the first word she’d had about her husband in three months. She begged any further information he might receive,  good or bad.

On January 2, Thomas Jefferson wrote again to Mrs. Briggs about her husband’s safe arrival in New Orleans.

“We received a number of compliments
for adding a unique element to the conference program.”
Co-Conference Coordinator, Natural Areas Association, Bend, OR
Try something out of the ordinary … unique! … to enliven your conference program.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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