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
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I inclose you a letter directed to your brother which came to me under cover a few days ago. I have the pleasure also to inform you that we have lately recieved thro a channel meriting entire confidence, advice that on the 4th. of Aug. he was at the mouth of the river Plate, 600 miles up the Missouri, where he had met a great council of the Missouris, Panis, & Ottos, at their invitation … he will be through his whole course as safe as at home. believing that this information would be acceptable to yourself, his mother & friends, I communicate it with pleasure …
To Reuben Lewis, November 6, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep family members in the loop.
The President forwarded a letter he had received for Meriwether Lewis to the latter’s younger brother and wrote of the latest account he’d had about his intrepid explorer. That report came days before, originating with someone who must have been coming downstream when Lewis was headed the opposite direction. The report was that Lewis and Clark were 600 miles upstream, at the mouth of the Platte River, just south of present day Omaha, NE. (Lewis’s journal records that date as July 21, 1804, two months after they departed St. Louis.)

The report also relayed a successful meeting with Indian chiefs, the desertion of two men, plans for some of the men to return the following spring and the rest to head on up the Missouri. There were numerous factual errors in the account, but it may have been the first word Jefferson had on their progress. Buoyed by his successful meeting with the chiefs, Lewis felt no danger lay ahead of them. Jefferson knew Lewis’ mother and brother would appreciate the reassurance.

There was plenty of danger ahead, but Lewis and Clark led their men successfully through it all and returned to St. Louis almost two years later.

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Was Jefferson GREEN?

…  I should ask the favor of you to select for me in Philadelphia 3. of the handsomest stoves, of the kind called Open stoves, or Rittenhouse stoves, which are in fact nothing more than the Franklin stove …  the Rittenhouse stove is the one commonly used in Philadelphia …  the taste is left to yourself … debit me with them in their account.
To Benjamin Henry Latrobe, November 3, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders have to stay warm!
Latrobe (1764-1820), America’s first professional working architect, emigrated from England in 1796. He quickly gained a following and was appointed by President Jefferson as Surveyor of Public Buildings in 1803. He also served as superintendent for the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Jefferson wanted to improve the efficiency of the fireplaces at Monticello. Well-familiar with Latrobe and his design sense, he asked the architect to secure for him “3. of the handsomest stoves” in Philadelphia. They were to be Rittenhouse stoves, an improved design of the one created decades before by Benjamin Franklin. Both stoves brought in cold air for combustion, returned heated air to the room and slowed the exhaust of fumes and smoke.

Rittenhouse (1732-1796), noted mathematician, inventor, and astronomer, was the second president of the American Philosophical Society, the nation’s premier intellectual organization of scientists. Benjamin Franklin was one of APS’s founders in 1743, the year of Jefferson’s birth, and its first president. The third APS president, following Rittenhouse’s death, was Thomas Jefferson, an office he would hold and chererish for 20 years.

True to form, when Jefferson wanted something, he just bought it. He did not inquire the price of the three stoves, only directing the bill be sent to his agent.

“You are an amazingly talented man …
we are grateful for what you did for us.”
President, National Speakers Association
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Leave a comment Posted in Architecture, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

This has to stop! Help me, please.

[This post marks #900 since the blog’s inception in February, 2011!]

Craven & Lillie at last have come to an open rupture: a desperate battle took place between them 4 days since: it terminated without serious injury to either but a bruising and languor to both which will keep them apart a long time I think. Both claim the victory and both look like defeat.
Thomas Mann Randolph to Thomas Jefferson, October 11, 1804

I have learnt with extreme concern the rupture between Craven & Lilly, and percieve that it will become extremely embarassing & prejudicial to my affairs unless it can be made up. this can only be done by an oblivion [choice to not remember] of the past without going into any enquiry which was most in the wrong.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, October 28, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Absentee leaders have the deck stacked against them.
Lilly was the overseer of non-agriculture activities at Monticello. Craven was an adjoining landowner who also leased some of Jefferson’s Monticello lands. The two men had come to blows, perhaps over the President’s livestock that had made their way onto Craven’s property.

As long as the Presidency forced Jefferson to be an absentee landowner, he was seriously dependent on both men to keep his home operation running smoothly. He saw no way forward unless each man would choose to forget the offense and move on. He would impress that point on each man. He also thought the combatants would benefit from the efforts of a mediator, and he asked Mann, his son-in-law, to fill that role.

“It was again a pleasure to host your performance …
you have again developed a believable authentic personification …”
Runge Nature Center Manager, Missouri Department of Conservation
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1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Human nature, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

This is the worst sin of all.

another object still more important is that every officer of the government make it his peculiar object to root out that abominable venality [willingness to be bribed or corrupted], which is said to have been practised so generally there heretofore. every connivance [willingness to be involved in an illegal act] at it should be branded with indelible infamy, and would be regarded by the General government with distinguished severity.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
T
olerating dishonesty is the worst kind of favoritism in a leader.
The previous post stressed the importance of including the French in the new American government of Louisiana at New Orleans and giving both English and French languages equal status. But there was something more important than including and respecting the political opposition.

The Spanish, who had governed Louisiana for decades, and the French, the majority population, had earned the reputation of being susceptible to bribery. Jefferson denounced it in the strongest language, and made it the responsibility of every government official to root it out.

“Not only did you connect two centuries,
I would stress you really connected with our members …”
President & CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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Including and valuing the losers will strengthen our team!

… in chusing these characters it has been an object of considerable attention to chuse French who speak the American language, & Americans who speak the French. yet I have not made the want of the two languages an absolute exclusion. but it should be earnestly recommended to all persons concerned in the business of the government, to acquire the other language, & generally to inculcate the advantage of every person’s possessing both, and of regarding both equally as the language of the territory.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Winner take all is a dumb strategy for leaders.
The President was planning the government for the southern portion of the recently acquired Louisiana. It would be headquartered in New Orleans where the sizeable majority would be of French descent. The appointed legislative body would have 13 members. Jefferson wanted a seven members to be American, six to be French.

In addition to a representative body, he wanted one that could communicate easily among themselves. While not requiring bi-lingual members, all mono-lingual appointees should be willing to upgrade their status. Going even further, he didn’t specify English as the official language, but that the French tongue should have equal status.

“Thank you for hanging on to and presenting the great truths
this great nation was founded on.”
Program Chair, North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association
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Consider yourself fully employed!

Have bin down to Richmond to se if I could ingage a job of work before I movd my tools, but have bin unsucsesful in the trip … I moast seriously regret being out of imployment, for it is my wish never to Spend time in indelence whilst am able to earn a shilling in an honest way.
James Oldham to Thomas Jefferson, October 7, 1804

[I] am sorry for your disappointment at Richmond … [will] the work [described herein] give you an opportunity of shewing there your stile of working, and give you time to get into imployment? … [I] shall consider your wages going on till you have a reasonable time to get into employ.
To James Oldham, October 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Appreciative leaders step up for former employees.
A recent post was a strong recommendation for Oldham, a skilled joiner (woodworker) at Monticello, to a friend of Jefferson’s in Richmond. Oldham did not find employment and wrote to his old boss of his dilemma.

Jefferson immediately stepped up on behalf of his former employee, sending a list of joinery projects. He suggested Oldham complete the work in Richmond and then transport the finished goods to Monticello. Doing so would allow Oldham to showcase the quality of his work to prospective employers.

Jefferson valued always being productive. Not only was he impressed by Oldham’s skill but by his desire, “never to spend time in indelence.”  Jefferson told Oldham he was still on the payroll and would remain there until he could find other work.

“Your presentation was an excellent blend of history, education and inspiration …”
Deputy Director, Washington Association of County Officials
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1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

WHAT was he thinking?

to cover with sheet iron in ridges & gutturs
let the ridges be 6. I. high & 5. times that in span=30 I.
then the slope will be 16.15 and adding 1.85 I. for the lap the sheets of iron must be 18. I. wide
consequently 18 I. of sheet clears only 15. I. horizontal, and if the sheets cost 18. D. the square, the cost of a horizontal square will be as 15 I.:18 I.::18 D.:21.6 D
(note the thickest tin is 18. D a box of 100. sheets 16¾ by 12¼=142. sq. feet the thin tin is 18 D a box of 225 sheets 14 I. by 10 I.=220. sq. feet.)
method of doing it.
place your joists 30. I. apart from center to center. let them be …
Notes and Drawings … Iron for Ridges and Gutters, 30 September 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Every leader needs some escape the pressures of work.
This excerpt, atypical for Jefferson Leadership Blog posts, is a different look inside the mind of Thomas Jefferson. It is a small segment of a lengthy list of measurements and directions for fabricating new iron ridges and gutters for the roof of his beloved home.

A leaky roof was a continual problem at Monticello. So was a convenient water source for a home located on top of a hill, distant from springs and rivers. Eventually, a new roofing and gutter system minimized both problems, effectively shedding the rain from the roof and collecting it in cisterns. These notes may have been been part of Monticello’s evolution from both leaky yet water-deprived to dry but water at hand.

Take a brief look at the full text, available through the link above. Like me, you will probably understand very little of it. Also like me, you might be impressed at the complexity and specificity of his mind.

“You … enthralled our general session …
And our members loved it all.”
Director of Member Services & Education, Minnesota Rural Electric Association
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1 Comment Posted in Architecture, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

I will not leave you, unless you leave me.

you say you are forcibly led to say something on another subject, very near your heart, which you defer to another opportunity. I presume it to be on your political situation, and perhaps the degree in which it may bear on our friendship. in the first place I declare to you that I have never suffered political opinion to enter into the estimate of my private friendships; nor did I ever abdicate the society of a friend on that account till he had first withdrawn from mine. many have left me on that account. but with many I still preserve affectionate intercourse, only avoiding to speak on politics, as with a quaker or catholic I would avoid speaking on religion…
To John F. Mercer, October 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know how to remain friends with their opponents.
Mercer (1759-1821), Revolutionary War veteran, lawyer and politician in Virginia and then Maryland, alerted the President to a unspecified change in his situation. In this reply, Jefferson speculated it may be a change in Mercer’s political affiliation, from ally to opponent.

Jefferson reassured his friend he never withdrew friendships over political differences unless someone else did so first. Many had deserted him for that reason, but many had not. With the latter, he continued his friendships, taking care to avoid politics, the subject where they disagreed. He applied the same principle to spiritual differences, maintaining friendships with Quakers and Catholics, only being careful to “avoid speaking on religion.”

“… thank you for the enlightening and education presentation …
It was wonderful … and enjoyed by all.”
Lieutenant Governor’s Office, State of Missouri
Enlightening. Educational. Wonderful. Enjoyable.
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He is a very good man. Help him, please.

… James Oldham … is an able workman … skilled in the orders of architecture, honest, sober and industrious. he wishes to get into business on a larger scale than that of merely monthly wages and I have recommended Richmond … taking an interest in his success, and knowing that a first introduction is the most difficult step, I have taken the liberty of making his character known to you, and of asking your advice and influence on his behalf towards getting himself under way. …you may rely on his acquitting himself of his undertakings so as to do justice to your recommendation.
To John  Harvie, September 27, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Empowering leaders help their subordinates move out and up.
Oldham was a joiner, a workman skilled in fashioning every kind of high-quality finished woodwork. Jefferson had employed him for over three years at Monticello. Oldham wanted to better himself, and his patron suggested taking his skills to Richmond. He sent this letter of introduction to an old family friend there.

Jefferson listed Oldham’s qualities. He was:
– Skilled
– Hard working
– Honest
– Sober

Jefferson assured his friend that any work he helped the joiner find would bring credit back to Harvie for the recommendation.

“Your presentations hit the fine line between human interest and factual information.
You are able to present leading themes and messages
without overloading us with unnecessary data.”

Executive Director, National Coal Transportation Association
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

I am tapped out!

… no man is less in condition to aid his friends pecuniarily [financially] than myself. I have always endeavored so to live as just to make both ends meet; but imperfect calculations disappoint that endeavor, and occasion deficiencies which accumulating, keep me always under difficulties. my resources of every kind have for some time been on the stretch so that I can with truth assure you that at this time they could not be made to place one thousand dollars at my command. under these circumstances I can only express unavailing regrets that it is not in my power to be useful to you …
To Ferdinando Fairfax, September 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even smart leaders can deceive themselves.
Fairfax asked two things in his letter to the President, for the national government to buy his ironworks and for Jefferson to loan him $10,000. Jefferson declined both, and perhaps Fairfax’s status in Virginia earned him Jefferson’s reasoning in both cases. The ironworks issue was explained in the previous post. This excerpt is an unusually candid glimpse of his finances.

Although he claimed to match outgo to income, he was kidding himself. As early as his French Ambassador days in the 1780s, he was living beyond his means, occasionally borrowing money for living expenses and then borrowing more to pay off previous loans. His “imperfect calculations” about future income were often overly optimistic, assuming higher crop prices and better weather. When neither happened, he was “always under difficulties.” He couldn’t put together $1,000 in cash.

Many of Jefferson’s financial difficulties were caused by factors beyond his control. Still, he often lived beyond his means, with few restrictions on his creature comforts.

“Our audience of Western state legislators truly appreciates
the lessons of American history that are so relevant to their duties today.”
Program Manager, Council of State Governments-WEST, Vancouver, WA
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