Blog posts may be reprinted without permission,
provided a link to www.JeffersonLeadership.com is included.

I suffered no ill effects, but my horses did!

I had the hottest journey I ever went through in my life, & the most distressing to my horses. a thunder shower caught us in an uninhabited road, and we were travelling an hour & a half in it, the water falling in solid sheets. in five minutes from the beginning every drop that fell pierced to the skin. I have felt no inconvenience from it.
Thomas Jefferson to John Barnes, July 20, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Should leaders suffer like their constituents?
Barnes was a friend and Philadelphia merchant who handled some of Jefferson’s financial transactions. A letter than began about money ended with the weather.

Jefferson had just returned to Monticello, beginning his annual two month absence from Washington City and its late summer scourge of the yellow fever. Several days before in another letter, he reported temperatures in the mid-90s, and that he would delay his trip if cooler weather had not arrived. Apparently, his eagerness to see his family outweighed his concerns about the temperature.

Jefferson didn’t mind hot weather, but it was “most distressing to my horses.”  In addition to heat, they were deluged by a 90- minute thunderstorm that soaked everyone completely in the first five minutes. (He was traveling in a horse-drawn, topless carriage.) He concluded the trip had “no inconvenience,” for him, i.e. no ill-effects, health wise.

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

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.

 

 

 

ltr about finances

Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Don’t pick them all. Only a select few, instead.

…  if you appoint all the members of the legislature to be members of the institution, it will gratify no particular member, nor lead him to feel any more interest in the institution than he does at present. on the other hand, a judicious selection of a few, friends of science, or lovers of the military art, will be gratifying to them inasmuch as it is a selection, and inspire them with the desire of actively patronising it’s interests.
The contingent fund of the war department, is applicable only to objects known to the law. it cannot be applied to any thing merely voluntary & unauthorised by the law.
Thomas Jefferson to Jonathan Williams, July 14, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
If all are “leaders,” none will lead.
Williams (1751-1815) had been appointed by Jefferson to be the first superintendent of the new military academy at West Point, NY. He wanted to establish separate a military scientific society and asked the President which esteemed persons should be appointed to promote it. He suggested all members of Congress, so as not to give offense by leaving someone out.

Jefferson replied that if all were appointed, the position wouldn’t gratify any of them. Better to pick a few qualified people with a particular interest in science or “the military art,” confident they would be active boosters.

Williams also asked, citing the public benefit of the society, that a small allowance from the war department’s contingency fund be allocated to cover the expenses of creating that society. The President said no. Those funds could not go to anything outside the Constitution or unapproved by Congress.

“… it quickly became evident that our attendees …
[were] listening to Thomas Jefferson …
not Patrick Lee portraying [him].”
Deputy Executive Director, Missouri Rural Water Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Military / Militia, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , |

Let’s start over, shall we?

My dearest Anne
I do not know whether it is owing to your laziness or mine that our letters have been so long intermitted [suspended]. I assure you it is not to my want of love to you, and to all of those about you, whose welfare I am always so anxious to learn. but it is useless to discuss old bankrupt scores. we will therefore burn our old accounts, and begin a new one on the 1st. day of October next.
Thomas Jefferson to Anne Cary Randolph, July 6, 1806

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know when a do-over is called for.
Anne Randolph, age 15, was Jefferson’s first grandchild. He wrote to his grandchildren often and encouraged, often insisted, they write him regularly. They rarely complied to his satisfaction.
Grandpapa, as he was known to them, again drew attention to the lack of correspondence but acknowledged the problem might be on his end. (Very likely it was not, for no one would ever accuse him of “laziness” or lack of attention to his sole surviving child and her growing family.)
Regardless the cause, he wrote it was “useless to discuss old bankrupt scores,” suggesting they burn them and start over. It was a philosophy he applied to his political leadership as well, being willing to set past offenses aside and start again if an opponent was similarly-minded.

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , , , |

This grandfather needs help. Please!

he sollicits her on his own account, whenever she shall happen to be shopping, to get a garment for him to present to Virginia, another to Anne, and one for Ellen & Cornelia … mrs Madison knows better how to please the respective parties than Th:J. does. what she got for Anne on a former occasion was particularly gratifying to her. mrs Madison will be so good as to direct the shopkeepers to send their bills to Th:J. for paiment.
Thomas Jefferson to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, July 6 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders, even grandfathers, know what they’re not good at.
The President asked his friend and wife of Secretary of State James Madison to help him with a little shopping. He wanted dresses for each of four granddaughters. Mrs. Madison knew the girls and would make far better selections than he. Affirming her good judgment, he mentioned how pleased eldest granddaughter Anne was with a previous selection Dolley had made for her.

Jefferson concluded with instructions to send the bill to him.

 

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Fake news, on steroids!

Accounts five & thirty years, since the Date of this Transaction, spent in the regular Discharge of public, & private Duties, with an Uniformity of Tenor which I am not afraid to rest on the Verdict of those who have been known me—
They will judge of me by my whole Life, & not by a single false Step taken at the Commencement of it
To you I have said these Things, because I have known you from our early youth, & wish to stand approved by you—
Thomas Jefferson to William Fitzhugh, Jr. July 1, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders reassure friends who might have reason to doubt.
Fitzhugh (1741-1809) was a Virginia plantation owner, statesman, and life-long friend of Jefferson’s, who was responding to newspaper accounts alleging multiple accounts of his immoral behavior. Specifically, Jefferson addressed a charge regarding his improper conduct toward a neighbor’s wife in 1768 or ’69. He acknowledged the truth of that charge, then laid out his defense:
1. For 35 years, he had conducted his public and private life with a “Uniformity of Tenor.”
2. He did not fear the verdict of those who knew him well.
3. They would judge him by the whole of his life, not by a single youthful indiscretion.
4. You (Fitzhugh) are one of those who’ve known me since my youth, and I care what you think about me.

Another letter written the same day was the subject of a 2016 post. It dealt with this subject but in a more detailed manner. In essence, by admitting to the Walker indiscretion, Jefferson denied the allegations regarding Sally Hemings.

 “The city officials were captivated …
and would have posed questions for another hour if time had been available.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
2 Comments Posted in Human nature, Morality, Sally Hemings, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s about time! First we’ve heard of him in 13 months!

we have just heard from Capt. Lewis, who wintered 1600. miles up the Missouri; all well. 45. chiefs of 6. different nations from that quarter are forwarded by him to St. Louis on their way to this place. our agent at St. Louis will endeavor to prevail on them to stay there till autumn & then come on. should they insist on coming immediately they will arrive in July, & may derange my departure.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, June 24, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Communication between leaders used to take a LONG time!
The President covered a number of topics in this letter to his daughter. One was receiving the first report from Meriwether Lewis since May 1804, when the Corps of Discovery departed St. Louis for the western sea. They had wintered with the Mandan Indians on the northern plains. In April, 1805, when the ice cleared on the Mississippi, most of the Corps headed west. Fifteen of the men, though, navigated the keelboat back to St. Louis, with all the plant and animal specimens collected to date. Their trove included a live prairie dog, which eventually made it all the way to Washington City!

In addition to specimens, Lewis had persuaded a number of Indian chiefs to return with the keelboat and journey on to Washington to meet the President.

The original plans for the Corps called for them to send another contingent home when they reached the mountains. Jefferson expected a second report, which never came. At the Rocky Mountains, the challenge ahead seemed so arduous that Lewis and Clark were unwilling to diminish their manpower.

Lack of a second report caused practically all to give up on the Corps, believing them to have perished somewhere in the great unknown west of the Mandan villages. Jefferson maintained confidence in Lewis for their safe return. It would be 16 more months before that confidence was rewarded by Lewis’ next letter, written from St. Louis in late September, 1806.

“I highly recommend Mr. Lee for both formal and informal presentations: …”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Mr. Jefferson and I come well-recommended!
Invite us to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Animals, Exploration, Horticulture, Lewis & Clark, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

How much trash talk should I put up with?

the revival of antient slanders under pretext of new evidence, has induced Th:J. to do, what he never took the trouble of doing before, to revise [re-examine] some papers he happens to have here (for most of that date are at Monticello) and to make a statement of the transactions as they really took place, with a view that they shall be known to his friends at least. under this view he taxes mr Gallatin with reading the inclosed, altho’ it extends to three sheets of paper.
Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, June 21, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
An effective leader knows when to reassure his friends.
What “antient slanders” Jefferson referred to are unknown, but he rarely if ever defended himself publicly. George Washington’s advice to him years before had been to ignore slanders, whether political or personal. In the time it took to answer the attack, 10 more would spring up. It was a losing game, a sucker bet.

Still, the thin-skinned President was not immune to the effect those attacks could have on his allies. Occasionally in private correspondence to trusted associates he would deny such charges (his paternity of Sally Hemings’ children, for instance) or remind them of the facts, as he did here. Referring to himself in the third person, “Th:J.” asked his Treasury Secretary to review three enclosed pages of background material regarding the latest charges against him. He knew Gallatin would circulate that information to others.

“Not only was Mr. Lee an excellent Thomas Jefferson,
he was also very professional.”
Director of Law-Related Education, The Missouri Bar
Even lawyers recommend Thomas Jefferson!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Can you believe this man’s gall?!

the father [Robert Gamble] asked from me a letter of introduction to you. I was the more surprised at this, as his federalism had distinguished itself by personal hostility to me … yet having made the request, I felt myself bound in delicacy to give him a civil answer … of the young man I know nothing … he [the father] has two sisters married to two most estimable republicans, for whom I have great friendship … I will ask your notice of mr Gamble [the son] & even that you will let him know I had done so. the father even asked a letter of credit for his son: but this I declined. he the father has been twice bankrupt, tho’ is now deemed in good circumstances: but has never been deemed delicate in his pecuniary [financial] dealings.
Thomas Jefferson to John Armstrong, Jr., June 21, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes a leader just has to suck it up and be cordial to jerks.
The immediate previous post was Jefferson’s letter to Gamble, who had requested letters of introduction and a line of credit for his European-bound 23 year old son. Armstrong, serving as a U.S. diplomat in England, now received one of those introductions. He was also received very interesting background information!

The father who had requested the favors not only was Jefferson’s political opponent in Virginia but had shown “personal hostility” to him! Yet, Gamble had two sisters married to “estimable republicans” who were close friends of his. But for this, Jefferson might have ignored Gamble’s brazen request, but “delicacy” required of him “a civil answer.”

In light of the line of credit, which Jefferson denied, he pointed out that the father had been bankrupt twice. Like father, line son?

“I …[thought] having Mr. Jefferson as our conference keynote in Richmond
at The Hotel Jefferson would be ideal, and it was!”
EVP, Carolina-Virginias Telephone Membership Association
Mr. Jefferson has spoken in far less impressive places than the 5-Star Jefferson Hotel!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , |

A public intro? No. A private one? Yes. Money? NO! NO! NO!

I recieved last night your favor of the 11th. requesting letters of introduction to England & France for your son …  being shortly to write to Genl. Armstrong in Paris & Colo. Monro in London I will with pleasure ask their attentions to your son … with respect to the pecuniary aid desired in the contingency of his wanting it, this could not possibly be taken from any public funds … no circumstance would authorise me to ask it of Genl. Armstrong or Colo. Monroe … prudent precautions taken by your son would prevent his having occasion for this recurrence …
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Gamble, June 15, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
There are limits to the honest help any leader should give.
Gamble wrote to the President asking for letters of introduction for his 23 year old son, soon to depart for Europe to promote his commercial ventures. Early in his administration, Jefferson decided it was improper for him to give such introductions in any official capacity. On rare occasions, he would write a private note to an acquaintance on behalf of someone. He offered to do that for young Gamble.

Dad also asked for a temporary line of credit, $400-500, should his son find himself in financial distress. Jefferson turned him down cold! Public funds were not an option, and he would not ask the ones receiving the introduction to help out privately. In addition to that, if his son took “prudent precautions,” there should be no need.

“… you were just outstanding as Thomas Jefferson …
I have no idea how you pulled it off so well, but you certainly did.”
Substantive Program Chairman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. He will pull it off for your audience!
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , |

I must think of myself as a robot. It helps, a little.

it is indeed far the most painful part of my duty, under which nothing could support me but the consideration that I am but a machine erected by the constitution for the performance of certain acts according to laws of action laid down for me, one of which is that I must anatomise the living man as the Surgeon does his dead subject, view him also as a machine & employ him for what he is fit for, unblinded by the mist of friendship.
Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, June 13, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders must learn how to do the unpleasant parts of their work.
The director of the U.S. Mint was retiring and naming his replacement fell by law to the President. He felt compelled by both British and American precedent to appoint the most renowned mathematician to the job. That would be Robert Patterson.

This is the second letter Jefferson wrote to old and trusted friends, both eminent scientists, who might have been equally qualified for the job, explaining why they were not chosen. Personnel decisions were painful for him, ones involving friends especially so. In such cases, he had to regard himself as nothing “but a machine,” doing the job required by the Constitution. He compared himself to an anatomy professor, dissecting the living man as the professor did the dead one, each making the best possible use of their subject. Friendship could not be a factor.

“… Also, should you wish to use us as a reference,
feel free to do so.”
President, Linn State Technical College
One President recommends another!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Personal preferences, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , |