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Category Archives: Agriculture

I would rather not fight but WILL if you force me!

When I saw you at court I requested you would not meddle with any grounds without the 8. fields of Shadwell till we should settle our difference as to Lego. yet in my ride to-day I percieve you have ploughed a considerable piece of ground outside of those fields. if we cannot settle this question between ourselves, or by disinterested neighbors, I shall not decline the umpirage of the law, although an amicable one would be more acceptable. indeed it would be very contrary to my wishes that force should be introduced between you & me, yet I must say that I will not let my property be taken without any consent on my part. I must therefore declare that if you enter on the tract of Lego for the purpose of cultivation before we settle our question, I shall consider it as an act of force, and will meet it with force.
To Eli Alexander, January 17, 1810

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even the most patient leaders can be pushed too far.
Shadwell was the plantation near Monticello where Jefferson was born. Lego plantation  adjoined Shadwell. Jefferson had leased parts of Shadwell to Alexander. That written lease also allowed for limited farming on Lego under very specific conditions. Alexander had not met his obligations at Shadwell and had encroached on Lego.

The two men had met face-to-face about the issue. Jefferson had also written Alexander the month before, reminding him of the lease terms and itemizing the infractions. In what appeared to be a generous gesture, Jefferson offered very favorable terms if Alexander would only do what he had already agreed. If not, he would seek arbitration.

A horse ride of this date proved that Alexander had ignored their conversation and Jefferson’s follow-up letter. The latter still wanted a peaceful accommodation, but he would not let his lands be sued without permission. If that meant going to court, which Jefferson hated, so be it.

Jefferson’s bark was worse than his bite. A review of all the correspondence between these men, including the last letter from Jefferson three years later, indicates he was still trying to get some measure of satisfaction from his careless tenant.

“The members … enjoyed your unique representation of Thomas Jefferson …
Thank you …”
President, Missouri Association for Adult Continuing and Community Education
Thomas Jefferson’s unique presentation will captivate your audience.
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Old McDonald had a farm. Part 2 of 2

… whenever the Indians come to Detroit on trade or other business, they encamp on or about this farm. this would give them opportunities of seeing their sons & daughters, & their advancement in the useful arts, of seeing & learning from example all the operations & process of a farm, and of always carrying home themselves some additional knolege of these things … & losing by degrees all other dependance for subsistence, they would deprecate [disapprove of] war with us as bringing certain destruction on their property, and would become a barrier for that distant & insulated post against the Indians beyond them.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use every opportunity to teach.
The first post from this letter outlined Jefferson’s vision to use a government-owned farm near Detroit as a school for Indian girls and boys. The girls were to learn household arts, the boys farming. Both were to be taught to read and write.
A second purpose for this farm/school was to be an object lesson for other Indians. They were to camp on or near this farm when they came to Detroit. In doing so, they would see the advantages enjoyed by their children and take that knowledge home with them. In time, that knowledge would:
1. Help them be self-supporting on their own land
2. Lead them to give up warfare which could only end in their destruction
3. Become an object lesson themselves for tribes that lived further west and be a protective barrier for whites who lived to the east

“Your well-organized and well-researched approach
certainly enhanced our evening …”

Director, The Leadership Academy, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Let Mr. Jefferson enhance your meeting.
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Old McDonald had a farm. Part 1 of 2

On this farm we proposed to assemble the following establishments.
1. [a school for] … the care & instruction of Indian girls in carding, spinning, weaving, sewing, & the other houshold arts … [and] reading & writing … & that the benefits of the Institution should be extended to the boys also of the neighboring tribes, who were to be lodged, fed, & instructed there.
2. To establish there the farmer at present employed by the US to instruct those Indians in the use of the plough & other implements & practises of Agriculture, & in the general management of the farm … reading & writing were to be a secondary object.
3. To remove thither the Carpenter & Smith at present employed by the US. among the same Indians; with whom such of the boys as had a turn for it should work & learn their trades.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know education is the only path to lasting self-improvement.
This letter dealt with the government’s purchase of a farm just outside Detroit, a process begun at the very end of Jefferson’s Presidency, and what use should be made of it. He proposed three:
1. To educate Indian girls in “household arts” as well as reading and writing. Room, board and instruction were to be offered nearby Indian boys.
2. A U.S. employed farmer was to teach those boys farming and farm management.
3. The carpenter and blacksmith employed by the U.S. were to be removed and replaced with Indian boys who showed aptitude for those trades.

Young people learning practical arts for the household or farm, coupled with literacy, held the most promise for a different life, and a better one Jefferson believed, for native people.

“Your opening keynote presentation
had the audience spellbound …”
Program Chair, Missouri Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will hold your audience spellbound.
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Who is more useful in old age and why, doctor, farmer or politician?

I am become sensible of a great advantage your profession has over most others, that, to the close of your life, you can be always doing good to mankind: whereas a retired politician is like a broken down courser [a swift horse], unfit for the turf, and good for little else. I am endeavoring to recover the little I once knew of farming, gardening Etc. and would gladly now exchange any branch of science I possess for the knolege of a common farmer. too old to learn, I must be contented with the occupation & amusement of the art.
To Benjamin Rush, September 22, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some old leaders are far more valuable than others.
Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) was a Philadelphia physician, life-long friend of Jefferson’s and co-signer of the Declaration of Independence. His medical views were controversial. He favored bloodletting and purging. He sent 600 of “Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills” with Lewis and Clark. Also known as “Rush’s Thunderclappers,” this mercury and chlorine laxative of his own creation had an explosive effect on the human bowel.

But Rush also opposed capital punishment, favored education for women, actively promoted Christianity and pioneered more humane treatment of the mentally ill. He is regarded as the father of American psychiatry.

Here, Jefferson praises the value of the doctor, who can “be always good to mankind,” even to the end of his life. He likened himself, a retired politician, to a former race horse, once fast but now broken down and worthless. In between was the farmer, the identity he always preferred, who also could be useful for a lifetime. Public service drew him away from the land, and he regretted it. He would trade any of his vast scientific understanding “for the knoledge of a common farmer.” He thought himself too old to learning farming once again and amused himself by puttering around his lands.

“I have been told by both the principal and a fourth grade teacher …
that you were the best speaker

they had seen at the school, and the teacher had been in the classroom for 25 years …”
Jefferson Dinner Chair, Hannah Cole Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution
Mr. Jefferson excels at inspiring both children and adults!
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What in the world do SHEEP have to do with this?

… I wish I were able to assist you in doing it, as I should do it with great pleasure. but the heavy debt, which on winding up my affairs at Washington, I found I had contracted there, has placed me under great difficulties, & will keep me long in a crippled state, as I have to pay it out of the profits of my estate, & the sale of a part of it, which I am endeavoring to effect …
To Joseph Dougherty, June 26, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know: “Never spend your money before you have it.”
The line above is from Jefferson’s “Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life,” 10 points of advice he wrote late in life. Unfortunately, he never followed it himself.

Dougherty had asked Jefferson’s help in building a flock of Merino sheep, a breed both men preferred. The retired President gave some practical advice but declined to invest any money in the operation, citing his “heavy debt” from his years in Washington City.

Some of his financial difficulties were not of his making. Some very definitely were. Taken together, they had rendered this naturally generous man unable to help. His money woes, which began in the 1770s with circumstances imposed by the Revolutionary War, compounded through the decades. By the late 1780s, he was borrowing money to pay off previous loans. At his death in 1826, he was about $100,000 in debt, necessitating the sale of Monticello and most of his possessions.

“Mr. Lee has … the artistic skills to move his presentation from the lecture stage
into the realm of actual interactive theater.”
Director of Entertainment, Delta Queen Steamboat Company
Let Mr. Jefferson inspire AND entertain your audience!
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 3 of 4

these should be such [books in your library] as would give them a general view of other history & particular view of that of their own country, a tolerable knolege of geography, the elements of Natural philosophy, of agriculture & mechanics. should your example lead to this, it will do great good.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Educated leaders encourage foundational reading for all.
What types of books should be in a county library for circulating among its citizens?

  1. History in general, to know what preceded us on a global scale
  2. History in particular, that of the United States
  3. Basic geography, how the elements of our earth are represented
  4. Science (“Natural philosophy”)
  5. Agriculture, how we feed and clothe ourselves
  6. “Mechanics,” how things work

A basic knowledge in these six areas would be sufficient for citizens to know, respect and safeguard their rights as free Americans.

“It is my pleasure to write about my professional experience with Patrick Lee …
Our members were thrilled.”
Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Your members will be thrilled with Mr. Jefferson, too.
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THIS is the life!

I am constantly in my garden or farm, as exclusively employed out of doors as I was within doors when at Washington, and I find myself infinitely happier in my new mode of life.
To Etienne Lemaire, April 25, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A radical change of scenery can do a leader great good!
Lemaire managed the President’s House during both Jefferson administrations and had since moved to Philadelphia. In this letter, he asked his former butler to secure several cooking ingredients not available nearer to Monticello. His grandson, Jefferson Randolph, was in Philadelphia and would pay for the items. He sent on several other tidbits of common interest and concluded with the sentiment above.

Over the previous 35 years, Jefferson’s time at Monticello was overshadowed by the great events of war, independence, diplomacy and governance. His hands-on involvement with those events was now behind him. He could dig in the dirt and putter around his farms to his heart’s content. He was much happier now, “infinitely” so.

“This is a key thought – you are a serious student of Thomas Jefferson, not just an imitator –
and it quickly became evident that… [we were] listening to Thomas Jefferson,
not Patrick Lee portraying Thomas Jefferson.”

Deputy Executive Director, Missouri Rural Water Association
Your audience will suspend disbelief
and know they are hearing from Mr. Jefferson himself.

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ENOUGH! You must come and see for yourself.

It is with great regret that I write you a letter which I am sure must give you pain, but your interest as well as my own makes it my duty, & yours is still more urgent than mine. I have little doubt that your sons write you flattering accounts of their proceedings & prospects at the Shadwell mills… come and inform yourself …I wish it [this letter] for your own reading only, because I do not wish to have any quarrel with your son. yet when you come, I will state facts to enable you to enquire. in the mean time be assured of my real friendship.
To Jonathan Shoemaker, April 6, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confrontation-hating leaders must step up eventually, but it may be too late.
Shoemaker was a Pennsylvania businessman who operated a grain-grinding mill at Washington City. He leased Jefferson’s mill near Monticello in 1807 and put his sons in charge. Two years later, the entire milling operation was a mess:
-Jefferson had not received his rent.
-Neighbor’s grain taken to the mill for grinding had disappeared.
-Neighbors were forced to ship their grain to distant mills at greater expense.
-The poor reputation of the mill ruined prospects for new business.

The extraordinarily patient Jefferson was reaching his limit. Not only his finances but also his standing in the neighborhood were jeopardized. He insisted Shoemaker come to the mill, see for himself and make the matter right.

Correspondence over the ensuing 16 months reveal excuses, partial rent payments, missed payments, and a further deterioration of the business agreement between the two men. The lease was eventually terminated, and Jefferson never received all that was owed to him.

“City officials are a “tough crowd”
and the ovation they gave you was well deserved.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League
If Mr. Jefferson can please a tough crowd, he can certainly please yours!
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Chemistry, like all science, should serve a practical purpose.

… of the importance of turning a knolege of chemistry to houshold purposes I have been long satisfied. the common herd of philosophers [scientists] seem to write only for one another. the chemists have filled volumes on the composition of a thousand substances of no sort of importance to the purposes of life; while the arts of making bread, butter cheese, vinegar, soap, beer, cyder Etc remain totally unexplained. Chaptal has lately given the chemistry of wine making. the late Doctr. Pennington did the same as to bread … good treatises on these subjects would   recieve general approbation [approval].

…I recall with pleasure the many happy days of my youth spent at College with your father. the friendships which are formed at that period are those which remain dearest to our latest day.
To Thomas Beale Ewell, August 30, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders want practical applications, not theory.
Ewell, a young physician, wrote Jefferson asking his opinion about developing some treatises on chemistry applied to practical purposes in America, such as soil improvement, baking, and glassmaking. Jefferson was all in favor if it improved life for their fellow countrymen. His assessment of most scholarship in chemistry was withering, written to impress other chemists rather than serve any practical purpose.

Ewell sent his father’s greeting and compliments on the President’s leadership. The two older men had been students together at the College of William and Mary in the late 1750s. Jefferson returned the sentiment, affirming that friendships made in youth were the most valued late in life.

“Your wonderful presentation as Daniel Boone was well received
and appropriate to the interests of our group.”
Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association
I am not always Thomas Jefferson.
Daniel Boone will inspire your audience, too. Call 573-657-2739
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The brotherhood of good men is blind to nationality.

Th: Jefferson presents his salutations to Mr. Robert Moore & his acknowledgements for the Jerusalem wheat he was so kind as to forward him from his relation in Ireland … the good men of the world form a nation of their own, and when promoting the well-being of others never ask of what country they are. he hopes the US. will shew themselves worthy of these kindnesses. he tenders to mr Moore his respects and best wishes.
To Robert Moore, March 11, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders recognize the “nation” of good men worldwide.
Jefferson loved botany and especially species related to food. Of those, he esteemed bread grains most of all, for their potential to nourish the greatest number of people worldwide. Here he conveyed his thanks for the gift of “Jerusalem wheat” forwarded to him by Mr. Moore, who received it from a family member in Ireland.

Jefferson recognized that good men worldwide formed “a nation of their own.” Their motivation was “the well-being of others.” When doing that work, it was never their concern to inquire about the nationality of another. Service to mankind superceded borders.

“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson …made a significant contribution …”
Executive Director, Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, Inc.
Mr. Jefferson will make a significant contribution to your conference.
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