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Category Archives: Agriculture

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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1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Debt Tagged , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Education, History, Natural history (science), Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , |

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.

Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Horticulture, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , |

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
1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , |

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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What work do the women do?

The people here [Champagne, France] were ill clothed, and looked ill, and I observed the women performing the heavy labours of husbandry; an unequivocal proof of extreme poverty. In Burgundy and Beaujolois they do only light work in the feilds, being principally occupied within doors. In these counties they were well clothed and appeared to be well fed.
To William Short, March 15, 1787

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sensitive leaders look for clues to people’s well-being.
Jefferson was reporting to his personal secretary in Paris. He was two weeks into a three month tour that would take him through France and parts of Italy. The surface reason may have been to visit the healing hot water springs at Aix, to soothe the broken and poorly set wrist he suffered a few months earlier. The water’s healing effects availed little, yet Jefferson inquired about everything as he went.

Here, he contrasted two regions of France, one poor and one prosperous.
– In Champagne, people were “ill clothed and looked ill,” obvious malnutrition. Women did heavy, outdoor work, probably the same farm work as men. That was an undeniable sign of “extreme poverty” that afflicted all but the privileged classes
– In Burgandy and Beaujolois, however, people were “well clothed and appeared to be well fed,” presumably healthy. Women’s work was mostly indoors, domestic tasks, with “only light work in the fields.” Economic prosperity required heavy physical work from the men only while protecting the women from that fate.

“Please know how much I appreciate all your effort.
You provided a real service for the educators of Missouri.”

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mr. Jefferson will provide a real service for your audience, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Health Tagged , , , , , , |

I can’t w(h)ine. Help me, please!

the difficulty which your proposition presents arises from this, that there has never, that I know of, been an application to Congress to take on itself the introduction of any new branch of agriculture or of any new art. whether they have such a power given them by the constitution, is therefore a question on which they have never decided, and it is the opinion, of some at least, that they have no such power.
To Peter Legaux, January 22, 1798

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Not every worthwhile endeavor is appropriate in every venue.
French immigrant Peter Legaux, 1748 – 1827, spent almost 30 years and maybe a dozen more, trying to establish a commercial vineyard and wine production near Philadelphia. For a variety of reasons, he never succeeded. One of Legaux’s efforts was to ask Vice-President Jefferson’s opinion (or solicit his help) on getting Congress’ support.

As a connoisseur of wine and one unsuccessful in establishing his own vineyard at Monticello, Legaux might have enjoyed Jefferson’s unqualified personal support. Yet, this was his reservation: Does the Constitution give Congress the power to help you? Chances are, when he wrote, “it is the opinion, of some at least, that they have no such power,” he was including himself among the doubters.

Still, Jefferson gave him this strategy:
1. Start with the House of Representatives (not the Senate, where V.P. Jefferson served as President).
2. Consult your Representatives from Pennsylvania
a. First, ask them whether your proposal is appropriate.
b. If so, how do they judge its prospects for success?
c. If good, would they take your proposal to their colleagues?

(This letter is transcribed as Jefferson wrote it by hand, in his style of not capitalizing the first word of each sentence.)

“We’ve had motivational speakers before, but you did a much better job
combining motivation with practical information that would benefit us,
both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

Clinical Laboratory Management Association, Central New York Chapter
Would “motivation with practical information” benefit your audience, too?
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739



Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Commerce, Congress, Constitutional issues

The sheep are OK, but the potatoes will freeze.

Your favor of the 22d. has been duly received, and, in consequence of it, my manager Mr. Biddle now sets out for the sheep, as the approach of the yeaning [birthing] season leaves no time to spare as to them. I could have wished to have made one trip serve for them and the potatoes: but I am advised that the latter would be in danger of freezing on the road. I must therefore, as to them wait for milder weather.
To Archibald Stuart, January 26, 1794

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders are dependent upon the weather!
After the weightiness of the last three posts, on the vexing issue of slavery, let us turn to mundane matters at Monticello!
Stuart was a protégé, friend, lawyer, and fellow Virginian, of Staunton, some 40 miles west of Monticello, near the mountains. The two men stayed at one another’s homes on their travels.
Jefferson had resigned as Secretary of State on December 31. He was “Now settled at home as a farmer” and must have asked Stuart about buying sheep and potatoes. Stuart replied that he had both. Jefferson dispatched his manager to bring back the sheep before it was time for them to have their lambs. He regretted not being able to get everything he needed in a single trip, but he had been warned that the potatoes would freeze over the several day journey in January. The potatoes would have to wait until spring.

“Thank you for making our conference a resounding success.”
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania

Mr. Jefferson delights to make your conference a resounding success, too.
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Do you have sheep to spare?

…  in answer to your enquiries respecting sheep … I have three distinct races …      1. Merinos; of these I have but 2. ewes, and of course none to spare. President Madison has been more succesful, and sells some ram lambs, but not ewes …         2. I have the bigtail, or Barbary sheep. I raise it chiefly for the table … 3. I have a Spanish race … if you should wish to get into this breed, and will accept of a pair of lambs the ensuing summer, you shall be welcome to them … I have no hesitation in pronouncing them the fittest sheep in the world for that country.
To William Caruthers, March 12, 1813

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders still have to deal with mundane matters.
Jefferson replied to Caruther’s inquiry five weeks earlier. He described the three types of sheep he kept and the attributes of each. (Although he ate the Barbarys, he noted their very large and fat tails hindered both escaping the dogs and reproduction!) He had no Merinos to spare, couldn’t recommend the Barbary, but was enthusiastic about the Spanish strain. Many area farmers had acquired these lambs from him.
Note that Jefferson said the President of the United States might have some male Merinos. Jefferson was retired, but Madison was in the midst of a war. Even so, he might sell some sheep.
Caruthers asked about the price. Jefferson made no mention of it other than to say the Spanish sheep fetched a price 50% higher than “country sheep.” It is not clear whether he would sell or give Caruthers a pair of lambs. Jefferson could be notoriously generous. He wrote that he’d never eaten one of this breed, “but given them out to those who wished them.” He may have given them all away.
Even in the mundane, Jefferson was committed to propagating and distributing a breed of sheep that would benefit his fellow farmers.

“As a meeting planner, it was a pleasure to work with you …”
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, Director of Member Services

It would be Mr. Jefferson’s pleasure to work with you!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Animals Tagged , , , , , |