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Category Archives: Animals

Class discrimination? Clever marketing? Or common sense?

… a thought coming into my head which may be useful to your son who is carrying the Mammoth to Europe, I take time to hint it to you. my knolege of the scene he will be on enables me to suggest what might not occur to him a stranger. when in a great city, he will find persons of every degree of wealth. to jumble these all into a room together I know from experience is very painful to the decent part of them, who would be glad to see a thing often, & would not regard paying every time but that they1 revolt at being mixed with pickpockets, chimney sweeps &c…
To Charles Willson Peale, May 5, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A practical leader offers the benefit of his experience to others.
C. W. Peale was a noted painter, scientist and museum owner. His sons had mounted a mastodon skeleton for public display in New York. In September, they would take their exhibit to cities in Europe, where they would charge admission to view it. Drawing on his experience across the Atlantic, he had a suggestion for his friend’s sons.

Jefferson said wealthier patrons would object to mingling with the lowest working classes and swindlers at an exhibit open to all. He suggested three viewings at three prices. The highest price should be charged when the “beau monde” (fashionable society) would be most likely to attend. A lower price should be offered when “merchants and respectable citizens” would have the leisure to come. The cheapest price would for the “the lower descriptions” (pickpockets, chimney sweeps, etc.). He suggested the greatest amounts paid by the fewest attendees would make up for the many at the lowest price.

He concluded with his belief they would make a fortune with this display. And when people tired of seeing it, he hoped they would sell it and make another fortune. (Jefferson loved big bones!)

“…the standing ovation you received showed how much
our members enjoyed your characterization…”
Deputy Director, Washington Association of County Officials
Mr. Jefferson hopes to bring your audience to its feet, as well.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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These treasures from the west must be shared with the public!

the articles which had been forwarded by capt Lewis … I am now packing up for you  …
2. skins of the white hare
2. skeletons of do [ditto].
a skeleton of the small or borrowing wolf of the prairies
a male & female Blaireau [badger] … with the skeleton of the female
13. red fox skins
skins of the male & female antelope with their skeletons.
2. skins of the burrowing squirrel of the prairies
a living burrowing squirrel [prairie dog] of the prairies.
a living magpie
a dead one preserved.
these are the descriptive words of capt. Lewis.
To Charles Willson Peale, October 6, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need their own “kid in the candy store” moments.
When Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery (aka Lewis & Clark Expedition) headed west into the unknown in April 1805, Lewis sent all the specimens collected in their first year back to the President. Jefferson was probably beside himself with excitement when these arrived!

He examined all of them, kept a few to display at Monticello, and forwarded the rest to Philadelphia, where Peale could display them in his renowned museum.

Note several entries near the bottom of the list. The Corps captured several live prairie dogs and magpies to send east. One of each survived a journey of months and 1,500 miles to delight the nation’s premier naturalist.

In this 1822 self-portrait, Peale draws the curtain back to reveal some of the wonders of his museum.

“It was a great pleasure to have you return …
Thank you very much for bringing Thomas Jefferson to life
during the presentations on July 4 and 5.”
National Park Service, Jefferson National Expansion Museum
Watch Patrick Lee bring Thomas Jefferson to life for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Thanks for a job VERY well done!

… Not understanding the conveyance to you by post beyond Richmond, I have thought it safest to remit the 100. D. for you to Gibson & Jefferson, subject to your order, which is done this day. I was never better pleased with a riding horse than with Jacobin. it is now really a luxury to me to ride…
To John Wayles Eppes, May 27, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders gratefully express their appreciation.
In 1802, Jefferson asked his son-in-law Eppes to purchase a “super fine” horse for him. Here he thanked Eppes and paid him for the acquisition of Jacobin, the best riding horse he’d ever had.

Riding was almost a physical and emotional necessity for Jefferson. To be able to do so in “luxury” was a wonderful bonus.

Curiously, several online search results for Jefferson’s horses, including Monticello’s records, do not list a horse named Jacobin.

“Your portrayal of President Thomas Jefferson was superlative
and completely engaging …”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Google defines  superlative as “of the highest quality or degree.” Sound good to you?
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I would rather pay too much than too little.

I formerly mentioned to you that I should want another fine horse, a match for Castor … I must pray you to look out for a fine one. I need not say here of what sort, as you know my ideas fully on that subject as well … respecting price. where the animal is superfine, we must not stand [opposed to?] giving something more than he may be worth; because in buying one not superfine the whole money is thrown away.
To John Wayles Eppes, March 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What leadership principle can be drawn from this?
Next to his books, riding a horse was Jefferson’s favorite personal activity. He owned horses throughout his life, often naming them for characters in ancient history or mythology. Here he enlisted his son-in-law’s help in finding another. Jefferson’s taste in horses was well-known within his family, because he didn’t bother to describe what he wanted. Eppes already knew.

Jefferson did not want just any horse but one that was “superfine.” He was prepared to pay a premium for such an animal, almost regarding it as an investment. He would rather waste a little extra money to buy the best than waste the entire purchase price settling for something that was just average.

“Thank you for your excellent presentation at the Business and Marketing … Seminar
in historical Boston. …a very memorable experience …”
Rural Cellular Association, Boston, MA
For an excellent and memorable presentation,
invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Where is the beef? RIGHT HERE!

… this morning arrived the quarter you were so kind as to send me of the Mammoth-veal [young beef]. tho’ so far advanced as to be condemned for the table, yet it retained all the beauty of it’s appearance, it’s fatness & enormous size. a repetition of such successful examples of enlarging the animal volume will do more towards correcting the erroneous opinions of European writers as to the effect of our climate on the size of animals, than any thing I have been able to do.
To Michael Fry and Nathan Coleman, October 22, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders have their little quirks.
In previous posts, we’ve seen Jefferson’s consuming interest in documenting large animals in America. He had an ongoing campaign to refute the assertion of a noted French scientist who claimed the climate in North America produced animals smaller and inferior to those in Europe. Mostly, Jefferson used the largest bones he could find as proof to debunk that theory.
In this letter, he thanked those who sent him one-fourth of a “Mammoth-veal.” It had spoiled and could not be eaten, but he was impressed by its size and quality. Not only that, it gave even better scientific bragging rights to America than he’d be able to document.

“… please accept this letter of thanks and appreciation
for your outstanding presentation …”
University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Mr. Jefferson will be outstanding for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Hold your horses!

I snatch half a moment to inform you that a circumstance has occurred which will inevitably keep me a week longer or thereabouts. in the mean time my horses will wait I presume at Heron’s. my tender love to my dear Martha, & the little ones. Affectionate attachment to yourself.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, March 19, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes leaders have to hold their horses (or have them held).
When Jefferson travelled home to Monticello, he made advance arrangements to have his horses brought part way from home, that he might use them for the last segment of his journey. In this instance, he had already written to his son-in-law (married to his elder daughter Martha), asking to have those horses brought to a certain place by a certain time.

The new President was having trouble filling a key office. He was reluctant to leave Washington City until that had been accomplished. Thus, he wrote again about the delay, asking that his horses be held another week at the pre-appointed place.

Ever the doting father and grandfather, he sent along his affections for Martha and the children.

Mr. Jefferson will make every effort not be delayed when he attends your meeting!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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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

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Thomas Jefferson on the honey-bee

The honey-bee is not a native of our continent. Marcgrove, indeed, mentions a species of the honey-bee in Brazil. But this has no sting, and is therefore different from the one we have, which resembles perfectly that of Europe. The Indians concur with us in the tradition that it was brought from Europe; but when, and by whom, we know not. The bees have generally extended themselves into the country, a little in advance of the white settlers. The Indians, therefore, call them the white man’s fly, and consider their approach as indicating the approach of the settlements of the whites.
Notes on Virginia, 1782, 794

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Notes on Virginia was Jefferson’s compilation of the natural history (science) of his native state. This excerpt comes at the end of Query (Chapter) VI, “Productions Mineral, Vegetable and Animal.” Little escapes his attention, not even the honeybee.
It’s interesting to note that even as a young man, in his late 30s, Jefferson has a personal library extensive enough that he could research honeybees from Brazil and Europe.
A longer version of this quote plus more information on Jefferson’s interest in bees, wax and honey are found on Monticello’s web site.

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Thomas Jefferson on an elk skeleton

Does SIZE matter?
I have made a particular acquaintance with Monsieur de Buffon, and have a great desire to give him the best idea I can of our elk. You could not oblige me more than by sending me the horns, skeleton and skin of an elk, were it possible to procure them … Everything of this kind is precious here [France] .
Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1786, 5673

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Buffon was a renowned French naturalist who had written extensively on the subject. Without proof, he maintained that animal life in America was inferior to that in Europe, that species here were smaller and less healthy than their continental cousins. Jefferson was indignant for two reasons. One, because he believed it was untrue, and two, he considered it an affront to America.
Although Jefferson was always on a quest for more information about American wildlife, he had a special interest in acquiring LARGE bones to prove Buffon wrong. This letter is written from France. He was trying to find someone who would kill an American elk, and send the “horns, skeleton and skin” to him in Paris.
Jefferson’s zeal sometimes cost him dearly. Read this humorous-but-sad account of his contemplating a large bill from someone he’d commissioned to secure him a moose skeleton.
John Foley, editor of the Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, quotes an admission from Buffon to Jefferson in Parton’s Life of Jefferson, “I should have consulted you, sir, before publishing my natural history, and then, I should have been sure of my facts.”

The size of your audience doesn’t matter to Mr. Jefferson.
He has spoken to as few as a dozen and as many at 1,400.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

Leave a comment Posted in Animals, Natural history (science)