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Category Archives: Diplomacy

Read my lips. NO new taxes!

[There was a hiccup in cyberspace, or in my brain, because this notice didn’t go out as it should have. Maybe this time?]

… the purchase of Louisiana will require the aid of all our resources to pay the interest of the additional debt without laying a new tax, and of course call for the adoption of every possible economy.
To Tobias Lear, July 14, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Bold initiatives don’t always require tax increases.
Lear (1762-1816) was best known as George Washington’s personal secretary for the last 15 years of Washington’s life. Lear’s reputation was a checkered one, but he also served President Jefferson as commercial agent in St. Domingo and then as Consul General to several North African city-states. Lear’s duties in Algiers and Tripoli included ongoing negotiations to protect American shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. That protection was secured, in part, by annual payments to those nations. The President was intent on holding the line on, if not decreasing, those payments.

Why? In part, because he wanted to pay the interest on new debt for the purchase of Louisiana without a new tax. To do so would obviously require “every possible economy.”

“Again, it was a delight working with you,
and I wish you much continued success!”
Executive Vice President, Carolina-Virginias Telephone Membership Association
Mr. Jefferson will delight your audience!
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1 Comment Posted in Debt, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Haters gonna hate. *

I find our opposition is very willing to pluck feathers from Munroe [James Monroe], although not fond of sticking them into Livingston’s coat. the truth is, both have a just portion of merit, & were it necessary or proper it could be shewn that each has rendered peculiar services, & of important value. these grumblers too are very uneasy lest the administration should share some little credit for the acquisition, the whole of which they ascribe to the accident of war. they would be cruelly mortified could they see our files from May 1801, the first organisation of the administration, but more especially from April 1802.
To Horatio Gates, July 11, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Like the tortoise, smart leaders know the value of slow and steady.
Gates (1727-1806), a controversial Revolutionary War general, wrote an effusive letter praising the President’s acquisition of Louisiana. He also made a strong recommendation for William Smith, son-in-law of former President John Adams, to be named as head of a new government to be formed in New Orleans.

Jefferson acknowldeged Gates’ praise, and in turn, gave credit to both of his ambassadors, Robert Livingston and James Monroe, for their essential roles in securing Louisiana. He noted the Federalist opponents not only criticized both men but were also unwilling to give his administration any credit for the happy result. They claimed it had come about as an accident, a by-product of pending war between France and England. What the detractors didn’t know was that for the previous two years, Jefferson’s administration had actively pursued every possible diplomatic effort to secure New Orleans and avoid war with France over use of the Mississippi River.

Jefferson did not comment on Gates’ recommendation of Smith, nor did he appoint him to the position.

“… should you wish to use us as a reference, feel free to do so.”
President, Linn State Technical College
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*Songwriters: Taylor Swift / Max Martin / Karl Johan Schuster
Shake It Off lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
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A birthday pig in a poke, with benefits!

On the evening of the 3d inst. [July] we recieved a letter from … Livingston & Monroe [America’s ambassadors to France on the subject of purchasing New Orleans and maintaining open Mississippi River navigation] … that on the 30th. of April they signed a treaty with France, ceding to us the island of N. Orleans and all Louisiana as it had been held by Spain. the price is not mentioned. we are in hourly expectation of the treaty by a special messenger … it is something larger than the whole US. probably containing 500 millions of acres, the US. containing 434. millions. this removes from us the greatest source of danger to our peace.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, July 5, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Happy birthday, Mr. President!
Jefferson concealed his own birth date, so people couldn’t celebrate him. He believed July 4 was the only date worthy of national celebration. Just hours before America’s 27th birthday, he’d received word that his spirited diplomatic efforts had yielded an unimaginable result: France would sell not only New Orleans but ALL of Louisiana! That would more than double the size of the nation and make the Mississippi River a totally American waterway.

Jefferson’s tactical goal had been met, securing duty-free shipping on all goods produced for export west of the Appalachian mountains. His strategic goal was met, too, eliminating what otherwise was inevitable, war with France over control of the Mississippi.

The President didn’t know the price! (A “pig in a poke” refers to a purchase where the buyer doesn’t really know the extent of the purchase or the price paid.) He expected to find out soon. He had authorized $10M for New Orleans and West Florida. He would soon be delighted to learn that the whole deal was signed for just $15M. Settlement of old shipping claims against France would significantly lower the purchase price to $11.25M.

This purchase would completely change the complexion of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, from a small company exploring foreign land to a large military company laying further claim to American land.

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Director of Law-Related Education, The Missouri Bar
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1 Comment Posted in Commerce, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Lewis & Clark, National Prosperity Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Say WHAT?

621. 1410. 327. 251. 569. 1402. 640. 146. 1486. 1445. 956. 530. 43. 954. 1399. 1006. 1436. 1379 1576. 1372. 1501. 1436. 981. 167. 996. 548. 604. 805. 809. 1046. 377. 1401. 1513. 1274. 1067. 1440. 569. 663. 981. 818. 1443. 270. 1315. 1440. 627. 1310. 219. 179. 1337. 520. 1440. 1225. 271. 569. 1549. 925. 1153. 569. 341. 801. 1501. 126. 1550. 94. 352. 879. 569. 177. 1507. 1042. 1102. 439. 271. 1440. 1513. 1410. 451.
To James Monroe, June 5, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders loathe leaks!
Jefferson hated having his correspondence made public. That may have been why he loved ciphers, devices or schemes that would allow him to send coded messages. This is his entire letter to his new ambassador to France. This code was one Secretary of State James Madison had given Monroe for diplomatic communication while the latter was still in the United States. I cannot tell if the code is the same one Jefferson developed and gave to Meriwether Lewis.

Why the President felt the need to encode this letter is unclear, unless he was just practicing. The letter explained a canister of tea he was sending to a friend, Madame de Corny, in France. The link for that letter includes the full text, but their deciphering the first part of it yielded this:
“tho mas je fer son to ja mes mon ro june 5 eighteen hundred three this can is ter of te a is for my fri end mad dam de cor ny I ad dre s it to you for del iv ery …”

This seven year old post will tell you more about Jefferson and his ciphers. (The Wall Street Journal link works only if you have a subscription.)

“It was heartening to see our members and guests so engaged during your portrayal
as well as in the many individual conversations they had with you during the day.”
Executive Director, Nevada Association of Counties
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Thomas Jefferson on using a secret code

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If something is not the truth, is it a lie?

… the idea that you are going to explore the Missisipi has been generally given out: it satisfies public curiosity, and masks sufficiently the real destination. I shall be glad to hear from you, as soon after your arrival at Philadelphia as you can form an idea when you will leave …
To Meriwether Lewis, April 27, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Do all leaders hedge the truth occasionally?
Meriwether Lewis left Washington for Philadelphia where some of the nation’s preeminent scientists would tutor him further in mathematics, astronomy, botany and medicine. It was common knowledge that Lewis was mounting some type of exploration, but very few knew that he was heading west, up the Missouri River. The President dribbled out some misdirection, that Lewis was going north, up the Mississippi.

Diplomatic overtures to Spain and France over New Orleans and shipping on the lower Mississippi had not been resolved. It was common knowledge that Spain was ceding Louisiana back to France, and that had serious repercussions for America. (France had not yet offered to sell Louisiana, and that possibility had never been considered on this side of the Atlantic.) Jefferson wanted to avoid offending other nations unnecessarily with the idea of sending American explorers through foreign lands without permission.

Lewis was the President’s personal secretary. With all of his travel, it was obvious Lewis was up to something. Thus, Jefferson deliberately promoted something less than the truth … a lie? … to protect his diplomatic maneuvering, provide cover for Lewis, and satisfy “public curiosity.”

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… for his first person portrayal of President Thomas Jefferson.”
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1 Comment Posted in Diplomacy, Exploration, Lewis & Clark Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

What in the world does plenipotentiary mean?

Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America,
Greeting:      To
Reposing especial Trust and Confidence in Your Integrity, Prudence and Ability I have appointed Minister Plenipotentiary for the United States of America at the Court of His Britannic Majesty, authorizing you hereby to do and perform all such matters and things as to the said place or office do appertain … said office to Hold and exercise during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being, and until the end of the next Session of the Senate of the United States, and no longer.
Commission for Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain, 18 April 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A plenipotentiary possesses his leader’s full confidence.
To this blank form, President Jefferson added James Monroe’s name with full authority as ambassador to act on behalf of the United States. From an earlier post, we learned Monroe was dispatched to Europe to help negotiate American rights to free shipping down the Mississippi River and through New Orleans. In a time when round-trip communication between London or Paris and Washington, D.C. was at least two months, a trusted diplomat had to have the legal authority to act on his own.

That’s what plenipotentiary means, having full authority to act independently.

The President left no room for doubt about Monroe’s status. This blank form to the British Court was the first of six completed for him. Another was to the French Court, two to Napoleon, and one each to King George III and Queen Charlotte of Britain.

(While my 50 year old Webster’s Dictionary divides that 14 letter word into just five syllables, modern online versions give it seven!)

“Patrick Lee as Thomas Jefferson … was a keynote speaker …[at our] Annual Conference.
I am pleased to give Patrick Lee my highest recommendation as a speaker.”
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Are you liberal? Why or why not?

I am in all cases for liberal [straight-forward, open-minded, even-handed, reciprocal] conduct towards other nations, believing that the practice of the same friendly feelings & generous dispositions which attach individuals in private life will attach societies on the large scale, which are composed of individuals.
… the thermometer is at 29°. with us this morning. the peach trees in blossom for a week past.
To Albert Gallatin, March 28, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use the Golden Rule, with nations as with individuals.
The President proposed “liberal” conduct always by America toward other nations. That conduct could only come from the individuals comprising America. We should not be liberal with one another, and il-liberal with other nations. Nations are comprised of individuals. Our relationships with other nations will be a reflection of how we treat one another.

This letter to his Treasury Secretary covered diplomacy, the navy, Pennsylvania politics and patronage. Gallatin was also his friend, so he ended with a personal observation about the weather and his peach trees. (Perhaps a subsequent letter will make mention of the year’s peach crop being lost to the freezing weather?)

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Our members have given Mr. Lee standing ovations,
an honor awarded to very few presenters.”
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1 Comment Posted in Diplomacy, Human nature Tagged , , , , , , |

Your mind alone will get you into trouble!

… with a heart disposed to do whatever is honest and honorable, and a head able to decide by calculation that what is not right can under no possible circumstances be useful … that by going strait forward and doing exactly what is just and moral, the way will open before you, and the mountains of difficulty subside: when by resorting to head-work and contrivence, one only gets more & more entangled in the mazes of their own cunning, and finally enveloped in a self-woven web of disgrace. but I catch myself sermonizing again, & have again to seek my apology …
To Lewis Harvie, January 25, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know intellectual cleverness alone is never enough.
The 21 year old Harvie (1782-1807) was the son of Jefferson’s childhood friend and grandson of his guardian upon the death of his own father in 1757. The young man requested an appointment as secretary to James Monroe during the latter’s service in Europe negotiating the future of American shipping on the Mississippi River.

Jefferson declined the appointment, not because Harvie was unqualified, but because Monroe would probably want to choose his own secretary. The President then outlined a deliberate and lengthy course of action for a young man who wanted a career in public service, similar to one Jefferson himself began 40 years earlier.

The President concluded with this advice for Harvie:
1. He should have the heart always to do what was “honest and honorable.”
2. His mind should be clear enough to warn him away from dubious enterprises.
3. Governed by sound mind and heart, the right course would become clear.
4. If he abandoned the moral compass of his heart and relied only on his mind, he would come to ruin and disgrace of his own making.
He then admitted he was preaching to the young man and apologized.

Later in 1803 Jefferson appointed Harvie to replace Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary when Lewis left to lead the exploration up the Missouri River. Harvie took ill in 1805 and died two years later at the age of 25.

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I am the boss. America needs you. You do not have a choice.

… the fever into which the Western mind is thrown by the affair at N. Orleans …threatens to overbear our peace. in this situation we are obliged to call on you for a temporary sacrifice of yourself … I shall tomorrow nominate you to the Senate for an extraordinary mission to France, & the circumstances are such as to render it impossible to decline; because the whole public hope will be rested on you … in the mean time pray work night & day to arrange your affairs for a temporary absence; perhaps for a long one.
To James Monroe, January 10, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, leaders have to demand sacrifices of trusted lieutenants.
“.. the affair at N. Orleans” concerning the “Western mind” was customs-free shipping through the port of New Orleans and open traffic on the Mississippi River. The first had been withdrawn by Spain; the second faced a threat from France’s pending takeover of Louisiana, giving her partial control over the river and full control of the port.

American Ambassador Robert Livingston had been in France for some time, hoping to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans or some other land at the mouth of the Mississippi for duty-free shipping. Under the best circumstances, round trip communication between the U.S. and Paris took two months. The President thought Livingston might need help and dispatched a trusted protege.

Jefferson usually left the decision whether to take an offered job up to the individual. Not this time! He called on Monroe “for a temporary sacrifice of yourself.” The importance of the task made it “impossible to decline.” Success might rest on him. He was to get his affairs in order and depart immediately. He might be gone a short time, maybe a long time.

Monroe sailed for France on March 9, but the day before he arrived in Paris, Napoleon’s government offered all of Louisiana to Ambassador Livingston. Monroe’s purpose in going was now moot, but the two ambassadors negotiated the terms of the massive land deal.

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Chess, anyone?

Th: Jefferson asks the favor of Mr. E. Thornton’s company to dinner and chess on Monday next, the 8th. Inst., at half after three.
Friday Novr. 5th. 1802.
The favor of an answer is requested.
To Edward Thornton, November 5, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Strategic leaders practice thinking strategically.
Jefferson was well-known for inviting people to join him for his typical mid-afternoon dinner. (He ate only two meals a day, breakfast at 9:00 and dinner at 3:00 or 3:30, and perhaps a light snack in the evening.) He shared his dinner table with friends, fellow scientists and elected officials, those who supported him and some who did not. He used it as a time of friendship, intellectual stimulation and diplomacy. Thornton was a British diplomat serving in America.

Jefferson enjoyed chess! I have featured his dinner invitations and companions before. This is the second one I’ve seen where he invited someone to come to the President’s house for both dinner AND chess. (This is the first.) The President had many strong reservations about the way England conducted itself toward the United States. Yet, he could set those aside to dine and play a favored game. Jefferson usually took the long view, and the game kept his instincts sharp.

Since this was written on December 5 for dinner that afternoon, it would have been hand-delivered to the diplomat who would use the same courier to convey his answer.

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Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association 
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