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Category Archives: Diplomacy

You do not know what you are talking about.

In social circles all are equal, whether in, or out, of office, foreign or domestic; & the same equality exists among ladies as among gentlemen. no precedence therefore, of any one over another, exists either in right or practice, at dinners, assemblies, or on any other occasions. ‘pell-mell’ and ‘next the door’ form the basis of etiquette in the societies of this country. it is this last principle, maintained by the administration, which has produced some dissatisfaction with some of the diplomatic gentlemen.
Response to the Washington Federalist, February 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders make their priorities straight-forward and public.
An opposition newspaper claimed diplomatic strife was caused by the etiquette policies of the new President. Not so, wrote Jefferson in a response printed on this date in the Philadelphia republican paper, Aurora. He usually ignored political and personal attacks in the federalist press, but this one he met head on.

He gave six specific examples of how and when foreign dignitaries would be received by various members of the Executive and Legislative Branches. He affirmed Senators and Representatives had equal standing. He wrote that all preferences shown previously were “buried in the grave of federalism, on the same 4th. of March,” the day of his inauguration.

Once he defined official diplomatic etiquette, he proceeded in this passage to proclaim there was no etiquette in social (non-governmental) settings. All individuals, foreign and domestic, in office or out, male and female, were treated equally. “Pell mell” and “next the door” would be the equivalents of the 21st century’s “first come, first served.”

“What a wonderful session you provided …
I thank you for your well-received keynote address.”
Conference Co-Chair, Missouri School-Age Care Coalition
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Might we scratch each other’s backs?

Considering that we have shortly to ask a favour ourselves from the Creeks [Creek Indians], the Tuckabatché road, may we not turn the application of Hawkins to our advantage, by making it the occasion of broaching that subject to them? … it is becoming indispensible for us to have a direct communication from the seat of our government with that place [New Orleans], by a road which, instead of passing the mountains … shall keep below the mountains the whole way … that we do not mean to ask this favor for nothing, but to give them for it whatever it is worth; besides that they will have the advantages of keeping taverns for furnishing necessaries to travellers, of selling their provisions & recieving a great deal money in that way …
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders use gifts to open negotiations.
The “application of Hawkins,” U.S. Indian Agent for the southern tribes, was approved, granting a number of supplies needed by the Creek Indians. The President asked his War Secretary to use the granting of these supplies to open negotiations for a concession from the Creeks.

The current road from Washington to New Orleans was through the mountains of Tennessee. U.S. acquisition of Louisiana required a better, faster route. That road would be south of the mountains, through Creek Indian land, across Georgia and Alabama. The U.S. would soon be asking the Creeks for permission to build that road.

Jefferson insisted the U. S. would not take the needed land but would pay for it. The granted supplies might open the door with the Creeks. Not only would they be reimbursed for the right-of-way, the Creeks would profit from maintaining the business development rights along the new road.

“There is not doubt about it.
You were the hit of our annual conference.”
President, MO Association for Adult Continuing and Community Education
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It’s fake news, my friend. (But I won’t say so publicly.)

those especially who read the Gazette of the US. need to be set to rights, for in the long  statement which appeared in that paper about a week ago, there was not one single fact which was not false …
the Gazette of the US. is evidence of this [opposition] … 4. pages of solid matter … & the whole so false and malignant, as shews it is prepared for the purpose of exportation, and to poison the minds of foreign countries against their own, which is too well informed to drink of the dose.
To William Short, January 23, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Strong opposition from some of the press comes to all leaders.
The previous post, from a letter to Jefferson’s daughter, dealt with diplomatic offense taken when he did not show favoritism to British and Spanish representatives at private dinners. In this long letter to a trusted friend, Jefferson explained the conflict in much greater detail.

He was particularly concerned about a report in an opposition newspaper, the Gazette of the United States, claiming every single fact in the account to be wrong. The entirety of the paper was “so false and malignant” that its only purpose was “to poison the minds of foreign countries” against the United States. Affirming confidence in his countrymen, he said Americans were “too well informed” to drink that poison.

Jefferson regularly shared strong opinions in his correspondence with trusted friends but almost never did so publicly, where he maintained an even-handed cordiality. Yet, he wanted to reassure those who knew him well with the benefit of his thinking, to combat what opponents thought of him.

“The “Dinner with Thomas Jefferson” … was a huge success…
Your command of Mr. Jefferson’s persona and mind,
and your facility in answering complex questions were impressive.”
Chairman, “3 Flags Festival,” The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial
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We are all equal here. Fooey on them!

On Friday Congress give a dinner on the acquisition of Louisiana. they determine to invite no foreign ministers, to avoid questions of etiquette, in which we are enveloped by Merry’s & Yrujo’s families. … [their conflict will continue] until they recieve orders from their courts to acquiesce in our principles of the equality of all persons meeting together in society, & not to expect to force us into their principles of allotment into ranks & orders.
To Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 23, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Just leaders do not show favoritism, especially when it is expected.
President Jefferson disdained the aristocratic expectations of England’s and Spain’s ambassadors to America. They insisted on favored treatment and were incensed not to receive it. Thus, they were excluded from a Congressional dinner.

Although Jefferson wished his elder daughter could be with him in Washington City, it was better for her that she was absent. His Cabinet Secretary’s wives had already been abused in the press for not fawning over the ambassadors’ wives. His daughter would receive even worse treatment from foes who wanted to distress him.

The President was clear. Other nations:
– Must acquiesce to America’s equality for all in society.
– Should keep their privileged society, “allotment into ranks & orders,” to themselves.

“…everyone enjoys/learns/benefits/grows from the presentations of Patrick Lee.
Reach out to him … You will never regret it!”
Chief, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
The Chief is right!
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Make love (dispassionately), not war.

That nations should, in friendship & harmony, take liberal & dispassionate views of their interfering interests, and settle them by timely arrangements, of advantage to both undiminished by injuries to either, is certainly wiser than to yield to short-sighted passions, which, estimating neither chances nor consequences, prompt to measures of mutual destruction, rather than of mutual benefit.
To the Mississippi Territory Legislative Council, December 29, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Diplomatic leaders trump undiplomatic ones.
The President acknowledged the Council’s congratulatory message on the peaceful addition of Louisiana, an achievement it called second only to our 1776 independence. In this long, run-on sentence, Jefferson expressed the highest goals for international diplomacy, that nations should:
1. Proceed from a basis of friendship
2. Look for the best in the other nation’s motivation
3. Even in disagreement, keep emotion out of it
4. Take time to settle issues in advance of a crisis
5. Seek solutions that will benefit both and hurt neither

These principles guided Jefferson in his negotiations with France over open navigation on the Mississippi River. He contrasted them with the “short sighted passions” of his political opponents, who wanted war rather than diplomacy.

“It was a pleasure to have you perform as Thomas Jefferson.
Feedback from our convention participants … was very positive.”
Executive Director, Association of Partners for Public Lands
Your audience will regard Mr. Jefferson’s presentation as most positive!
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Showing personal kindness to ones you dislike …

Th Jefferson presents his respects to Mrs. Merry, and sends her a few seeds of the Dionaea muscipula, or Flytrap, so much celebrated as holding the middle ground between the animal & vegetable orders. tho’ a native of Carolina, this is the first he has been able to recieve after a course of six years efforts & all the interest he could make there. he recieved it the last night by post & sends mrs Merry the half of what he recieved. the plant will be best in pots because it will need some shelter in winter.
To Elizabeth Leathes Merry, December 26, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders separate personal interests from political ones.
Mrs. Merry was the wife of Anthony Merry, the new and highly disliked ambassador from England. Merry expected preferential treatment from the President and was greatly incensed not to receive it. His wife was gregarious, presumptuous and loved being the center of attention. Still, she was intelligent, a conversationalist and had an interest in botany, qualities Jefferson admired.

So, when a six year quest for seeds of the Venus flytrap was finally successful, he immediately shared half of his supply with her. He found some of her personal traits distasteful but overlooked those to cultivate the common ground they shared.

Two weeks later, in a letter to James Monroe, Jefferson disparaged both husband and wife, referring to her as a “virago.” Wikipedia describes a virago as a manly woman, a female warrior or heroine, but acknowledges a later, more common usage, found in another online search, an ill-tempered, domineering woman. Chances are Jefferson meant the latter definition.

Regardless, Mrs. Merry penned her thanks to the President later that day.

“Thank you for your appearance at Jefferson College …
It was extremely enjoyable and educational.”
President, Jefferson College
Mr. Jefferson will both teach and entertain.
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The “court of the US” is dead and buried! Part 2 of 2

The Washington Federalist … has published what he calls the ‘Etiquette of the court of the US.’ in his facts, as usual, truth is set at nought, & in his principles little correct to be found.

In the first place there is no ‘court of the US’ since the 4th. of Mar. 1801. that day buried levees, birthdays, royal parades, and the arrogation of precedence [an unjustified claim of superiority] in society by certain self-stiled friends of order …

In social circles all are equal, whether in, or out, of office, foreign or domestic; & the same equality exists among ladies as among gentlemen. no precedence therefore, of any one over another, exists either in right or practice, at dinners, assemblies, or on any other occasions. ‘pell-mell’ and ‘next the door’ form the basis of etiquette in the societies of this country.
Response to the Washington Federalist, February 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know all are created equal and should be treated that way.
The previous post referenced President Jefferson’s guidelines for etiquette in America with regard to foreign diplomats. An opposition newspaper belittled those guidelines, as if the President’s goal was to create dissension with other nations.

Jefferson very rarely responded publicly to political opponents, but the Washington Federalist must have really gotten his goat. His response was printed in the Philadelphia republican paper, the Aurora. First, he wrote there was no longer any “court of the US,” as that had ended with his inauguration on March 4, 1801. On that day, all privilege previously associated with Washington society ceased to be recognized within the government.

He concluded with a ringing affirmation of equality for all in social circles.

“The members of our organization appreciate the time you took to research our group.
So much of your presentation was appropriate both to your days and to current times.”
President, Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association
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NOT in America! Part 1 of 2

When brought together in society all are perfectly equal, whether foreign or domestic, titled or untitled, in or out of office…
No titles being admitted here, those of foreigners give no precedence.
Difference of grade among the diplomatic members gives no precedence…
At public ceremonies to which the government invites the presence of foreign ministers & their families, a convenient seat or station, will be provided for them with any other strangers invited, & the families of the national ministers, each taking place as they arrive, & without any precedence…
Memorandum on Official Etiquette, January 12, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders treat everyone equally.
Secretary of State Madison had asked America’s ambassador to England about the rules of etiquette that governed diplomats there. Ambassador King replied with a lengthy list, noting the many distinctions made between peoples of varying rank and the procedures governing each.

President Jefferson then drafted his own list for etiquette on this side of the pond. We allowed no titles, no special privileges. With one exception granted to foreign ministers on their first visit to America, all diplomats and their families were to be regarded equally.

“I would like to highly recommend Patrick Lee
for interpretive programming to enhance your events.”
Executive Director, Fort Mandan Foundation
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We are all imperfect. Let us accept that and work together. Part 2 of 2

I see too many proofs of the imperfection of human reason to entertain wonder or intolerance at any difference of opinion on any subject; and acquiesce in that difference as easily as on a difference of feature or form: experience having taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together, for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can, when we cannot do all we would wish.
To John Randolph, December 1, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders understand the need for mutual sacrifice.
This complicated passage could be summarized:
1. Everyone’s reasoning is different, and all of it is imperfect.
2. Thus, I am neither amazed nor angered at differences of opinion.
3. I accept major differences as easily as minor ones.
4. Laboring for the common good requires “mutual sacrifices of opinion.”
5. Accomplishing some good work together is worthwhile, even “when we cannot do all we would wish.”

“I look forward to working with you in the future
if Mr. Jefferson remains in the area.
President, Hawthorn Foundation, New and Expanding Business Conference
Mr. Jefferson is still in the area.
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Human nature, Politics

Can you believe this guy?!

Th: Jefferson … regrets that, having no acquaintance in the mercantile line, at Philadelphia, there is not a single house there of whom he is authorised to ask the favor desired by mr Mery, & that his entire unacquaintance with every person & thing connected with money-matters disables him from indicating any other resource for the advance of money mr Mery may have occasion for. he returns him the note from the Marquis de la Fayette … & presents him his salutations.
To Méry, October 6, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need a diplomatic way to say, “Get lost!”
An unknown Frenchman wrote Jefferson from Philadelphia, asking for money. He said the British had robbed him of his reference letters of credit. He needed cash until more could arrive from home. All Méry could offer to establish credibility was to include with his letter one from the President’s old friend, Lafayette, written to someone else.

Jefferson, who innately desired to be helpful, was diplomatic but uncharacteristically abrupt. He knew of no one or no resource who could help Méry. He was returning the letter from Lafayette with his greetings only, and nothing more.

“Organizations of lawyers rarely agree on many things,
but I received unanimous praise for your presentation.”
Chair, Programs Committee, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
New Orleans, LA
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