Blog posts may be reprinted without permission,
provided a link to www.JeffersonLeadership.com is included.

Category Archives: Family matters

We are struggling to get back to normal.

MY 1,oooth POST SINCE BEGINNING IN FEBRUARY, 2011!

No letter yet from my dear Maria, who is so fond of writing, so punctual in her correspondencies! I enjoin as a penalty that the next be written in French.—Now for news. The fever is entirely vanished from Philadelphia. Not a single person has taken infection since the great rains about the 1st. of the month, and those who had it before are either dead or recovered. All the inhabitants who had fled are returning into the city, probably will all be returned in the course of the ensuing week. The President has been into the city, but will probably remain here till the meeting of Congress to form a point of union for them before they will have had time to gather knolege and courage …
Follow closely your music, reading, sewing, house-keeping, and love me as I do you, most affectionately.
Thomas Jefferson to Maria Jefferson, November 18, 1793

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
This letter to his 15 year old daughter gently chided that he had not heard from her recently. (Ten weeks before, she had been living with him outside Philadelphia.) Ever mindful of his daughter’s education, she could correct her error by writing her next letter in French!

The yellow fever epidemic appeared to be at an end. There had been no new infections in two-and-a-half weeks, and all who had been ill were “either dead or recovered.” Those who fled were returning, and he expected all would be back within the next week.

President Washington had taken quarters in Germantown, where Jefferson was also living temporarily, about six miles northwest of Philadelphia. While the President had been into the city, he would yet reside there. Congress was being called back into session, and they needed the encouragement of knowing they would not be gathering in the disease-ravaged city.

Thomas Jefferson has a wealth of wisdom for your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Congress, Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

HELP! I have two teenagers to home school!

Thirty years ago TODAY, May 5, 1990, I made my first presentation as Thomas Jefferson to the American Diabetes Association, Missouri Affiliate Annual Meeting in Jefferson City, Missouri. Woo woo!

Th: Jefferson presents his friendly respects to Mr. Rittenhouse. He has two young ladies at his house whose time hangs heavily on their hands, and the more so, as their drawing master cannot attend them. If Mr. Rittenhouse then does not take his Camera obscura with him into the country, Th:J. will thank him to permit them the use of it a few days, that they may take a few lessons in drawing from nature.
Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, September 6, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders can be out of their league at teaching teenagers!
This is Jefferson’s entire letter to an old friend. Rittenhouse (1732-1796) was an extraordinary scientist, mathematician and astronomer. At the time of this letter, he was Director of the U.S. Mint.
Jefferson needed help. For safety reasons, he had removed his 15 year old daughter and her friend from their boarding school in Philadelphia, and now dealt with a familiar problem facing sequestered teens, “time weighs heavily on their hands.” He asked to borrow Rittenhouse’s camera obscura to occupy them in their drawing education.

Your audience will be delightfully surprised by Thomas Jefferson!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Education, Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Thomas Jefferson works remotely.

The President [Washington] sets out the day after tomorrow for Mount Vernon, and will be back about the last of the month. Within 4 or 5. days or a week after his return I can set out. The yellow fever, of which I wrote Mr. Randolph [Martha’s husband] last week still encreases. The last week about twice as many have died as did the week before. I imagine there are between 3. and 400. persons ill of it. I propose after the President’s departure to remove my office into the country so as to have no further occasion to go into the town.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, September 8, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders can still lead from a (short) distance away.
Jefferson reported to his daughter that the epidemic was getting worse.
An earlier post referenced Jefferson’s decision to remain in the nation’s capital, because all the other officers were leaving to escape the epidemic. President Washington was about to depart and would return at the end of September, when the yellow fever usually abated.

After the President returned, Jefferson would come home to Monticello. In the meantime, he would move his office out of the city to some country house, close enough to carry out his official duties but be socially-distanced from the disease.

Thomas Jefferson will not socially-distance himself from your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

In a crisis, panic makes reality worse.

A malignant fever [in] Philadelphia … has given great alarm. It is considerably infectious … Tho there is some degree of danger, yet, as is usual, there is much more alarm than danger; and knowing it to be usual also to magnify these accounts in proportion to distance, I have given you the particulars, that you may know exactly what the case is.
Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., September 2, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders also address the alarm that arises in crises.
Jefferson wrote his son-in-law, Martha’s husband, about the fierce yellow fever plague attacking Philadelphia. Although Randolph was inland, several hundred miles away and safe from the scourge of disease, he could not escape the alarm spread by newspaper accounts and gossip.

Jefferson believed there was “more alarm than danger,” and the alarm was magnified the further it traveled. Thus, he reported accurately the situation in Philadelphia to his family, that the alarm might not exceed the reality.

“If I didn’t know any better,
I would swear I just spent an hour with President Thomas Jefferson.”
Executive Director, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association
Spend an hour with President Jefferson.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.

 

 

 

https://founders.archives.gov/?q=%22yellow%20fever%22%20Author%3A%22Jefferson%2C%20Thomas%22&s=1111311113&r=6

Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Let’s start over, shall we?

My dearest Anne
I do not know whether it is owing to your laziness or mine that our letters have been so long intermitted [suspended]. I assure you it is not to my want of love to you, and to all of those about you, whose welfare I am always so anxious to learn. but it is useless to discuss old bankrupt scores. we will therefore burn our old accounts, and begin a new one on the 1st. day of October next.
Thomas Jefferson to Anne Cary Randolph, July 6, 1806

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know when a do-over is called for.
Anne Randolph, age 15, was Jefferson’s first grandchild. He wrote to his grandchildren often and encouraged, often insisted, they write him regularly. They rarely complied to his satisfaction.
Grandpapa, as he was known to them, again drew attention to the lack of correspondence but acknowledged the problem might be on his end. (Very likely it was not, for no one would ever accuse him of “laziness” or lack of attention to his sole surviving child and her growing family.)
Regardless the cause, he wrote it was “useless to discuss old bankrupt scores,” suggesting they burn them and start over. It was a philosophy he applied to his political leadership as well, being willing to set past offenses aside and start again if an opponent was similarly-minded.

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , , , |

This grandfather needs help. Please!

he sollicits her on his own account, whenever she shall happen to be shopping, to get a garment for him to present to Virginia, another to Anne, and one for Ellen & Cornelia … mrs Madison knows better how to please the respective parties than Th:J. does. what she got for Anne on a former occasion was particularly gratifying to her. mrs Madison will be so good as to direct the shopkeepers to send their bills to Th:J. for paiment.
Thomas Jefferson to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, July 6 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders, even grandfathers, know what they’re not good at.
The President asked his friend and wife of Secretary of State James Madison to help him with a little shopping. He wanted dresses for each of four granddaughters. Mrs. Madison knew the girls and would make far better selections than he. Affirming her good judgment, he mentioned how pleased eldest granddaughter Anne was with a previous selection Dolley had made for her.

Jefferson concluded with instructions to send the bill to him.

 

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Must my plants replace my children?

… I have had the inexpressible misfortune to lose my younger daughter, who has left me two grandchildren, & my elder one has such poor health, that I have little confidence in her life. she has 6 children. determined as I am to retire at the end of 4 years, I know not if I shall have a family to retire to. I must learn philosophy from you, & seek in a family of plants, that occupation & delight which you have so fortunately found in them. it will be the greater with me as it will give me opportunities of communicating to you new objects of enjoiment.
To Madam de Tesse′, March 10, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What private fears do our leaders labor under?
de Tesse′ was the aunt of the French hero of the American revolution, Marquis de Lafayette. She was an accomplished woman and became friends with Jefferson during his service in France in the mid-late 1780s. The two shared a strong interest in horticulture, exchanging plants and seeds for years. Most of this letter pertained to that subject. At the end came this surprisingly personal and unusual observation.

Jefferson’s daughter Maria died the year before, leaving his firstborn Martha as the only surviving child of the six born to him and his late wife. Martha was well-educated and capable. Her husband was not an emotionally stable man, and the responsibility for managing the family and estate (and some of her father’s estate, Monticello) fell on her.  Her father was obsessing over several recent illnesses and feared for her life, too. Jefferson confided that his love of plants might be the only the only family he had left when his Presidency ended four years hence. If such loss came about, at least he could continue his correspondence with Madame de Tesse about their mutual love for plants.

His fears were unfounded. Martha would thrive, present him with 12 grandchildren, 11 who survived him, and outlive her father by 10 years.

“I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful program …”
Daniel Boone Regional Library
A wonderfully inspiring presentation awaits your audience!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Grief & loss, Horticulture Tagged , , , , , , , , |

I love that stuff, but duty prevents me!

Th: Jefferson … asks the favor of mr Rodney to be the bearer of his thanks to mr Copes for his communication on the theory of Magnetism … testify to him that unremitting attentions requisite to those matters which duty will not permit him to neglect, render it impossible for him to suffer himself to be drawn off by philosophical [scientific] subjects, altho’ infinitely more pleasing to his mind. he is now hurrying to get through his business in order to make a short visit to his family.
To Caesar Augustus Rodney, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Focused leaders have to say “No.” to favored things.
Thomas Jefferson wanted to thank “mr Copes” for his scientific material that had come into the President’s hands. He did not know where to write to Copes and asked his young friend Rodney (1772-1824), a Delaware lawyer and political ally, to do so for him.

Jefferson loved all things related to science! Those subjects were “infinitely more pleasing to his mind” than politics and government. Yet, he knew his public duties required his “unremitting attentions.” In addition to conveying his thanks to Copes, he asked Rodney to explain why he could not give Copes’ theory the attention it deserved, attention he would have preferred to give.

Family and science were Jefferson’s twin loves. While he could sidestep scientific interests, he would not do so with his remaining daughter and his growing brood of grandchildren. At the moment of thanking Copes, he was trying to clear the decks for “a short visit to his family” at Monticello.

“…the addition of first person interpretation was new to the conference this year …
Thomas Jefferson and William Clark have set the standard for future conferences.”
Director Of Education, Indiana Historical Society
Either Thomas Jefferson or Lewis & Clark’s William Clark will set a high standard for your meeting!
Invite either man to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , |

In this case, size DOES matter. Part 5

I know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved by some, from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger it’s union. but who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively? the larger our association, the less will it be shaken by local passions. and in any view, is it not better that the opposite bank of the Missisipi should be settled by our own brethren & children than by strangers of another family? with which should we be most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse?
Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Far-sighted leaders see bright spots in the distance!
There was opposition from political opponents, the Federalists, to the President’s purchase of Louisiana in 1803, over its cost and constitutionality. Others were honestly concerned (“a candid apprehension”) that doubling the country’s size might destabilize it. Jefferson thought just the opposite, that a larger nation would be more stable, less vulnerable to parochial interests, what he called “local passions.”
Regardless, there was other good reasons for the enlargement. The Mississippi River was now entirely within U.S. jurisdiction, so farmers could ship their goods to market without interference. In addition, those on the western bank of that river would not be “strangers of another family,” the French, Spanish, English or Russian, for all had designs on that vast territory. No, those people would now be fellow citizens, “our own brethren and children.”

“Again, THANK YOU.
Your historical portrayal of Thomas Jefferson was both engaging and insightful.”

General Manager, Oklahoma Gas Association
Engaging! Insightful!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Family matters, Louisiana, Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Give it to me straight!

Your letter of the 11th. was recieved and gave me the first intimation of your illness. it has filled me with anxiety respecting you, and this is increased by your not having communicated it to me. because in endeavoring to spare my feelings on your real situation it gives me the pain of fearing every thing imaginable; even that the statement of your recovery may not be exact. let me pray you always to give me the rigorous state of things that I may be sure I know the worst.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 21, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Should a leader prefer bad news to no news at all?
Martha’s January 11 letter to her father has disappeared, so we do not know the nature or extent of her illness. Just eight months before, her sister and Thomas Jefferson’s only other child had died. He greatly feared for Martha’s safety.

Not only had Martha’s letter filled him “with anxiety,” he feared she was trying to spare his feelings. That made his worry all the worse, even doubting her assurances about her own recovery.

He wanted to “know the worst” about his only child’s health. That was not as bad as not knowing and an imagination run amok.

“Your wonderful presentation as Daniel Boone
was well-received and appropriate to the interest of our group.”
Member Services Specialist, Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association
Mr. Jefferson’s compatriot, Daniel Boone, is wonderful, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , |