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Category Archives: Government’s proper role

This is what ALL of us are about. Part 11

our wish, as well as their’s [our political opponents], is, that the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public good: that peace be cultivated, civil & religious liberty unassailed, law & order preserved, equality of rights maintained, & that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry, or that of his fathers … let us cherish them with patient affection: let us do them justice … & we need not doubt that truth, reason, & their own interests will at length prevail, will gather them into the fold of their country …
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders proclaim the vision to friend and foe alike.
As Thomas Jefferson neared the end of his address, he reiterated in broad terms the goals to which all citizens could agree:
1. Honest public servants working for the public good
2. Peace with other nations cultivated
3. Personal and religious freedom guaranteed
4. Equal rights maintained
5. Property rights protected
As they strived toward these goals, they were to maintain affection and promote justice for their political opponents, confident that , “truth, reason, & their own interests”  would win them over.

“Who more appropriate to speak on our Constitution than Mr. Thomas Jefferson?
His insight … truly made our celebration special.”
Acting Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial,  National Park Service
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, go to FoundersArchives.gov. Cut a few words from the letter in the post, paste them into the search box at the top, with beginning and ending quotation marks, and click the GO button. The correct letter … should … come up.
Or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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War is only an interruption of doing good. Part 4

if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue will be by increased population & consumption, & aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expences of the year, without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burthening them with the debts of the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful works; & a return to a state of peace a return to the progress of improvement.
Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know great conflicts are just around the corner.
Thomas Jefferson outlined in the previous post how peacetime taxes should be spent. In this continuation, he deals with wartime spending.

First, spending on “useful [domestic] works” must be suspended. An increasing population with increasing consumer demands should boost federal revenues. Added to those funds would be money previously set aside to be used only in a time of war. Those two sources should allow war to be conducted on a pay-as-you-go basis. Regardless, war was not to be funded with debt that would burden future generations.

When peace returned, government could once again resume spending on “useful works,” i.e. domestic improvements.

“You most definitely played an integral role in making our awards ceremony
a special evening for everyone in attendance.”
Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, National Park Service
Mr. Jefferson can be integral in the success of your meeting.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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THIS is how Uncle Sam should spend your taxes. Part 3

these contributions enable us to support the current expences of the government, to fulfill contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish the native right of soil within our limits, to extend those limits, & to apply such a surplus to our public debts, as places at a short day their final redemption. and, that redemption once effected, the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just repartition of it among the states, & a corresponding amendment of the constitution, be applied, in time of peace, to rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, & other great objects within each state.
Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders limit and prioritize spending.
First, Thomas Jefferson limited current federal spending to five areas:
1. Domestic commitments authorized by Congress
2. Contractual agreements with other nations
3. Purchasing tribal lands from the Indians
4. Expansion of the United States geographically
5. Paying down federal debt until it was gone

Second, when the federal debt had been paid, the Constitution amended to allow for it, and the nation was at peace, further surpluses were to be shared with the states for infrastructure and to promote commerce, education, culture and the like.

“The great length that Patrick Lee went to ensure that Mr. Jefferson’s remarks
were relevant to today’s officials was excellent.”
Executive Director, Township Officials of Illinois
Patrick Lee and Thomas Jefferson collaborate well.
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours. (Part 3 of 3)

Whether the great interests of agriculture, manufactures, commerce or navigation, can, within the pale of your constitutional powers be aided in any of their relations? whether laws are provided in all cases where they are wanting? whether those provided are exactly what they should be? whether any abuses take place in their administration or in that of the public revenues? whether the organisation of the public agents, or of the public force is perfect in all it’s parts? in fine, Whether any thing can be done to advance the general good? are questions within the limits of your functions
To United States Congress, November 8, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders respect jurisdictional lines.
In the first post from Jefferson’s fourth annual message, he reported on 10 areas under his authority. In only two of those did he invite Congress’ input. The second post summarized income, expense and debt. This excerpt suggested areas where Congress might act:
1. Within constitutional limits, could they aid agriculture, business and navigation?
2. What new laws are needed?
3. What existing laws need improving?
4. Are the laws or public finances being abused?
5. Is the federal government and its workforce “perfect in all it’s parts”?
6. In summary, what could they do, constitutionally, to advance the public good?

Jefferson understood that the legislature’s role was to make the laws. His role, as head of the Executive Branch, was merely to carry them out while he saw to the nation’s defense and foreign relations.

“… thank you for your participation in [RCA’s]
“Understand the Revolution” Seminar in Boston, Massachusetts…”
Business Chair, Rural Cellular Association
Understanding your past can guide your present and protect your future!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Private enterprise can do that FAR better than government!

… our principle on that subject is that it is better for the public to procure at the common market whatever the market can supply: because there it is by competition kept up in it’s quality, and reduced to it’s minimum price. the public can buy there silver guns cheaper than they can make iron ones. as therefore private individuals can furnish cannon, shot &c. we shall never attempt to make them, nor consequently meddle with mines, forges, or any thing of that kind.
To Ferdinando Fairfax, September 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders acknowledge what government can’t do well.
Fairfax was a godson of George Washington’s and sometimes successful Virginia entrepreneur. He had offered to sell his ironworks to the government for the manufacture of their own armaments. Jefferson declined.
Why, when national defense was the government’s responsibility?
1. Jefferson’s policy was to buy such goods rather than make them.
2. Competition in the market kept the quality high and the price low. (It must have been with tongue-in-cheek that he said guns made privately from silver would be cheaper than those made from iron by the government!)
3. Not only would the government not manufacture its own armaments, they would not own any of the means to supply their manufacture, either.

“I received so many great compliments
on your performance of Thomas Jefferson…”
Education Committee, Missouri Land Title Association
Mr. Jefferson will make you look good to your members!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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We agree on three essential principles!

The satisfaction which you express …  with the substitution of economy for taxation, & the progress and prospect exhibited of the discharge of our public debt within a convenient period, is a proof of that soundness of [your] political principle … the preference you give to the late acquisition of territory by just & peaceable means, rather than by rapine & bloodshed, is in the genuine spirit of that primitive Christianity, which so peculiarly inculcated the doctrines of peace, justice, and good will to all mankind.
To the Portsmouth, Virginia Baptist Society, January 20, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders appreciate an atta-boy!
In a November 1803 letter to the President, the Society expressed their appreciation for the direction of the new government. Jefferson acknowledged their thank-you and reiterated three areas of agreement:
1. Better for government to do less rather than tax more.
2. Prudent to have a specific plan for paying off the national debt.
3. Acquiring Louisiana by diplomacy and not war demonstrated “that primitive Christianity” characterized by “peace, justice and good will to all mankind.”

“As a surprise guest speaker,
“Mr. Jefferson” captured and enthralled our bankers night after night.”
Executive Vice President, Missouri Bankers Association
Let Mr. Jefferson enthrall your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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No thanks, but thanks.

The information first recieved as to the bed of Sulphur at Genesee was certainly such as to interest the government and make it our duty to enquire into it. this has been done. the result is that there is at the spring not more than a ton of sulphur formed … we do not think it an object for the government to intermeddle with: at the same time we give you just credit for the readiness you have shewn to accomodate the public with the purchase, had it been expedient for them to buy.
To Mountjoy Bayly, January 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders must discern the motives of seemingly helpful people.
Bayly was a Revolutionary War veteran from Maryland and a not-too-successful businessman and Federalist politician. In his first letter to the President, he offered to sell land containing a sulfur spring. Sulfur was a component in gunpowder, and a ready supply was necessary for the nation’s defense. Claiming the British were about to buy that land, he bought it instead, ostensibly to secure it for the United States.

In a second letter, Bayly attempted to clarify some controversy about the quantity and quality of the sulfur at the spring. Then, in a self-pitying way, he claimed selling this land was essential for the provision of his “large, young, helpless, and friendless family.”

Jefferson’s courteous reply explained that an investigation indicated only a small supply of sulfur, not a large one that would have been of great interest to the nation. As such, it did not merit the government’s involvement. Nonetheless, Jefferson thanked a political opponent for his offer of help.

Left unsaid by the President was that the nation was not in the business of rescuing people from their own poor choices.

“A friend of mine heard Patrick Lee speak to the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
and was captivated by his presentation. She recommended him to me.
The decision to bring Patrick Lee was a wise one.”
Chairman and CEO, Schoor DePalma, Manalapan, NJ
Mr. Jefferson will captivate your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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THIS is how we shrink the size of government.

I return you the letter of mr Miller notifying the resignation of the Supervisor of Maryland, & I approve your proposition of suppressing [eliminating] the office, annexing it’s duties to that of Surveyor of the district of Baltimore with the salary of 250. D. a year & a reasonable allowance for Clerk hire.
I return you also your proposed report on the suppression [elimination] of the Commissionrs. of loans, with an entire approbation [approval] of it.
To Albert Gallatin, December 1, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders keep their word.
Jefferson claimed the Washington and Adams administrations, with the help of Alexander Hamilton, had greatly expanded the reach and expense of the national government by multiplying the number of offices and officers under its control. The resulting patronage worked to their advantage since they appointed only political supporters to those jobs.

The President vowed to reverse this trend in his first inaugural address. One of his priorities would be “economy in the public expense, that labor [taxpapers] may be lightly burthened.”

Firing Federalist office-holders would create a firestorm of political protest. To avoid offending his opponents unnecessarily, Jefferson would often simply eliminate an office when it became vacant. In this letter, he approved two recommendations of his Secretary of the Treasury to do just that.

“The President was outstanding!
He was very well prepared and his remarks were truly appreciated …”
Executive Director, Missouri Society of Professional Engineers
Your audience will truly appreciate Thomas Jefferson’s preparation!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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THIS is why government exists!

The dangers on the road to Natchez are really serious, & calling for attention. mere stationary posts, as proposed by Govr. Roan, appear to me inefficient. either a small body of cavalry, or mounted infantry, to be perpetually scouring the road and hovering about the caravans of passengers, as a marechaussée [local guard], seems worthy of consideration, as also the employing Indians in the same way, or offering rewards for apprehension & conviction of offenders.
To Gen. Henry Dearborne, July 12, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The primary role of government is the protection of its citizens.
The Natchez Trace was originally an Indian trail some 450 miles long, from Natchez, MS, on the Mississippi River, to Nashville, TN. Now a road, or at least a widened trail, it was a primary route for travel through what was then the southwest. In recent months, bandits along the road had assaulted and robbed travelers, including a postal carrier, and had murdered one person.

The President commissioned his Secretary of War to take whatever steps were necessary to make the route safe. His suggestions included:
1. An armed, roving military force
2. Local guards to escort caravans
3. Rewards for apprehending criminals
4. Enlisting natives in its defense

Within six days, Dearborne acted on a number of these recommendations.

“The city officials were captivated and would have posed questions for another hour
if the time had been available.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League
Mr. Jefferson delights to answer all questions from the audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I cannot do this worthwhile thing.

… the theatre is proposed to be built by private individuals, it is to be their private property, for their own emolument, & may be conveyed to any other private individual. to cede to them public grounds for such a purpose1 whether appropriated, or open spaces, would be a donation of it: and I do not find that the President has a power to make such a donation of the public lands … knowing, as I do, that this enterprise is undertaken with no view to their private benefit, but is really a sacrifice to advance the interest of the place, I am sorry that the accomodation desired cannot be obtained from the public, and that their funds are to be diminished either by a purchase of the site, or a ground rent for it. but I see no remedy…
To Thomas Munroe, April 7, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Conscientious leaders respect the limits to their authority.
Munroe was Superintendent of the nation’s capital city. He had written a letter to the President with proposed designs for streets and tree-plantings. He concluded with an appeal made to him by private citizens seeking a donation of public land for the building of a theater.

Jefferson responded that it was a private endeavor in every way, including the opportunity for profit. He had no power to donate public lands for private use. He acknowledged that the purpose of the theater was not for “private benefit” but public good, that his denial of a land donation meant some of the funds that could have gone toward that public good must be used instead on a building site. Yet, “I see no remedy,” he replied.

The theater was subsequently built on land donated by an individual.

“It was a great pleasure to have you return to the Old Courthouse …
We look forward to working with you again …”
Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Museum, St. Louis
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak at your meeting,
either for the first time … or again.

Call 573-657-2739
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