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Category Archives: Independence

Independence launched for slaves, too, on July 4, 1776?

he [King George III of England] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people [Africans] who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium [disgrace] of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted [sacrificed for financial gain] his negative [veto] for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable [disgraceful] commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die [“lacking officialness”?], he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Thomas Jefferson’s Draft of the Declaration of Independence,
Approved by the Committee of Five, July 2, 1776

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders stand by unpopular but necessary positions.
Much of the Declaration of Independence is a list of the many offenses suffered at the hands of the King of England. This was one of them, a no-holds-barred condemnation of the King’s protection, promotion, and expansion of the slave trade between Africa and his colonies.

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in Congress calling for America’s independence. Four days later, Congress appointed a “Committee of Five” to draft the reasons why this radical action might be taken. Thomas Jefferson was one of the five and delegated by the other four to draft the original document. The Committee made a few changes in Jefferson’s work but left the paragraph above intact. Congress took up debate on the draft after Lee’s resolution for independence was approved on July 2.

This language is not in the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Congress on July 4, 1776. Why not? Georgia and South Carolina would not vote for independence if that language remained. It was a political decision that favored a unanimous  vote without this language, over a split vote with two colonies against independence if the language remained. Northern colonies which benefited from the slave trade were also complicit in the decision to drop the condemning words.

Jefferson was greatly distressed by this change. Benjamin Franklin, the senior and most respected member of the Committee of Five, counseled him  to hold his tongue. Jefferson did so.

This document shows the differences between the Declaration approved by the Committee of Five and the one adopted by the Congress. Note this entire paragraph was deleted.

Thomas Jefferson, a principled man despite his many uninformed detractors,
stands ready to inspire your audience.

Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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July 2, NOT the 4th, is Independence Day!

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
One leader gladly defers to another!
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in Congress calling for independence from England. That motion was tabled while a “Committee of Five” drafted a document that would justify the colonies’ action. Congress approved Lee’s resolution on July 2, 1776, not July 4. It was on the 4th when Congress adopted the document that set forth the reasons for that action, known as our Declaration of Independence.

The original draft of the Declaration was written by Jefferson. It was amended by the drafting committee and again by the Congress before it was adopted on July 4. The final version was still essentially Jefferson’s creation.

On July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, about the momentous action taken the day before. He thought July 2 would be celebrated as America’s day of independence. Regardless of the date, Adams penned a ringing affirmation about the significance of Congress’ action and how it should be celebrated throughout the land.

May your celebration of American independence be as reverent, grand, exuberant and noisy as John Adams recommended!

Mr. Jefferson has a great presentation about Independence Day!
It doesn’t have to be July 4 for you to hear it.
Call 573-657-2739 to schedule him for your audience.
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“Hamilton”? Shmamilton!

This mini-rant is my tribute to Mr. Jefferson on his favorite day, July 4.

Of all the piling on Thomas Jefferson has endured the last 20 years, most of it unfounded and undeserved, much “credit” can be given to the incredible popularity of the play, “Hamilton.” It is a clever, rap music account of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and Jefferson’s arch political foe.

I have not seen the play, though I have read plenty about it. I have read Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton, which inspired the play. Chernow’s characterization of Jefferson was unfavorable. The play followed suit.

Two authors have taken a little of the bloom off the “Hamilton” rose in the article below. I wrote to them immediately, with an email that began and ended:
“Hello, Valerie & Cameron –
FINALLY! Finally someone has taken on the myth of “Hamilton.” Thank you! … “Hamilton,” like “1776,” might be great entertainment, but they are lousy history.””


Enough With Hamilton, Say Fans of Other Founding Fathers

By Valerie Bauerlein and Cameron McWhirter
https://www.wsj.com/articles/enough-with-hamilton-say-fans-of-other-founding-fathers-11561312822

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—It’s a hard time to be a Founding Father if your name isn’t Alexander Hamilton.

The runaway Broadway success of “Hamilton: An American Musical” has meant that Thomas Jefferson isn’t even the sole attraction in his own home-turned-museum, Monticello. Visitors can take a standard house tour—or a $40 “Hamilton Takeover” one that focuses on Jefferson’s political adversary.

Long after its 2015 Broadway debut, “Hamilton” continues to make the Revolutionary period hip, and to the dismay of many history buffs, steal the limelight from other Founding Fathers. Fans of the other giants of early American history have been trying to fight the tide and grab some attention for their overlooked favorites. It hasn’t been easy.

On a recent afternoon, Monticello tour guide Carrie Soubra stopped in the library of Jefferson’s sunlit private suite to try to shore up the former president’s reputation, taking a dig at Hamilton along the way. Yes, the musical portrays Jefferson as a self-absorbed patrician, she said, but he trusted the voice of the people more than his rival did.

“Alexander Hamilton declared we should have a president for life,” Ms. Soubra said, pointing to an engraved copy of the Declaration of Independence, of which Jefferson was the principal author. “That sounds a lot like what this was trying to get rid of.”

In Philadelphia, crowds line up for a Hamilton exhibit at the National Constitution Center, but a beer-trolley tour led by a Benjamin Franklin impersonator is no longer offered because of lack of interest.

Warren Royal, the owner of Royal Bobbles in suburban Atlanta, says he produced a run of nonpresidential Founding Father bobbleheads a few years before the musical. He made Hamiltons, Franklins, Thomas Paines, John Hancocks and Sam Adamses.

After the musical hit Broadway, sales of the Hamiltons skyrocketed, outselling all other founders but George Washington. Hamilton is now closing in on Negan, a zombie-apocalypse survivor on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Mr. Royal discontinued Paine and Hancock. Other founders are foundering, including the nation’s fourth president, James Madison. “He’s no Elvis, I’ll put it that way,” Mr. Royal says.

Historian Nancy Isenberg, author of “Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr” and other books on Revolutionary leaders, published a series of essays saying Burr was principled and progressive, not the “stand-for-nothing” sycophant portrayed in the musical. She says she was inundated with emails from “rabid fans with an attachment to an imaginary, invented Hamilton.”

“That’s not history,” she says. “That’s rooting for your favorite team.”

Sarah Maria Everett, a 30-year-old James Madison superfan and impersonator living in Juneau, Alaska, says she is “appalled and confused” by the hit musical’s depiction of Madison as unstable. She says the biggest problem for her favorite president is public ignorance.

Yet she has scant opportunity to don her tricorn hat and plead his case, with a lone coming appearance this summer in a July Fourth parade. No theater groups have agreed to perform her five-hour play, “Jemmy Madison: The Mind and the Man Behind Religious Liberty.” Jemmy was Mr. Madison’s nickname.

“There is not a lot of demand for James Madison in Alaska,” says Ms. Everett, who is considering impersonating German composer Richard Wagner in the future.

One Philadelphia-area Franklin impersonator, Brian Patrick Mulligan, posted a tongue-in-cheek audition video when casting directors were recruiting for a “Hamilton” national tour. His headshot was the $100 bill. The show’s casting director didn’t reach out, and Franklin remains absent from the show.

“It’s so young and hip and fresh,” Mr. Mulligan, 58 years old, says of the musical. “I can understand why they wouldn’t have an old man in the show.”

Mr. Mulligan has a few gigs lined up as Franklin, including an AARP internet commercial. He supplements his income with appearances as his backup characters, which include Winston Churchill and Uncle Fester from the 1960s sitcom “The Addams Family.”

Descendants and supporters of Burr, who killed Hamilton in an 1804 duel in Weehawken, N.J., have debated how hard to push back on the play’s characterization that Burr dishonorably fired on Hamilton.

“The play adopts the theory as true that Hamilton deliberately missed Burr,” says Stuart Fisk Johnson, a criminal-defense attorney distantly related to Burr who heads the Aaron Burr Association. “Throwing away your shot, they called it. But no one really knows what happened.”

The association debated sending a letter of protest to playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. Its members couldn’t agree on whether to take a stand.

A spokesman for Mr. Miranda didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“Some members really leaned on me to make a big stink,” Mr. Johnson says. “We thought it’s going to make the Aaron Burr Association look like a bunch of kooks.” going to make the Aaron Burr Association look like a bunch of kooks.”

Some of the group’s 80 or so members complained when the association took no action, and one, the group’s webmaster, quit in protest, a blow since no one else knows how to update the website, Mr. Johnson says.

The group did decide to protest statues of Burr and Hamilton erected in Weehawken, recently sending a sternly worded letter to township Mayor Richard Turner.

“The statues are despicable,” explained Antonio Burr, an association member who has impersonated his forebear at debates and a duel re-enactment. “Burr looking at Hamilton with intense hatred, and Hamilton is shooting in the air and looking like he is receiving the Good Lord.”

Mayor Turner didn’t reply to the letter, according to the association. The mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“What are we going to do about it?” Mr. Johnson says. “We can’t issue a duel anymore.”

Veteran Jefferson interpreter Bill Barker recently joined the staff at Monticello as curators experiment with programming to reverse a recent dip in attendance.

He made his debut at a “Pursuit of Happiness Hour” on the west lawn earlier this month. Mr. Barker prepared a raft of responses to questions about Hamilton, ready to respond to questioning teens while posing for selfies.

But he says it is possible that Jefferson ends up a bad guy to a generation of fans.

“They would have every right if they should choose,” he said, speaking in character. “That is a founding principle of our nation.”

For now, boosters of non-Hamilton founders are pinning their hopes on the planned 2021 revival of the Tony Award-winning musical “1776.” It stars Franklin, Jefferson and Adams. There is no Hamilton.

Write to Valerie Bauerlein at valerie.bauerlein@wsj.com and Cameron McWhirter at cameron.mcwhirter@wsj.com

Appeared in the June 24, 2019, print edition.

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Finally! Our liberty will be (partially) secured! (1 of 7)

Your favor of December [24. never] came to my hands till last night. it’s importance induces me to hasten the answer. no one can be more rejoiced at the information that the legislature of Virginia are likely at length to institute an University on a liberal plan. convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, & that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand the connection between education and freedom.
Tazewell (1774-1860), 31 years younger than Thomas Jefferson, was a Virginia lawyer, landowner and politician. He wrote that the Virginia legislature might be willing to consider some form of higher education in the state and wanted the President’s thoughts on “one great seminary of learning.”

Few things turned Jefferson’s crank in a good way more than the subject of education. He responded at length the very next day. Excerpts from his lengthy reply will comprise seven posts.

Only educated citizens who understood their liberty belonged to them as a natural right and not a privilege granted by their leaders would be able to keep that liberty secure. Otherwise, the freedom they now enjoyed would be a “short-lived possession.” A university would be an essential part of that education.

“I was especially impressed with the question and answer session …
and the ability to have a free-flowing exchange with an audience.”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson enjoys interacting with his audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Education, Independence, Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

How much freedom for man? How much power for government?

… Can man govern himself? … [This is] the one great object of proving that a government may be so free as to leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights, while it has energy enough to protect him from every wrong …
To Nathaniel Macon, July 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-governing leaders promote a self-limiting government.
Jefferson held strongly that America was an experiment that all the world was watching. That experiment was summed in the first four words, “Can man govern himself?”

Man could govern himself, provided government would keep to its essential constitutional role. Government needed enough power to protect its citizens from other nations, and that was all. Doing so would “leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights.” In other words, man would indeed be left in the position of doing what only he could do best, govern himself.

“Were it not for time constraints, the Q&A session
might have continued for hours …”
Director of Operations, Indiana Telecommunications Association
Mr. Jefferson delights to answer your audience’s questions! All of them.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
2 Comments Posted in Government's proper role, Independence Tagged , , , , , , |

Anti-slavery deleted from the Declaration of Independence

he [the King of England] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people [Africans] who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium [harsh criticism] of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted [shamefully traded away] his negative [veto] for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable [wretched, detestable] commerce [in human beings]…
Committee of Five to the Continental Congress, July 2, 1776

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A leader can’t go where people won’t follow.
The Declaration of Independence adopted July 4, 1776, lists 27 offenses by the King of England against his colonial subjects. There could have been one more offense had Congress not deleted the entire paragraph above, a ringing denunciation of the slave trade. That paragraph was part of Jefferson’s “original rough draft” of the Declaration. Georgia and South Carolina would not vote for independence unless that paragraph was deleted, and so it was.

Jefferson receives considerable criticism today on the subject of slavery. These words are but one example of many that he wrote throughout his lifetime condemning “this execrable commerce.” He knew that America could not continue to exist as two peoples, one slave and one free, but the majority of his contemporaries were not willing to follow his lead.

“I would highly recommend Mr. Lee …”
Executive Director, Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson comes well-recommended, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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More than you ever wanted to know about the Declaration of Independence

In Honor of this Special Day

On June 7, 1776, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in the Continental Congress declaring independence from England. Congress set it aside temporarily and appointed a Committee of Five to draft a document that would explain why they sought the separation. Committee members were Thomas Jefferson (VA), John Adams (MA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), Robert Livingston (NY) and Roger Sherman (CT). Jefferson drafted the document, and the Committee made minor changes.

Congress voted for independence on July 2 (NOT July 4), then took up the Committee’s “rough draft.” They debated and amended the draft and adopted what we know today as the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Three resources on the Declaration:

Twenty-two single-paragraph illustrated descriptions of important documents, places, people, events & items surrounding July, 4, 1776:

Thomas Jefferson’s “original Rough Draft” of the Declaration of Independence, before it was amended by Congress:

Jefferson and The Committee of Five’s original Declaration of Independence with additions and deletions made by the Congress before its adoption July 4, 1776:

John Adam’s wrote to his wife on July 3:

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha,
in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated,
by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.
It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance
by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.
It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade,
with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations
from one End of this Continent to the other
from this Time forward forever more.”

 

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I insist that you not write about me!

The enquiries in your printed letter of Aug. 1808. would lead to the writing the history of my whole life, than which nothing could be more repugnant to my feelings. I have been connected, as many fellow labourers were, with the great events which happened to mark the epoch of our lives. but these belong to no one in particular.
To Skelton Jones, July 28, 1809

This is the 700th post in the Jefferson Leadership Blog! Woo-woo!

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Servant leaders acknowledge team accomplishments over their own.
Jones was a Virginia newspaper publisher and historian who wished to compile a history of his native state and Jefferson’s role in it. Jones made several requests of Jefferson for information. The lengthy reply containing this excerpt was an earnest attempt to summarize the work of the revisors of statutes in post-independence Virginia. Jefferson was one of five revisors appointed to the task in 1776 and one of two, along with George Wythe, who did the bulk of the work.

Jones’ 1808 query referenced here was an extensive list of questions about every aspect of Jefferson’s life. Always helpful in furthering others’ intellectual and historical pursuits, he declined this request. He said he was only one of “many fellow labourers” involved in a common cause in uncommon times. He did not want anyone to write the history of his life alone. “Nothing could be more repugnant to my feelings,” he wrote.

“Although the land surveyors have had numerous types of entertainment at the conference,
they have never
[before]
responded with a standing ovation.”
Assistant Executive Director, Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson doesn’t seek ovations, but your audience might just give him one!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in History, Independence, Personal preferences Tagged , , , , , , , |

Thank you and thank God!

I join you, fellow-citizens, in rendering the tribute of thankfulness to the Almighty ruler, who … hath willed that the human mind shall be free in this portion of the globe: that society shall here know that the limit of it’s rightful power is the enforcement of social conduct; while the right to question the religious principles producing that conduct is beyond their cognisance [and for] the establishment here of liberty, equality of social rights, exclusion of unequal privileges civil & religious, & of the usurping domination of one sect over another …
To the Delaware Baptist Association, July 2. 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders appreciate the role of Providence.
214 years ago, approaching his first Independence Day as President, Jefferson penned these acknowledgements to the Delaware Baptists. Not to be confused with the Baptists of Danbury, CT, whose later letter prompted Jefferson’s famous wall-of-separation response, this congregation simply sent their congratulations to the new President, along with thanks to God for putting him in office.
Jefferson returned his thanks to them and to “the Almighty ruler,” who had established, not him, but rather one place on the globe where:
1. Men’s minds could be free;
2. Society limited government’s control to conduct, not thoughts;
3. Government could not question religious principles which produced that conduct; and
4. “Unequal privileges civil & religious” were excluded.

Thomas Jefferson sends his best Independence Day greetings to you!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 F (OR Who fights hardest against long odds?)

 [This is the 16th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the point of the bayonet [in 1776], had been governed by its heads instead of its hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging on a gallows as high as Hamans. You began to calculate & to compare wealth and numbers: we threw up a few pulsations of our warmest blood; we supplied enthusiasm against wealth and numbers; we put our existence to the hazard when the hazard seemed against us, and we saved our country: justifying at the same time the ways of Providence, whose precept is to do always what is right, and leave the issue to him.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Oppressed leaders must lead with their hearts.
How appropriate as we approach the 4th of July!
Faced with England’s oppression, Heads (with intellectual reasoning) first considered how outnumbered they were. Had their minds led them into battle, they would have lost and been hung for treason. Their Hearts ignored the numbers and fought with passion for their cause.

Passionate emotion, not careful analysis, won the war, vindicating Heaven’s choice on their behalf.

Thomas Jefferson will bring the best of both worlds
(Heart & Head)to your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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