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Category Archives: Louisiana

Social distancing, Thomas Jefferson style

…the yellow fever …is generated only in low close, and ill-cleansed parts of a town, I have supposed it practicable to prevent it’s generation by building our cities on a more open plan. take for instance the chequer board for a plan. let the black squares only be building squares, and the white ones be left open, in turf & trees. every square of houses will be surrounded by four open squares, & every house will front an open square. the atmosphere of such a town would be like that of the country, insusceptible of the miasmata which produce yellow fever. I have accordingly proposed that the enlargements of the city of New Orleans … shall be on this plan.
To Constantin François Chasseboeuf Volney, February 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders plan with public health in mind.
This excerpt is a duplicate, from September 10, 2019, but with a twist, in light of the coronavirus.

Jefferson addressed the scourge of yellow fever, which ravaged coastal and tidewater cities in August and September each year. (In 1793, it killed 5,000 in Philadelphia, a city of 45-50,000.) He believed the cause was “miasma,” an unhealthy vapor arising in crowded, dirty cities, suffering from a shortage of fresh air.

Since New Orleans, also on the tidewater, had recently been added to the U.S., he proposed future expansions of that city be made on a checkerboard plan. All development would be on squares of one color only. All squares of the other color were to be left open. Thus, every populated block would have blocks of green space on all four sides. This would provide for less disease through social distancing, as a matter of urban design.

It would be nearly a century before the cause of yellow fever was discovered, not miasma but mosquitoes that thrived in the the swampy, tidewater environment.

“…regarding Patrick…our Education Program received glowing reports
from every attendee – over 200 total.”
Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Mr. Jefferson’s presentation will result in glowing reports from your conference attendees, too.
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.
1 Comment Posted in Health, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s about time! First we’ve heard of him in 13 months!

we have just heard from Capt. Lewis, who wintered 1600. miles up the Missouri; all well. 45. chiefs of 6. different nations from that quarter are forwarded by him to St. Louis on their way to this place. our agent at St. Louis will endeavor to prevail on them to stay there till autumn & then come on. should they insist on coming immediately they will arrive in July, & may derange my departure.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, June 24, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Communication between leaders used to take a LONG time!
The President covered a number of topics in this letter to his daughter. One was receiving the first report from Meriwether Lewis since May 1804, when the Corps of Discovery departed St. Louis for the western sea. They had wintered with the Mandan Indians on the northern plains. In April, 1805, when the ice cleared on the Mississippi, most of the Corps headed west. Fifteen of the men, though, navigated the keelboat back to St. Louis, with all the plant and animal specimens collected to date. Their trove included a live prairie dog, which eventually made it all the way to Washington City!

In addition to specimens, Lewis had persuaded a number of Indian chiefs to return with the keelboat and journey on to Washington to meet the President.

The original plans for the Corps called for them to send another contingent home when they reached the mountains. Jefferson expected a second report, which never came. At the Rocky Mountains, the challenge ahead seemed so arduous that Lewis and Clark were unwilling to diminish their manpower.

Lack of a second report caused practically all to give up on the Corps, believing them to have perished somewhere in the great unknown west of the Mandan villages. Jefferson maintained confidence in Lewis for their safe return. It would be 16 more months before that confidence was rewarded by Lewis’ next letter, written from St. Louis in late September, 1806.

“I highly recommend Mr. Lee for both formal and informal presentations: …”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Mr. Jefferson and I come well-recommended!
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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 Animals, Exploration, Horticulture, Lewis & Clark, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

He left his wife & may marry again w/o a divorce.

… with respect to Dr. Sibley … I observe two specific charges: 1. that he left his wife but it does not appear whether the separation was through the fault or the will of her or him. 2. that he attempted to marry again. this is a charge of weight, but no proof being adduced, it cannot weigh against the integrity of his character affirmed by others, and his unquestionable good sense and information.
Thomas Jefferson to William C. C. Claiborne, May 26, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Should unsubstantiated accusations derail a leader’s career?
John Sibley (1757-1837) was a Massachusetts-born Revolutionary War surgeon who relocated to the New Orleans area in the early 1800s. He was a contracted army surgeon there and appointed by Jefferson in 1805 to be Indian Agent for the New Orleans Territory. Territorial Governor Claiborne had written the President about allegations made regarding Sibley’s personal life that might compromise his professional effectiveness.

Jefferson acknowledged the charges but noted the first lacked clarity, and the second, more serious, lacked proof. Weighed against those charges were Sibley’s “unquestionable good sense and information [provided about native people in the area]” and “his character affirmed by others.” Thus, he would not withdraw Sibley, who had a well-known professional track record, because of unsubstantiated accusations about his personal life.

“He presented a persona that blended dignity, honesty
and just the right amount of humor …”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
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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.
1 Comment Posted in Human nature, Louisiana, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

We start with the bones.

The work we are now doing, is, I trust, done for posterity, in such a way that they need not repeate it. for this we are much indebted to you not only for the labour & time you have devoted to it, but for the excellent method of which you have set the example, and which I hope will be the model to be followed by others. we shall delineate with correctness the great arteries [rivers] of this great country: those who come after us will extend the ramifications as they become acquainted with them, and fill up the canvas we begin.
Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, May 25, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders build a strong foundation first.
Lewis and Clark were not the only river explorers in Jefferson’s administration. Just months after they departed St. Louis in May 1804, Dunbar (1749-1810) was commissioned to explore the Red and/or Arkansas Rivers in the Mississippi’s western watershed (present day Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma). This lengthy, technical letter following the completed mission concludes with Jefferson’s methodology and grand design.

The excellent work completed by Dunbar’s labor and skill made further investigation of those rivers unnecessary. It also set a high standard for others. The “arteries” or river bones of the nation, once accurately described as Dunbar had done, would become the “canvas” or skeleton which future explorers could begin to fill in.

“… [your] educational and inspiring opening keynote …
was the perfect kick-off for our own professional “voyages of discovery.”
President, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
Inspire your members!
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 Exploration, Government's proper role, Louisiana 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.”

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Your historical portrayal of Thomas Jefferson was both engaging and insightful.”

General Manager, Oklahoma Gas Association
Engaging! Insightful!
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1 Comment Posted in Family matters, Louisiana, Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , , |

It will take HOW long to get there? (2 of 2)

Congress have not yet sanctioned the measure, but there is no doubt they will do it. we shall have to open a road from Georgia to Pearl river. but as that will take time, & we want an immediate use of that line, we propose to send immediately, a mail of letters only, excluding printed papers, on horseback, along the most practicable Indian paths. we count on getting the distance from Washington to New Orleans performed in 12. days, as soon as the riders shall have learned the best route.
Thomas Jefferson to William C.C. Claiborne, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The man wants speed now!
President Jefferson was awaiting permission to establish 70 miles of a new southern postal route from Washington to New Orleans through land Spain possessed but claimed by the U.S.  Permanent approval had to come from Spain, but he wanted Claiborne to obtain a temporary OK from Spanish officials in New Orleans. Congress had to approve the entire route, too.

Since all that would take time, and the mail had to move, Jefferson proposed allowing “a mail of letters only,  excluding printed papers [newspapers, legal documents, etc.].” Until an official road could be established, postal riders would have to pick their way west on “the most practicable Indian paths.”

Siri said the distance today from D.C. to New Orleans is 965 miles as the crow flies, 1,087 by road. Whatever the distance was then, the President hoped to get the time down to just 12 days.

“I wanted to take a moment to tell you how enthralled our attendees were
with your guest appearance as Thomas Jefferson …”
Conference Chairman, FOCUS Conferences
Let Mr. Jefferson enthrall your members!
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

It is better to ask permission than risk offense. (1 of 2)

[Surveyor] Mr. Briggs will have explained to you our purpose of running a mail below the[Appalachian] mountains to N. Orleans by Tuckabatché & Fort Stoddart. from this last place to the mouth of Pearl river it must pass thro’ the territory possessed by Spain but claimed by us. Colo. Monroe left London the 8th. of Oct. for Madrid to settle that point. while it is under negociation we think both parties should cautiously refrain from innovating on [make changes in] the present state of things. for this reason we think it proper to ask the consent of the Spanish government.
Thomas Jefferson to William C.C. Claiborne, January 7, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders seek to minimize conflict.
Claiborne (c. 1774-1817) governed the Territory of Orleans, later to become the state of Louisiana. He knew of Thomas Jefferson’s plan to establish a new southern postal route from Washington to New Orleans that avoided crossing the mountains.

While the Louisiana Purchase conveyed what had been Spanish land west of the Mississippi River, ownership of lands along the Gulf Coast east of that river were in dispute.  Jefferson claimed them, of course, but Spain maintained they were never meant to be transferred with the western lands.

The new postal route would include about 70 miles “possessed by Spain but claimed by us.” Ambassador James Monroe was en route to Spain to negotiate the matter. In the meantime, it would be best to have the consent of Spanish officers in New Orleans rather risk diplomatic offense or armed conflict.

“The Smithsonian Associates … coordinates hundreds of programs each year
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Mr. Lee’s performances in Omaha were excellent.”
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For an excellent presentation, invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , |

My idea won’t work. I am calling an audible.

The importance of appointing officers for the government of Orleans who speak both the French and English languages has produced difficulties … which have distressed me exceedingly. the French language entered so little into education in this country … it is difficult, even among those, otherwise well qualified, to find persons who can speak French. the impossibility of compleating my arrangement in the way I had first proposed has placed me under the painful, but inevitable necessity of some change in it. in fact my greatest difficulty is in finding lawyers who can speak French: and this has obliged me to make a change in your destination …
To James Brown, December 1, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders go to Plan B when their noble ideas don’t work.
In an earlier post, the President explained the importance of appointing people who spoke both English and French to the new territorial government in New Orleans. Since the majority of people there would be French speakers, bi-lingual leaders would facilitate good will. If only it were that easy …

French had not been taught enough in America to yield a sizeable pool of bi-lingual citizens. People otherwise qualified failed when it came to the second language requirement. The shortage was acute when it came to finding bi-lingual lawyers, and Brown must have been one of the few. Thus, Jefferson had to retreat from his noble idea and change Brown’s appointment. Instead of being Secretary for the new territory, Jefferson had nominated him, instead, for the Superior Court there. The pay would be the same but the perks more preferable.

“The program was excellent … great as I expected, well actually even better!
I hope you were as pleased with the turnout as I was.”
Daniel Boone Regional Library
Mr. Jefferson will exceed your expectations!
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Leave a comment Posted in Judiciary, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is the worst sin of all.

another object still more important is that every officer of the government make it his peculiar object to root out that abominable venality [willingness to be bribed or corrupted], which is said to have been practised so generally there heretofore. every connivance [willingness to be involved in an illegal act] at it should be branded with indelible infamy, and would be regarded by the General government with distinguished severity.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
T
olerating dishonesty is the worst kind of favoritism in a leader.
The previous post stressed the importance of including the French in the new American government of Louisiana at New Orleans and giving both English and French languages equal status. But there was something more important than including and respecting the political opposition.

The Spanish, who had governed Louisiana for decades, and the French, the majority population, had earned the reputation of being susceptible to bribery. Jefferson denounced it in the strongest language, and made it the responsibility of every government official to root it out.

“Not only did you connect two centuries,
I would stress you really connected with our members …”
President & CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Mr. Jefferson will make a vital connection with your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Louisiana, Morality Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Including and valuing the losers will strengthen our team!

… in chusing these characters it has been an object of considerable attention to chuse French who speak the American language, & Americans who speak the French. yet I have not made the want of the two languages an absolute exclusion. but it should be earnestly recommended to all persons concerned in the business of the government, to acquire the other language, & generally to inculcate the advantage of every person’s possessing both, and of regarding both equally as the language of the territory.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Winner take all is a dumb strategy for leaders.
The President was planning the government for the southern portion of the recently acquired Louisiana. It would be headquartered in New Orleans where the sizeable majority would be of French descent. The appointed legislative body would have 13 members. Jefferson wanted a seven members to be American, six to be French.

In addition to a representative body, he wanted one that could communicate easily among themselves. While not requiring bi-lingual members, all mono-lingual appointees should be willing to upgrade their status. Going even further, he didn’t specify English as the official language, but that the French tongue should have equal status.

“Thank you for hanging on to and presenting the great truths
this great nation was founded on.”
Program Chair, North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to remind your audience, too.
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Leadership styles, Louisiana Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |