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Category Archives: Louisiana

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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Engaging! Insightful!
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,
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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
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THIS is how you staff a new operation.

After waiting almost to the 12th. hour to get all the information I could respecting characters at N. Orleans, I have, on consultation with mr Madison … [and] the heads of departments separately & provisionally …

[a list of executive, legislative and judicial appointments for the new government in New Orleans]

In this composition, the several interests American & French, city & country, mercantile & agricultural, have been consulted as much as possible. Claiborne as you know was not the person originally intended. but that person cannot now be appointed: and Claiborne’s conduct has on the whole been so prudent & conciliatory that no secondary character could have a better right. I was able too by a frank private explanation to let him consider his appointment perhaps as ad interim only.
To Henry Dearborn, September 6, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Consensus-seeking leaders build effective teams.
Almost nine months after France transferred ownership of Louisiana to the United States, the President was ready to establish its territorial government. This excerpt to his Secretary of War outlined his steps in the presenting these nominees. He:
1. Was not in a hurry but took all the time he needed to make the best choices.
2. Sought the advice of his Cabinet officers.
3. Conferred with his Secretary of State, James Madison, on the final choices. (Louisiana would fall under Madison’s supervision.)
4. Considered all the competing stakeholder interests: American and French, urban and rural, commercial and agricultural.
5. Acknowledged Claiborne was not his first choice for the top job of governor, but he had no better alternative.
6. Since he had reservations about Claiborne, he let Claiborne know his appointment was temporary and provisional.

“Lastly, most of the conference attendees stated that
Patrick Lee’s portrayal of William Clark was, “Super, the Best!”
Conference Chair, MO Council for Exceptional Children
Thomas Jefferson willingly yields the floor to his Lewis & Clark Expedition Co-Leader,
Capt. Wm. Clark.

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Is this what we agreed to?

We did not collect the sense of our brethren the other day by regular questions, but as far as I could understand from what was said it appeared to be
1. that an acknolegement of our right to the Perdido …
2. no absolute & perpetual relinquishment of right is to be made …
3. that a country may be laid off within which no further settlement …
To James Madison, July 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders make sure the team is all on the same page.
The President regularly polled his cabinet members, both in writing and in meetings, on positions or actions the government was to take. A July 3 cabinet poll regarding instructions to U.S. negotiators in Spain did not reach a consensus. The issue was Spanish claims to land along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans. This region, known as West Florida, was in dispute over whether it was conveyed to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

While all cabinet secretaries were involved in these discussions, this matter fell under the jurisdiction of Secretary of State Madison. Thus, not being sure of his cabinet’s position, Jefferson wrote to Madison for clarification. The three points he made are not the subject of this post. The subject is that the President wanted to be sure he had the correct sense of his leadership team before he acted.

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Reverse course and leave the church alone!

I think it was an error in our officer to shut the doors of the church, & in the Governor to refer it to the Roman catholic head. The priests must settle their differences in their own way, provided they commit no breach of the peace. If they break the peace they should be arrested. On our principles all church-discipline is voluntary; and never to be enforced by the public authority; but on the contrary to be punished when it extends to acts of force. The Govr. should restore the keys of the church to the priest who was in possession.
To James Madison, July 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders protect people’s rights to protest peacefully.
Louisiana Governor Claiborne wrote to Secretary of State Madison about strongly disputing factions within a Catholic Church in New Orleans. A local officer, fearing the public might be endangered, locked the church doors, forbade either side entrance, and asked a more senior official in the Church to decide the matter.

Jefferson called this a mistake. Disputants within the church who broke no laws were not subject to any government action. This was the same theme as in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted more than 20 years before. That law, which dis-established the official church in his home state, limited government involvement in church affairs to people’s illegal actions only. In 1790, the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly tied the national government’s hands in most church matters.

The President ordered the return of the church’s keys.

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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.

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