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Category Archives: Military / Militia

This is better, smarter and cheaper!

… forts and shipyards are mere contrivances to sink the first expences, and entail everlasting expence afterwards. with a dry dock here in which our ships, kept dry & under cover, will be as sound at the beginning of a 2d. war as they were at the end of a 1st …
To Nathaniel Macon, July 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-governing leaders must limit government’s reach.
Jefferson opposed a standing army and a seaborne navy in peacetime for two reasons. First, having them would lead to using them, putting America unnecessarily into conflict with other nations. Second would be the cost to the public treasury of maintaining those military services year round.

Much of this letter dealt with a pet project of his, dry docks for maintaining ships. Leaving the nation’s small navy in the water year round brought the continual expense of maintaining their wooden hulls against the ravages of salt water and sea creatures. Far better would be to lift them out of the water using high tide on the Potomac River, a lock, and the water flow from the Tyber River. They could be put under roof and maintained for practically no cost. They could remain there, in perfect condition, until needed for the next war.

Congress never approved the President’s plan to dry dock the navy.

“My members raved about this presentation
for the remainder of the conference.”
Executive Director, Missouri Society of Professional Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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It is not personal. It is business. It is life.

I have duly recieved your favor of the 7th. and have taken care that it shall be communicated to the Secretary at war, within whose province it is to consider of the best means of promoting the public interest within his department, and of the agents whom it is best to employ … the duty is a very painful one, which devolves on the Executive [President], of naming those on whom the reductions are to fall which have been prescribed by the law. we trust to the liberality of those on whom the lot falls, to consider the agency of the Executive as a general not personal thing, and that they will meet it, as they would any other of the numerous casualties to which we are exposed in our passage through life.
To Frances Mentges, July 15, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Tough minded leaders accept the good and bad effects of their decisions.
Mentges, now unemployed, had been a U.S. military agent and buyer, distinguishing himself by his diligence and economy. In two pleading letters, he asked the President’s help in recovering $1,700 in unpaid commissions. He also begged for a government job, or he would have to sell his land to support himself, an asset he needed for old age.

With regard to unpaid commissions, Jefferson delegated the decision to the proper subordinate, his Secretary of War. Employment prospects were slim, as the President was reducing the size of the military. Down-sizing was a painful duty for him, because he knew what job losses meant to those affected.

He trusted in the “liberality” of those affected by loss of employment, that they would see it as necessary but not personal. He asked Mentges to treat the setback as he would any other, just one of the “numerous casualties” that come with life.

“On behalf of the WMTA, I would like to say how much we enjoyed
your leadership addresses as Thomas Jefferson and Daniel Boone.”
Past President, Washington Municipal Treasurer’s Association
Thomas Jefferson (& Daniel Boone) want to share their leadership with your audience!
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Keep the powder dry!

I am to thank you for the specimens of waterproof cotton and cloth which you were so good as to send me. the former was new to me. I had before recieved as much of the cloth as made me a great coat, which I have so fully tried as to be satisfied it is water proof except at the seams. I shall be glad when such supplies come over as will enable us to get our common clothes of them: & should suppose they would sell very readily. the silk must be valuable for summer great coats. perhaps the best thing would be for the company to send a person to perform the operation here. I had also recieved some of the water proof paper, & recommended to the Secretary at war to import a quantity for cartridges. Accept my respects & best wishes.
To John Ponsonby, July 14, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Inventive leaders look for new uses for new things!
Ponsonby was a representative of a British firm that had patented a process for waterproofing paper and cloth. He had already forwarded written descriptions and samples to America’s inventor-President, who had sent them on to his son-in-law, with guarded optimism for their utility. Here, Jefferson replied to the English agent.

He appreciated the waterproofed cotton, something that was “new to me.” (Jefferson loved anything new of a scientific and practical nature!) The coat he made from the cloth samples leaked only “at the seams.”

Ever on the lookout for things that would benefit his country, he suggested the British firm arrange to manufacture water-proofed goods in America. He also wanted to apply the waterproof paper to military use. Soldier’s muskets were fired by a small quantity of gunpowder wrapped in a paper cartridge. (One cartridge was tamped down the barrel with the ram rod, followed by a lead ball. The cartridge was ignited by a small spark from a piece of flint.) Wet cartridge paper meant wet powder which would not fire. Jefferson wanted the Secretary of War to buy this new product so soldiers could keep their weapons ready to fire regardless of the weather.

“Great Speaker – Great idea.
It was a nice change of pace to all the technical stuff.”
Vice-President, Distribution Control Systems, Inc./TWACS
Let Mr. Jefferson bring a change of pace to your meeting!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I wish I could tell you yes, but the answer is no.

… [you wish to] know whether some officers of your country could expect to be employed in this country … I hasten to inform you that we are now actually engaged in reducing our military establishment one third, and discharging one third of our officers. we keep in service no more than men enough to garrison the small posts dispersed at great distances on our frontiers … thus circumstanced you will percieve the entire impossibility of providing for the persons you recommend. I wish it had been in my power to give you a more favorable answer; but next to the fulfilling your wishes, the most grateful thing I can do is to give a faithful answer
To Tadeusz Kosciuszko, April 2, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders cannot honor all patronage requests, even from close friends.
Jefferson’s freedom fighter friend from Revolutionary War days sought employment in America’s army for fellow military officers from Poland. Jefferson could not accommodate his old friend.

True to his pledge to shrink the national government, Jefferson and Congress were reducing the size of its army and its officer corps by 1/3. There were no jobs to be had.

Since the President could not grant his friend’s request, the next best thing to do for him was to explain the issue truthfully.

“Thank you for participating in the first ParkPalooza …
at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The event was a success …”

Superintendent, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior
Mr. Jefferson’s participation will contribute greatly to the success of your event.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Get the MAIN thing first. Details will follow.

Considering that the important thing is to get the militia classed so that we may get at the young for a year’s service at a time, and that training may be supplied after they are called out, I think we may give up every part of the bill which respects training & arming. let us once get possession of the principle, & future Congresses will train & arm. in this way we get rid of all those enemies to the bill to whom different details would be objectionable.
To General Henry Dearborn, December 31, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Strategic leaders leave tactics to be sorted out later.
Dearborn (1751-1829) was involved in America’s military affairs for much of his life. He was President Jefferson’s Secretary of War through both administrations.

Jefferson was a strong proponent of using militias for immediate crises and raising a regular army only if needed for prolonged engagements. To make the militia more effective, he favored classifying the type of temporary service required by age, requiring longer terms of service from younger, single men. Congress was considering not only classification-by-age but how the militia would be armed and trained. There was much for Congress to argue about.

The President knew the main issue was getting the classification. Arguments over arming and training threatened to derail the essential principle. He asked his general to stick with the one main goal. Once that principle was established, future Congresses would settle the lesser issues of arming and training. Focusing on the main thing eliminated the enemies who wanted to major in the minors and defeat the entire proposition.

“I am writing this to offer a solid and enthusiastic recommendation of Mr. Patrick Lee …
for his first person portrayal of Thomas Jefferson.”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Others speak highly of Mr. Jefferson’s presentation. Your audience will, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Forget political correctness. Pick gifted people, instead.

if you appoint all the members of the legislature to be members of the institution, it will gratify no particular member, nor lead him to feel any more interest in the institution than he does at present. on the other hand, a judicious selection of a few, friends of science, or lovers of the military art, will be gratifying to them inasmuch as it is a selection, and inspire them with the desire of actively patronising it’s interests.
To Jonathan Williams, July 14, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders want other leaders to be inspriring, too.
In addition to appointing Williams Superintendent of West Point in 1801, Jefferson asked him to revive a scientific society devoted to military history. Williams had asked the President about appointing a leadership board from Congress that would actively promote the society. He suggested appointing the entire Congress, so as not to give offense by leaving anyone out.

Jefferson disagreed. Appointing everyone would make the position special for no one, and the society would receive no benefit. Instead, it would be best to select a few gifted military history partisans. Not only would they would appreciate the honor of being chosen, they would actively work to promote the society’s agenda.

“I cannot say it better than the board member who wrote,
‘Well done, enjoyable and timeless.’

… what I was looking for in a closing speaker and what you provided so well.”
Conference Manager, NE Association of School Boards
& NE Association of School Administrators
Well done. Enjoyable. Timeless.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Congress, Military / Militia, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , |

The value of skill and bravery combined!

… you have shewn to your countrymen that that enemy cannot meet bravery & skill united. in proving to them that our past condescensions were from a love of peace, not a dread of them, you have deserved well of your country …
To Andrew Sterett, December 1, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know when skill alone or bravery alone won’t be enough.
Sterett (1778-1807) commanded the Enterprize in the Mediterranean and secured the first naval victory over the North African Barbary pirates. He had just returned to America after his successful mission, and his President expressed his profound appreciation.

The pirates had been plying their trade for decades and knew it well, capturing ships and holding their crews for ransom. Or demanding annual ransom from nations to leave their ships unharmed. Jefferson knew, despite his enemies’ past success, they could not stand when extraordinary skill and great bravery were combined.

Sterett’s victory accomplished another goal. He proved that America’s past acquiescence wasn’t out of fear of the pirates but out of a love of peace.

“As a meeting planner, it was a pleasure to work with you…
Thank you for a job well done.”
Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives
Mr. Jefferson is low maintenance.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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You cannot turn me down now!

I now learn that it is thought possible you might be induced to relieve our distress by undertaking it [the job of Navy Secretary]. the residence here is very pleasant indeed. a charming society, & not too much of it, all living on affectionate & unceremonious terms. it is impossible to be associated with more agreeable collegues. I hope therefore that you will undertake the office, & so say by return of post … and we shall entertain the hope of seeing mrs Langdon & yourself as soon after as your convenience will admit. accept assurances of my constant esteem & high consideration.
To John Langdon, May 23, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, leaders can plead and still get turned down. Even the President.
Jefferson had great difficulty recruiting a Secretary of the Navy. He was downsizing that department, and it was not an appealing position.

Langdon (1741-1819), was a wealthy New Hampshire republican businessman from a ship-building family. He had already turned the job down once. Then, Capt. Jones declined to serve. A third person was filling the office on a temporary basis only. Jefferson offered it to again Jones, who turned him down a second time.

Now, he turned to Langdon again. Hoping to change his mind, he painted a rosy picture of Washington City: Charming people but not too many of them, friendly, unpretentious, pleasant to work with.

None of it worked. Langdon turned him down again.

“I especially was impressed how well you tied our meeting topics into your speech.”
Mailboxes, Etc.
Mr. Jefferson will reinforce the themes of your meeting.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Will someone help me, PLEASE?

Stoddart also accomodated me by staying till I could provide a successor. this I find next to impossible. R.R.L. [Robert Livingston] first refused. then Genl. Smith refused. next Langdon. I am now returning on Genl. Smith, but with little confidence of success. if he will undertake 6. months or even 12. months hence, I will appoint Lear in the mean time. he promised, if Langdon would take it for 6. months, he would in that time so dispose of his business as to come in. this makes me hope he may now accept in that way
To James Madison, March 12, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even Presidents can have trouble finding help!
Jefferson had been President just eight days and was having difficulty finding someone to serve as Secretary of the Navy. Benjamin Stoddert had filled that role for President Adams and was willing to stay until a replacement could be found.

Three people had already turned him down. Perhaps there was no number four, as he was going back to “Genl. Smith,” a political ally from Maryland. Smith did serve for several months and was succeeded by his brother Robert, who held the post through the remainder of Jefferson’s Presidency.

Cutbacks in the Navy budget made the head job less than desirable. Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone wrote, in Jefferson the President, First Term, page 59, “Jefferson had been in office more than four months before he acquired a secretary of the navy. He said privately with grim humor that he would probably have to advertise for one.”

The next post will feature a significant admission to his Navy Secretary Morris in 1805, relating to allegations Jefferson had a sexual relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings.

Your choice of Mr. Jefferson will be of great benefit to your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

 

 

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Thanks for giving them a black eye!

… I do myself the pleasure … of expressing to you on behalf of your country, the high satisfaction inspired by your conduct in the late engagement with the Tripolitan cruiser captured by you. too long, for the honour of nations, have those barbarians been suffered to trample on the sacred faith of treaties, on the rights & laws of human nature. you have shewn to your countrymen that that enemy cannot meet bravery & skill united … proving to them that our past condescensions were from a love of peace, not a dread of them…
To Andrew Sterett, December 1, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Forceful leaders defend the honor of their organization.
The pasha (leader) of Tripoli declared war on the U.S. in May 1801, part of a years-long conflict with the pirate Barbary nations of North Africa. Three months later, 23 year old Navy Lieutenant Sterett commanded the American schooner Enterprize and defeated the pasha’s ship, Tripoli.
President Jefferson commended Sterett for these benefits:
1. Great satisfaction given to his countrymen
2. A rebuke to nations that trampled treaties, human rights and natural law
3. Proof that America’s enemies were no match for “bravery & skill united”
4. Affirmation that our previous restraint came “from a love of peace,” not fear

“I have now hired you three times …
[you] brought value and a unique, inspiring message …”
Executive Director, National Coal Transportation Association

For value and inspiration, in a unique way,
invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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