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Category Archives: Military / Militia

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
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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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Booze? Yes! Everything else? Doubtful or not at all.

The distress we are experiencing for want of Leather to make Shoes is great. I am sure you have thought of preventing it in future by the Appointment of a Commissary of Hides, or some other good Regulation for saving and tanning the Hides, which the Consumption of your Army will afford.
To Horatio Gates, October 4, 1780

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, leaders just can’t provide what’s needed!
Gates was an ambitious Revolutionary War general of questionable loyalty and competence. Jefferson was governor of Virginia and was responding to Gates’ requisition of supplies for his troops. These are the supplies requested:
Rum and other spirits
All were in limited supply or non-existent, except alcoholic beverages, which “we can furnish to a greater amount than you require.” Perhaps that surplus, he wrote, could be sold to provide “some others which we have not, particularly Sugar, Coffee, and Salt.”
And if all those shortages weren’t enough, Jefferson lacked leather to make shoes. Since the army would be commandeering livestock to butcher and eat, perhaps Gates could provide for saving and tanning the hides for shoe leather?

“I would highly recommend Patrick Lee’s presentation …”
President, California Land Surveyors Association

Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak! (He comes well-recommended.)
Call 573-657-2739

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Jefferson’s “State of the Union” in 1805? Part 1

…  when the nations of Europe are in commotion and arming against each other … a meeting of the representatives of the nation in both Houses of Congress has become more than usually desirable…
we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it …
Our coasts have been infested and our harbors watched by private armed vessels …
The same system of hovering on our coasts and harbors … has been also carried on by public armed ships to the great annoyance and oppression of our commerce …
With Spain our negotiations for a settlement of differences have not had a satisfactory issue…
In reviewing these injuries from some of the belligerent powers … you will consider whether … to organize or class the militia as would enable us on any sudden emergency …
Considerable provision has been made…for the construction of ships of war of 74 guns …
Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
(My apologies! I’ve had major problems with my email notifications. This was supposed to go out right after President Obama’s State of the Union address. It did go out, many times, but you never got it. Maybe this time …? )
Effective leaders keep their partners in leadership well-informed.
President Obama recently delivered his State of the Union address, as required by the Constitution. It was his 5th annual message, and the first after his re-election. Here are excerpts from Jefferson’s corresponding message, delivered in writing to Congress, not as an address.
I’ve excerpted his 2,900 word message into less than 400 words, divided into two posts. I’ve included each of the major issues he addressed.
Several notes:
1. He welcomed Congress’ return, because world events were troublesome.
2. His first concern was public health, thanking “Providence in His goodness” for sparing them a worse plague.
3. His major concerns were national defense and foreign relations, two of the few responsibilities of the national government.
4. He wanted a more effective militia and a stronger navy to deal with foreign threats.
The 9th U.S. Congress convened for one day for Jefferson’s inauguration, March 4, 1805, and then adjourned until December 2. That explains why his Annual Message came at the end of the year, when Congress first met to take up its business.

“I cannot say it better than the board member who wrote,
“Well done, enjoyable, and timeless.” … Thanks again for the
splendid job!”
Nebraska Association of School Boards
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience! Call 573-657-2739

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What is the full cost of war?

I consider the war then as entirely justifiable on our part, although I am still sensible it is a deplorable misfortune to us. It has arrested the course of the most remarkable tide of prosperity any nation ever experienced, and has closed such prospects of future improvement as were never before in the view of any people. Farewell all hopes of extinguishing public debt! farewell all visions of applying surpluses of revenue to the improvements of peace rather than the ravages of war.
To William Short, November 28, 1814

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders consider ALL the costs of their actions.
Jefferson wrote a long (long!) letter to an old associate, analyzing the nearly concluded conflict with England, which we call the War of 1812. As President seven years before, he saw three responses to England’s offenses on the high seas: Embargo, submission or war. He chose the first, which proved both unpopular and ineffective. Ultimately, President Madison was left with no recourse but the third.
Although Jefferson considered the war “entirely justifiable,” he foresaw these results:
– A great tide of economic prosperity was stopped in its tracks.
– The possibility of ever paying off the public debt was eliminated.
– Budget surpluses that might have been applied to “the improvements of peace” (education, libraries, roads and canals) now must go to pay off “the ravages of war.”

Invite Mr. Jefferson to bring his leadership principles to your audience.
Call 573-657-2739

Leave a comment Posted in Foreign Policy, Military / Militia, National Prosperity