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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Not enough paper to write to his wife!

I have the pleasure to inform you that mr Briggs & his companion were in good health at Colo. Hawkins establishment near the Talapousee river, which place they left on the 3d. of Oct. and expected to be at Fort Stoddart in a week from that time. mr Briggs having been able to procure but a single half sheet of paper, which he was obliged to fill with a report to me, had no means of writing to you. the Indians had recieved & treated him with great kindness. we may shortly expect to hear of his arrival at New Orleans.
Thomas Jefferson to Hannah Briggs, December 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep wives informed.
Isaac Briggs, Surveyor General of the Mississippi Territory, was traveling between Washington City and New Orleans to make astronomical observations for the development of a new southern postal road. He reported to the President on October 2 about their arduous progress.

He did not have enough paper to write both his boss and his wife. He put his job first, concluding his report with a request that the President inform his wife of his well-being.

In a reply two weeks later, Hannah Briggs thanked the President, claiming this was the first word she’d had about her husband in three months. She begged any further information he might receive,  good or bad.

On January 2, Thomas Jefferson wrote again to Mrs. Briggs about her husband’s safe arrival in New Orleans.

“We received a number of compliments
for adding a unique element to the conference program.”
Co-Conference Coordinator, Natural Areas Association, Bend, OR
Try something out of the ordinary … unique! … to enliven your conference program.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Family matters, Human nature, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Immigrants should be treated … how?

they will find a disposition in the great majority here to do whatever circumstances will admit for our new fellow citizens, to do as much for them as we do for our own brothers & children settling in new territories, & only to refuse them what the principles of our constitution & government refuse equally to all … we have no motive of action here but the combined good of the whole & all it’s parts … in a whole composed of parts, no one part must come for itself. if particular individuals … excite insurrection with you, the energies of the law must lay hold of them.
To William C. C. Claiborne, December 2, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even-handed leaders respect all law-abiding parties.
The President wrote to the Territorial Governor of Louisiana, using the arrival of two Frenchman to explain how all newcomers should be treated:
1. The “great majority” of our citizens will welcome newcomers.
2. Immigrants and Americans should receive equal treatment in the new territory.
3. The immigrant  is denied only what our Constitution denies to all.
4. America’s only motive is “the combined good of the whole & all it’s parts.”
5. It is common sense that no one part should expect favorable treatment.
6. Rebellion by anyone should be treated seriously, as provided by law.

“The manner in which you tailored your comments to local government …
made your presentation all the more meaningful to our members.”
Executive Director, Association of Indiana Counties
Mr. Jefferson will tailor his comments to the interests of your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Such bickering is useless and destructive!

With respect to the late conduct of mr Lilly & Perry towards you as stated in your letter, I trust you know my line of conduct better than to suppose it could flow from any orders of mine … it is my rule never to take a side or any part in the quarrels of others, nor to enquire into them. I generally presume them to flow from the indulgence of too much passion on both sides, & always find that each party thinks all the wrong was in his adversary. these bickerings, which are always useless, embitter human life more than any other cause: and I regret that which has happened in the present case. I shall always be ready to render you any service I can …
To James Oldham, November 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders stay out of problems not their own.
Oldham, Jefferson’s highly regarded former joiner (skilled woodworker) at Monticello, wrote his patron about ugly accusations and death threats received from Lilly, a Monticello overseer, and his brother-in-law, Perry. The accusers claimed they were acting on information from Jefferson, himself.

Not so, wrote the President, claiming Oldham should know him well enough to know otherwise. Beyond that, Jefferson explained:
1. He took no part in such quarrels, not even asking questions about them.
2. Usually, the fault was “too much passion on both sides.”
3. Always, each side imputed all the blame to the other.
4. Always such useless bickering harmed personal relationships “more than any other cause.”

While staying out of the argument, Jefferson regretted Oldham found himself in such a predicament and affirmed his willingness to be of any assistance needed.

“Even though it has been a few months since the seminar in Boston,
I continue to hear comments about the closing session.
You definitely made an impact on the group.”
President, Professional Event Services, for the Rural Cellular Association
Mr. Jefferson will give your audience a presentation to remember for a long while.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

I like it! I’d also like this and this. Oh, and this, too.

Passing as I do the active hours of my life in my study, I have found it essential to bring all the implements I use there within the narrowest compas possible; & in no case to lose a single inch of space which can be made to hold any thing. hence every thing is placed within my reach without getting out of my chair. on this principle I approve of the two drawers to the Polygraph proposed in your letter of the 25th … which would hold paper, pens, penknife, pencils, scissors, Etc. Etc. …
To Charles Willson Peale, November 28, 1804
P.S. Since writing my letter of this morning it has occurred to me …

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Efficient leaders appreciate advice in being even more efficient!
Previous posts detailed Jefferson’s delight in his polygraph, a personal copy machine. Philadelphia friend, artist and museum owner Peale was making two more, one ordered by the President for a friend and another for Jefferson’s use. Peale suggested the design of the polygraph case would allow for the addition of two storage drawers. Jefferson agreed!

Drawers would add to his efficiency, a matter of great interest to him. He wouldn’t have to leave his desk to get more supplies! Always the micro-manager when it came to his personal tastes, not only did he approve the drawers, but he also dictated their exact size, one “10⅜ I. square” and another “12⅜ I. by 6.” While he was at it, he suggested two other design changes.

If that weren’t enough, yet another modification came to mind later in the day. He rarely added postscripts to his letters, but he did this time. The proposed change would necessitate decreasing one dimension of each drawer “three quarters of an inch.”

“This was the third Blue & Gold Banquet I have attended,
and it was the only one that the 100 plus Scouts kept quiet and paid attention …”
Vice-President, Site Development Engineering, Inc.
If Daniel Boone (one of Jefferson’s speaking compatriots) can captivate 100 Boy Scouts,
they can certainly do the same for your audience of adults!
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Personal preferences Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

No quagmires for me! (Or: HR sucks. Part 2 of 4)

to the unsuccessful multitude, am I to go with every one into the reasons for not appointing him? besides that this correspondence would literally engross my whole time, into what controversies would it lead me? sensible of this dilemma, from the moment of coming into office, I laid it down as a rule to leave the applicants to collect their answer from the fact. to entitle myself to the benefit of the rule in any case it must be observed in every one: and I never have departed from it in a single case, not even for my bosom friends.
To Larkin Smith, November 26, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders learn what works and stick with it, regardless.
In the first post in this series, Jefferson explained he was under no obligation to let Smith know he had been passed over for a government appointment or to tell him the reasons why. Now he explained:
1. To do so for every unsuccessful applicant would take all of his time.
2. It would also open the door to even further “controversies,” debate, argument and conflict, all of which he disliked.

Aware of these pitfalls from the very beginning of his administration, it was his policy that the only notice given would be of the successful applicant. All the losers would get their answer, and their only answer, in the same way.

Since Jefferson benefited from this policy by avoiding # 1 and # 2 above, he was obligated to use it with everyone. He applied it in every case, even when a loser was a close friend.

” … your performance and address held them spellbound.”
Director of Operations, Indiana Telecommunications Association
Let Thomas Jefferson bind a spell on your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Consider yourself fully employed!

Have bin down to Richmond to se if I could ingage a job of work before I movd my tools, but have bin unsucsesful in the trip … I moast seriously regret being out of imployment, for it is my wish never to Spend time in indelence whilst am able to earn a shilling in an honest way.
James Oldham to Thomas Jefferson, October 7, 1804

[I] am sorry for your disappointment at Richmond … [will] the work [described herein] give you an opportunity of shewing there your stile of working, and give you time to get into imployment? … [I] shall consider your wages going on till you have a reasonable time to get into employ.
To James Oldham, October 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Appreciative leaders step up for former employees.
A recent post was a strong recommendation for Oldham, a skilled joiner (woodworker) at Monticello, to a friend of Jefferson’s in Richmond. Oldham did not find employment and wrote to his old boss of his dilemma.

Jefferson immediately stepped up on behalf of his former employee, sending a list of joinery projects. He suggested Oldham complete the work in Richmond and then transport the finished goods to Monticello. Doing so would allow Oldham to showcase the quality of his work to prospective employers.

Jefferson valued always being productive. Not only was he impressed by Oldham’s skill but by his desire, “never to spend time in indelence.”  Jefferson told Oldham he was still on the payroll and would remain there until he could find other work.

“Your presentation was an excellent blend of history, education and inspiration …”
Deputy Director, Washington Association of County Officials
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak!
Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

He is a very good man. Help him, please.

… James Oldham … is an able workman … skilled in the orders of architecture, honest, sober and industrious. he wishes to get into business on a larger scale than that of merely monthly wages and I have recommended Richmond … taking an interest in his success, and knowing that a first introduction is the most difficult step, I have taken the liberty of making his character known to you, and of asking your advice and influence on his behalf towards getting himself under way. …you may rely on his acquitting himself of his undertakings so as to do justice to your recommendation.
To John  Harvie, September 27, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Empowering leaders help their subordinates move out and up.
Oldham was a joiner, a workman skilled in fashioning every kind of high-quality finished woodwork. Jefferson had employed him for over three years at Monticello. Oldham wanted to better himself, and his patron suggested taking his skills to Richmond. He sent this letter of introduction to an old family friend there.

Jefferson listed Oldham’s qualities. He was:
– Skilled
– Hard working
– Honest
– Sober

Jefferson assured his friend that any work he helped the joiner find would bring credit back to Harvie for the recommendation.

“Your presentations hit the fine line between human interest and factual information.
You are able to present leading themes and messages
without overloading us with unnecessary data.”

Executive Director, National Coal Transportation Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

This is how you express a complaint to a friend.

The Champagne you were so kind as to send me the last year proved to be very good …and I should have troubled you this year … but that a very good batch was fortunately offered me here, on reasonable terms, which I thought it best to secure & avoid the delay & risks of importation. the risk of breakage alone is very great, as of the 400. bottles recieved through you, though well packed 153. had burst or forced out the cork & the wine lost.
To Fulwar Skipwith, July 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders surround a complaint with compliments.
Skipwith was an American diplomat in France. The previous year, he had secured for Jefferson a very good supply of champagne. The President would have ordered more, but he had the opportunity to buy good champagne in America and took it. He avoided both the delay and destruction of imports. Of 400 bottles in Skipwith’s shipment, 153 (38%) were lost, either through broken bottles or premature bottling, when excess fermentation popped the corks.

Jefferson loved his wine! He complimented Skipwith on the quality of the champagne and the care taken in packing it. Even so, much of it was wasted. Buying locally allowed Jefferson to enjoy all the wine he paid for, and perhaps, send a message …

“After seeing you perform several years ago,
 I did not expect that you could improve much on your character.
However, I have to say your program has gotten even better with age!
Missouri Department of Conservation
With 29 years of practice, Thomas Jefferson has gotten MUCH better with age!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I do like wine, but I cannot help you.

I … confine my contributions of this kind to the state in which my property lies, & to the district in which the seat of government makes me a resident. within this district, where every thing is to be done, the calls are quite sufficient to absorb every thing which it’s inhabitants can spare. for these considerations I withold with regret the act you desired, and I trust you will think the ground sufficient.
To J. P. G. Muhlenberg, February 24, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The practical leader cannot support everyone’s worthy cause.
Muhlenberg, president of a Pennsylvania wine production company, solicited a subscription (contribution) from one of the nation’s premier wine fanciers. Jefferson declined.

Jefferson received many such solicitations when he became President. He lent his support broadly and soon discovered he did not have the personal funds to continue. Of necessity, he limited his contributions to causes where he owned property and to those in the nation’s capital. He regretted not being able to help a favored cause and hoped Muhlenberg would understand.

“This letter is to recommend a both talented and fascinating performer –
Patrick Lee.”
Missouri Department of Conservation
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience.
Call 573-657-2739
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Thomas Jefferson had a copy machine?

I communicate to Congress, for their information, a report of the Surveyor of the public buildings at Washington, stating what has been done under the act of the last session concerning the city of Washington, on the Capitol and other public buildings and the highway between them.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of US, February 22, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders embrace new technology.
The content this letter, reproduced in its entirety, has no particular significance. How it was written does. The notes accompanying this letter in the Founders Archives relate this was Jefferson’s “first recorded use of the polygraph machine.”

The polygraph was a copy machine. A wooden frame suspended two ink pens over two sheets of paper. The pens were held together by a series of wooden arms and hinges. When the writer wrote with one pen on one sheet, the other pen followed along, making an identical copy on the other sheet. Some polygraphs had three ink pens, some four. Jefferson found those difficult to keep in adjustment and used one with just two.

Jefferson, always intrigued with machines and inventions, loved the new device! He referred to it as “the finest invention of the present age.” Since he kept copies of all his correspondence, some 20,000 letters over a lifetime, the polygraph represented a major advance over the letter press. This letter was written on a borrowed polygraph. It would be 1806 before he owned one of his own.

“You were great to work with. I recommend you highly …”
VP-Operations, Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Does someone “great to work with” sound great to you?
Invite Patrick Lee to speak to your audience. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Personal preferences Tagged , , , , , , |