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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

What to do with an excellent workman, now a drunk?

William Stewart, a smith who has lived with me at Monticello some years … is one of the first workmen in America, but within these 6. months has taken to drink … abandoned his family … he writes me word he will return, & desires me to send him 20. D. to bear his expences back … [this] would only enable him to continue his dissipations. I … [enclose] that sum to you … [as] charity for his family of asking the favor of you to encourage him to return to them, to pay his passage … & give him in money his reasonable expences on the road … if he has more it will only enable him to drink & stop by the way. when he arrives here I shall take other measures to forward him. he is become so unfit for any purposes of mine, that my only anxiety now is on account of his family …
To Jones & Howell, November 22, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Humane leaders demonstrate concern for employees’ families.
Stewart, a gifted craftsman in Jefferson’s long-term employ, began drinking, abandoned his family and vowed never to return. He had a change of heart and wrote his patron from Philadelphia, asking for $20 to get back to Monticello.

Cash-in-hand would only enable Stewart to drink. Instead, and only out of concern for Stewart’s family, he sent the amount requested to trusted businessmen in Philadelphia, asking them to encourage Stewart’s return. They were to purchase his passage home and give him only what he’d need for food and lodging on the three day journey, no “more than 2. or 3. dollars a day.”

Jefferson had no use for the Stewart upon his return but was greatly concerned for his family, “consisting of a very excellent wife & several children.”

“I do hope the opportunity presents itself to work with you again …”
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities
Thomas Jefferson makes a most favorable impression!
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Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Human nature, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

A drunken cheater or a plodding illiterate?

… have nothing to do with Catlett. his character is in three words, a sharper [cheat], bankrupt & besotted. …  every person in that neighborhood would in confidence tell you the same. I think you had better put every thing respecting your land into the hands of Price. he is illiterate, & slow, but very steady, honest & punctual. he would be equal to the two objects of seeing that the tenants observed the rules of culture, & of remitting your rents to Richmond
To William Short, November 6, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Friends warn friends away from cheaters.
Short (1750-1849) was Jefferson’s protege, personal secretary in France and lifelong friend. He spent many years abroad in the diplomatic service. He owned land in Virginia, bought a decade earlier at Jefferson’s urging, and now sought his recommendation for a manager.

The President warned his friend about Catlett, a potential candidate, and said every neighbor would confirm his assessement. Far better to deal with Price, although slow and uneducated was honest and reliable. That man would do the two things any land-owner needed, enforce his rules and collect his rents.

I am still receiving many compliments
from your thoughtful and knowledgeable speech.”
Executive Director, Indiana Municipal Power Agency
Your audience will find much to remember in Mr. Jefferson’s remarks.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Miscellaneous, Personalities of others Tagged , , , , , , , |

How do you keep track of all that stuff?

… If Sir you can … lay your Hands on that Letter (I am told, you have for many years been in the practice of preserving all Letters written to you on the Subject of Politicks) …
From Benjamin Galloway to Thomas Jefferson, July 19, 1803

I shall be extremely obliged to you Sir; if you will cause to be inclosed to me at Annapolis by next Mail; an authenticated Copy of the Letter I requested a favour of you to supply me with, in my address to you dated July 19th last—
From Benjamin Gallaway to Thomas Jefferson, October 11, 1803

I recieved yesterday your favor [request] of the 11th. and immediately proceeded to search for the letter … as every letter I recieve is filed away alphabetically, the search is short & easily practicable. I then turned to my letter list, for I note in a particular list the name & date of letters as I recieve them daily … and find no letter from you within that period, & think therefore I may safely say I recieved none within that period … & am sorry I have nothing else to offer in compliance with your desire.
To Benjamin Galloway, October 14, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
If leaders don’t have it, they can’t give it.
Galloway was embroiled in a political dispute in Maryland. He questioned a bill to revise the state’s courts and in turn, his fellow republicans questioned his judgment and fitness for public duty. Galloway claimed to have written a letter to Jefferson in 1800 that would aid greatly in his defense. He wrote two impassioned requests to the President seeking a copy of that letter.

Jefferson had an effective way of cataloging his voluminous correspondence. Upon receipt, he filed letters alphabetically. He also kept a daily “letter list,” where he recorded the same information chronologically.

Jefferson found only one letter from Galloway, recorded in both places in 1797. There was no correspondence in 1800, and he was unable to help.

There’s an interesting tidbit in one of Galloway’s letters, the phrase “half seas over.” He used it to describe Maryland Attorney General Luther Martin, a sharp republican critic. It means intoxicated.

“I know there will be other opportunities for us
to utilize your excellent skills.”
Executive Director, The Missouri Bar
Employ Mr. Jefferson’s excellent skills on behalf of your members!
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

If I do it for one, must I do it for all?

No one would more willingly than myself pay the just tribute due to the services of Capt Barry, by writing a letter of condolance to his widow as you suggest. but when one undertakes to administer justice it must be with an even hand, & by rule, what is done for one, must be done for every one in equal degree. to what a train of attentions would this draw a President? how difficult would it be to draw the line between that degree of merit entitled to such a testimonial of it, & that not so entitled? … however well affected to the merit of Commodore Barry, I think it prudent not to engage myself in a practice which may become embarrassing.
To Benjamin Rush, October 4, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some expressions of compassion have unintended consequences.
The President’s old friend Rush had asked him to write a “letter of condolance” to the widow of a Philadelphia Navy officer. If Jefferson expressed his sympathies in this case, he would feel obligated to do it in all cases. The varying merits of the deceased and the potential for giving offense made this a minefield for the President.

In the excised portion of this letter, Jefferson explained that when Benjamin Franklin died, the King of France and the U.S. House of Representatives went into official mourning. The U.S. Senate did not. President Washington rejected the recommendation of his Secretary of State (Thomas Jefferson) that the Executive Branch “should wear mourning.” Washington’s position was if he started that policy for Franklin, he didn’t know where he would draw the line for ones less deserving. Best not to start down that slippery slope.

President Jefferson took a page from his wise predecessor’s playbook and followed the same hands-off policy.

“Thank you for playing a key role in making
our 118th Annual Conference such a great success.”
Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Mr. Jefferson will play a key role in the success of your conference, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Grief & loss, Military / Militia, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

Can you believe this guy?!

Th: Jefferson … regrets that, having no acquaintance in the mercantile line, at Philadelphia, there is not a single house there of whom he is authorised to ask the favor desired by mr Mery, & that his entire unacquaintance with every person & thing connected with money-matters disables him from indicating any other resource for the advance of money mr Mery may have occasion for. he returns him the note from the Marquis de la Fayette … & presents him his salutations.
To Méry, October 6, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need a diplomatic way to say, “Get lost!”
An unknown Frenchman wrote Jefferson from Philadelphia, asking for money. He said the British had robbed him of his reference letters of credit. He needed cash until more could arrive from home. All Méry could offer to establish credibility was to include with his letter one from the President’s old friend, Lafayette, written to someone else.

Jefferson, who innately desired to be helpful, was diplomatic but uncharacteristically abrupt. He knew of no one or no resource who could help Méry. He was returning the letter from Lafayette with his greetings only, and nothing more.

“Organizations of lawyers rarely agree on many things,
but I received unanimous praise for your presentation.”
Chair, Programs Committee, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
New Orleans, LA
If Mr. Jefferson can impress lawyers, he can impress anyone.
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Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

For those less fortunate than myself …

I pray you to recieve & apply the within sum of one hundred dollars to the use of those among you afflicted with the present sickness, who may be in need of it. I further request that no acknolegement may be made of it in the public papers, nor otherwise in any manner. I offer my best wishes for the reestablishment of the health of Alexandria, & to yourself my respectful salutations.
To Samuel Snowden, September 29, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders CAN keep their thoughtful acts private.
Jefferson always fled the coast, the area he called the tidewater, for Monticello in August and September to escape the deadly yellow fever. Its cause was unknown but was believed to result from bad air that circulated in low-lying areas that time of year. In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia killed 5,000, more than 10% of the city’s population. It would be almost a century later, in 1900, before doctors determined that mosquitoes spread the deadly disease.

The President knew that not everyone could escape the tidewater and yellow fever. Thus, he made a $100 contribution to a newspaper publisher in tidewater-surrounded Alexandria, VA, for the relief of those ravaged by the disease, requesting his donation be kept anonymous.

“Patrick Lee was our first guest speaker and he set the bar very high
with his remarkable portrayal of Thomas Jefferson.”
Board of Directors, Sedalia Heritage Foundation
Mr. Jefferson will set the bar equally high at your conference.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Leadership styles, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

We cannot do that! Here is a way around it. (Shhhh!)

the rigorous rules of the treasury oppose insurmountable obstacles … the expences of your journey here cannot be repaid, your salary cannot begin till that of your predecessor ends … no advance can be made under the head of salary. there is no doubt but that in 99. cases in 100. these rules are proper, and it is only to be regretted that the obligation to adhere to rule in all cases, disables us from doing what would be right in some … [however a] draught for 800. D. on account of the purchase of instruments … proves a desire to accomodate you as far as is practicable ….
To Jared Mansfield, July 18, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective Leaders find a way!
Mansfield (1759-1830), a skilled mathematician and surveyor, was appointed by President Jefferson to be a professor at West Point in 1801 and Surveyor General of the U.S. in 1803. Mansfield met with Treasury Secretary Gallatin and learned that none of the cost of relocating his family to Washington would be covered nor was any advance possible on his salary. He also had the mistaken notion from Gallatin that no money could be provided in advance for the purchase of necessary surveying instruments. Mansfield wrote to Jefferson about the impossibility taking the new position without some kind of financial help.

Jefferson concurred with Gallatin that the law prohibited moving expenses or salary advances. It was wise policy, but in very rare instances, like this one, counterproductive. Yet, he said Mansfield was in error thinking that buying instruments in advance was also prohibited. Thus, Gallatin would advance $800 for that purpose. The amount just happened to be more than the instruments would cost. Mansfield could use unspent funds as he wished (such as for moving expenses). That amount would be debited against his future salary.

The President warned Mansfield that this accommodation was for him alone and to keep it confidential, lest it be “injuriously perverted” by his political opponents.

“…Patrick Lee gave a very impressive performance for the
National Unemployment Insurance Tax Conference …”
Director, Missouri Division of Employment Security
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Not so fast, lady!

Having occasion to have a communication made to Madame Teresa Ceracchi at Rome, & no correspondent there, I take the liberty of asking leave to do it through you. she is the widow of Ceracchi the Sculptor … I have recieved two letters painting her distresses & praying relief from Congress. she says in these that Ceracchi had been charged with the execution of a national monument to perpetuate the foundation of our republic, that he had made all his models in terra cotta, that this work was suspended, & he not paid for his labours, and she prays an indemnity from Congress. she is entirely mistaken in the facts, which were strictly as follows …
To Thomas Appleton, July 5, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Tender-hearted leaders must have a hard heart at times.
The “facts” as Jefferson related them were these: Cerracchi came to America on his own and pestered George Washington into sitting for a sculpting. Cerrachi used that clay bust as the centerpiece for a model and asked Congress to commission the work to honor the first President. Jefferson, no slouch when it came to art, called the model “a work of great genius,” but it had a price tag he knew would never be approved.

The sculptor, hoping to build support, sculpted 20 or so busts of Congressmen, even though he was repeatedly warned away from the project. He impoverished himself in the effort, angrily returned to France, where he was executed for his involvement in a plot against Napoleon. His financially distressed widow had since claimed payment from Congress for her husband’s work.

There was no basis for a claim against the government, but Jefferson didn’t want to turn her down cold. If any of the congressional busts still existed, he would buy them from her, out of his own pocket, at the going rate of $7.50-10.00 each. He would pay seven times that amount for the bust of Washington. Jefferson did not want his involvement known and asked Appleton to convey both the denial and the offer in his own words.

Appleton was a merchant and buyer in Italy. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, the President asked him “to send me one or two gross of the best Florence wine.”

“Patrick Lee is a professional … both easy to work with from my end
and very effective portraying Thomas Jefferson …”
Director, Living History Associates, Ltd., Richmond, VA
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. (And get Professional Patrick, too!)
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Leave a comment Posted in Culture, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

I make a lot of money, but …

… as the salary annexed to my office looks large in every man’s eye, it draws the attention of the needy in every part of the Union and increases the demands of aid, far beyond the proportion of means it furnishes to satisfy them. I am obliged therefore to proceed by rule, & not to give to one the share of another.
To Isaac Briggs, May 20, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders always have people asking them for favors.
Jefferson’s friend, Isaac Briggs (1763-1825), was an engineer, surveyor and inventor of considerable renown. This short letter covered a half dozen subjects, including the many requests he received for money. Those requests were prompted by the size of the President’s salary.

That salary was $25,000 per year. It was established for President Washington and continued unchanged through the first 18 executives, ending with Ulysses S. Grant. It was a sizeable sum, and it attracted the attention of many who sought the President’s support for their particular cause. In Jefferson’s time, at least, that salary had to cover all the costs of staffing and running the President’s House, later called the White House. Those expenses, increased by Jefferson’s sometimes lavish personal tastes, made his actual compensation far less.

The requests for help were numerous and beyond any ability to satisfy. Jefferson’s rule was that he supported a few personal causes only and would not deprive them to help the masses.

“…what a pleasure it was to have you entertain our guests [on the Mississippi]
The top notch performance you gave was evident …”
CEO, President, Riverbarge Excursion Lines
Mr. Jefferson doesn’t just inspire & teach. He entertains, too!
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Presidency Tagged , |

You cannot come in until he is gone.

I have delayed writing to you, because my great regard for Capt Lewis made me unwilling to shew a haste to fill his place before he was gone, & to counteract also a malignant & unfounded report that I was parting with him from dissatisfaction, a thing impossible either from his conduct or my dispositions towards him. I shall probably recieve a letter from him on his arrival at Philadelphia, informing me when he expects to be back here, and will have the pleasure of communicating to you the earliest conjecture I can form myself for your government. it cannot now be many days.
To Lewis Harvie, April 22, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Loyal leaders treat trusted subordinates with respect and sensitivity.
Jefferson had previously invited Harvie to become his personal secretary once Meriwether Lewis left for the West. Lewis held that position but was away from Washington City and had been delayed in his preparations for the journey. The President expected to receive a letter from Lewis soon, with an update on his planned departure.

Jefferson’s respect for Lewis was profound. It would be improper to appoint Lewis’ successor until his departure had occurred. There was another reason for the delay. A false report appeared in several newspapers the month before that Lewis was staging a political journey to the Southwest. Delaying Harvie’s appointment would reinforce Jefferson’s confidence in Lewis and lay those false claims to rest.

“Hearing Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts about democracy, responsibility and leadership …
surely succeeded in reinforcing the call to serve …”
Executive Director, Maine Municipal Association
Thomas Jefferson’s lessons are timeless.
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