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Category Archives: Politics

Haters gonna hate. *

I find our opposition is very willing to pluck feathers from Munroe [James Monroe], although not fond of sticking them into Livingston’s coat. the truth is, both have a just portion of merit, & were it necessary or proper it could be shewn that each has rendered peculiar services, & of important value. these grumblers too are very uneasy lest the administration should share some little credit for the acquisition, the whole of which they ascribe to the accident of war. they would be cruelly mortified could they see our files from May 1801, the first organisation of the administration, but more especially from April 1802.
To Horatio Gates, July 11, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Like the tortoise, smart leaders know the value of slow and steady.
Gates (1727-1806), a controversial Revolutionary War general, wrote an effusive letter praising the President’s acquisition of Louisiana. He also made a strong recommendation for William Smith, son-in-law of former President John Adams, to be named as head of a new government to be formed in New Orleans.

Jefferson acknowldeged Gates’ praise, and in turn, gave credit to both of his ambassadors, Robert Livingston and James Monroe, for their essential roles in securing Louisiana. He noted the Federalist opponents not only criticized both men but were also unwilling to give his administration any credit for the happy result. They claimed it had come about as an accident, a by-product of pending war between France and England. What the detractors didn’t know was that for the previous two years, Jefferson’s administration had actively pursued every possible diplomatic effort to secure New Orleans and avoid war with France over use of the Mississippi River.

Jefferson did not comment on Gates’ recommendation of Smith, nor did he appoint him to the position.

“… should you wish to use us as a reference, feel free to do so.”
President, Linn State Technical College
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It is not necessary to lay blame when a mistake is made.

It appears that on the 31st. Mar. 1800. a paiment of cents & half cents was made into the treasury, which raised the whole amount paid in to more than 50,000. D. and that the Treasurer ought then forthwith to have announced it in the gazettes. consequently it ought, now that the omission is first percieved, to be forthwith announced … to avoid the appearance of blaming our predecessors within whose time the omission happened, I would not specify the date when the sum of 50,000. D. had been paid in …
To Albert Gallatin, April 10, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders quietly correct another’s error and move on.
A 1792 law provided for an announcement in the newspapers whenever the U.S. Mint had transferred more than $50,000 in pennies and half pennies to the Treasury Department. That threshold was reached eight years later, in President Adams’ administration, but the public notification was not made. Albert Gallatin, Jefferson’s Treasury Secretary, discovered the omission and asked his boss how he wanted to handle it.

Jefferson said the error should be corrected, but he didn’t want to lay any blame on Mr. Adams or his staff. Thus, he directed his Secretary to announce the threshold had been reached but make no mention of when it happened.

“On behalf of our annual conference participants, I’d like to thank you
for closing the event on such a memorable note.”
Conference Manager, Nebraska Association of School Boards
Your attendees will remember Mr. Jefferson’s remarks.
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Leave a comment Posted in Federal finances, Miscellaneous, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

I will deal with the devil if I have to.

you mentioned that the receipt of the 400. D. in March would be quite sufficient, or even later if it should be inconvenient to me. I am not yet certain how that will be; but either then, if I have it not in hand, or at any other moment when your calls require it, I can get it from the bank here; but that being in the hands of federalists, I am not fond of asking favors of them. however I have done it once or twice when my own resources have failed, and can do it at all times.
To John Wayles Eppes, February 21, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Indebted leaders are humbled by their financial insecurity.
Eppes was married Maria Jefferson, the President’s younger daughter. Always solicitous of his two daughters and their families, Jefferson was quick to come to their financial aid, even when his own resources were lacking.

There was little cash in circulation. Financing was most often by credit – personal loans, advances on future tobacco and wheat crops, and mortgages on property, plus the buying and selling of the “paper” created by those advances. Borrowing money from one source to pay another was a common practice, one Jefferson had been forced into since his ambassadorship to France in the late 1780s. Only those prudent enough to buy only with cash, or “ready money,” had control over their financial health. Jefferson was rarely in that category.

Eppes had $400 coming due in March and had asked his father-in-law for help in meeting those “calls.” Jefferson didn’t have the cash and didn’t know if he would when the time came. If so, he would go to the bank for another advance. He hated that last resort, as the bank was controlled by his political opponents. Whether they charged him harsher terms or simply exulted in humbling the President or both is unknown, but his liberal personal spending, coupled with political and economic reverses he had no control over, left him at their mercy.

“Your presentation as Thomas Jefferson was a definite highlight
of our meeting
and enjoyed by all.”
Associate Executive Director, Arkansas Bar Association
Mr. Jefferson will be a definite highlight of your meeting!
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Leave a comment Posted in Debt, Family matters, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Pissing THEM off a little can help US behave.

… nor do I foresee a single question which ought to excite party contention. still every question will excite it, because it is sufficient that we propose a measure, to produce opposition to it from the other party. a little of this is not amiss, as it keeps up a wholesome censorship on our conduct;
To Ephraim Kirby, December 10, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Shrewd leaders appreciate the value of opposition.
In a previous post, Jefferson wrote that the country was doing so well, there was little to recommend to Congress in his annual report (State of the Union Address as we know it today).  He expressed the same sentiment to Kirby, with nothing on the horizon to divide the republican party.

Yet they were bound to propose something, and it would of necessity cause the Federalist party to rally in opposition. That opposition in turn would keep the republican party on its toes, united in its focus and proper in its conduct.

“The address was fascinating history
and presented with a flair that kept the audience spellbound.”
Region 7 Conference Chair, National Academic Advising Association
How many of your conference speakers will keep your audience spellbound?
Thomas Jefferson will!
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1 Comment Posted in Congress, Politics, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Does the victor get the spoils now … or later?

… the monopoly of all the offices of the US. by [one party, the Federalists] … we have ourselves condemned as unjust & tyrannical. we cannot then either in morality or decency imitate it. a fair & proportionate participation however ought to be aimed at. as to the mode of obtaining this I know there is great difference of opinion; some thinking it should be done at a single stroke; others that it would conduce more to the tranquility of the country to do the thing by degrees, filling with republicans the vacancies occurring by deaths, resignations & delinquencies, and using the power of removal only in the cases of persons who continue to distinguish themselves by a malignant activity & opposition to that republican order of things which it is their duty to cooperate in, or at least to be silent.
To Nicholas Norris, October 14, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders keep an even-handed approach to the opposition.
When Jefferson came into the Presidency in 1801, every executive and judicial office was held by appointees of Presidents Washington and Adams. Indeed, Adams made a number of “midnight appointments” just before leaving office, to saddle the man who defeated him with even more opposition. (The famous Marbury v. Madison case arose from one of these last-minute appointments.)

Jefferson had strong views on the subject:
1. One party control of all offices was unjust and would lead to tyranny.
2. Republicans would be just as wrong to claim all offices for themselves.
3. “Proportionate participation” from each party should be the goal.
4. Republicans disagreed how that proportion was to be gained.
– Some wanted it done immediately.
– Others thought it better for the country to do it gradually as vacancies occurred. (Jefferson’s position)
5. He would dismiss only those in active opposition to his administration.

“On a personal level, Mr. Lee was very knowledgeable,
interesting to talk with and easy to work with.”
Ass’t. Executive Director, Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
I am low maintenance. So is Mr. Jefferson.
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Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Politics, Presidency Tagged , , , , , , , , |

This father suggests letting the child win this one.

I have recieved a letter from Governor Strong on the subject of their cannon &c. which concerning the War department principally, I inclose to Genl. Dearborne, and must ask the favor of you to be referred to him for a sight of it. I think, where a state is pressing, we should yield in cases not very unreasonable, and treat them with the indulgence and liberality of a parent.
To Robert Smith, September 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders know when to yield, even when right is on their side.
In 1798, Massachusetts transferred ownership of a fort in the Boston harbor to the federal government. A provision in that transfer called for the state to be reimbursed for the value of armaments within the fort. Massachusetts submitted its claim, and the national government had disputed the extent and amount of that reimbursement. The state’s governor, a moderate Federalist, was pressing the Republican administration to pay the bill in full.

The President involved the Secretaries of the Navy (Smith, the recipient of this letter) and War, Henry Dearborne, in this discussion. It appears that the Federal position might have been stronger, but Jefferson asked a favor of his subordinate. Massachusetts was pressing their case strongly but not unreasonably. It would be better, the President wrote, to treat the state as a parent would their child, with “indulgence and liberality,” rather than enforcing parental authority, regardless.

“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson …
He also tailored his presentation to fit in with our theme of “Exploring New Frontiers.” “
Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
No cookie-cutter talks here! Mr. Jefferson tailors his remarks to your interests.
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Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

I need another set of eyes on this!

Reynolds, collector of York, is dead, and Wm. Carey of that place is recommended very strongly by mr Shields. tho’ I have great confidence in mr Shields’s recommendation, yet as the best men some times see characters thro’ the false medium of friendship I pray you to make what enquiry you can in Richmond & communicate it to me.
To Governor James Monroe, September 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders seek more than just a single recommendation.
William Reynolds, recently deceased, had held the position of Collector of Revenue at Yorktown since 1794. Samuel Sheilds wrote a glowing recommendation on behalf of William Carey to succeed Reynolds.

While affirming his confidence in Mr. Sheilds, Jefferson wanted other perspectives on this potential appointee. He needed assurance that Sheilds’ recommendation wasn’t affected by the “false medium of friendship.” Thus, the President sought input from another trusted source, Virginia’s governor.

Carey was appointed, but for some reason, resigned the position within a month.

“All were delighted with your well-chosen words of wisdom …
We heard nothing but praise from the audience members.”
Policy Director/Conference Coordinator, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson is most interested in sharing his wisdom with your audience!
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My friend, I am so sorry I had to fire your brother.

the act of duty which removed your brother from office, was one of the most painful and unwilling which I have had to perform. very soon after our administration was formed, the situation of his accounts … the failure to render accounts periodically, the disagreement among those he did render, gave reason to believe he was imprudently indulging himself in the use of the public money. what were the circumstances which led him to this, was not an enquiry permitted to us.
To Elbridge Gerry, August 28, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leading sometimes requires personally painful decisions.
Gerry (1744-1814) was a well-regarded Massachusetts politician, friend and ally of Jefferson. His brother, Samuel, had been appointed years before by President Washington to be a customs (tax) collector in Massachusetts. Samuel mismanaged the office and had not remitted all the taxes due of him. He’d been given opportunity to account for his affairs and pay what was owed and had not done so.

Elbridge Gerry wrote an incredibly long and impassioned letter to Jefferson on behalf of his brother. (3,500 words! By contrast, the Declaration of Independence is just over 1,300 words.) Nonetheless, Jefferson, who hated confrontation, removed Samuel Elbridge from his position. He responded to his friend’s plea, explaining how painful it was to fire his brother. Samuel could have made the situation right and did not. There was no alternative.

Elbridge Gerry was Governor of Massachusetts in 1812 when he reluctantly approved a new redistricting plan for the state legislature. Some new districts had very unusual shapes, created to favor republicans. One senatorial district was so convoluted as to resemble a salamander in shape. Combining the governor’s name with that amphibian gave rise to the term gerrymander, still used today to describe ill-shaped legislative districts created to benefit one party over another.

“Mr. Jefferson’s presentation on leadership was a wonderful and unique way
to kick off an extremely successful conference.”
Meeting Planner, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
Let Mr. Jefferson add a unique and memorable dimension to your meeting.
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Leave a comment Posted in Federal finances, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Appearances matter, even small ones.

…altho saving of one salary to the publick is but a small consideration yet the Salutory [salutary, i.e. beneficial] scheme of oeconomy so valuable to our repubican Goverment can not be carried into full effect unless things of this kind be noticed…
Thomas Underwood, Jr. to Thomas Jefferson, July 25, 1802

I recieve information that [John] Hopkins Commr. [Commissioner]  of loans in Richmd. being allowed by law 2. clerks and having scarceley occasion for one, in fact employs but one, & gives him the salary of two. will you have this enquired into, and exact restitution of the double salary illegally given.
To Albert Gallatin, August 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders promptly investigate abuses under their command.
Underwood was the whistleblower, informing Jefferson that John Hopkins, a Federalist officer-holder and businessman in Richmond had authorization to employ two clerks when he needed only one and was paying that one a double salary. Underwood acknowledged that saving one salary was negligible, but the nation’s republican principles must be upheld, and the people would appreciate the gesture.

Jefferson had to contend with many government employees who were appointed by Presidents Washington and Adams. He accepted Federalist officers who performed their duties impartially but had no patience with ones who abused the trust placed in them.

He acted immediately in this case, directing his Treasury Secretary Gallatin to investigate and recover any funds spent illegally. Two weeks later, Gallatin furnished the President with a certificate verifying that Hopkins had submitted the names of the two clerks he claimed to employ. Gallatin went no further, saying Jefferson’s source must verify whether Hopkins actually employed only one.

The results of this matter are not disclosed, but Hopkins remained in his position for another two years.

“I want to thank you … for a wonderful evening with Daniel Boone.”
Vice President, Site Development Engineering, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Mr. Jefferson’s contemporary, frontiersman Daniel Boone,
stands ready to inspire, teach and entertain your audience.
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I wish I had never heard of this guy!

I am really mortified at the base ingratitude of Callender. it presents human nature in a hideous form: it gives me concern because I percieve that relief, which was afforded him on mere motives of charity, may be viewed under the aspect of employing him as a writer…
soon after I was elected to the government, Callender came on here, wishing to be made postmaster at Richmond. I knew him to be totally unfit for it: and however ready I was to aid him with my own charities (and I then gave him 50. D.) I did not think the public offices confided to me to give away as charities. he took it in mortal offence, & from that moment has been hauling off to his former enemies the federalists.
To James Monroe, July 15, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Charitable leaders know sincere motives can backfire.
In the mid-1790s, Jefferson first learned of James Callender by reputation, a Scottish immigrant and political writer of some standing who was persecuted by England. Jefferson approved of Callender’s work and gave him money to buy more of his writing. Subsequent anti-British writing did not measure up, but he turned his pen against the Federalist administration, earning Jefferson’s encouragement and support. Eventually, Callender was jailed under President Adams’ Sedition Act. Jefferson contributed more small amounts to his support and to pay his fine.

When Jefferson became President, Callender demanded the job as Postmaster at Richmond, VA, as his reward for attacking the political opposition. Jefferson refused him as “totally unfit” for the job and gave him $50 as personal charity, but political appointments were not his to give away as government charity. Callender took “mortal offense” and turned his poisoned pen against Jefferson.

Callender threatened Jefferson with the release of damaging information unless he was named Postmaster. Jefferson claimed he had nothing to fear. Later in 1802, Callender published allegations that the President had fathered children by one of his slaves, later identified as Sally Hemings.

A year after this letter, Callender, who was given to alcohol, fell into the James River and drowned in water three feet deep.

“Your (Thomas Jefferson’s) presentation entitled “The History of Refrigeration”
was well received … Again, a heartfelt thank you …
Conferences and Seminars Manager, Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
If Mr. Jefferson can wax eloquent on refrigeration, he can speak to your interests, too.
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