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Category Archives: Protecting ourselves

BEFORE you get sick …

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments & his thanks to Doctr Ricketson for his treatise on the means of preserving health & the pamphlets he has been so kind as to send him. he shall read the former especially with particular pleasure, having much more confidence in the means of preserving than of restoring health.
To Shadrach Ricketson, June 21, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Health conscious leaders value prevention ahead of treatment.
Ricketson (1768-1837) was a prominent New York Quaker and physician. In 1806, he published a book, “Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases … This was not so much a book on how to treat and eliminate or reduce disease-related problems as much as it was a book on how to live a long and health[y] life.”

Below the book title on the cover were these words, “Founded principally on an attention to air and climate, drink, food, sleep, exercise, clothing, passions of the mind, and retentions and excretions … Designed not merely for physicians but for the information of others …” (Quoted sections are credited to this site.)

Empirical or evidence-based medicine had a strong appeal to Jefferson. It is what he practiced for himself, his family and his servants. While he engaged a trusted doctor when his larger mountain-top family was threatened, he had great faith in the human body’s recuperative powers if just left alone. Most doctors lacked any real understanding of the human body and were inclined toward experimentation. Jefferson thought doing nothing was better than doing something uninformed.

He was also a great supporter of what we would call “wellness,” with a focus on cleanliness, diet, exercise and rest. Ricketson’s work was right up his alley!

“…our delegates really enjoyed hearing from Mr. Jefferson.
It is amazing how the thoughts, words and events of over 200 years ago transcend time
and are as relevant today as they were then.”
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities
Thomas Jefferson’s 19th century wisdom is relevant for your 21st century audience.
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 3 of 4

these should be such [books in your library] as would give them a general view of other history & particular view of that of their own country, a tolerable knolege of geography, the elements of Natural philosophy, of agriculture & mechanics. should your example lead to this, it will do great good.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Educated leaders encourage foundational reading for all.
What types of books should be in a county library for circulating among its citizens?

  1. History in general, to know what preceded us on a global scale
  2. History in particular, that of the United States
  3. Basic geography, how the elements of our earth are represented
  4. Science (“Natural philosophy”)
  5. Agriculture, how we feed and clothe ourselves
  6. “Mechanics,” how things work

A basic knowledge in these six areas would be sufficient for citizens to know, respect and safeguard their rights as free Americans.

“It is my pleasure to write about my professional experience with Patrick Lee …
Our members were thrilled.”
Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Your members will be thrilled with Mr. Jefferson, too.
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 2 of 4

I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expence than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county to consist of a few well chosen books, to be lent to the people of the county under such regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Frugal leaders seek the most bang for the buck.
In the first excerpt from this letter, Jefferson explained the vital importance of an educated citizenry as essential to protecting their own rights. He supported any institution which furthered that end.

In this excerpt, he focused on the one institution which could best help accomplish that goal at the least expense, a library in every county. It could be small. It’s books should be well-chosen. It should lend those books to citizens and provide for their safe return.

“Our local government leaders were thrilled with your remarks,
as evidenced by the extended standing ovation you received at their conclusion.”

Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Cities
Mr. Jefferson will delight your audience!
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 1 of 4

[Your letter] informs me of the establishment of the Westward mill library society, of it’s general views & progress. I always hear with pleasure of institutions for the promotion of knolege among my countrymen. the people of every country are the only safe guardians of their own rights, and are the only instruments which can be used for their destruction. and certainly they would never consent to be so used were they not decieved. to avoid this they should be instructed to a certain degree …
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders always promote the broad education of their constitutents.
A portion of this letter was excerpted in a 2013 post. Since we are reviewing all of the significant correspondence of Jefferson’s first year of retirement, we will look at the entire letter, broken into four posts.

Wyche wrote at length to Jefferson about the formation of a library in Brunswick County, VA, on the VA/NC border, about 70 miles south of Richmond. Local citizens had adopted a constitution and pledged $10 each to acquire books. He was seeking the retired President’s “patronage.” He did not specify what that might be though financial support might have been a likely goal.

Jefferson opened with why he liked libraries. He supported any institution which promoted knowledge among his countrymen – schools, colleges, academic societies, even churches (to some degree). People were “the only safe guardians of their own rights,” and the only ones who could take them away. Protecting those rights and defeating those who would deny them required an educated citizenry. Libraries furthered that end.

“Your presentation, particularly your response to questions, was most impressive.”
For the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, New Orleans
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
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This is the BEST foundation!

… are you laying off our counties into hundreds or captaincies? there can be no other basis of republican energy. police, justice, elections, musters, schools, and many other essential things can have no other effectual bottom [foundation]. there is not a single political measure for our state which I have so much at heart. the captain or headborough would be there what the Serjeants are in an army; the finger of execution.
To John Wayles Eppes, January 1, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders value local leadership most of all.
To his 28-year-old son-in-law and member of the Virginia legislature, Jefferson wrote about the extreme press of business, unity in the Congress, France’s offensive in the Caribbean, and the arrival of “the massive cheese” and what it represented. He concluded with this question: How goes the effort to establish multiple local governments within Virginia’s counties?

This would be the heart and soul of republicanism, small jurisdictions with an active citizenry, where justice, education, military readiness “and many other essential things” could best be realized.

“Thank you for your excellent presentation during MLPA’s annual convention.”
Executive Manager, Missouri Limestone Producer’s Association
An excellent presentation awaits your audience!
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Guns for all, but why? For what purpose?

… we contemplate with pleasure the prospect before us—Peace abroad tranquility at home a Republican Government faithfully executed & firmly supported by the confidence of the people Armed for defence but never for Offence— …
To Thomas Jefferson from the CT Officers & Soldiers of the 12th Regiment, September 23, 1801

I accept with many thanks the kind expressions of the twelfth regiment … towards myself personally, and with still greater satisfaction their declarations of attachment to our constitution. the principles you profess of peace abroad, tranquility at home, a faithful administration of the government, on it’s genuine principles of republicanism, and arms for it’s support in the hands of every citizen …
To the CT Officers and Soldiers of the 12th Regiment, October 28, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand the need for and purpose of an armed citizenry.
An army regiment appreciated the President’s principles and support of an armed citizenry, essential for defending those principles. Weapons were for defense, not offense.

Although people are rightfully concerned about mass violence by firearms, Jefferson explained why an armed citizenry was invaluable. The army was small, and the nation’s first line of defense was the militia, armed citizens who could be mustered in a crisis.

The army today is no longer small, and one could argue the need for armed citizens no longer exists. Jefferson might argue the need does exist, against an internal threat as well as an external one. That threat to individual liberty could come from another person … or from the government itself. An armed citizen could protect himself against either intrusion. Unarmed, he was powerless against both.

Jefferson would concur with his soldiers that the purpose of an armed citizenry was defensive, not offensive.

“It was a pleasure working with Mr. Lee,
who was thoughtful of the society’s needs as we formulated the program together.”

Boone County Historical Society
Mr. Jefferson would enjoy formulating program for your audience.
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Governments grab power. Elections slap government’s hands.

I perfectly agree with you that while it is necessary to clothe public magistrates with powers sufficiently nervous [strong] for order & defence that every surrender of power beyond that is improper. I believe too that a great deal more than usually is, might be left to private morality in the regulation of our own nature … it is a general truth that legislatures are too fond of interposing their power & of governing too much. the right of election by the people shews itself daily more and more valuable. it is a peaceable means of producing reformation … [otherwise, the people] will have no resource but in the sword … I wish them [elections] more frequent than they are, especially in some of the public functionaries.
To Isaac Weaver, Jr., March 21, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Minimalist government leaders appreciate frequent elections.
  The President agreed with the Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, who wrote him that elected officials should have enough authority to enforce order at home, and to protect the citizen from invasion from abroad,” but no more.
Jefferson made these minimalist observations:
1. Citizens should not yield any more authority than for these two causes.
2. People should more often be “left to private morality” for self-governance.
3. Legislatures usually sought more power and control, not less.
4. “Election by the people” brought reform peacefully and avoided armed rebellion.
5. To keep a tighter rein on politicians, elections should be held even more often.

“Patrick was a pleasure to work with. He is professional, timely and accurate …”
Manager, Conference and Travel, Kansas City Life Insurance Company
 Mr. Jefferson, too, is professional, time and accurate.
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Is a bully ever satisfied?

What are the delays in the performance of our stipulations of which the Bey of Tunis, & Eaton complain? I thought we had not only complied with the treaty, but were doing considerably more … I know that nothing will stop the eternal increase of demand from these pirates but the presence of an armed force, and it will be more economical & more honorable to use the same means at once for suppressing their insolencies.
To James Madison, August 28, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders call bullies’ bluffs.
Madison was Secretary State, Eaton was American Consul in North Africa, and the Bey of Tunis was one of the provisional rulers of the Barbary States on the North African coast. The predatory actions of the Barbary States, capturing foreign ships on the Mediterranean Sea for ransom, had gone on for decades. Jefferson had been vexed by their behavior since his time as Ambassador to France 15 years earlier.

Jefferson thought the U.S. had gone above and beyond their obligations to Tunis, and he was clearly exasperated. The pirates were bullies and would never be satisfied. The only answer to their increasing demands was a strong naval presence in the Mediterranean. It would cost less and be more honorable than continuing to pay bribes to “protect” American shipping.

No bullies and no bluffs with Thomas Jefferson and your audience.
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How much chain to give the junk yard dog?

And here again was lost another precious occasion of sparing to France the crimes and cruelties thro’ which she has since passed …The king was now become a passive machine in the hands of the National assembly … and had he been left to himself, he would have willingly acquiesced in whatever they should devise as best for the nation. A wise constitution would have been formed, hereditary in his line, himself placed at it’s head, with powers so large as to enable him to do all the good of his station, and so limited as to restrain him from it’s abuse.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A constitution should both empower and restrain.
The French were grappling with the scope of a new government. The king was willing to accept great changes. The result could have been a hereditary constitutional monarchy.

Jefferson would have welcomed such a government, though he despised monarchies, and especially hereditary ones. Why? Because gaining half a loaf was better than no loaf at all.

That constitution might have done what all constitutions should do, regardless of the form of government created. They should grant enough authority to government leaders to enable them to do good, while limiting that authority to prevent abuse.

The reason the French failed to accomplish this might surprise you. It will be the subject of the next post.

“…as the meeting planner, I would rate Mr. Lee as outstanding for the extra effort he took
to ensure all aspects of his appearance were of the highest quality.”
St. Louis Federal Executive Board
Thomas Jefferson is low-maintenance, high-impact!
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It is good, but it is not enough.

This [Constitutional] Convention met at Philadelphia on the 25th. of May ’87. It sate with closed doors and kept all it’s proceedings secret, until it’s dissolution on the 17th. of September, when the results of their labors were published all together. I received a copy early in November, and read and contemplated it’s provisions with great satisfaction … The absence of express declarations ensuring freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of the person under the uninterrupted protection of the Habeas corpus, & trial by jury in civil as well as in criminal cases excited my jealousy; and the re-eligibility of the President for life, I quite disapproved.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders protect individuals from institutions.
The new Constitution was drafted while Jefferson was in France. His input was indirect only, through resource materials he sent to James Madison. He received a draft copy a few weeks after the Convention adjourned and was generally pleased with the result.

There were two things that he did not like at all:
1. There were no guarantees of individual rights. (What we know as the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, were not part of the original draft.)
2. The President could be re-elected indefinitely. He saw the roots of a President-for-life, as in some form of a king.

Even at this early stage, he promoted limitations on government power and guarantees of individual liberties.

(Two speaking engagements, a 5 day trip to meet a new GRANDson in NC plus transitioning to a new computer all took their toll on the Leadership Blog. Mr. Jefferson’s assistant is now back in the swing of things, maybe.)
Thank you for your excellent presentation … in historical Boston …
a very memorable experience … both entertaining and educational.”

Rural Cellular Association/Professional Event Services
Thomas Jefferson stands ready to give your audience a very memorable experience!
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