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Category Archives: Protecting ourselves

I am happy to start with just half a loaf. (2 of 7)

this [securing our liberty] requires two grades of education. first some institution where science in all it’s branches is taught, and in the highest degree to which the human mind has carried it … secondly such a degree of learning given to every member of the society as will enable him to read, to judge & to vote understandingly on what is passing. this would be the object of township schools. I understand from your letter that the first of these only is under present contemplation. let us recieve with contentment what the legislature is now ready to give. the other branch will be incorporated into the system at some more favorable moment.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders take what they can get gratefully and work for more later.
Responding to Tazewell’s inquiry about a university, Thomas Jefferson replied that a university alone wasn’t enough. It needed to be coupled with general education for all. Higher education in all the sciences was essential for preparing the gifted for leadership. General education was necessary, too, enabling all men “to read, to judge & to vote understandingly.”

Jefferson accepted willingly that the legislature was considering only higher education. It was an essential step in the right direction. He would welcome the addition of general education at a later time.

About 30 years before, Jefferson authored a “Bill for the General Diffusion of Knowledge” in Virginia. It proposed three years of free public education for all boys and girls, two additional levels of advanced, fee-based schooling, and a scholarship program for the brightest but poorest students. Of course, slave children were not considered, but his proposal was radical in a time when the only ones privileged to have any advanced education were those born male, white and to parents with the means to pay for it privately. His proposals were never completely adopted, but he lobbied for the cause for the remaining 50 years of his life.

“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson…
[and]
tailored his presentation to fit in with our theme of “Exploring New Frontiers.” “
Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
Mr. Jefferson will also tailor his remarks to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Finally! Our liberty will be (partially) secured! (1 of 7)

Your favor of December [24. never] came to my hands till last night. it’s importance induces me to hasten the answer. no one can be more rejoiced at the information that the legislature of Virginia are likely at length to institute an University on a liberal plan. convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, & that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand the connection between education and freedom.
Tazewell (1774-1860), 31 years younger than Thomas Jefferson, was a Virginia lawyer, landowner and politician. He wrote that the Virginia legislature might be willing to consider some form of higher education in the state and wanted the President’s thoughts on “one great seminary of learning.”

Few things turned Jefferson’s crank in a good way more than the subject of education. He responded at length the very next day. Excerpts from his lengthy reply will comprise seven posts.

Only educated citizens who understood their liberty belonged to them as a natural right and not a privilege granted by their leaders would be able to keep that liberty secure. Otherwise, the freedom they now enjoyed would be a “short-lived possession.” A university would be an essential part of that education.

“I was especially impressed with the question and answer session …
and the ability to have a free-flowing exchange with an audience.”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson enjoys interacting with his audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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THIS is the experiment that IS America!

we are going fairly through the experiment whether freedom of discussion, unaided by coercion, is not sufficient for the propagation & protection of truth, and for the maintenance of an administration pure and upright in it’s actions and views.
To Volney, April 20, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
It is the rare leader who freely limits the scope of his leadership.
Volney (1757-1820) was a French historian and political philosopher. He and Jefferson were friends and of one mind on many social, political and religious issues. Jefferson even translated most of one of Volney’s books, Ruins of Empires, into English.

In this long letter, Jefferson wrote of his own philosophy, the accomplishments of his new administration and the fury of his political foes. He summed up much of the letter in this excerpt about the American experiment: Can open, free, unforced, rational discussion be all that is required to promote and protect the truth and to maintain a government devoted to that truth?

“…thank you for your enlightening and educational presentation …”
Office of the Lieutenant Governor, State of Missouri
For the enlightenment and education of your audience, you know what to do.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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