Tag Archives: Ambassador

Travel is not what it used to be!

On the 7th. of May Congress resolved that a Minister Plenipotentiary [Webster’s 7th New Collegiate: “a diplomatic agent invested with full power to transact any business”] should be appointed in addition to Mr. [John] Adams & Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin for negotiating treaties of commerce with foreign nations, and I was elected to that duty. I accordingly left Annapolis on the 11th … proceeded to Boston in quest of a passage. While passing thro’ the different states, I made a point of informing myself of the state of the commerce of each, went on to New Hampshire with the same view and returned to Boston. I sailed on the 5th. of July … after a pleasant voyage of 19. days from land to land, we arrived at Cowes on the 26th … On the 30th. we embarked for Havre, arrived there on the 31st. left it on the 3d. of August, and arrived at Paris on the 6th.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Jefferson was recalled to Congress in late 1782, an attempt by his friends to draw him out of his depression following the death of his wife in September. A year and a half later, he was appointed as a minister to France, to help negotiate commercial treaties. He used his travels from Annapolis to Boston to gain first hand information on the commerce of the states.

His journey to France required these times:
– 19 days from Boston to Cowes, on the Isle of Wright, off England’s south coast
– An overnight to sail 100 miles from Cowes to Havre, on France’s north coast
– Four days coach ride for the 100 miles from Havre to Paris

He spent five years in France, greatly broadening his leadership experience. He would return from that assignment to a much larger stage, Secretary of State for President Washington.

 

“The presentation as Thomas Jefferson was by far the most original,
educational and interesting program I have seen in many years … “

Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors
Thomas Jefferson stands ready to impress your audience!
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Sorry, but the snuff is stuffed.

I have duly received your favor accompanying that of Mr. Van bram Houckgeete on the subject of a cask of snuff sent by him to Bordeaux. The importation of that article is prohibited by the laws of France on pain of fine and forfeiture of the article to the Farmers general. His snuff was seized and condemned on due process of law. He sais [says] he was ignorant of the law, and I believe it: his captain having reported the article on his entry is a proof. But ignorance of the law is a plea in no country and in no case.
To David Ramsey, August 8, 1787

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Much of leadership is simply routine and being responsive.
Mr. Ramsey had written Jefferson on behalf of someone whose shipment of snuff into France had been seized. Even though there was no dishonesty on the shipper’s part, there was nothing Jefferson could do. France’s law was clear, and the legal process had been followed.
Much of Jefferson’s correspondence covered such routine matters. This letter is one of eight he wrote on the same day. Most were his responses to others’ inquiries. The other seven letters dealt with:

1. Non-payment of a debt & denial of more credit
2. Modifications to navigation equipment
3. Recruiting tenant farmers for the American west
4. Inquiring about a hostage kept in Dunkirk
5. The pending arrival of a harpsichord he ordered from England
6. Acknowledging another’s correspondence
7. A request for France’s compensation for a boat seized in Guadeloupe

Five of these eight letters were personal requests made of him in his official role as America’s Ambassador to France. In none of those five could he give the writer what he asked. All he could do is thank them for writing, explain why the matter was out of his hands, or write another letter to someone who was in a position to act. Not Declaration-of-Independence-type-stuff but essential to being a servant leader and a good steward.

All were impressed with your ability … to actually assume the role of President Jefferson.”
President, Arkansas Bar Foundation

The authentic Mr. Jefferson will convince (and inspire!) your audience.
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