Tag Archives: Defense

THAT will not work. THIS will.

If we cannot hinder vessels from entering our harbours, we should turn our attention to the putting it out of their power to lie, or come to, before a town to injure it. two means of doing this may be adopted in aid of each other. 1. heavy cannon on travelling carriages, which may be moved to any point on the bank or beach most convenient for dislodging the vessel …
2. heavy cannon on floating batteries or boats, which may be so stationed as to prevent a vessel entering the harbor, or force her after entering to depart.
Thomas Jefferson to Joseph H. Nicholson, January 29, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
How does a leader get a better result for far less money?
America’s 15 harbor cities were relatively defenseless against invading ships. Building forts, the conventional wisdom, would cost $50 million plus the cost of 12,000 soldiers to staff them in peacetime, 50,000 during war. Even so, there was general consensus the plan would not work. The fortifications might discourage or delay enemy ships but could not prevent them from entering our harbors.

Instead, the President proposed to the Maryland Congressman a system of moveable heavy canons, some on carriages, some on barges or boats. These would not keep ships out of the harbors but would prevent them from getting close to the cities within those harbors.

Fifteen U.S. harbors would require 240 gunboats, costing $1 million, and take 10 years to fully deploy. In peacetime, most could be kept in dry dock at minimal expense. Some would be deployed but lightly manned and near ready for action for $2,000/year each. A few would be fully manned and ready for defense for $8,000/year.

Far better, Thomas Jefferson proposed, to have an economical system that would work than an impressive and expensive system that would not.

“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson
would be a tremendous program for any organization …”
Missouri School Boards Association
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to inspire your organization.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Jefferson’s “State of the Union” in 1805? Part 1

…  when the nations of Europe are in commotion and arming against each other … a meeting of the representatives of the nation in both Houses of Congress has become more than usually desirable…
we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it …
Our coasts have been infested and our harbors watched by private armed vessels …
The same system of hovering on our coasts and harbors … has been also carried on by public armed ships to the great annoyance and oppression of our commerce …
With Spain our negotiations for a settlement of differences have not had a satisfactory issue…
In reviewing these injuries from some of the belligerent powers … you will consider whether … to organize or class the militia as would enable us on any sudden emergency …
Considerable provision has been made…for the construction of ships of war of 74 guns …
Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
(My apologies! I’ve had major problems with my email notifications. This was supposed to go out right after President Obama’s State of the Union address. It did go out, many times, but you never got it. Maybe this time …? )
Effective leaders keep their partners in leadership well-informed.
President Obama recently delivered his State of the Union address, as required by the Constitution. It was his 5th annual message, and the first after his re-election. Here are excerpts from Jefferson’s corresponding message, delivered in writing to Congress, not as an address.
I’ve excerpted his 2,900 word message into less than 400 words, divided into two posts. I’ve included each of the major issues he addressed.
Several notes:
1. He welcomed Congress’ return, because world events were troublesome.
2. His first concern was public health, thanking “Providence in His goodness” for sparing them a worse plague.
3. His major concerns were national defense and foreign relations, two of the few responsibilities of the national government.
4. He wanted a more effective militia and a stronger navy to deal with foreign threats.
The 9th U.S. Congress convened for one day for Jefferson’s inauguration, March 4, 1805, and then adjourned until December 2. That explains why his Annual Message came at the end of the year, when Congress first met to take up its business.

“I cannot say it better than the board member who wrote,
“Well done, enjoyable, and timeless.” … Thanks again for the
splendid job!”
Nebraska Association of School Boards
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience! Call 573-657-2739

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