Tag Archives: Enabling

What to do with an excellent workman, now a drunk?

William Stewart, a smith who has lived with me at Monticello some years … is one of the first workmen in America, but within these 6. months has taken to drink … abandoned his family … he writes me word he will return, & desires me to send him 20. D. to bear his expences back … [this] would only enable him to continue his dissipations. I … [enclose] that sum to you … [as] charity for his family of asking the favor of you to encourage him to return to them, to pay his passage … & give him in money his reasonable expences on the road … if he has more it will only enable him to drink & stop by the way. when he arrives here I shall take other measures to forward him. he is become so unfit for any purposes of mine, that my only anxiety now is on account of his family …
To Jones & Howell, November 22, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Humane leaders demonstrate concern for employees’ families.
Stewart, a gifted craftsman in Jefferson’s long-term employ, began drinking, abandoned his family and vowed never to return. He had a change of heart and wrote his patron from Philadelphia, asking for $20 to get back to Monticello.

Cash-in-hand would only enable Stewart to drink. Instead, and only out of concern for Stewart’s family, he sent the amount requested to trusted businessmen in Philadelphia, asking them to encourage Stewart’s return. They were to purchase his passage home and give him only what he’d need for food and lodging on the three day journey, no “more than 2. or 3. dollars a day.”

Jefferson had no use for the Stewart upon his return but was greatly concerned for his family, “consisting of a very excellent wife & several children.”

“I do hope the opportunity presents itself to work with you again …”
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities
Thomas Jefferson makes a most favorable impression!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Here we go again, but this is the last time.

I recieved lately a letter from Genl. Lawson solliciting a charity which he desired me to send through your hands. I had yielded last year to an application of the same nature from him [sending him $50] and although I think his habits & conduct render him less entitled to it than many others on whom it might be bestowed, yet (pour la derniere fois) [for the last time] I inclose for him 30. Dollars which I must ask you to apply to his use as you may think most serviceable for him.
To James Monroe, July 20, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Soft-hearted leaders have to know when charity becomes enabling.
Robert Lawson had served in America’s continental army and had some connection with the Cinncinati Society, an organization of retired army officers. Through both poor choices and poor health, Lawson was reduced to asking for money for living expenses. Jefferson had already given him $50 and was now asked for more. He thought others were more deserving of his help. Somewhat grudgingly, Jefferson, who was known to be generous, made a final contribution of $30.

Lawson asked any contributions for him be sent to James Monroe. Jefferson did so but asked his protege to spend it on Lawson’s behalf, rather than simply turning the money over to him, where it could be wasted.

“You gave us an excellent program!”
Executive Director, New Mexico Federal Executive Board
Mr. Jefferson will give your audience an excellent program!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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