Tag Archives: Grandchildren

Give him freedom and watch him closely!

J. Randolph now proceeds to Richmond in order to enter at mr Girardin’s academy … through a course of mathematics & Natural philosophy. the annual charges … 67. D. [$67] … [pay from] my account, & also for his board. I … have desired him to decide where he would rather [live] … I must pray you also to furnish Jefferson his other proper expences. he has been so correct in them heretofore as to give me strong confidence they will be reasonable with you. were any contrary indications to arise, I would sollicit your confidential communication of it to me that I may take such measures for his good as may in no wise commit you with him or any body.
To George Jefferson, October 31, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Clear-eyed leaders trust their proteges yet monitor their progress.
Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), former President’s eldest grandson known as Jeff, had pursued his advanced education in Philadelphia and then Richmond. There, the grandfather enlisted his cousin and business agent to cover the 18 year-old’s tuition, room and board. The elder Jefferson had a preference for living quarters but left the choice to his grandson.

He also authorized funds for “his other proper expences,” i.e. spending money. The young man had been wise in handling money, and Grandfather had confidence that would continue. Yet, if his agent learned otherwise, Jefferson wanted to know confidentially. He would handle it with his grandson in such a manner that Jeff would not know the source of the report.

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Why are Virginians giants and New Englanders but Pygmies?

Your letter of March 25th has been a cordial to me, and the more consoling as it was brought by your Grandsons Mr Randolph and Mr Coolidge … how happens it that you Virginians are all sons of Anak, we New Englanders, are but Pygmies by the side of Mr Randolph; I was very much gratified with Mr Randolph, and his conversation …
Public affairs go on pretty much as usual, perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be …
My love to all your family—and best wishes for your health—
FROM John Adams TO Thomas Jefferson, April 17, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The personal abuse of leaders is on the rise!
In honor of President’s Day (Monday, February 20), this week’s posts are devoted to the last letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Tuesday was Jefferson’s letter, today, Adams’ reply.

Jefferson’s letter to Adams requesting an audience for his grandson, T.J. (Jeff) Randolph, must have been presented personally by Jeff to the elder statesman, who was delighted with their conversation. Jeff’s younger sister, Ellen, had married Joseph Coolidge of Boston the year before and now lived there. The “Mr. Coolidge”Adams referred to must have been Jeff’s brother-in-law, Ellen’s husband.

Jeff Randolph was probably tall like his grandfather, who was 6′ 2 1/2″. Adams was only 5′ 7”. He wanted to know why New Englanders were short while Virginia produced “sons of Anak,” a tall race described in the Old Testament books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In a deleted portion of this letter, Adams complained about two current politicians, at least one of whom was contesting the legality of his son John Quincy Adams’ election as President. That probably explains his reference to “more personal abuse.”

Health was a concern for both men, who had far exceeded normal life expectancy. Jefferson was almost 83, and Adams was 90. He died 2 1/2 months later on the same day as Jefferson, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

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My grandson wants to meet you!

My grandson Th: Jefferson Randolph, being on a visit to Boston, would think he had seen nothing were he to leave it without having seen you … like other young people, he wishes to be able, in the winter nights of old age, to recount to those around him what he has heard and learnt of the Heroic age preceding his birth, and which of the Argonauts particularly he was in time to have seen …my solicitude for your health by enabling him to bring me a favorable account of it. mine is but indifferent, but not so my friendship and respect for you.
To John Adams, March 25, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Near-death grandparent leaders want their grandchildren to remember.
In honor of President’s Day (yesterday, February 20), this week’s posts are devoted to the last letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Today will be Jefferson’s letter, Thursday Adams’ reply.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792 – 1875) was the 2nd child and 1st son of his eldest daughter, Martha. Always a favorite of his grandfather, Jeff as he was known, supervised the elder man’s lands and perilous finances. Now, the 34 year old grandson was coming to Boston and wanted to meet Adams. Jefferson apologized for the intrusion but asked Adams for the indulgence, so that when Jeff was old, he might have some first-hand accounts to give his grandchildren.

Jefferson, almost 83, reported his health as “indifferent,” but hoped his grandson would bring a “favorable account” from the 90 year old Adams. Jefferson died just over three months later on the same day as Adams, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

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I must make time for you!

My Dearest Ellen –
I owe a letter to you & one to your sister Anne. but the pressure of the day on which this is written, and your Papa’s departure permits me to write only to you, to inclose you a poem about another namesake of yours, and some other pieces worth preserving. as I expect Anne’s volume is now large enough, I will begin to furnish you with materials for … a new volume … I am called off by company therefore god bless you, my dear child, kiss your Mama and sisters for me, and tell them I shall be with them in about a week from this time.
To Ellen Wayles Randolph, March 4, 1805

NOTE:
For some time, I have excerpted the significant letters written by Jefferson during his first full year as President. To change it up a bit, I’m now turning the clock ahead to the first year of his second term. That begins with this letter written March 4, 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders make time for their grandchildren!
Eight year old Ellen Randolph (1796-1876) was Jefferson’s fourth grandchild from his daughter, Martha. He was sending her poems and other writings to begin a new scrapbook with material he would supply. He had done the same for her 15 year old sister Anne (his first grandchild) and wanted to continue the tradition with Ellen. In time, she would become one of her grandfather’s favorites.

He had to squeeze this grandfatherly duty in before the “pressure of the day” overwhelmed him. The company calling for him was to escort him to his 2nd inauguration as President of the United States.

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Everyday stuff in the life of a leader

Harrassed with interruptions & worn down with fatigue; I take up my pen at midnight to scribble you a line …  your clover seed has been forwarded to Richmond some time ago … I still hope to get away in a fortnight or thereabouts. by the next post I shall probably desire that Davy Bowles may be got to bring my chair [carriage?] & two horses as far as Herring’s a quarter of a mile this side of Strode’s & there wait for me. I shall go on horseback that far … my tenderest love to my dearest Martha & the little ones …
To Thomas Mann Randolph, March 6, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need to squeeze personal time into the professional.
The previous post was written two days before Jefferson left the Presidency. This one is eight years earlier, just two days into that office. Late at night and exhausted from his official duties, he wrote briefly to his son-in-law, Martha’s husband.

In addition to the mundane, reporting on the location of clover seed he had ordered, he said a neighbor was bringing a report on Washington and included another’s account of both armistice and conflict in Europe.

Jefferson had been in Washington over three months, since November 27, sharing a boarding house with many others. He hoped to return to Monticello soon. He would arrange with Davy Bowles to bring his horses and carriage to a rendezvous at a certain tavern, Herring’s in Culpepper County, halfway between Washington and home.

His elder daughter Martha already had four children, ages two to 10, and was pregnant with another. (A sixth born in 1794 had died in infancy.) By 1818, the Randolphs would have 12 children, 11 surviving.

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Watch out for these folks!

Look steadily to the pursuits which have carried you to Philadelphia, be very select in the society you attach yourself to; avoid taverns, drinkers, smoakers, and idlers and dissipated persons generally; for it is with such that broils and contentions arise, and you will find your path more easy and tranquil.
To TJ Randolph, Nov. 24, 1808

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Caring leaders mentor younger ones to avoid troublemakers!

Jefferson wrote to his 16 year old grandson, who had gone to Philadelphia to further his education. This excerpt comes at the end of a long letter full of practical advice and warnings. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, known as Jeff, was a favorite of his grandfather’s. Jeff’s father was a troubled man, and the elder Jefferson took an active role in his grandson’s life.
Here’s the bottom line: Trouble comes from associating with drinkers, drinking establishments, smokers, idle people and those with little self-control. Avoid them for a more tranquil life!
I told you this letter was long. He concludes with this line, “The limits of my paper warn me that it is time for me to close with my affectionate Adieux.” Chances are postal rates at the time were per page and paid by the recipient, not the sender. Rather than double the expense with more advice and another page, and with a rare bit of humor, Grand-Papa closes.

Your audience would benefit from the full contents of this letter!
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