Tag Archives: In-laws
… the shade [mental state] into which you throw yourself neither your happiness nor mine will admit that you remain in … certainly there could not have been an alliance on earth more pleasing to me from the beginning or rendered more dear to me in the sequel of it’s continuance … in matters of interest I know no difference between yours & mine. I hope therefore you will feel a conviction that I hold the virtues of your heart and the powers of your understanding in a far more exalted view than you place them in; and that this conviction will place your mind in the same security and ease in which mine has always been.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, November 2, 1802
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sensitive leaders are alert to the mental health of those closest to them.
Randolph was married to Jefferson’s older daughter, Martha, a 13 year union which had produced numerous children. Randolph was a skilled farmer and a leader of some competence but given to emotional disturbances. He had written a flowery letter to his father-in-law, exalting him but debasing himself, doubting his status within in the family.
Jefferson knew of his son-in-law’s weakness and was quick to pen this encouraging reply. He:
1. Pleaded that Randolph could not remain in this frame of mind.
2. Praised the “alliance” which brought them together (the marriage to his daughter) and its ongoing nature.
3. Assured the younger man of no significant differences of opinion between them.
4. Acknowledged his opinion of Randolph was far higher than Randolph’s opinion of himself.
5. Hoped Randolph would have the same confidence in himself that he (Jefferson) always had in him.