Tag Archives: Jefferson Leadership

Individual enterprise can succeed without government “help.”

I have recieved the specimens of straw-plaiting which you were so kind as to inclose & learn with satisfaction the possibility that you may establish the manufacture in some of the states …  the general government no authority to embark in or to encourage any in particular. the state governments can do it; but they generally leave them to individual enterprize, trusting that the sagacity [wisdom] of private interest will generally discover those pursuits which may be entered on to advantage.
Thomas Jefferson to George White, August 18, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know what government doesn’t do well.
White requested government support for the American manufacture of plaited straw, used for making hats. That straw was currently imported from England. He sent the President a sample produced by his wife and presented a well-thought-out plan for its manufacture.

Jefferson thanked White but declined assistance, explaining:
1. The federal government had no authority to help him.
2. State governments did have that authority.
3. State governments usually left such pursuits to the individual.
4. The individual entrepreneurial spirit was the best guide for such pursuits.

President Jefferson couldn’t help Mr. White, but he can help your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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I love this stuff!

I now return you the inclosed with many thanks for the opportunity of perusing it, which I have done with great satisfaction. I had before observed that Faujas & Cuvier were rather at war. Cuvier is attached to artificial classification. Faujas thinks with Buffon  …  Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Thomas Jefferson to David Vaughn, August 15, 1805

In March, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I interrupted my review of Jefferson’s presidential correspondence, to focus on his writings about the yellow fever from 1793 on. That project is now complete, and I return to 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even very busy leaders make time for their pet projects.
Vaughn had forwarded to the President a scientific paper from Europe, on the classification of a large animal, the megalonix, believed to be a ferocious beast. Its bones had been discovered in America. Jefferson loved the large animals which roamed this continent, past and present. He had an ongoing friendly feud with European authorities who thought such animals could not exist here.

That’s not the point of this post. The point is the first sentence, Jefferson declaring he had avidly read and appreciated the scientific paper Vaughn sent. Countless presidential replies thanked people who sent him things to read. He declined to read most, citing the press of official business which left him with no time to peruse whatever they sent. Not this time. Jefferson the scientist loved this type of debate and would gladly make time for a keen personal interest.

The animal in question was later determined to be, not a fierce predator, but a giant sloth. Caspar Wistar, a famous naturalist and Jefferson contemporary, suggested in 1822 that it be named Megalonyx jeffersonii.

Mr. Jefferson has a keen personal interest in inspiring your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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THIS is in MY wheelhouse!

…[I have] been elected by the city council a trustee for the public schools to be established at Washington & by the trustees to preside at their board … sincerely believing that knolege promotes the happiness of man, I shall ever be disposed to contribute my endeavors towards it’s extension, and in the instance under consideration will willingly undertake the duties proposed to me, so far as others of paramount obligation [i.e. President of the U.S.] will permit my attention to them.
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Brent, August 14, 1805

In March, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I interrupted my review of Jefferson’s presidential correspondence, to focus on his writings about the yellow fever from 1793 on. That project is now complete, and I return to 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders always promote an educated constituency.
The President declined most appointments, but gladly accepted this one, to preside over the Board of Education for public schools in Washington City. Not only was an educated citizenry essential for the protection of the new republic, education promoted happiness in people. By that standard, Jefferson was the happiest of all men!

Mr. Jefferson seeks to promote the education (and happiness!) of your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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July 2, NOT the 4th, is Independence Day!

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
One leader gladly defers to another!
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in Congress calling for independence from England. That motion was tabled while a “Committee of Five” drafted a document that would justify the colonies’ action. Congress approved Lee’s resolution on July 2, 1776, not July 4. It was on the 4th when Congress adopted the document that set forth the reasons for that action, known as our Declaration of Independence.

The original draft of the Declaration was written by Jefferson. It was amended by the drafting committee and again by the Congress before it was adopted on July 4. The final version was still essentially Jefferson’s creation.

On July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, about the momentous action taken the day before. He thought July 2 would be celebrated as America’s day of independence. Regardless of the date, Adams penned a ringing affirmation about the significance of Congress’ action and how it should be celebrated throughout the land.

May your celebration of American independence be as reverent, grand, exuberant and noisy as John Adams recommended!

Mr. Jefferson has a great presentation about Independence Day!
It doesn’t have to be July 4 for you to hear it.
Call 573-657-2739 to schedule him for your audience.
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HELP! I have two teenagers to home school!

Thirty years ago TODAY, May 5, 1990, I made my first presentation as Thomas Jefferson to the American Diabetes Association, Missouri Affiliate Annual Meeting in Jefferson City, Missouri. Woo woo!

Th: Jefferson presents his friendly respects to Mr. Rittenhouse. He has two young ladies at his house whose time hangs heavily on their hands, and the more so, as their drawing master cannot attend them. If Mr. Rittenhouse then does not take his Camera obscura with him into the country, Th:J. will thank him to permit them the use of it a few days, that they may take a few lessons in drawing from nature.
Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, September 6, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders can be out of their league at teaching teenagers!
This is Jefferson’s entire letter to an old friend. Rittenhouse (1732-1796) was an extraordinary scientist, mathematician and astronomer. At the time of this letter, he was Director of the U.S. Mint.
Jefferson needed help. For safety reasons, he had removed his 15 year old daughter and her friend from their boarding school in Philadelphia, and now dealt with a familiar problem facing sequestered teens, “time weighs heavily on their hands.” He asked to borrow Rittenhouse’s camera obscura to occupy them in their drawing education.

Your audience will be delightfully surprised by Thomas Jefferson!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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So many are gone, it is difficult to pay you.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to Mrs. Fulle[rton,] whose account he has received and left in the hands of Mr. Bankson, at his office, with an order to pay it out of monies he will receive at the treasury for Th:J. in the course of the week after next. The present difficulty of money transactions in the city, on account of the absence of so many people and his own journey, has put it out of his power to be more immediate in the discharge of Mrs. Fullerton’s account.
Thomas Jefferson to Valeria Fullerton, September 16, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders know everyone has trouble paying bills in a crisis.
The widow Fulton maintained a boarding school that Jefferson’s daughter Maria attended. He had withdrawn her from school a few days before to distance her from the yellow fever, but he still owed Mrs. Fulton for her services.

He had received her bill and given it to his clerk Bankson with orders to pay her once he was paid in two weeks. Many were gone from their posts. He was leaving town himself in the next day or two. There was no way to get her money to her any faster. Since he would be gone, he had no way of knowing if she would get paid at all.

Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire, teach & entertain your audience.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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The fever is worse. I am caught up. I leave soon.

Having found on my going to town … that I had but one clerk left, and that business could not be carried on, I determined to set out for Virginia as soon as I could clear my own letter files. I have now got through it so as to leave not a single letter unanswered, or thing undone, which is in a state to be done, and expect to set out tomorrow or next day …
Colo. Hamilton and Mrs. Hamilton are recovered [from the yellow fever]. The Consul Dupont is dead of it. So is Wright.
P.S. Sep. 16. … Since writing the above I have more certain accounts from the city. The deaths are probably about 30. a day, and it continues to spread. Saturday was a very mortal day. Dr. Rush is taken with the fever last night.
Thomas Jefferson to [President] George Washington, September 15 & 16, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Everyone, leaders included, suffer personally in a devastating crisis.
Having decided to leave Philadelphia after first determining to stay, Secreatry of State Jefferson has tied up every possible loose end before his departure. He planned to stop at Washington’s home on his way to Monticello.

He reported that Treasury Secretary Hamilton was recovering, while two others in their circle had died.

He added a P.S. countering his earlier assertion the fever was abating. Also, eminent physician, Declaration of Independence signer and friend Dr. Benjamin Rush became ill overnight. (Rush would survive, live another 20 years and be instrumental in facilitating the reconciliation between John Adams and Jefferson in 1812.)

Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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The truth? Or a serious blind spot?

Hamilton is ill of the [yellow] fever as is said. He had two physicians out at his house the night before last. His family think him in danger, & he puts himself so by his excessive alarm. He had been miserable several days before from a firm persuasion he should catch it. A man as timid as he is on the water, as timid on horseback, as timid in sickness, would be a phænomenon if the courage of which he has the reputation in military occasions were genuine. His friends, who have not seen him, suspect it is only an autumnal fever he has.
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 8, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
It is hard for a leader to cut a serious opponent any slack.
This is the final except from a letter from President Washington’s Secretary of State to his good friend Madison, about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital.

Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was ill, perhaps with the fever. Jefferson believed Hamilton made himself worse by worrying in advance that he might get sick, then over-reacting when he did.

He found Hamilton to be a timid man, on the sea, on horseback and now in illness. How could he be as brave in military endeavors as he claimed to be?

Jefferson would resign his position at the end of 1793. He was eager to retire to Monticello after much absence in the previous nine years. He was also eager to be done with the near-constant confrontation with Hamilton in the President’s cabinet. The two men were like oil and water.

Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak at your convention.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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What to do when no one knows what to do?

The yellow fever increases. The week before last about 3. a day died. This last week about 11. a day have died; consequently from known data about 33. a day are taken, and there are about 330. patients under it. They are much scattered through the town, and it is the opinion of the physicians that there is no possibility of stopping it. They agree it is a non-descript disease [without distinctive features or characteristics], and no two agree in any one part of their process of cure.
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 8, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes there are no answers.
Secretary of State Jefferson reported to friend and Congressman Madison at home in Virginia on the yellow fever devastating Philadelphia. Evidence-based medical practice was in its infancy, yet all doctors, college trained or self-taught, agreed on two things:
1. There was no uniform description of the disease.
2. There was no way to stop it.

NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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In a crisis, panic makes reality worse.

A malignant fever [in] Philadelphia … has given great alarm. It is considerably infectious … Tho there is some degree of danger, yet, as is usual, there is much more alarm than danger; and knowing it to be usual also to magnify these accounts in proportion to distance, I have given you the particulars, that you may know exactly what the case is.
Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., September 2, 1793

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders also address the alarm that arises in crises.
Jefferson wrote his son-in-law, Martha’s husband, about the fierce yellow fever plague attacking Philadelphia. Although Randolph was inland, several hundred miles away and safe from the scourge of disease, he could not escape the alarm spread by newspaper accounts and gossip.

Jefferson believed there was “more alarm than danger,” and the alarm was magnified the further it traveled. Thus, he reported accurately the situation in Philadelphia to his family, that the alarm might not exceed the reality.

“If I didn’t know any better,
I would swear I just spent an hour with President Thomas Jefferson.”
Executive Director, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association
Spend an hour with President Jefferson.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.

 

 

 

https://founders.archives.gov/?q=%22yellow%20fever%22%20Author%3A%22Jefferson%2C%20Thomas%22&s=1111311113&r=6

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