Tag Archives: Jefferson Leadership

I would prefer to, but duty dictates I must not.

were I to yield to my own feelings … [or to] … so many respectable persons as have signed the petition, my path would be easy. but on mature consideration the opinion is that it would be an abusive use of the executive power, and would tend to transfer from the grand jury to the Executive the office of deciding whether a person shall be put on his trial or not. between these conflicting motives of personal feeling & of duty, the latter must be supreme.
Thomas Jefferson to John Peter Van Ness, January 9, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Must a leader sacrifice 154 opinions for the sake of a principle?
Van Ness and 153 other signatories petitioned Thomas Jefferson to pardon Robert Peacock, arrested on a credible charge of forgery. Peacock’s wife, a well-connected woman of merit with two young children, was greatly maligned by the charges against her husband. The wife promised their family would leave the country if her husband were freed.

The President had the authority to pardon and the opinion of “so many respectable persons” was significant. It would be an easy (and popular!) choice to grant their petition. Yet, doing so would undermine the judicial process while expanding executive (his) authority. He was always cautious about treading on ground occupied by the other two branches of government.

Given the choice between “personal feeling & duty,” he chose duty. It “must be supreme.”

“Those in attendance were captivated by your grasp of the subject …”
Program Committee, Rotary Club of St. Louis
Mr. Jefferson brings his knowledge for the benefit of your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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It will take HOW long to get there? (2 of 2)

Congress have not yet sanctioned the measure, but there is no doubt they will do it. we shall have to open a road from Georgia to Pearl river. but as that will take time, & we want an immediate use of that line, we propose to send immediately, a mail of letters only, excluding printed papers, on horseback, along the most practicable Indian paths. we count on getting the distance from Washington to New Orleans performed in 12. days, as soon as the riders shall have learned the best route.
Thomas Jefferson to William C.C. Claiborne, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The man wants speed now!
President Jefferson was awaiting permission to establish 70 miles of a new southern postal route from Washington to New Orleans through land Spain possessed but claimed by the U.S.  Permanent approval had to come from Spain, but he wanted Claiborne to obtain a temporary OK from Spanish officials in New Orleans. Congress had to approve the entire route, too.

Since all that would take time, and the mail had to move, Jefferson proposed allowing “a mail of letters only,  excluding printed papers [newspapers, legal documents, etc.].” Until an official road could be established, postal riders would have to pick their way west on “the most practicable Indian paths.”

Siri said the distance today from D.C. to New Orleans is 965 miles as the crow flies, 1,087 by road. Whatever the distance was then, the President hoped to get the time down to just 12 days.

“I wanted to take a moment to tell you how enthralled our attendees were
with your guest appearance as Thomas Jefferson …”
Conference Chairman, FOCUS Conferences
Let Mr. Jefferson enthrall your members!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Two and I’m outta here!

my opinion originally was that the President of the US. should have been elected for 7. years, & for ever ineligible afterwards. I have since become sensible that 7. years is too long to be unremoveable …the service for 8. years with a power to remove at the end of the first four, comes nearly to my principle …  the danger is that … reelection through life shall become habitual, & election for life follow that. Genl. Washington set the example of voluntary retirement after 8. years. I shall follow it. and a few more precedents will …[establish this principle]. perhaps it may beget a disposition to establish it by an amendment of the constitution.
Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, January 6, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders self-limit their authority.
Taylor (1753-1824) was a Virginia lawyer, farmer, politician, political writer and close ally of Thomas Jefferson. He had written the President after hearing reports that Jefferson would serve a second term only and then retire. Taylor asked him to reconsider that decision.

Jefferson declined. One of his three objections to the new U.S. Constitution proposed in 1787 was no limit on the number of terms a President could serve. He feared that could turn into a President-for-life, either dictator or king. He credited Washington with setting the example of retiring after two terms. He would follow suit. Several more doing the same would establish the principle. Presidents Madison and Monroe continued in that vein, serving two terms only.

That principle continued until 1940, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third term and then a fourth in 1944. This resulted in the 22nd Amendment (which Jefferson suggested) adopted in 1951, constitutionally limiting the President to two terms.

“After your presentation, it was truly amazing
how you answered questions from the audience without stepping out of character.”
Executive Director, Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio
Mr. Jefferson delights in a no-holds-barred question-and-answer session!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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A cherry on top! (7 of 7)

should this establishment take place on a plan worthy of approbation, I shall have a valuable legacy to leave it, to wit, my library, which certainly has not cost less than 15,000. Dollars. but it’s value is more in the selection, a part of which, that which respects America is the result of my own personal searches in Paris for 6. or 7. years, & of persons employed by me in England, Holland, Germany and Spain to make similar searches. such a collection on that subject can never again be made.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Passionate leaders endow their own dreams.
Jefferson concluded his long letter envisioning the University of Virginia by putting a cherry on top. He would give it his personal library, several thousands of books. He had spent more than 35 years compiling that collection from the best sources in America and Europe. It had no equal.

But it was not to be. Before the University would open two decades later, an even more compelling need arose. The British burned the U.S. Capitol in the War of 1812 (“Mr. Madison’s War,” they called it.) and its small library. In 1815, Thomas Jefferson sold his beloved library to the federal government, where it would become the foundation of the Library of Congress.

In 1824, Thomas Jefferson spent maybe 100 hours compiling a list of books the University should acquire. The number of books and their cost were nearly identical to the size and value of the library he sold to Congress nine years earlier.

“I have been in association management for over 20 years
and would highly recommend Mr. Lee
as an entertaining, informative and educational speaker …”

Executive Director, Missouri Concrete Association
Thomas Jefferson comes well-recommended.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Let us be smart about this. (5 of 7)

4. buildings. the greatest danger will be their over-building themselves, by attempting a large house in the beginning, sufficient to contain the whole institution. large houses are always ugly, inconvenient, exposed to the accident of fire, and bad in cases of infection. a plain small house for the school & lodging of each professor is best. these connected by covered ways out of which the rooms of the students should open would be best. these may then be built only as they shall be wanted. in fact an University should not be an house but a village. this will much lessen their first expences.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders occasionally upset conventional thinking.
Building were the last of four specific areas requiring the University Visitors’ attention. A student of architecture and frugal with public funds, Thomas Jefferson had specific, counter-cultural thoughts:
No Big Buildings! Do not house professors, students and classrooms in one big, ugly, expensive, disease-incubating building, where a fire would wipe out the entire university.

Jefferson proposed one “plain small house for the school” itself and separate buildings to house each professor and students. Covered walkways would protect all as they moved from building to building. More structures could be added as the school grew, lessening expenses on the front end.

He proposed an academical “village.” It would be 20 years before the University of Virginia opened, but you can see Jefferson’s vision today in the original grounds of UVa.

“Thank you for  very excellent presentation.”
Executive Director, Associated General Contractors of Missouri.
Mr. Jefferson will make an excellent presentation for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Let us get down to specifics. (4 of 7)

The charter being granted & the Visitors named, these become then the Agents as to every thing else. their first objects will be 1. the special location. 2. the institution of professorships. 3. the emploiment of their capital. 4. necessary buildings. a word on each…
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders provide guidelines then let the experts work.
Once the legislature had authorized a university in Virginia and painted its mission in broad strokes, specific planning would be turned over to gifted, knowledgeable and unpaid trustees, to be known as Visitors. As the legislature had four broad directives, the Visitors would have four narrow ones:
1.  A specific location – “needs no explanation,” he wrote.
2. Professors – He went into great detail, insisting on the best men to teach only the most useful sciences. They were to be multi-disciplinary scholars, so that each might teach several subjects, lessening the number required. Their salaries “should be very liberal.” This would bring the brightest scholars, give the university high status from the very beginning, and attract young men from all the states.
3. How to best use their endowment – Here Thomas Jefferson did something rare for him, deferring because “on this subject others are so much better judges than myself.”
4. The campus itself, the subject of the next post.

“…[you] received a very high score for speaker as well as content.
Out of a possible 5.0, you received 4.6 …”
Executive Director, Illinois Court Reporters Association
In both presentation and content,
Thomas Jefferson will score high with your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I am happy to start with just half a loaf. (2 of 7)

this [securing our liberty] requires two grades of education. first some institution where science in all it’s branches is taught, and in the highest degree to which the human mind has carried it … secondly such a degree of learning given to every member of the society as will enable him to read, to judge & to vote understandingly on what is passing. this would be the object of township schools. I understand from your letter that the first of these only is under present contemplation. let us recieve with contentment what the legislature is now ready to give. the other branch will be incorporated into the system at some more favorable moment.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders take what they can get gratefully and work for more later.
Responding to Tazewell’s inquiry about a university, Thomas Jefferson replied that a university alone wasn’t enough. It needed to be coupled with general education for all. Higher education in all the sciences was essential for preparing the gifted for leadership. General education was necessary, too, enabling all men “to read, to judge & to vote understandingly.”

Jefferson accepted willingly that the legislature was considering only higher education. It was an essential step in the right direction. He would welcome the addition of general education at a later time.

About 30 years before, Jefferson authored a “Bill for the General Diffusion of Knowledge” in Virginia. It proposed three years of free public education for all boys and girls, two additional levels of advanced, fee-based schooling, and a scholarship program for the brightest but poorest students. Of course, slave children were not considered, but his proposal was radical in a time when the only ones privileged to have any advanced education were those born male, white and to parents with the means to pay for it privately. His proposals were never completely adopted, but he lobbied for the cause for the remaining 50 years of his life.

“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson…
[and]
tailored his presentation to fit in with our theme of “Exploring New Frontiers.” “
Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
Mr. Jefferson will also tailor his remarks to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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This is my problem, not yours. Go. (Part 2 of 2)

I must now turn to the painful task of finding a successor. altho you had prepared me for this event, I am as much unprovided as if it were now for the first time mentioned. I see not who is to fill the chasm. but this labour is my lot. be yours that of domestic felicity, of health & long life: and with this wish accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of great & constant esteem & respect.
Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, December 28, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Departing trusted lieutenants are one of a leader’s greatest challenges.
In the previous post, Thomas Jefferson reluctantly but with understanding accepted the resignation of his Attorney General for family reasons. Filling the vacancy now posed a “painful task.”

In a series of recent posts, the President explained how personnel issues were the most difficult part of his job. Governing was easy. Picking the people who would govern with him was not. Although Jefferson knew this day was coming, he was still unprepared with a successor. No one could “fill the chasm.”

Stoic in this regard, Jefferson acknowledged his job was to deal with it. Lincoln’s was to enjoy family, “health & long life.” Although unspoken, Jefferson must have envied Lincoln’s escaping Washington. It would be four more years before he could enjoy what Lincoln would have immediately.

John Breckenridge and then Caesar Rodney would serve as Attorney General in the President’s second term.

“Not only was the portrayal realistic,
but it was technically and historically accurate.”

Conference Chairman, Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
Patrick Lee will bring the real deal!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I have been where you are. Go. (Part 1 of 2)

I recieved last night your letter of the 26th. proposing to resign your office, and I recieved it with real affliction. it would have been my greatest happiness to have kept together, to the end of my term, our executive family: for our harmony & cordiality has really made us but as one family … yet I am a father and have been a husband. I know the sacred duties which these relations impose the feelings they inspire, & that they are not to be resisted by a warm heart. I yield therefore to your will. you carry with you my entire approbation of your official conduct, my thanks for your services, my regrets on losing them, and my affectionate friendship.
Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, December 28, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Compassionate leaders know family must come before work.
Massachusetts born Lincoln (1749-1820) was a close political ally of Thomas Jefferson. Elected to Congress in 1800, the President immediately appointed him Attorney General, instead. Lincoln intended to serve two years in Congress and return home. Instead, he had served the President almost four years. He had spoken to Jefferson of his interest in retiring, but now he put it in writing.

Jefferson’s cabinet had been with him for his first administration. He appreciated their counsel, cooperation and friendship, regarding them “as one family.” He was planning on a second term and hoped his cabinet would remain with him to enjoy the acclaim of a grateful nation four years hence.

But Lincoln said no. His family needed him. Jefferson, father and widower, understood those “sacred duties.” Though it pained him, the President acceded to Lincoln’s request, offering his highest possible professional and personal commendation.

“Mr. Jefferson’s presentation on leadership
was a wonderful and unique way to kick off an extremely successful conference.”
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
Leadership. Wonderful. Unique. Successful.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Not enough paper to write to his wife!

I have the pleasure to inform you that mr Briggs & his companion were in good health at Colo. Hawkins establishment near the Talapousee river, which place they left on the 3d. of Oct. and expected to be at Fort Stoddart in a week from that time. mr Briggs having been able to procure but a single half sheet of paper, which he was obliged to fill with a report to me, had no means of writing to you. the Indians had recieved & treated him with great kindness. we may shortly expect to hear of his arrival at New Orleans.
Thomas Jefferson to Hannah Briggs, December 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep wives informed.
Isaac Briggs, Surveyor General of the Mississippi Territory, was traveling between Washington City and New Orleans to make astronomical observations for the development of a new southern postal road. He reported to the President on October 2 about their arduous progress.

He did not have enough paper to write both his boss and his wife. He put his job first, concluding his report with a request that the President inform his wife of his well-being.

In a reply two weeks later, Hannah Briggs thanked the President, claiming this was the first word she’d had about her husband in three months. She begged any further information he might receive,  good or bad.

On January 2, Thomas Jefferson wrote again to Mrs. Briggs about her husband’s safe arrival in New Orleans.

“We received a number of compliments
for adding a unique element to the conference program.”
Co-Conference Coordinator, Natural Areas Association, Bend, OR
Try something out of the ordinary … unique! … to enliven your conference program.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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