Tag Archives: Jefferson Leadership

Thomas Jefferson, in a nutshell

I love industry & abhor severity.
Thomas Jefferson to John Strode, June 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
These are two very good qualities for any leader.
Strode was one of several people whose help Jefferson sought in finding a replacement for his competent but over-priced manager at Monticello. Strode was a long-time friend, and the President occasionally spent the night at his home when he traveled between Monticello and Washington City. This letter, like the others, described the many duties of an overseer.

In the middle of this letter are these six words that capture the heart of Thomas Jefferson. He loved kind, industrious people. He could have described himself the same way. He was unfailingly thoughtful and always on-task. In a letter to his daughter (one I can’t find at the moment), he advised her how much a person could accomplish if they were not wasting time but always doing something productive.

One concern Jefferson had about his current overseer, Gabriel Lilley, was his occasional severity toward the slaves. Jefferson wanted none of it. He hated that kind of behavior, whether toward his servants or anyone else.

“Patrick Lee is a professional …
easy to work with … and very effective …”
Director, Living History Associates, Richmond, Virginia
Sound good to you?
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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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When I get paid, you will get paid.

Messrs. Gibson & Jefferson having had my tobacco in their hands for sale a considerable time, I have been in the constant expectation of sending you an order on them for one thousand dollars … by a late letter from them I find they have not yet been able to sell for a reasonable price. the object of the present is therefore merely to assure you that so soon as they shall have sold the tobacco I shall forward you such an order on them.
Thomas Jefferson to James Lyle, June 3, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders have their blind spots.
Wheat and tobacco were the only cash crops available to most Virginia farmers. Jefferson would transport his tobacco to Richmond, with instructions to his business agents, Gibson & Jefferson, on when to sell it and for what price.

Perhaps it was his unrelenting financial pressures that regularly caused Jefferson to over-estimate the size of his crops and the price they would command. He was continually on the spot to pay his debts from the sale of tobacco. In this excerpt, he was unable to honor a commitment to pay $1,000 toward a debt to an old friend because his tobacco hadn’t sold at what Jefferson considered “a reasonable price.” He promised to pay as soon as it sold.

There is some indication that payment had been due for several years. Nearly seven months later, Lyle, himself in financial distress, still had not received the money owed him.

“… your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson …
was definitely one of the highlights of our annual event.”
Executive Director, Nevada Association of Counties
Let Mr. Jefferson highlight your event!
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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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“Fake news” is as old as the hills. And it appears to be true!

you will see in the papers an extra letter of Elliott’s of extraordinary aspect. it contains some absolute untruths. but what is most remarkeable is that expressions are so put together as to be literally true when strictly considered & analysed, and yet to convey to 99 readers out of 100. the most absolute & mischievous falsehoods. it is a most insidious attempt to cover [conceal] his own opinions & passions … and to fill with inquietude the republicans who have not the means of good information.
Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, May 27, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Manipulative leaders also manipulate the facts.
The content of Elliott’s letter in the newspapers is unknown as is the identity of Elliott himself. It may have been Vermont Congressman James Elliott. The President alerted his widowed son-in-law and Congressman about the that content.

This Elliott published “some absolute untruths” presented in such a manner as to appear “to be literally true,” with the effect of deceiving almost everybody. He did it in such a way to conceal his own interests while causing “inquietude [restlessness]” among faithful republicans, the President’s supporters, who had no way of discerning the truth.

“The folks really admire the ease and friendliness you show.
They were impressed with your wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm …”
Tour Director, Foretravel Motor Club
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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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He left his wife & may marry again w/o a divorce.

… with respect to Dr. Sibley … I observe two specific charges: 1. that he left his wife but it does not appear whether the separation was through the fault or the will of her or him. 2. that he attempted to marry again. this is a charge of weight, but no proof being adduced, it cannot weigh against the integrity of his character affirmed by others, and his unquestionable good sense and information.
Thomas Jefferson to William C. C. Claiborne, May 26, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Should unsubstantiated accusations derail a leader’s career?
John Sibley (1757-1837) was a Massachusetts-born Revolutionary War surgeon who relocated to the New Orleans area in the early 1800s. He was a contracted army surgeon there and appointed by Jefferson in 1805 to be Indian Agent for the New Orleans Territory. Territorial Governor Claiborne had written the President about allegations made regarding Sibley’s personal life that might compromise his professional effectiveness.

Jefferson acknowledged the charges but noted the first lacked clarity, and the second, more serious, lacked proof. Weighed against those charges were Sibley’s “unquestionable good sense and information [provided about native people in the area]” and “his character affirmed by others.” Thus, he would not withdraw Sibley, who had a well-known professional track record, because of unsubstantiated accusations about his personal life.

“He presented a persona that blended dignity, honesty
and just the right amount of humor …”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Would you value that kind of speaker for your audience?
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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.
1 Comment Posted in Human nature, Louisiana, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

We start with the bones.

The work we are now doing, is, I trust, done for posterity, in such a way that they need not repeate it. for this we are much indebted to you not only for the labour & time you have devoted to it, but for the excellent method of which you have set the example, and which I hope will be the model to be followed by others. we shall delineate with correctness the great arteries [rivers] of this great country: those who come after us will extend the ramifications as they become acquainted with them, and fill up the canvas we begin.
Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, May 25, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders build a strong foundation first.
Lewis and Clark were not the only river explorers in Jefferson’s administration. Just months after they departed St. Louis in May 1804, Dunbar (1749-1810) was commissioned to explore the Red and/or Arkansas Rivers in the Mississippi’s western watershed (present day Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma). This lengthy, technical letter following the completed mission concludes with Jefferson’s methodology and grand design.

The excellent work completed by Dunbar’s labor and skill made further investigation of those rivers unnecessary. It also set a high standard for others. The “arteries” or river bones of the nation, once accurately described as Dunbar had done, would become the “canvas” or skeleton which future explorers could begin to fill in.

“… [your] educational and inspiring opening keynote …
was the perfect kick-off for our own professional “voyages of discovery.”
President, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
Inspire your members!
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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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No cheats! No hacks! No speculators!

… I can only recommend an adherence to the principles which would have governed myself in making the selection. 1. to reject dishonest men. 2. those called federalists even the honest men among them, are so imbued with party prejudice … that they are incapable of weighing candidly the pro and the con … their effect in the public councils is merely to embarras & thwart them. 3. land-jobbers [speculators] are undesirable. it is difficult for them, even with honest intentions, to act without bias in questions having any relation to their personal interests.
Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, April 28, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know even honest men can act dishonorably.
The President had been asked to pick five men out of ten nominated to serve on a legislative council for the Territory of Indiana. He knew none of the nominees and delegated the selection to Harrison (1773-1841), Territorial Governor. He recommended three standards:
1. No “dishonest men”
2. None from the political opposition – Even honest ones were so partisan they could not fairly weigh an issue. Their only motivation was “to embarrass & thwart.”
3. None who could benefit financially – Again, even honest men could not “act without bias” where money was to be made or lost.

Thirty six years later, in 1841, Harrison became the 9th President of the U.S., defeating Martin Van Buren. He died just 31 days after his inauguration and was succeeded by his Vice-President, John Tyler. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, served one term as President, 1889-1893.

“Mr. Lee’s creative energy and talent were a major factor
in making this critical event the success it was.”
Program Coordinator, The Smithsonian Associates, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Jefferson will make a significant contribution to your meeting!
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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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Hail the universal brotherhood of talent & good will!

Th: Jefferson presents his …[thanks] …for the Jerusalem wheat he [Moore] was so kind as to forward him from his relation in Ireland … and his assurances that the talent shall not be hidden in a napkin. the good men of the world form a nation of their own, and when promoting the well-being of others never ask of what country they are. he hopes the US. will shew themselves worthy of these kindnesses
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Moore, March 11, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Inclusive leaders appreciate help from all quarters in all nations.
In a letter with a box of wheat kernels, Moore claimed the seed “to be of a Superior quality, producing double the Quantity of any other kind, and has very little Bran.” He hoped the “Climate & Soil of this Country” would make it a boon to American farmers.

Jefferson loved all things horticultural! National boundaries posed no limits for those whose mission was to improve others’ lives.

Sometime after September 2, 1800, Jefferson wrote a paper called “Summary of Public Service,” listing 11 contributions he’d made to life in America. One was the importation of a cask of upland rice from Africa. He explained why, “the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it’s culture; especially a bread grain.” He would promote Moore’s offering of “Jerusalem wheat,” for its potential to feed his fellow citizens.

“Congratulations on your success as a speaker …
we are still hearing positive comments and rave reviews.”
Associate Director, Oregon School Boards Association
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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 that stuff, but duty prevents me!

Th: Jefferson … asks the favor of mr Rodney to be the bearer of his thanks to mr Copes for his communication on the theory of Magnetism … testify to him that unremitting attentions requisite to those matters which duty will not permit him to neglect, render it impossible for him to suffer himself to be drawn off by philosophical [scientific] subjects, altho’ infinitely more pleasing to his mind. he is now hurrying to get through his business in order to make a short visit to his family.
To Caesar Augustus Rodney, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Focused leaders have to say “No.” to favored things.
Thomas Jefferson wanted to thank “mr Copes” for his scientific material that had come into the President’s hands. He did not know where to write to Copes and asked his young friend Rodney (1772-1824), a Delaware lawyer and political ally, to do so for him.

Jefferson loved all things related to science! Those subjects were “infinitely more pleasing to his mind” than politics and government. Yet, he knew his public duties required his “unremitting attentions.” In addition to conveying his thanks to Copes, he asked Rodney to explain why he could not give Copes’ theory the attention it deserved, attention he would have preferred to give.

Family and science were Jefferson’s twin loves. While he could sidestep scientific interests, he would not do so with his remaining daughter and his growing brood of grandchildren. At the moment of thanking Copes, he was trying to clear the decks for “a short visit to his family” at Monticello.

“…the addition of first person interpretation was new to the conference this year …
Thomas Jefferson and William Clark have set the standard for future conferences.”
Director Of Education, Indiana Historical Society
Either Thomas Jefferson or Lewis & Clark’s William Clark will set a high standard for your meeting!
Invite either man 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.
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , |

They have too much pride to admit their error.

[I] had before observed what was said in the Chronicle of it’s conciliatory tendency. some are of opinion that attempts at conciliation are useless. this is true only as to distinguished leaders who had committed themselves so far that their pride will not permit them to correct themselves. but it is not true as to the mass of those who had been led astray by an honest confidence in the government & by misinformation. the great majority of these has already reconciled itself to us, & the rest are doing so as fast as the natural progress of opinion will permit.
Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Elwyn, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders value humility.
Elwyn wrote a political pamphlet that was published in Boston and had received a favorable review in the Chronicle newspaper. He sent a copy of his pamphlet to the President, who apparently had read the Chronicle’s review. The tone of the pamphlet must have hoped for some reconciliation between political opponents.

Jefferson disagreed with those who maintained “attempts at reconciliation are useless.” That was true of leaders whose views were so rigid that pride prevented them from changing their minds. It was not true of the “mass” of citizens who had been led astray “by misinformation.” Reconciliation had happened for most already and would for the remainder in due time.

In an 1825 letter to a child, summarizing what he had learned in 81 years, Jefferson wrote, among other things, “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.”

“… thank you for your excellent presentation …
your portrayal and your responses to questions from the audience were right on the mark.”
Secretary/Treasurer, Virginia Association of Surveyors
Invite Thomas Jefferson 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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Will you buy one? Yes!

I … solicit thy patronage to a work which I am about to print … It is Brown’s of Haddington, historical, Geographical, Chronological, Etymological and Critical Dictionary of the Holy Bible
its matter is merely intended to elucidate the Holy Scriptures, and not to favor the favourite dogma of Sect or party …
My intention is to have it neatly done, and printed on paper made within thirty miles of this place, and bound in skins of the growth of our hills & vallie’s …
Pittsburgh is becoming a place of business—much of a manufacturing town—I want to lend my assistance in my way, to forward its progress…
I am thy unknown friend.
Zadok Cramer to Thomas Jefferson, Febry 14, 1805

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Cramer and subscribes with pleasure for a copy of Brown’s dictionary of the bible which he proposes to print at Pittsburg.
Thomas Jefferson to Zadok Cramer, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders enjoy having their right buttons pushed!
At age 31, the entrepreneurial Cramer (1773-1814) had already established himself as a bookbinder and publisher in western Pennsylvania. He wanted the President to be the first pledge to buy his reprint of a comprehensive Bible dictionary.
Thomas Jefferson was all in, for multiple reasons:
1. He loved books!
2. He was a student of the Bible and a supporter of religion in general.
3. This work was to educate only, not proselytize.
4. It would be produced entirely in America, with local paper for printing and local leather for binding.
5. It would showcase the product of a western businessman in a prospering western city.

This sketch highlights the enterprising Cramer. Although it makes no mention of this book, in early 1808 he shipped the first of two volumes of the Dictionary to the President.

“In addition to giving you high ratings, participants repeatedly indicated
that you were “inspiring,” “very educational,” and “outstanding.” “

Conference Manager, Nebraska Association of School Boards
Does that sound promising for your audience?
Invite Thomas Jefferson 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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