Tag Archives: Jefferson Leadership

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!
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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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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!
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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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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.
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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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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.
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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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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.

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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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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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Everyone who can flee the disease is doing so.

A malignant fever … in the filth of Water street which gives great alarm. About 70. people had died of it two days ago, & as many more were ill of it… now got into most parts of the city & is considerably infectious. At first 3. out of 4. died. Now about 1. out of 3. It comes on with a pain in the head, sick stomach, then a little chill, fever, black vomiting & stools, & death from the 2d. to the 8th. day. Every body, who can, is flying from the city, and the panic of the country people is likely to add famine to disease. Tho becoming less mortal, it is still spreading, and the heat of the weather is very unpropitious. I have withdrawn my daughter from the city, but am obliged to go to it every day myself.
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 1, 1793

For several years, I have been excerpting Thomas Jefferson’s letters sequentially during his presidency. In light of the coronavirus, I am reverting to much earlier letters that address the plague of yellow fever along the Atlantic coast.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know plagues attack every generation.
Jefferson was President Washington’s Secretary of State in 1793 when the nation’s capitol was in Philadelphia. It was a tidewater city, meaning Delaware River levels rose and fell with the Atlantic tides, creating swampy areas in the city. One of those, “in the filth of Water street,” had given rise to the yellow fever, which attacked all tidewater areas every August and September.

Jefferson wrote the disease was “considerably infectious” and had spread to most of the city of 50,000. Three-fourths of its earliest victims died, but that level had dropped to one-third. “About 70. people” had died on a single day two days before. Everyone who could flee the city was doing so. He feared panic would spread to the farmers who would refuse to bring their produce to the city’s markets, adding famine to the scourge of disease.

The disease was still expanding. He had sent his 15 year old daughter, Maria, away from the city, but his duties required him to be there every day.

The 1793 plague would kill 5,000, 10% of the city’s population.

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Chair, Programs Committee, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
An extraordinary presentation awaits 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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Social distancing, Thomas Jefferson style

…the yellow fever …is generated only in low close, and ill-cleansed parts of a town, I have supposed it practicable to prevent it’s generation by building our cities on a more open plan. take for instance the chequer board for a plan. let the black squares only be building squares, and the white ones be left open, in turf & trees. every square of houses will be surrounded by four open squares, & every house will front an open square. the atmosphere of such a town would be like that of the country, insusceptible of the miasmata which produce yellow fever. I have accordingly proposed that the enlargements of the city of New Orleans … shall be on this plan.
To Constantin François Chasseboeuf Volney, February 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders plan with public health in mind.
This excerpt is a duplicate, from September 10, 2019, but with a twist, in light of the coronavirus.

Jefferson addressed the scourge of yellow fever, which ravaged coastal and tidewater cities in August and September each year. (In 1793, it killed 5,000 in Philadelphia, a city of 45-50,000.) He believed the cause was “miasma,” an unhealthy vapor arising in crowded, dirty cities, suffering from a shortage of fresh air.

Since New Orleans, also on the tidewater, had recently been added to the U.S., he proposed future expansions of that city be made on a checkerboard plan. All development would be on squares of one color only. All squares of the other color were to be left open. Thus, every populated block would have blocks of green space on all four sides. This would provide for less disease through social distancing, as a matter of urban design.

It would be nearly a century before the cause of yellow fever was discovered, not miasma but mosquitoes that thrived in the the swampy, tidewater environment.

“…regarding Patrick…our Education Program received glowing reports
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Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Mr. Jefferson’s presentation will result in glowing reports from your conference attendees, too.
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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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