Tag Archives: John Page
… all roads appear bad to the traveller …[but I] recommend to you the Threenotched road through the whole way. it is well known by that name. it … crosses few streams, & offers few hills. your first stage should be at Leek’s, 20 miles from Richmond. the only one afterward’s at which you can lodge is Price’s about 35. miles from Leek’s. the next morning you have 22. miles to breakfast here … the two houses I have recommended, Leek’s & Price’s are bad enough, but less bad considerably than any others on the road.
To John Page, August 14, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders sometimes have to recommend the best out of multiple poor choices.
Page (1743-1808), just 15 days younger than his lifelong friend Jefferson, was a noted Virginia politician and Governor of Virginia at the time of this letter. When the President learned his old friend would be bringing his family for visit at Monticello, he was quick to recommend the route to travel the 77 miles from Richmond.
“Threenotched road” was the best one to use. It would require spending two nights at boarding houses en route. The two he recommended, Price’s and Leek’s, were bad places, but they weren’t as bad as all the alternatives.
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I have known mr Page from the time we were boys & classmates together, & love him as a brother. but I have always known him the worst judge of man existing. he has fallen a sacrifice to the ease with which he gives his confidence to those who deserve it not.
To Albert Gallatin, August 28, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders can’t avoid tough choices just to please people.
Jefferson sought opinions from three men about the qualifications of a certain individual for an appointment to a federal office. One of those three was fellow Virginian John Page (1743-1808), his oldest friend. They had been close since their student days at the College of William and Mary, 40 years before.
It appears that Page had already responded with a recommendation for the man being considered even though Page had not met him. Jefferson expected the other two replies soon. He affirmed his affection for Page, but said he was a poor choice of character. Page found it easier to avoid tough calls and praise people whether they deserved it or not.