Tag Archives: Lawyers
The importance of appointing officers for the government of Orleans who speak both the French and English languages has produced difficulties … which have distressed me exceedingly. the French language entered so little into education in this country … it is difficult, even among those, otherwise well qualified, to find persons who can speak French. the impossibility of compleating my arrangement in the way I had first proposed has placed me under the painful, but inevitable necessity of some change in it. in fact my greatest difficulty is in finding lawyers who can speak French: and this has obliged me to make a change in your destination …
To James Brown, December 1, 1804
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders go to Plan B when their noble ideas don’t work.
In an earlier post, the President explained the importance of appointing people who spoke both English and French to the new territorial government in New Orleans. Since the majority of people there would be French speakers, bi-lingual leaders would facilitate good will. If only it were that easy …
French had not been taught enough in America to yield a sizeable pool of bi-lingual citizens. People otherwise qualified failed when it came to the second language requirement. The shortage was acute when it came to finding bi-lingual lawyers, and Brown must have been one of the few. Thus, Jefferson had to retreat from his noble idea and change Brown’s appointment. Instead of being Secretary for the new territory, Jefferson had nominated him, instead, for the Superior Court there. The pay would be the same but the perks more preferable.
“The program was excellent … great as I expected, well actually even better!
I hope you were as pleased with the turnout as I was.”
Daniel Boone Regional Library
Mr. Jefferson will exceed your expectations!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150. lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150. lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected. But to return again to our subject.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
This is the 5th and final post taken from one long paragraph in Jefferson’s autobiography, where he interrupted his orderly progression to describe how the Confederation Congress members conducted themselves in debate.
Jefferson was a lawyer, but unlike most, he was never a debater, never openly contentious. How did he describe his fellow lawyers?
– They question everything.
– They yield nothing.
– They talk by the hour.
– It is unrealistic to think a group of lawyers could cooperate with one another enough to accomplish anything.
Jefferson’s last sentence acknowledged he had gotten off-task. Today, he might say, “But I digress …”