Tag Archives: Monticello

Google Maps, Thomas Jefferson Style

NOTE: Glance over the text then skip to the explanation

From Edgehill to Gordon’s 18. miles.  

 

A good tavern, but cold victuals on the road will be better than any thing which any of the country taverns will give you. lodge at Gordon’s go

to Orange courthouse 10. miles to breakfast. a good tavern. on leaving Orange courthouse be very attentive to the roads, as they begin to be difficult to find.
Adams’s mill 7. miles. here you enter the flat country which continues 46. miles on your road.
Downey’s ford 2. here you ford the Rapidan. the road leads along the bank 4 miles further, but in one place, a little below Downey’s, it turns off at a right angle from the river to go round a gut. at this turn, if not very attentive, you will go strait forward, as there is a strait forward road still along the bank, which soon descends it & crosses the river. if you get into this, the space on the bank is so narrow you cannot turn. you will know the turn I speak of, by the left hand road (the one you are to take) tacking up directly towards some huts, 100 yards off, on a blue clayey rising; but before getting to the huts, your road leads off to the right again to the river. no tavern from Orange courthouse till you get to
Stevensburg 11. miles. you will have to stop here at Zimmerman’s tavern (brother in law of Catlett) to feed your horses, and to feed yourselves, unless you should have brought something to eat on the road side, before arriving at Stevensburg. Zimmerman’s, is an indifferent house. you will there probably see mr Ogilvie: he will certainly wish to be sent for to see mr Randolph.
mr Strode’s 5. miles. it will be better to arrive here in the evening. on stopping at his gate, you will see Herring’s house about 2 or 300 yards further on1 the road. you had better order your servants (except your nurse) horses & carriage & baggage (not absolutely wanting at night) to go straight there, where those sent from here will be waiting for you.
Bronaugh’s tavn. at Elkrun church. 13. miles. the only tavern you will pass this day. obliging people.
Slate run church. 14 ½ miles. here you leave the flat country & engage in a very hilly one.
Brown’s tavern 5 ½ miles. here you will have to dine & lodge being the first tavern from Bronaugh’s.2 a poor house, but obliging people.
Fairfax court house 15. miles. you can either breakfast here, or go on to
Colo. Wren’s tavern 8. miles. a very decent house and respectable people.
George town ferry 6. miles.

Enclosure to Martha Jefferson Randolph, June 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Detail-obsessed leaders/fathers/grandfathers just can’t help themselves.
In an accompanying letter, Jefferson wrote his daughter that he was at Monticello, and she and her family should join him there soon. He warned her the measles were everywhere, so they were in no greater danger with him than someplace else. He described the itinerary in general, calling attention to where the road was narrow, obscure, and when she’d have to get out of the carriage and walk.

He enclosed this detailed breakdown of the 115 mile trip from Edgehill, where the Randolph’s lived, to the George town ferry, where he would send horse and carriage for her. It appears they would have to lodge five or six nights on their journey.

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Hell is behind me, paradise ahead!

… for altho’ I too have written on politics, it is merely as a private individual, which I am now happily become. within two or three days I retire from scenes of difficulty, anxiety & of contending passions to the elysium [paradise] of domestic affections & the irresponsible [not accountable to anyone] direction of my own affairs. safe in port myself, I shall look anxiously at my friends still buffeting the storm, and wish you all safe in port also.
To John Armstrong, March 6, 1809

NOTE: I have excerpted most of Jefferson’s significant correspondence from the first year of each of his two Presidential terms (March 4, 1801 – March 3, 1802 and March 4, 1805 – March 3, 1806) for the most recent blog posts. I will now turn the clock ahead and work from the first year of his retirement, which began March 4, 1809, when James Madison succeeded him as President.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders look forward to retirement!
Armstrong (1758-1843) had been a U.S. Senator from New York and was now America’s ambassador to France. Jefferson wrote about America’s failed embargo, continued conflict involving American ships at sea and the prospect of war, and Napoleon’s attempts to subdue much of Europe. He also thanked Armstrong for acquiring a “dynamometer” for him, a device that measured pulling force, something he had wanted for many years.
He concluded by stressing, thankfully, that his views on politics were now simply as a private individual. Within days, he would leave the non-stop stress of Washington City for peacefulness of Monticello. There he would reside as a ship safely arrived at its final port and hope the same destiny for those he left behind.

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Would you paint your floors GREEN?

… I was at the painting room of mr Stewart (the celebrated portrait painter) who had first suggested to me the painting a floor green … the true grass-green, & as he had his pallet & colours in his hand, I asked him to give me a specimen of the colour … and I spreed it with a knife on the inclosed paper. be so good therefore as to give it to mr Barry as the model of the colour I wish to have the hall floor painted of. The painters here talk of putting a japan varnish over the painted floor and floor-cloth after the paint is dry, which they say will prevent it’s being sticky & will bear washing.
To James Dinsmore, June 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What does this have to do with leadership?
Not much, though it does illustrate how minutely Jefferson was involved in his decades-long pet project, building and rebuilding his home, Monticello, and his careful attention to detail.

James Dinsmore was the skilled workman who produced much of the fine interior woodwork at Monticello. Mr. Barry was a house painter. “mr Stewart” was most likely Gilbert Stuart, the foremost portrait artist of the day. His subjects numbered around 1,000, including the first six Presidents.

If Gilbert Stewart recommended a “true grass-green” as a fitting floor paint color, that was good enough for Jefferson.

Floor cloths were explained in a previous post.

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 7

[This is the 7th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head. Very well. Suppose then they come back. They are to stay two months, & when these are expired, what is to follow? Perhaps you flatter yourself they may come to America?

Heart. God only knows what is to happen. I see nothing impossible in that supposition. And I see things wonderfully contrived sometimes to make us happy. Where could they find such objects as in America for the exercise of their enchanting art? especially the lady, who paints landscapes so inimirably [inimitably?] …
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders do well to remain optimistic. Part 7
Jefferson’s logical Head has already advised his Heart to forget the Cosways. Even if there is a return visit, it, too, will end. Is Heart so presumptuous to think these European artists would cross the Atlantic just to see him?
Heart replies that it could happen! Sometimes things just work out very well for our happiness.
Heart, using a little logic of its own, cites the grandeur of America and the many scenes awaiting permanent capture by the lady’s paint brush if they did come. (This passage also contains an eloquent and romantic description of Monticello, often reproduced as evidence of Jefferson’s lifetime love of his mountaintop home.)

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