Tag Archives: Parenting
I have recieved a letter from Governor Strong on the subject of their cannon &c. which concerning the War department principally, I inclose to Genl. Dearborne, and must ask the favor of you to be referred to him for a sight of it. I think, where a state is pressing, we should yield in cases not very unreasonable, and treat them with the indulgence and liberality of a parent.
To Robert Smith, September 3, 1802
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders know when to yield, even when right is on their side.
In 1798, Massachusetts transferred ownership of a fort in the Boston harbor to the federal government. A provision in that transfer called for the state to be reimbursed for the value of armaments within the fort. Massachusetts submitted its claim, and the national government had disputed the extent and amount of that reimbursement. The state’s governor, a moderate Federalist, was pressing the Republican administration to pay the bill in full.
The President involved the Secretaries of the Navy (Smith, the recipient of this letter) and War, Henry Dearborne, in this discussion. It appears that the Federal position might have been stronger, but Jefferson asked a favor of his subordinate. Massachusetts was pressing their case strongly but not unreasonably. It would be better, the President wrote, to treat the state as a parent would their child, with “indulgence and liberality,” rather than enforcing parental authority, regardless.
“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson …
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Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
No cookie-cutter talks here! Mr. Jefferson tailors his remarks to your interests.
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my health being always so firm as to leave you without doubt on that subject, but it is not so with yourself & little one. I shall not be easy therefore if either yourself or mr Eppes do not once a week or fortnight write the three words ‘all are well.’ that you may be so now, & so continue is the subject of my perpetual anxiety, as my affections are constantly brooding over you. heaven bless you my dear daughter.
To Mary Jefferson Eppes, December 14, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders with adult children never cease worrying about their kids.
Jefferson’s 2nd daughter had recently delivered her 2nd child, a son Francis. She was of frail health, like her mother who died after childbirth 20 years before, and her father worried greatly about her. He also worried about the baby, as Mary’s first child died just three days after birth. (Four of Jefferson’s six children died by the age of five.)
He had high expectations of his daughters, and one of those was that they write to him regularly. Mary was a particularly poor correspondent, and her father brooded over the silences. He beseeched her often to write more frequently.
Here, he said his health was so good there was no cause for them to worry about him. So that he would not worry about them, he pleaded that at least every two weeks, she or her husband write to him, if only to convey, “All are well.”
This baby Francis would live a long, productive life. He was the only one of Mary’s three children who survived infancy. Mary herself would die three years later, months after her third delivery, a daughter who lived only a few weeks.