Tag Archives: Protege

Your mind alone will get you into trouble!

… with a heart disposed to do whatever is honest and honorable, and a head able to decide by calculation that what is not right can under no possible circumstances be useful … that by going strait forward and doing exactly what is just and moral, the way will open before you, and the mountains of difficulty subside: when by resorting to head-work and contrivence, one only gets more & more entangled in the mazes of their own cunning, and finally enveloped in a self-woven web of disgrace. but I catch myself sermonizing again, & have again to seek my apology …
To Lewis Harvie, January 25, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know intellectual cleverness alone is never enough.
The 21 year old Harvie (1782-1807) was the son of Jefferson’s childhood friend and grandson of his guardian upon the death of his own father in 1757. The young man requested an appointment as secretary to James Monroe during the latter’s service in Europe negotiating the future of American shipping on the Mississippi River.

Jefferson declined the appointment, not because Harvie was unqualified, but because Monroe would probably want to choose his own secretary. The President then outlined a deliberate and lengthy course of action for a young man who wanted a career in public service, similar to one Jefferson himself began 40 years earlier.

The President concluded with this advice for Harvie:
1. He should have the heart always to do what was “honest and honorable.”
2. His mind should be clear enough to warn him away from dubious enterprises.
3. Governed by sound mind and heart, the right course would become clear.
4. If he abandoned the moral compass of his heart and relied only on his mind, he would come to ruin and disgrace of his own making.
He then admitted he was preaching to the young man and apologized.

Later in 1803 Jefferson appointed Harvie to replace Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary when Lewis left to lead the exploration up the Missouri River. Harvie took ill in 1805 and died two years later at the age of 25.

“Mr. Lee’s research and knowledge of Thomas Jefferson is very complete
and he plays the role comfortably and with enthusiasm and authenticity.”
President, California Land Surveyors Association
A relaxed, enthusiastic and authentic Thomas Jefferson awaits your audience!
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What are the ONLY objects of a legitimate government?

… a part of my occupation, & by no means the least pleasing, is the direction of the studies of such young men as ask it. they place themselves in the neighboring village, and have the use of my library & counsel, & make a part of my society. in advising the course of their reading, I endeavor to keep their attention fixed on the main objects of all science, the freedom & happiness of man. so that coming to bear a share in the councils and government of their country, they will keep ever in view the sole objects of all legitimate government.
To Tadeusz Kosciuszko, February 26, 1810

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders can still shape the future.
Nearing the end of a long letter to a like-minded friend, Jefferson explained yet another aspect of his retirement life. He mentored young men who asked his help, welcoming them into his home, library and society.

He advised which books to read, ones that furthered the cause of “all science,” man’s freedom and happiness. The young men he mentored would be from the privileged class, ones most likely eventually to take an active role in government. By directing their studies in this direction, he would nurture future leaders who would understand what “the sole objects of all legitimate government” truly were.

“As a meeting planner, it was a pleasure to work with you…
Thank you for a job well done.”
Legislative Services Manager, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives
Mr. Jefferson is low-maintenance. (So is Patrick Lee.)
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We gotta help this kid!

The bearer hereof, mr Smith, is the son of Gen. Smith of Baltimore … who wishes to qualify himself to be useful to his country hereafter, will visit Paris, and will wish to derive from the visit, all the useful information he can acquire … my own desire to aid the laudable views of our young men … & knowing your particular sense of the importance of a right direction in youth … I take the liberty of presenting him to you … he will prove himself not unworthy of your attentions.
To Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, July 29, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise old leaders continue to mentor potential young ones.
Du Pont (1739-1817) was a French intellectual who became Jefferson’s friend during his diplomatic service in Paris. Du Pont emigrated to America in 1800 to escape the guillotine.

Both men recognized the importance of educating gifted young men whose place in life positioned them for “the care of the liberties & interests of their country.” The son of Jefferson’s old friend, Gen. Smith, was such a prodigy, and Jefferson wrote a reference letter, asking Du Pont to introduce him as widely as possible.

The editor’s footnotes to this letter, found in the link above, translate two Latin sentences Jefferson used to conclude this letter: “You and your family and your possessions are all the objects of my closest care, and shall be while I live. Good-bye” and “take care that you fare well, and love me as you are loved”. I’ve edited thousands of Jefferson’s letters in the five years of this blog. I don’t recall ever seeing so personal a benediction.

One of Du Pont’s sons, trained as a chemist, founded a gunpowder manufacturing company in Delaware in 1802. We know the resulting multinational conglomerate today as DuPont.

“The President was outstanding!”
Executive Director, Missouri Society of Professional Engineers
Mr. Jefferson will be outstanding for your audience!
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Are you too old to teach?

A part of my occupation, and by no means the least pleasing, is the direction of the studies of such young men as ask it. They place themselves in the neighboring village [Charlottesville], and have the use of my library and counsel, and make a part of my society. In advising the course of their reading, I endeavor to keep their attention fixed on the main objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of man. So that coming to bear a share in the councils and government of their country, they will ever keep in view the sole objects of all legitimate government …
To Thaddeus Koscuisko, February 26, 1810

Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 352

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders can continue to mentor leaders-to-be.
A portion of this letter to the Polish-born soldier who had served America’s revolution was devoted to the nation’s defenses in the face of increasing British offenses on the high seas. Some detailed his post-retirement activities at age 66, no doubt to be the subject of another post or two. The portion excerpted here deals with one of those activities, one he found most satisfying.
To young men who would move nearby, Jefferson offered his library and advice, and welcomed them into the circle of his friends. He fully expected these protégés to become involved in government. He wanted them well-grounded in “the sole objects of all legitimate government.” That would include “the freedom and happiness of man.”

“I am pleased to give Patrick Lee my highest recommendation as a speaker.”
 Executive Director, Wyoming School Boards Association
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