Tag Archives: Son-in-law

My debt keeps me from helping you now. Maybe later.

my great object at present is, within the course of my present term of office to get compleatly thro’ the old debts of mr Wayles’s estate & my own … if by the end of my second term of office (which will certainly be my last) I can see all of us out of debt, and my mill & farms in such a state as to supply the expences of living … if March 1809. can see me in that condition all my desires will be crowned with contentment to myself, and I hope to leave the public circumstances so much improved from what they were in March 1801. as to carry into retirement the contentment of the public.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, July 5, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Debt cripples everyone’s capacity to act, leaders included.
After reporting to his son-in-law about America’s fortuitous opportunity to buy all of Louisiana from France, the President turned to a personal matter, Randolph’s request for financial help. Jefferson was in no position to assist, because his own situation was strained.

More than 25 years before, Jefferson inherited heavily indebted lands from his father-in-law (“mr. Wayles estate”). He sold some of the land and with the proceeds, paid the English-held debt into escrow, awaiting the end of America’s war for independence. Though complicated to explain, the escrowed funds became worthless, and he had to pay the debt a second time. That debt, with its accrued interest, was still dogging him a quarter century later, as were the debts of his own making.

Jefferson thought his cash crops, tobacco and wheat, plus proceeds from his nail-making and grain-milling operations at Monticello, plus whatever he could spare from his own salary would see him debt free by the end of a second term in early 1809. He hoped to leave office, not only debt-free but with sufficient income for his retirement years, and to enjoy the public’s approval for the work he’d done.

He would be disappointed. His public standing in 1809, while generally  good, was considerably diminished from what it was in 1803. His personal debt was still far from being eliminated.

Personal money-management is not what Thomas Jefferson brings to your meeting,
but his many other skills merit your attention!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I want you to know how highly I think of you!

… the shade [mental state] into which you throw yourself neither your happiness nor mine will admit that you remain in … certainly there could not have been an alliance on earth more pleasing to me from the beginning or rendered more dear to me in the sequel of it’s continuance … in matters of interest I know no difference between yours & mine. I hope therefore you will feel a conviction that I hold the virtues of your heart and the powers of your understanding in a far more exalted view than you place them in; and that this conviction will place your mind in the same security and ease in which mine has always been.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, November 2, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sensitive leaders are alert to the mental health of those closest to them.
Randolph was married to Jefferson’s older daughter, Martha, a 13 year union which had produced numerous children. Randolph was a skilled farmer and a leader of some competence but given to emotional disturbances. He had written a flowery letter to his father-in-law, exalting him but debasing himself, doubting his status within in the family.

Jefferson knew of his son-in-law’s weakness and was quick to pen this encouraging reply. He:
1. Pleaded that Randolph could not remain in this frame of mind.
2. Praised the “alliance” which brought them together (the marriage to his daughter) and its ongoing nature.
3. Assured the younger man of no significant differences of opinion between them.
4. Acknowledged his opinion of Randolph was far higher than Randolph’s opinion of himself.
5. Hoped Randolph would have the same confidence in himself that he (Jefferson) always had in him.

“He specifically designed topic content to meet the … [client’s] needs
and to best educate and entertain …”
Program Coordinator, The Smithsonian Associates, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Jefferson will tailor his remarks to educate and entertain your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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