Tag Archives: Spain

Would you say “No!” to the President?

No circumstances, my dear Sir, will ever more tempt me to engage in any thing public.  I thought myself perfectly fixed in this determination when I left Philadelphia, but every day and hour since has added to its inflexibility.
To Edmund Randolph, September 7, 1794
(Eighth letter down)

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, leaders have to say no, regardless who’s asking.
Jefferson resigned as President Washington’s Secretary of State at the end of 1793. Randolph had been Attorney General but took over at State after Jefferson’s departure. Ten days earlier, Randolph had written to Jefferson at the request of President Washington.
America’s ambassadors to Spain had been unable to secure that nation’s guarantee of unrestricted shipping down the Mississippi River. Kentucky was up in arms. All of her exports had to go down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and beyond. She feared an economic stranglehold. Randolph mentioned Kentucky going to war with Spain or separating from the Union as two possibilities of the stalemate.
President Washington asked Jefferson to go to Spain as a special envoy to resolve the conflict. Jefferson said no. He acknowledged the confidence the President had in him. Disappointing him was the only thing that made Jefferson reluctant to decline. Still, that didn’t change his answer.
Despite his protest that “no circumstances” would ever draw him back to public life, less than two years later he would stand as the head of the anti-federalist movement, challenging Vice-President Adams for the top job.
Nine years later, President Jefferson would finally resolve this threat to America’s west (which ended at the Mississippi River) by purchasing Louisiana from France. The Mississippi would become completely an American river.

“I highly recommend Patrick Lee for his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson.”
Executive Director, Township Officials of Illinois

Mr. Jefferson comes well-recommended!
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