Tag Archives: Speaker

This is the worst sin of all.

another object still more important is that every officer of the government make it his peculiar object to root out that abominable venality [willingness to be bribed or corrupted], which is said to have been practised so generally there heretofore. every connivance [willingness to be involved in an illegal act] at it should be branded with indelible infamy, and would be regarded by the General government with distinguished severity.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
T
olerating dishonesty is the worst kind of favoritism in a leader.
The previous post stressed the importance of including the French in the new American government of Louisiana at New Orleans and giving both English and French languages equal status. But there was something more important than including and respecting the political opposition.

The Spanish, who had governed Louisiana for decades, and the French, the majority population, had earned the reputation of being susceptible to bribery. Jefferson denounced it in the strongest language, and made it the responsibility of every government official to root it out.

“Not only did you connect two centuries,
I would stress you really connected with our members …”
President & CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Mr. Jefferson will make a vital connection with your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Louisiana, Morality Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Including and valuing the losers will strengthen our team!

… in chusing these characters it has been an object of considerable attention to chuse French who speak the American language, & Americans who speak the French. yet I have not made the want of the two languages an absolute exclusion. but it should be earnestly recommended to all persons concerned in the business of the government, to acquire the other language, & generally to inculcate the advantage of every person’s possessing both, and of regarding both equally as the language of the territory.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Winner take all is a dumb strategy for leaders.
The President was planning the government for the southern portion of the recently acquired Louisiana. It would be headquartered in New Orleans where the sizeable majority would be of French descent. The appointed legislative body would have 13 members. Jefferson wanted a seven members to be American, six to be French.

In addition to a representative body, he wanted one that could communicate easily among themselves. While not requiring bi-lingual members, all mono-lingual appointees should be willing to upgrade their status. Going even further, he didn’t specify English as the official language, but that the French tongue should have equal status.

“Thank you for hanging on to and presenting the great truths
this great nation was founded on.”
Program Chair, North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to remind your audience, too.
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Consider yourself fully employed!

Have bin down to Richmond to se if I could ingage a job of work before I movd my tools, but have bin unsucsesful in the trip … I moast seriously regret being out of imployment, for it is my wish never to Spend time in indelence whilst am able to earn a shilling in an honest way.
James Oldham to Thomas Jefferson, October 7, 1804

[I] am sorry for your disappointment at Richmond … [will] the work [described herein] give you an opportunity of shewing there your stile of working, and give you time to get into imployment? … [I] shall consider your wages going on till you have a reasonable time to get into employ.
To James Oldham, October 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Appreciative leaders step up for former employees.
A recent post was a strong recommendation for Oldham, a skilled joiner (woodworker) at Monticello, to a friend of Jefferson’s in Richmond. Oldham did not find employment and wrote to his old boss of his dilemma.

Jefferson immediately stepped up on behalf of his former employee, sending a list of joinery projects. He suggested Oldham complete the work in Richmond and then transport the finished goods to Monticello. Doing so would allow Oldham to showcase the quality of his work to prospective employers.

Jefferson valued always being productive. Not only was he impressed by Oldham’s skill but by his desire, “never to spend time in indelence.”  Jefferson told Oldham he was still on the payroll and would remain there until he could find other work.

“Your presentation was an excellent blend of history, education and inspiration …”
Deputy Director, Washington Association of County Officials
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WHAT was he thinking?

to cover with sheet iron in ridges & gutturs
let the ridges be 6. I. high & 5. times that in span=30 I.
then the slope will be 16.15 and adding 1.85 I. for the lap the sheets of iron must be 18. I. wide
consequently 18 I. of sheet clears only 15. I. horizontal, and if the sheets cost 18. D. the square, the cost of a horizontal square will be as 15 I.:18 I.::18 D.:21.6 D
(note the thickest tin is 18. D a box of 100. sheets 16¾ by 12¼=142. sq. feet the thin tin is 18 D a box of 225 sheets 14 I. by 10 I.=220. sq. feet.)
method of doing it.
place your joists 30. I. apart from center to center. let them be …
Notes and Drawings … Iron for Ridges and Gutters, 30 September 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Every leader needs some escape the pressures of work.
This excerpt, atypical for Jefferson Leadership Blog posts, is a different look inside the mind of Thomas Jefferson. It is a small segment of a lengthy list of measurements and directions for fabricating new iron ridges and gutters for the roof of his beloved home.

A leaky roof was a continual problem at Monticello. So was a convenient water source for a home located on top of a hill, distant from springs and rivers. Eventually, a new roofing and gutter system minimized both problems, effectively shedding the rain from the roof and collecting it in cisterns. These notes may have been been part of Monticello’s evolution from both leaky yet water-deprived to dry but water at hand.

Take a brief look at the full text, available through the link above. Like me, you will probably understand very little of it. Also like me, you might be impressed at the complexity and specificity of his mind.

“You … enthralled our general session …
And our members loved it all.”
Director of Member Services & Education, Minnesota Rural Electric Association
Your members will love Thomas Jefferson.
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1 Comment Posted in Architecture, Monticello Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

I will not leave you, unless you leave me.

you say you are forcibly led to say something on another subject, very near your heart, which you defer to another opportunity. I presume it to be on your political situation, and perhaps the degree in which it may bear on our friendship. in the first place I declare to you that I have never suffered political opinion to enter into the estimate of my private friendships; nor did I ever abdicate the society of a friend on that account till he had first withdrawn from mine. many have left me on that account. but with many I still preserve affectionate intercourse, only avoiding to speak on politics, as with a quaker or catholic I would avoid speaking on religion…
To John F. Mercer, October 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know how to remain friends with their opponents.
Mercer (1759-1821), Revolutionary War veteran, lawyer and politician in Virginia and then Maryland, alerted the President to a unspecified change in his situation. In this reply, Jefferson speculated it may be a change in Mercer’s political affiliation, from ally to opponent.

Jefferson reassured his friend he never withdrew friendships over political differences unless someone else did so first. Many had deserted him for that reason, but many had not. With the latter, he continued his friendships, taking care to avoid politics, the subject where they disagreed. He applied the same principle to spiritual differences, maintaining friendships with Quakers and Catholics, only being careful to “avoid speaking on religion.”

“… thank you for the enlightening and education presentation …
It was wonderful … and enjoyed by all.”
Lieutenant Governor’s Office, State of Missouri
Enlightening. Educational. Wonderful. Enjoyable.
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He is a very good man. Help him, please.

… James Oldham … is an able workman … skilled in the orders of architecture, honest, sober and industrious. he wishes to get into business on a larger scale than that of merely monthly wages and I have recommended Richmond … taking an interest in his success, and knowing that a first introduction is the most difficult step, I have taken the liberty of making his character known to you, and of asking your advice and influence on his behalf towards getting himself under way. …you may rely on his acquitting himself of his undertakings so as to do justice to your recommendation.
To John  Harvie, September 27, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Empowering leaders help their subordinates move out and up.
Oldham was a joiner, a workman skilled in fashioning every kind of high-quality finished woodwork. Jefferson had employed him for over three years at Monticello. Oldham wanted to better himself, and his patron suggested taking his skills to Richmond. He sent this letter of introduction to an old family friend there.

Jefferson listed Oldham’s qualities. He was:
– Skilled
– Hard working
– Honest
– Sober

Jefferson assured his friend that any work he helped the joiner find would bring credit back to Harvie for the recommendation.

“Your presentations hit the fine line between human interest and factual information.
You are able to present leading themes and messages
without overloading us with unnecessary data.”

Executive Director, National Coal Transportation Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
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I am tapped out!

… no man is less in condition to aid his friends pecuniarily [financially] than myself. I have always endeavored so to live as just to make both ends meet; but imperfect calculations disappoint that endeavor, and occasion deficiencies which accumulating, keep me always under difficulties. my resources of every kind have for some time been on the stretch so that I can with truth assure you that at this time they could not be made to place one thousand dollars at my command. under these circumstances I can only express unavailing regrets that it is not in my power to be useful to you …
To Ferdinando Fairfax, September 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even smart leaders can deceive themselves.
Fairfax asked two things in his letter to the President, for the national government to buy his ironworks and for Jefferson to loan him $10,000. Jefferson declined both, and perhaps Fairfax’s status in Virginia earned him Jefferson’s reasoning in both cases. The ironworks issue was explained in the previous post. This excerpt is an unusually candid glimpse of his finances.

Although he claimed to match outgo to income, he was kidding himself. As early as his French Ambassador days in the 1780s, he was living beyond his means, occasionally borrowing money for living expenses and then borrowing more to pay off previous loans. His “imperfect calculations” about future income were often overly optimistic, assuming higher crop prices and better weather. When neither happened, he was “always under difficulties.” He couldn’t put together $1,000 in cash.

Many of Jefferson’s financial difficulties were caused by factors beyond his control. Still, he often lived beyond his means, with few restrictions on his creature comforts.

“Our audience of Western state legislators truly appreciates
the lessons of American history that are so relevant to their duties today.”
Program Manager, Council of State Governments-WEST, Vancouver, WA
Lessons from Thomas Jefferson ARE relevant to your duties today!
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Private enterprise can do that FAR better than government!

… our principle on that subject is that it is better for the public to procure at the common market whatever the market can supply: because there it is by competition kept up in it’s quality, and reduced to it’s minimum price. the public can buy there silver guns cheaper than they can make iron ones. as therefore private individuals can furnish cannon, shot &c. we shall never attempt to make them, nor consequently meddle with mines, forges, or any thing of that kind.
To Ferdinando Fairfax, September 13, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders acknowledge what government can’t do well.
Fairfax was a godson of George Washington’s and sometimes successful Virginia entrepreneur. He had offered to sell his ironworks to the government for the manufacture of their own armaments. Jefferson declined.
Why, when national defense was the government’s responsibility?
1. Jefferson’s policy was to buy such goods rather than make them.
2. Competition in the market kept the quality high and the price low. (It must have been with tongue-in-cheek that he said guns made privately from silver would be cheaper than those made from iron by the government!)
3. Not only would the government not manufacture its own armaments, they would not own any of the means to supply their manufacture, either.

“I received so many great compliments
on your performance of Thomas Jefferson…”
Education Committee, Missouri Land Title Association
Mr. Jefferson will make you look good to your members!
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Would honest Democrats and honest Republican today agree?

both of our political parties, at least the honest portion of them, agree conscientiously in the same object, the public good: but they differ essentially in what they deem the means of promoting that good … one fears most the ignorance of the people: the other the selfishness of rulers independant of them. which is right, time & experience will prove … with whichever opinion the body of the nation concurs, that must prevail…
I conclude with sincere prayers for your health & happiness that yourself & mr Adams may long enjoy the tranquility you desire and merit, and see, in the prosperity of your family, what is the consummation of the last and warmest of human wishes.
To Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders agree on the goals, differ on the means to achieve them.
The President and former First Lady exchanged nine letters after Adams’ initial condolences on the death of Jefferson’s daughter, Maria. Each sought to explain (or justify) their position to the other. Jefferson was more conciliatory, separating political differences from personal ones. Mrs. Adams was more combative and unrelenting, unable to divorce the political from the personal.
Jefferson made three points about their differences:
1. Honest political leaders had the same goal, the public good, differing only in how to achieve that goal.
2. One party feared people incapable of self-government. The other feared self-seeking leaders unaccountable to the voters.
3. “time & experience” would prove which position was right, as determined by a majority vote of the citizens.

He concluded, as always, with a strong expression of his regard and hopes for the Adamses. It is unlikely he had an effect on Mrs. Adams. She did not respond, as she had three times before. This was the final letter between the two of them. Eight years later, Jefferson and John Adams would resume their long-derailed friendship.

“I sincerely appreciate and thank you for your outstanding
and motivation[al] presentation and for providing inspiration to our audience.”
Chair, Seattle Federal Executive Board
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire and motivate your audience.
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Leave a comment Posted in Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Don’t tell me your secret. Tell him.

Being unwilling to become the depository of secrets valuable to their author I will not give you the trouble of a meeting proposed in your letter of Aug. 23. nevertheless as I should not be justifiable in shutting the door to any benefit which your patriotism might intend for your country, I will observe to you that the Secretary of the Navy, mr Robert Smith is the person to whom such a communication as you propose would belong officially. as the members of the Executive will reassemble at Washington about the last of this month, mr Smith may be conferred with on the subject there at any time after that date…
To Abraham Husted, Jr., September 10, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders delegate!
Husted wrote to the President from Richmond, VA, offering secret plans for an underwater bomb. It could be manuevered under foreign ships harrassing our coastline and could render much of the American navy unnecessary. Husted claimed the French government had offered him a great deal of money for his plans, but he wanted them to be in American hands.

The President said thanks but no thanks. He didn’t care to hold another person’s secrets. Yet, if Husted’s plan might benefit their country, he should make them known to the appropriate person, Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy. Jefferson went so far as to say Mr. Smith would be back in Washington at the end of September, and Husted could make arrangements to meet with him them.

Apparently, nothing came of Husted’s plans. These two letters are the only ones recorded between him and Jefferson. Monticello.org has no information on Husted. A Wikipedia search for the inventor yielded only this correspondence.

“Everyone, to a person, commented on how thorough you were
and how every detail that was possible to recreate was covered.”
President, Cole County Historical Society
That’s Thomas Jefferson! Detailed and thorough. And captivating in the process, too!
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