Tag Archives: Speaking

Jesus trumps all the ancient moral philosophers!

I had promised some day to write … my view of the Christian system … [after taking] a general view of the moral doctrines of the most remarkeable of the antient philosophers … I should proceed to a view of the life, character, & doctrines of Jesus … a pure[r] deism, and juster notions of the attributes of god, to reform their moral doctrines to the standard of reason, justice, & philanthropy, and to inculcate the belief of a future state. this view would purposely omit the question of his divinity & even of his inspiration … [and] shew a master workman, and that his system of morality was the most benevolent & sublime probably that has been ever taught; and eminently more perfect than those of any of the antient philosophers.
To Joseph Priestley, April 9, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders take pains to assess the morals of even wiser ones.
Priestley (1733-1804) was a renowned English-born scientist, philosopher, theologian, and Jefferson confidante. The work envisioned here was completed in 1804 with the title, “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.” Fifteen years later, in 1819, he produced an expanded version called, “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” That final version, excerpts from the four Gospels was produced in parallel form, with English, Greek, Latin and French translations on each page. Both were produced solely for his personal, private meditation, and made known to only a very few. Some years after his death, it would come be known, however incorrectly, as “The Jefferson Bible.”

Jefferson’s work focused only on Jesus’ words and historical accounts from the Gospels. Omitted were any claims of divinity and all of his miracles. Those, Jefferson believed, had been added by Jesus’ disciples to embellish their teacher. Even so, he found Jesus to be “more perfect” than all ancient philosophers “and that his system of morality was the most benevolent & sublime probably that has been ever taught.”

“I would like to thank you for your excellent presentation …
I continue to hear compliments …”
Secretary/Treasurer, Virginia Association of Surveyors
Your members will be talking about Mr. Jefferson long after your event.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in History, Morality, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , |

One dad to another, I will give your son a chance.

the warrant to your son as midshipman had been suspended for enquiry on a suggestion of too great a propensity in him to drink … it is sufficient that you are apprised of it … his warrant was therefore signed two days ago … such a doubt having been once excited, more circumspection & regularity will on that account be necessary from him, than from others; and that, were it to be strengthened, he would find himself in a cul de sac, without explanation. my friendly respect for you calls for this candor, because no circumstance of connection could permit an inattention to public duty in matters of appointment; & because also, being put on his guard, he will feel a stronger inclination to dissipate all doubt by a regularity of deportment.
To Thomas Cooper, April 9, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Conscientious leaders put responsibility ahead of friendship.
The England-born Cooper (1759-1839) emigrated to Pennsylvania, established himself as a chemist, one of the foremost scientists in America, and friend and confident of Thomas Jefferson. Cooper’s son’s appointment to midshipman, the lowest ranking office in the navy, had been held up on suspicions the young man drank too much. Cooper, Sr. wrote to Jefferson and vouched for his son.

The President’s “friendly respect” for Cooper required such straightforwardness:
1. Cooper, Sr. needed to know the concerns about his son.
2. Upon his father’s assurance, the warrant would be issued.
3. His son would be watched more closely than others because of his past.
4. A navy career would be a dead-end (cul de sac) if he abused alcohol.
5. Even the closest friendship was not sufficient for him to appoint an unqualified officer.
6. Once warned, the young man would “feel a stronger inclination” to remove any doubt about his behavior.

Cooper, Sr.’s faith in his son was unwarranted. Cooper, Jr. was dismissed from the navy 15 months later over issues of sobriety.

“One of the audience members even went so far as to take on the persona of Aaron Burr
and confronted President Jefferson who, although not expecting such an event,
responded with sharp wit and ready facts.”
Executive Director, Kentucky Bar Association
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to field any question from your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Military / Militia, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

I cannot do this worthwhile thing.

… the theatre is proposed to be built by private individuals, it is to be their private property, for their own emolument, & may be conveyed to any other private individual. to cede to them public grounds for such a purpose1 whether appropriated, or open spaces, would be a donation of it: and I do not find that the President has a power to make such a donation of the public lands … knowing, as I do, that this enterprise is undertaken with no view to their private benefit, but is really a sacrifice to advance the interest of the place, I am sorry that the accomodation desired cannot be obtained from the public, and that their funds are to be diminished either by a purchase of the site, or a ground rent for it. but I see no remedy…
To Thomas Munroe, April 7, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Conscientious leaders respect the limits to their authority.
Munroe was Superintendent of the nation’s capital city. He had written a letter to the President with proposed designs for streets and tree-plantings. He concluded with an appeal made to him by private citizens seeking a donation of public land for the building of a theater.

Jefferson responded that it was a private endeavor in every way, including the opportunity for profit. He had no power to donate public lands for private use. He acknowledged that the purpose of the theater was not for “private benefit” but public good, that his denial of a land donation meant some of the funds that could have gone toward that public good must be used instead on a building site. Yet, “I see no remedy,” he replied.

The theater was subsequently built on land donated by an individual.

“It was a great pleasure to have you return to the Old Courthouse …
We look forward to working with you again …”
Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Museum, St. Louis
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak at your meeting,
either for the first time … or again.

Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Culture, Education, Government's proper role Tagged , , , , , , , |

Are you liberal? Why or why not?

I am in all cases for liberal [straight-forward, open-minded, even-handed, reciprocal] conduct towards other nations, believing that the practice of the same friendly feelings & generous dispositions which attach individuals in private life will attach societies on the large scale, which are composed of individuals.
… the thermometer is at 29°. with us this morning. the peach trees in blossom for a week past.
To Albert Gallatin, March 28, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use the Golden Rule, with nations as with individuals.
The President proposed “liberal” conduct always by America toward other nations. That conduct could only come from the individuals comprising America. We should not be liberal with one another, and il-liberal with other nations. Nations are comprised of individuals. Our relationships with other nations will be a reflection of how we treat one another.

This letter to his Treasury Secretary covered diplomacy, the navy, Pennsylvania politics and patronage. Gallatin was also his friend, so he ended with a personal observation about the weather and his peach trees. (Perhaps a subsequent letter will make mention of the year’s peach crop being lost to the freezing weather?)

“Patrick Lee has presented three times at our Annual Conference …
Our members have given Mr. Lee standing ovations,
an honor awarded to very few presenters.”
Assistant Executive Director, Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Diplomacy, Human nature Tagged , , , , , , |

Two million bucks oughtta be enough.

Congress having passed the two million bill, you will recieve by this mail your last dispatches. others will follow you about the 2d. week of April … Congress has [also] given authority for exploring the Missisipi, which however is ordered to be secret. this will employ about 10. persons two years.
To James Monroe, February 25, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders know that diplomacy sometimes requires a lot of money.
Uncharacteristic for him, Jefferson had commanded Monroe to go to France to help negotiate America’s right to freely use the port of New Orleans. That was the easy part. The diplomats needed money to go where their mouths were, so he asked Congress for $2,000,000, and they approved it. The money was to buy New Orleans along with East and West Florida (our present state of Florida, the southern parts of Alabama and Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana). This was several months before France’s bombshell offer to sell all of Louisiana.

He also informed Monroe of Congress’ authorization of a small company for “exploring the Missisipi” and $2,500 to pay for it. Both actions were being kept from public knowledge.

Jefferson may have been withholding information from Monroe, too, or protecting his mission should the letter become public. The $2,500 was not for exploring the Mississippi River but the Missouri. That river was still owned by Spain, which had already rebuffed Jefferson’s request to explore it.

“I’m sure your presentation appeals to a wide range of Americans …
I would highly recommend it …”
Executive Director, Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors
Mr. Jefferson & his compatriots, Daniel Boone and William Clark, come highly recommended.
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Even if I could help you, I would not. This is why.

… it is so important to the public service that I should be the center of information as to whatever concerns them, that in order to induce it to be freely given I am obliged to let it be understood that whatever I recieve is sacredly confidential, and shall not under any circumstances be given up. this imposes on me the obligation to suffer no impression to be made on me by any secret information, nor to act on it, until I verify it by further & sufficient enquiry. for this reason had I such a paper as you suppose I could not communicate it without a breach of trust …
To Thomas Mendenhall, February 25, 1803

[Woo-woo! This is Mr. Jefferson’s 800th blog post!]

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders know the importance of maintaining confidentiality.
Delaware businessman Mendenhall wrote a fawning letter to Jefferson, asking for a copy of a document the President had received about him almost two years earlier. That document might help Mendenhall defend himself against political attacks on his character. Jefferson opened his reply stating that he had no knowledge of the material requested. But even if he did, he would not provide it.

The President needed and wanted information from his constituents about their concerns. To encourage people to share their sentiments freely, he made it known that the information would be “sacredly confidential.” Such intelligence was for informing him only and would remain private until he had verified it by other sources. To disclose it prematurely would be violating the trust people placed in him.

Jefferson closed his letter the same way he opened it, reassuring Mendenhall that he had “not the smallest recollection” of the document requested.

“Patrick was an instant hit with all of our attendees.
He held them in the palm of his hand from the moment he strode into the room …”

Assistant to the Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Boards
Let Mr. Jefferson captivate your attendees.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Presidency Tagged , , , , , , |

A strong militia is our first and best defense!

… I take the liberty of urging on you the importance and indispensible necessity of vigorous exertions … [to] render the militia a sure and permanent bulwark of national defence.

None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. to keep ours armed and disciplined, is therefore at all times important. but especially so at a moment when rights the most essential to our welfare have been violated …

… that I may have a full and correct view of the resources of our country in all it’s different parts, … [furnish me with a report of the] militia, & of the arms & accoutrements of your state, and of the several counties, or other geographical divisions of it.
Circular to the Governors of the States, February 25, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A ready defense of the nation is a leader’s first responsibility.
The U.S. had no standing army, and the President didn’t want one, for two reasons. First was the cost to maintain it. Second, an army, created to fight, would want to fight and might cause provocations for that reason alone. Far better was a well-armed and trained militia, private citizens ready to provide a first line of defense. If the militia proved inadequate, their existence would provide time to raise a standing army.

Militias were the responsibility of the states. Jefferson wrote to the Governors, reinforcing their role in providing for a militia that was “armed and disciplined.” He asked each Governor to report to him on the men and arms available from each state, county and territory.

The particular violation referenced by Jefferson was at New Orleans, where a Spanish agent had suspended America’s treaty-guaranteed right of free shipping through that essential river port.

“Without question, you enjoy an actor’s sense of timing and theater
that makes a lasting impression.
You demonstrated a steady and clear delivery without relying on histrionics.”

Executive Director, Western Coal Transportation Association
No exaggeration from Mr. Jefferson! Only a “steady and clear delivery.”
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Government's proper role, Military / Militia Tagged , , , , , , , |

I will deal with the devil if I have to.

you mentioned that the receipt of the 400. D. in March would be quite sufficient, or even later if it should be inconvenient to me. I am not yet certain how that will be; but either then, if I have it not in hand, or at any other moment when your calls require it, I can get it from the bank here; but that being in the hands of federalists, I am not fond of asking favors of them. however I have done it once or twice when my own resources have failed, and can do it at all times.
To John Wayles Eppes, February 21, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Indebted leaders are humbled by their financial insecurity.
Eppes was married Maria Jefferson, the President’s younger daughter. Always solicitous of his two daughters and their families, Jefferson was quick to come to their financial aid, even when his own resources were lacking.

There was little cash in circulation. Financing was most often by credit – personal loans, advances on future tobacco and wheat crops, and mortgages on property, plus the buying and selling of the “paper” created by those advances. Borrowing money from one source to pay another was a common practice, one Jefferson had been forced into since his ambassadorship to France in the late 1780s. Only those prudent enough to buy only with cash, or “ready money,” had control over their financial health. Jefferson was rarely in that category.

Eppes had $400 coming due in March and had asked his father-in-law for help in meeting those “calls.” Jefferson didn’t have the cash and didn’t know if he would when the time came. If so, he would go to the bank for another advance. He hated that last resort, as the bank was controlled by his political opponents. Whether they charged him harsher terms or simply exulted in humbling the President or both is unknown, but his liberal personal spending, coupled with political and economic reverses he had no control over, left him at their mercy.

“Your presentation as Thomas Jefferson was a definite highlight
of our meeting
and enjoyed by all.”
Associate Executive Director, Arkansas Bar Association
Mr. Jefferson will be a definite highlight of your meeting!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Debt, Family matters, Politics Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

You plant trees at age 61?! I will plant flowers!

We hope Mr. Short will do us the honor of transmitting the things we entrusted to him, in order to bring us back to the extravagance of planting and sowing after age 60.
Woe to him who lives only for his own lifetime!
From Madame de Tesse to Thomas Jefferson, May 21, 1802

… I cannot but admire your courage in undertaking now to plant trees. it has always been my passion; insomuch that I scarcely ever planted a flower in my life. but when I return to live at Monticello, which may be in 1805. but will be in 1809. at the latest … I believe I shall become a florist. the labours of the year, in that line, are repaid within the year, and death, which will be at my door, shall find me unembarrassed in long-lived undertakings.
To Madame de Tesse, January 30, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders long for some short-term gratification!
Jefferson met Madame de Tesse (1741-1813) during his service in France in the late 1780s. An educated woman, she ran a salon, a gathering of individuals for intellectual discussion. Such women always appealed to Jefferson.

They also shared an interest in horticulture, which was the subject of his letter. “Mr. Short” was William Short, a mutual friend who facilitated their exchange of seeds and plants. Some of the plants she requested of Jefferson must have been trees, whose maturity she would never live to see. Yet, she concluded her letter, ” Woe to him who lives only for his own lifetime!”

Jefferson admired her long-term vision but sounded a contrary interest for himself. His political life had been characterized by long-term vision, but he was already looking forward to retirement, two or six years hence, when he could become a florist! Whatever he planted would pay him back in beauty that same year. When he died, he wouldn’t be embarrassed by plantings that hadn’t yet reached maturity.

“… your participation, as always, helped make this year’s
Constitution Day celebration
at the Old Court House a success”
Acting Superintendent, Jefferson National Expansion Museum, National Park Service
Mr. Jefferson will help make your event a success, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Horticulture Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Diplomacy, Intellectual pursuits, Morality Tagged , , , , , , , , |