Tag Archives: Temperance

OK. No booze for you!

I am happy to learn you have been so far favored by the divine spirit as to be made sensible of those things which are for your good & that of your people, & of those which are hurtful to you: & particularly that you & they see the ruinous effects which the abuse of spirituous liquors have produced upon them … Spirituous liquors are not in themselves bad … it is the improper & intemperate use of them, by those in health, which makes them injurious. but as you find that your people cannot refrain from an ill use of them, I greatly applaud your resolution not to use them at all …
To Handsome Lake, November 3, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders applaud the wise choices of other leaders.
Lake was a spiritual leader among the Seneca Indians of New York. After a lifetime of abusing alcohol, he had been delivered of that curse and now actively promoted wellness among his people. That included a campaign against all alcohol use.

Jefferson, who loved wine but drank no hard liquor, appreciated Lake’s efforts. He distinguished between the use of alcohol for social enjoyment or medicinal purposes, a common practice, and alcohol abuse by healthy people. Since Lake’s people could not refrain from abusing alcohol, Jefferson applauded the leader’s choice to have it banned completely.

This letter was the source for a similar post in March, 2012.

“The content of your presentation, medicine during your time, was also, of course,
particularly fascinating to our health care provider attendees.”
Conference Chair, FOCUS on Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine Conference
Mr. Jefferson’s 19th century wisdom will be relevant for your 21st century audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Will you do this well at age 72?

I retain good health, am rather feeble to walk much, but ride with ease, passing two or three hours a day on horseback, and every three or four months taking in a carriage a journey of ninety miles to a distant possession, where I pass a good deal of my time. My eyes need the aid of glasses by night, and with small print in the day also; my hearing is not quite so sensible as it used to be; no tooth shaking yet, but shivering and shrinking in body from the cold we now experience, my thermometer having been as low as 12 degrees this morning.
To Charles Thomson, Jan. 9, 1816

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise choices (and good genes) help leaders live longer.
Jefferson lived a temperate life, full of exercise, vegetables, fruit, little meat, no tobacco, alcohol in moderation, and that only in weaker wines and beer. He exercised his mind a great deal. In a time when life expectancy was maybe 60, he’d surpassed that a dozen years when he wrote this and would live 11 more, to age 83.
He didn’t inherit good genes. His father died at age 49, his mother at 55. Eight of his nine siblings, seven younger than he, preceded him in death. The longest living of those nine, one who outlived him, was his sister Anna. She was born when Jefferson was 12 and died in her early 70s, two years after her brother.
His “distant possession” was Poplar Forest, his hide-away second home. You’ve read about Poplar Forest in these posts. Put those words in your “Search” window for a refresher.

Mr. Jefferson will encourage your audience to think well, eat well,
be active and make wise choices
Invite him to speak. Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

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What would “Miss Manners” think?

With respect to what are termed polite manners … I would wish my countrymen to adopt just so much of European politeness, as to be ready to make all those little sacrifices of self, which really render European manners amiable, and relieve society from the disagreeable scenes to which rudeness often subjects it. Here, it seems that a man might pass a life without encountering a single rudeness. In the pleasures of the table they are far before us, because, with good taste they unite temperance. They do not terminate the most sociable meals by transforming themselves into brutes. I have never yet seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of the people.
To Mr. Bellini, September 30, 1785

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Consensus-seeking leaders value the essential skill of politeness.
Jefferson wrote from Paris to a Virginia emigrant and language professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. He shared first impressions with a former European. While he praised their arts and a few of their books, he found them wanting in most other disciplines: government, science, morality, and a “swarm of nonsensical publications.”
He was complimentary though, of their politeness. Jefferson greatly valued cordiality! Note the qualities he appreciated:

1. Europeans made “all those little sacrifices of self” so necessary for just getting along. People didn’t insist on their own ways, and public conflict was minimized.
2. The dining table, Jefferson’s favorite place for mixing it up with others, combined good taste with limited alcohol. Meals ended on a friendly basis, not a drunken one.
3. He experienced no public drunkenness. Jefferson valued self-control and public propriety.

Mr. Jefferson will encourage your audience toward an essential social skill, politeness.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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