Tag Archives: Travel

These are not good places to stay. The others are worse.

… all roads appear bad to the traveller …[but I] recommend to you the Threenotched road through the whole way. it is well known by that name. it … crosses few streams, & offers few hills. your first stage should be at Leek’s, 20 miles from Richmond. the only one afterward’s at which you can lodge is Price’s about 35. miles from Leek’s. the next morning you have 22. miles to breakfast here … the two houses I have recommended, Leek’s & Price’s are bad enough, but less bad considerably than any others on the road.
To John Page, August 14, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders sometimes have to recommend the best out of multiple poor choices.
Page (1743-1808), just 15 days younger than his lifelong friend Jefferson, was a noted Virginia politician and Governor of Virginia at the time of this letter. When the President learned his old friend would be bringing his family for visit at Monticello, he was quick to recommend the route to travel the 77 miles from Richmond.

“Threenotched road” was the best one to use. It would require spending two nights at boarding houses en route. The two he recommended, Price’s and Leek’s, were bad places, but they weren’t as bad as all the alternatives.

“Many in the audience were impressed by the fact
that you had ‘done your homework about us’.”
Executive Vice President, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will research your organization
and tailor his remarks to the interests of your audience.
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Go this way or that way but NOT that way.

… you will find us in the hilliest & healthiest country in the world. I would recommend to you to come & return by different routs. the shortest and levellest is by Fairfax court house, Songster’s, Brown’s, Slate run church, Elk run church & Orange court house. the best country and entertainment, tho’ along a hilly road, is by Fairfax C. H. the Red house Prince Wm. C. H. Fauquier C. H. Culpeper C. H. and Orange C. H. the worst, longest, & most uninteresting road is by Fredericksburg.
To Henry Dearborn, August 13, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders encourage exploration and provide options.
Jefferson was at Monticello for two months, escaping what he called the “sickly season” along the coast and tidewater region, where the yellow fever sickened and killed many in late summer. Learning that Dearborn, his Secretary of War, was traveling with his family to see James and Dolley Madison at their home, the President invited him to come 30 miles further and visit him.

While this region of central Virginia was dotted with towns, there were no public roads to speak of, only acknowledged bare-earth segments or trails from one courthouse, tavern or inn to another. Fording creeks and climbing hills in a horse drawn carriage, especially after a rain, added extra challenges. Ever the explorer, Jefferson advised Dearborn not to come and go by the same route but to see more of the countryside.

Jefferson suggested the three most likely routes:
1. The shortest, fastest and most level (If you just want to get here)
2. The most appealing, though hillier (Challenging but enjoy the journey)
3. “the worst, longest, & most uninteresting” (You have been warned!)

“I highly recommend Mr. Lee for both formal and informal presentations:
he does extremely well with question-and-answer sessions
and adapts well to scenarios requiring some improvisation and quick thinking.”
Executive Director, Missouri Humanities Council
Mr. Jefferson will meet the needs of your audience.
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THIS is why government exists!

The dangers on the road to Natchez are really serious, & calling for attention. mere stationary posts, as proposed by Govr. Roan, appear to me inefficient. either a small body of cavalry, or mounted infantry, to be perpetually scouring the road and hovering about the caravans of passengers, as a marechaussée [local guard], seems worthy of consideration, as also the employing Indians in the same way, or offering rewards for apprehension & conviction of offenders.
To Gen. Henry Dearborne, July 12, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The primary role of government is the protection of its citizens.
The Natchez Trace was originally an Indian trail some 450 miles long, from Natchez, MS, on the Mississippi River, to Nashville, TN. Now a road, or at least a widened trail, it was a primary route for travel through what was then the southwest. In recent months, bandits along the road had assaulted and robbed travelers, including a postal carrier, and had murdered one person.

The President commissioned his Secretary of War to take whatever steps were necessary to make the route safe. His suggestions included:
1. An armed, roving military force
2. Local guards to escort caravans
3. Rewards for apprehending criminals
4. Enlisting natives in its defense

Within six days, Dearborne acted on a number of these recommendations.

“The city officials were captivated and would have posed questions for another hour
if the time had been available.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League
Mr. Jefferson delights to answer all questions from the audience.
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So, you think you’re in control?

I have got so far, my dear Martha, on my way to Philadelphia which place I shall not reach till the day after tomorrow. I have lost one day at Georgetown by the failure of the stages, and three days by having suffered myself to be persuaded at Baltimore to cross the bay and come by this route as quicker and pleasanter. After being forced back on the bay by bad weather in a first attempt to cross it, the second brought me over after a very rough passage, too late for the stage.—So far I am well, tho’ much fatigued.
To Martha Jefferson Randolph, February 28, 1797

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some things are simply way beyond a leader’s control.
Jefferson wrote to his elder daughter about his journey to the nation’s Capitol, where he would be inaugurated as Vice-President four days later. It was not an easy trip.

From Monticello, he traveled to what would become Washington City (later Washington, D. C.), but he referred to it as Georgetown, now a region within urban D.C., northwest of the White House. The horse-drawn stages weren’t operating, and he lost one day. Then northeast to Baltimore, where he yielded to another’s advice to cross the Chesapeake Bay and then north to Philadelphia. Bad weather and rough water cost him three more days. He was still at least two days from his destination.
He wrote this letter from Chestertown, MD, east across the Chesapeake from Baltimore.

He asked Martha to relay to her husband the prices that Virginia tobacco, wheat and cider were bringing in the cities.

“We could not have asked for a better keynote presenter to set the tone
for our conference theme, Prepared to Lead.”
Executive Director, Nevada Association of Counties

Mr. Jefferson will inspire your audience to become better leaders!
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