Tag Archives: Wine

This is how you express a complaint to a friend.

The Champagne you were so kind as to send me the last year proved to be very good …and I should have troubled you this year … but that a very good batch was fortunately offered me here, on reasonable terms, which I thought it best to secure & avoid the delay & risks of importation. the risk of breakage alone is very great, as of the 400. bottles recieved through you, though well packed 153. had burst or forced out the cork & the wine lost.
To Fulwar Skipwith, July 11, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders surround a complaint with compliments.
Skipwith was an American diplomat in France. The previous year, he had secured for Jefferson a very good supply of champagne. The President would have ordered more, but he had the opportunity to buy good champagne in America and took it. He avoided both the delay and destruction of imports. Of 400 bottles in Skipwith’s shipment, 153 (38%) were lost, either through broken bottles or premature bottling, when excess fermentation popped the corks.

Jefferson loved his wine! He complimented Skipwith on the quality of the champagne and the care taken in packing it. Even so, much of it was wasted. Buying locally allowed Jefferson to enjoy all the wine he paid for, and perhaps, send a message …

“After seeing you perform several years ago,
 I did not expect that you could improve much on your character.
However, I have to say your program has gotten even better with age!
Missouri Department of Conservation
With 29 years of practice, Thomas Jefferson has gotten MUCH better with age!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I do like wine, but I cannot help you.

I … confine my contributions of this kind to the state in which my property lies, & to the district in which the seat of government makes me a resident. within this district, where every thing is to be done, the calls are quite sufficient to absorb every thing which it’s inhabitants can spare. for these considerations I withold with regret the act you desired, and I trust you will think the ground sufficient.
To J. P. G. Muhlenberg, February 24, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The practical leader cannot support everyone’s worthy cause.
Muhlenberg, president of a Pennsylvania wine production company, solicited a subscription (contribution) from one of the nation’s premier wine fanciers. Jefferson declined.

Jefferson received many such solicitations when he became President. He lent his support broadly and soon discovered he did not have the personal funds to continue. Of necessity, he limited his contributions to causes where he owned property and to those in the nation’s capital. He regretted not being able to help a favored cause and hoped Muhlenberg would understand.

“This letter is to recommend a both talented and fascinating performer –
Patrick Lee.”
Missouri Department of Conservation
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your audience.
Call 573-657-2739
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252 gallons of wine on the wall + 252 more!

The term of payment for the two last pipes of wine being now at hand I have desired mr John Barnes of Georgetown to remit you in the first week of the month now about to enter seven hundred dollars … if you have now remaining on hand any of the same quality I would gladly take two pipes more, payable at 90. days. accept assurances of my respect.
To James Taylor, August 28, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Different leaders relax in different ways! (OR: Hang the cost!)
Jefferson loved his wine! His multiple efforts to transplant a viticulture from France to Monticello had been unsuccessful, and he remained dependent on others for his supply. Although his indebtedness had been increasing for years, an ample wine supply was yet another creature comfort he would not deny himself.

A pipe of wine was 126 gallons, 1/2 of a larger barrel called a tun. This order was for two pipes. He wanted two pipes more. Four pipes would be just over 500 gallons, or 2,500 750ml bottles by today’s measurement. Jefferson’s cost was $1,400. Widely varying estimates on the value of a dollar in 1800 compared with today, could make the current cost between $28,000 and $42,000.

“You were the hit of our annual conference.”
President, MO Association for Adult Continuing and Community Education
Mr. Jefferson will be a hit with your audience!
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This is what I think. You decide.

have we a right to give passages generally to private individuals whenever a public vessel is passing from one place to another? … these are my hasty thoughts on the subject. be so good as to weigh & correct them, & do in it what you think right.—
To James Madison, August 22, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confident leaders let trusted subordinates make their own decisions.
Jefferson wrote to his Secretary of State about a number of issues in this letter. One was the prickly matter of granting permission to a private individual to travel on an American ship as if he had some kind of official status.
Jefferson gave his off-the-cuff thoughts. He invited his dear friend and trusted lieutenant Madison to review them, correct where he was wrong, and make whatever decision he thought best.

“I want to express my thanks to you
for your outstanding presentation …
Program Co-Chair, Missouri Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will make an outstanding presentation for your audience!
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I must have wine!

… you mention having for disposal two casks of white & red Sherry, and one of Malaga. if the Sherry be dry, I will gladly take them, as also the Malaga. if you could order for me a pipe [cask] of dry Pacharetti, and one of dry Sherry of the first qualities, to be forwarded from Spain by the first safe occasion I should be obliged to you … I wish the wines as old as could be got, so as to be ready for immediate use
To Joseph Yznardi, Sr., March 24, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some leaders are very particular about their lubrication.
After Jefferson sold his personal library of 23,000 books to Congress, he wrote, “I cannot live without books.” He began to buy more books. He did not write, “I cannot live without wine,” but he certainly could have. He loved wine, having two or three glasses each evening, more if the after-dinner company was particularly enjoyable. He limited the alcohol’s effect by drinking only weaker wines.

The footnote to this letter, available at the Yznardi link above, provides details on what Jefferson received from this order. The “pipe” alone contained 129 gallons.

Note that Jefferson did not inquire about the price or set a limit on what he would pay. Another source claims, “According to Hailman’s Jefferson on Wine, Jefferson spent $3,200 per year on wine during his first term, which equates to roughly 13% of his annual salary.”

“What a unique presentation you offered as Thomas Jefferson
for the luncheon keynote …”
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
A unique presentation awaits your audience, too! (But no wine. Sorry.)
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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How would you describe a long-term friendship?

I find friendships to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.
To Dr. Benjamin Rush, August 17, 1811
Koch & Peden’s The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 563

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders need good friends, old & faithful friends.
Little needed other than to point out that Rush and Jefferson had been trusted friends to each other for over 35 years. Rush was responsible in the following year for helping to restore another old friendship, one damaged by political differences. That one was between two of his good friends, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

“I personally want to thank you.
It is a delight to have speakers like yourself who make me look good.”
Meetings Administrator, Iowa State Association of Counties

Let Thomas Jefferson make you look good to your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739

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