Tag Archives: Writer

Why are Virginians giants and New Englanders but Pygmies?

Your letter of March 25th has been a cordial to me, and the more consoling as it was brought by your Grandsons Mr Randolph and Mr Coolidge … how happens it that you Virginians are all sons of Anak, we New Englanders, are but Pygmies by the side of Mr Randolph; I was very much gratified with Mr Randolph, and his conversation …
Public affairs go on pretty much as usual, perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be …
My love to all your family—and best wishes for your health—
FROM John Adams TO Thomas Jefferson, April 17, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The personal abuse of leaders is on the rise!
In honor of President’s Day (Monday, February 20), this week’s posts are devoted to the last letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Tuesday was Jefferson’s letter, today, Adams’ reply.

Jefferson’s letter to Adams requesting an audience for his grandson, T.J. (Jeff) Randolph, must have been presented personally by Jeff to the elder statesman, who was delighted with their conversation. Jeff’s younger sister, Ellen, had married Joseph Coolidge of Boston the year before and now lived there. The “Mr. Coolidge”Adams referred to must have been Jeff’s brother-in-law, Ellen’s husband.

Jeff Randolph was probably tall like his grandfather, who was 6′ 2 1/2″. Adams was only 5′ 7”. He wanted to know why New Englanders were short while Virginia produced “sons of Anak,” a tall race described in the Old Testament books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In a deleted portion of this letter, Adams complained about two current politicians, at least one of whom was contesting the legality of his son John Quincy Adams’ election as President. That probably explains his reference to “more personal abuse.”

Health was a concern for both men, who had far exceeded normal life expectancy. Jefferson was almost 83, and Adams was 90. He died 2 1/2 months later on the same day as Jefferson, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

“Your portrayal of President Thomas Jefferson was intellectually stimulating,
historically accurate, and very professional presented.”
Executive Director, The Missouri Bar
Invite Thomas Jefferson to inspire your members.
Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Aging, Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , |

My grandson wants to meet you!

My grandson Th: Jefferson Randolph, being on a visit to Boston, would think he had seen nothing were he to leave it without having seen you … like other young people, he wishes to be able, in the winter nights of old age, to recount to those around him what he has heard and learnt of the Heroic age preceding his birth, and which of the Argonauts particularly he was in time to have seen …my solicitude for your health by enabling him to bring me a favorable account of it. mine is but indifferent, but not so my friendship and respect for you.
To John Adams, March 25, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Near-death grandparent leaders want their grandchildren to remember.
In honor of President’s Day (yesterday, February 20), this week’s posts are devoted to the last letters exchanged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Today will be Jefferson’s letter, Thursday Adams’ reply.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792 – 1875) was the 2nd child and 1st son of his eldest daughter, Martha. Always a favorite of his grandfather, Jeff as he was known, supervised the elder man’s lands and perilous finances. Now, the 34 year old grandson was coming to Boston and wanted to meet Adams. Jefferson apologized for the intrusion but asked Adams for the indulgence, so that when Jeff was old, he might have some first-hand accounts to give his grandchildren.

Jefferson, almost 83, reported his health as “indifferent,” but hoped his grandson would bring a “favorable account” from the 90 year old Adams. Jefferson died just over three months later on the same day as Adams, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

“Working with Patrick was wonderful.
He was very flexible and easily adjusted his program to meet the audience.”
Executive Director, Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, ND
Thomas Jefferson is low-maintenance, high impact!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Family matters, Health Tagged , , , , , , , |

CHILL! Your reputation precedes you.

Happily withdrawn from the knolege of all the slanders which beset men in public life, I am totally uninformed of the tale respecting yourself alluded to in your letter, & equally unable to conjecture the author of it … I presume it impossible that in a state where you are known by character to every individual, their representatives can be led away by tales of slander, a weapon so worn as to be incapable of wounding the worthy. that the views of the person [Cong. John Randolph of VA] who procured the appointment of a committee of investigation were merely malignant, I never doubted, but his passions are too well known to injure any one.
To Samuel Smith, Maryland, July 26, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Public leaders have to expect slander.
Smith (1752-1839) was a successful businessman, Jefferson supporter and Maryland politician for many years. He had written to Jefferson about a proposed Congressional investigation into alleged improprieties regarding his private funds and public responsibilities. Smith knew but declined to identify to Jefferson the source of the accusations, the former President’s trusted Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin.

Interesting observations from Jefferson:
1. All public leaders should expect slanders, spoken untruths intended to defame.
2. He was happily ignorant of the case and would not speculate about the source of accusations.
3. Smith’s well-known reputation was all the defense he needed.
4. Without mentioning John Randolph by name, he alluded to Randolph’s attack-dog personality and his general lack of credibility.

The investigation was derailed when Smith’s brother Robert, Jefferson’s Secretary of Navy, brought forth facts which established Samuel’s innocence.

“Your topic selection and program were extraordinary.
Your responses to our questions were insightful”
American College of Real Estate Lawyers
Mr. Jefferson will be extraordinary for your members.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

This is a team to DIE for!

… I rejoice in the prospect of a pacification with England. in what degree it is owing to the past or present administration [my Presidency or Madison’s] is not worth a thought. whatever claims the former might have, mr Madison had the principal agency, and the latter acts are entirely his. I always considered it as among the happiest circumstances of my administration that the harmony & cordiality which subsisted among all it’s members amalgamated us into one mind. we had never a question who had a right to the merit or demerit of any particular measure; for in truth all measures of importance were the measures of all…
To John Minor, July 10 , 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A really good leader builds a team of “harmony and cordiality.”
Minor, like many others, had congratulated Jefferson on his Presidency. He thanked Minor, but included his Secretary of State and now President, James Madison, as equally deserving of praise. He went on to praise all of his cabinet members, and the unity that pervaded all their deliberations.

If something went well, they all enjoyed the results. If poorly, they all accepted responsibility. Their work was never “mine” or “yours” but always “ours.”

“Thank you for helping to make our Annual Meeting a complete success.”
North Carolina Agribusiness Council
Mr. Jefferson will contribute to the success of your meeting!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , |

What in the world do SHEEP have to do with this?

… I wish I were able to assist you in doing it, as I should do it with great pleasure. but the heavy debt, which on winding up my affairs at Washington, I found I had contracted there, has placed me under great difficulties, & will keep me long in a crippled state, as I have to pay it out of the profits of my estate, & the sale of a part of it, which I am endeavoring to effect …
To Joseph Dougherty, June 26, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know: “Never spend your money before you have it.”
The line above is from Jefferson’s “Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life,” 10 points of advice he wrote late in life. Unfortunately, he never followed it himself.

Dougherty had asked Jefferson’s help in building a flock of Merino sheep, a breed both men preferred. The retired President gave some practical advice but declined to invest any money in the operation, citing his “heavy debt” from his years in Washington City.

Some of his financial difficulties were not of his making. Some very definitely were. Taken together, they had rendered this naturally generous man unable to help. His money woes, which began in the 1770s with circumstances imposed by the Revolutionary War, compounded through the decades. By the late 1780s, he was borrowing money to pay off previous loans. At his death in 1826, he was about $100,000 in debt, necessitating the sale of Monticello and most of his possessions.

“Mr. Lee has … the artistic skills to move his presentation from the lecture stage
into the realm of actual interactive theater.”
Director of Entertainment, Delta Queen Steamboat Company
Let Mr. Jefferson inspire AND entertain your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Agriculture, Debt Tagged , , , , , , |

Let us meet ONLY when we can come to a conclusion!

I recieved yesterday from the Master Commissioner Ladd a notification in the suit of Gilliam v. Fleming to attend at his office on the 1st of Aug. … our meeting whenever it takes place should be rendered effectual & final, by the attendance of all material persons …. I have therefore proposed to mr Ladd to change the day to one in the healthy season, say in October after the frosts will have set in …
To Skelton Jones, June 25, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders avoid ineffectual meetings.
The lawsuit referenced arose from the 1770 death of Bathurst Skelton, the first husband of Jefferson’s wife, Martha. The issues were complicated and irrelevant here. What was relevant was that the matter had been contested for nearly 35 years, and Jefferson wanted it settled before his heirs, who knew nothing of the details, could be dragged into the prolonged fight.

The proposed date for the hearing was August 1 in the tidewater region of Virginia, a time of the year prone to outbreaks of the deadly yellow fever. Anyone who could fled inland for August and September to avoid the scourge. That meant some of the parties to the case would not attend.

He was eager to settle the case but had no interest in attending a meeting where a final result could not be reached. He proposed a later day, “say in October after the frosts will have set in.” At that time, everyone would be available and the issues could be finally resolved.

(The spread of yellow fever by virus-carrying mosquitoes would not be discovered until after Jefferson’s lifetime. They did know the disease was worst in late summer in swampy areas affected by changing tides. Fall frosts killed the mosquitoes and the scourge would end for another year.)

“I personally want to thank you.
It is a delight to have speakers like you who make me look good.”
Meetings Administrator, Iowa State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson will make you look good to your members!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , |

BEFORE you get sick …

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments & his thanks to Doctr Ricketson for his treatise on the means of preserving health & the pamphlets he has been so kind as to send him. he shall read the former especially with particular pleasure, having much more confidence in the means of preserving than of restoring health.
To Shadrach Ricketson, June 21, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Health conscious leaders value prevention ahead of treatment.
Ricketson (1768-1837) was a prominent New York Quaker and physician. In 1806, he published a book, “Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases … This was not so much a book on how to treat and eliminate or reduce disease-related problems as much as it was a book on how to live a long and health[y] life.”

Below the book title on the cover were these words, “Founded principally on an attention to air and climate, drink, food, sleep, exercise, clothing, passions of the mind, and retentions and excretions … Designed not merely for physicians but for the information of others …” (Quoted sections are credited to this site.)

Empirical or evidence-based medicine had a strong appeal to Jefferson. It is what he practiced for himself, his family and his servants. While he engaged a trusted doctor when his larger mountain-top family was threatened, he had great faith in the human body’s recuperative powers if just left alone. Most doctors lacked any real understanding of the human body and were inclined toward experimentation. Jefferson thought doing nothing was better than doing something uninformed.

He was also a great supporter of what we would call “wellness,” with a focus on cleanliness, diet, exercise and rest. Ricketson’s work was right up his alley!

“…our delegates really enjoyed hearing from Mr. Jefferson.
It is amazing how the thoughts, words and events of over 200 years ago transcend time
and are as relevant today as they were then.”
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities
Thomas Jefferson’s 19th century wisdom is relevant for your 21st century audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , , |

What does a local library mean for US? Part 4 of 4

… having had more favorable opportunities than fall to every man’s lot of becoming acquainted with the best books on such subjects as might be selected, I do not know that I can be otherwise useful to your society than by offering them any information respecting these which they might wish. my services in this way are freely at their command …
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders are helpful but not too helpful.
This was Jefferson’s closing in his response to news of a proposed county library in south Virginia. He had stated the importance of an educated citizenry, the value of a lending library toward that end, and the types of books that library should contain. Now, he limited his invovlement in their effort.

He did not endorse that particular library. He did not contribute to the capital campaign to establish it. Yet, acknowledging his good fortune when it came to books (his personal library contained over 6,000), he offered to advise them on what books they should acquire. He did not offer that counsel unsolicited; they would have to ask again.

“On behalf of the attendees … in Philadelphia …
I want to express our gratitude for an incredible opening session.”
Executive Vice President, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
Mr. Jefferson will contribute greatly to the success of your meeting.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Intellectual pursuits, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , |

What does a local library mean for US? Part 3 of 4

these should be such [books in your library] as would give them a general view of other history & particular view of that of their own country, a tolerable knolege of geography, the elements of Natural philosophy, of agriculture & mechanics. should your example lead to this, it will do great good.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Educated leaders encourage foundational reading for all.
What types of books should be in a county library for circulating among its citizens?

  1. History in general, to know what preceded us on a global scale
  2. History in particular, that of the United States
  3. Basic geography, how the elements of our earth are represented
  4. Science (“Natural philosophy”)
  5. Agriculture, how we feed and clothe ourselves
  6. “Mechanics,” how things work

A basic knowledge in these six areas would be sufficient for citizens to know, respect and safeguard their rights as free Americans.

“It is my pleasure to write about my professional experience with Patrick Lee …
Our members were thrilled.”
Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Your members will be thrilled with Mr. Jefferson, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Agriculture, Education, History, Natural history (science), Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , |

What does a local library mean for US? Part 2 of 4

I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expence than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county to consist of a few well chosen books, to be lent to the people of the county under such regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Frugal leaders seek the most bang for the buck.
In the first excerpt from this letter, Jefferson explained the vital importance of an educated citizenry as essential to protecting their own rights. He supported any institution which furthered that end.

In this excerpt, he focused on the one institution which could best help accomplish that goal at the least expense, a library in every county. It could be small. It’s books should be well-chosen. It should lend those books to citizens and provide for their safe return.

“Our local government leaders were thrilled with your remarks,
as evidenced by the extended standing ovation you received at their conclusion.”

Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Cities
Mr. Jefferson will delight your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Education, Protecting ourselves Tagged , , , , , , , |