he sollicits her on his own account, whenever she shall happen to be shopping, to get a garment for him to present to Virginia, another to Anne, and one for Ellen & Cornelia … mrs Madison knows better how to please the respective parties than Th:J. does. what she got for Anne on a former occasion was particularly gratifying to her. mrs Madison will be so good as to direct the shopkeepers to send their bills to Th:J. for paiment.
Thomas Jefferson to Dolley Payne Todd Madison, July 6 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders, even grandfathers, know what they’re not good at.
The President asked his friend and wife of Secretary of State James Madison to help him with a little shopping. He wanted dresses for each of four granddaughters. Mrs. Madison knew the girls and would make far better selections than he. Affirming her good judgment, he mentioned how pleased eldest granddaughter Anne was with a previous selection Dolley had made for her.
Jefferson concluded with instructions to send the bill to him.