This is a scolding letter for you all. I have not recieved a scrip of a pen from home since I left it which is now eleven weeks. I think it so easy for you to write me one letter every week, which will be but once in three weeks for each of you, when I write one every week who have not one moment’s repose from business from the first to the last moment of the week.
Perhaps you think you have nothing to say to me. It is a great deal to say you are all well, or that one has a cold, another a fever &c., besides that there is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me, nor any thing that moves … I suspect you may have news to tell me of yourself of the most tender interest to me. Why silent then?
Source: To Martha Jefferson Randolph, Dec. 23, 1790
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even leaders (especially leaders!) need encouragement from home!
Jefferson had assumed his new role as President Washington’s Secretary of State. Busy from dawn to dusk, he still found time to write once each week to his kids. For 11 weeks, they have not returned the favor, and Papa was unhappy. If his two daughters and one son-in-law would take turns, each would have to write only once every three weeks. He didn’t care if the news seemed unimportant to them. It all had great value to him, regardless how trivial.
He knew Martha was pregnant with his first grandchild. That made him all the more anxious. He was hoping for news of “the most tender interest.” Perhaps he also feared the great mortality that attended childbirth, when he asked, “Why silent then?” (Anne Cary Randolph was born just a month later. Mother and baby would be fine.)
In this letter, he also lamented that he had yet to rent a house, so he had no place for his furniture. Gifts he had for his children were still in storage. The river was frozen, and there would be no ships moving for at least two months. Things were rough all over. Papa needed a little encouragement.
Thomas Jefferson will not ignore your audience for 11 weeks! Promise!
He wishes to encourage them now! Call 573-657-2739
The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.