– In the most melancholy fit that ever any poor soul was, I sit down to write to you. Last night, as merry as agreeable company and dancing with Belinda in the Apollo could make me, I never could have thought the succeeding sun would have seen me so wretched as I now am!
I was prepared to say a great deal: I had dressed up in my own mind, such thoughts as occurred to me, in as moving language as I knew how, and expected to have performed in a tolerably creditable manner. But, good God! When I had an opportunity of venting them, a few broken sentences, uttered in great disorder, and interrupted with pauses of uncommon length, were the too visible marks of my strange confusion!
Source: To John Page, October 7, 1763
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even leaders can get tongue-tied in affairs of the heart!
Twenty year-old Jefferson was smitten with Rebecca Ambler, age 16, referred to here as Belinda. She was beautiful, respectable, sincerely religious, and “somewhat more serious than the other girls.” (Biographer Dumas Malone in Jefferson the Virginian, P. 82) Jefferson had some thoughts of marrying her, but he hoped to visit Europe first. He wasn’t prepared to propose marriage yet but wanted to assess whether she whether she might wait for him if he did go overseas first.
Prior to a dance they would attend together, he had everything carefully thought out in his mind, but when he tried to talk to her, it all went wrong.
-He spoke in fragments.
-His thoughts where disorganized.
-His pauses were way too long.
-He was afflicted by a “strange confusion.”
He went from confident and smitten before the dance to wretched melancholy afterward, and now he was commiserating with a dear friend. (Malone suggested Jefferson would have had a more positive result if he had confined himself to written words to Miss Burwell rather than spoken ones.)
Rebecca married a more serious suitor just months later. Jefferson dedicated himself even more to his law studies and showed no heart-felt interest in another woman until he courted and married Martha Wayles Skelton almost nine years later.
Mr. Jefferson will not be tongue-tied when he encourages your audience!
Invite him: 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.