From a disgusting dish to peas, clover, manure, etc.

THOMAS JEFFERSON LEADERSHIP

I put away this disgusting dish of old fragments, and talk to you of my peas and clover … I have great encouragement from the friendly nature of our soil. … I have had … good clover from common grounds which had brought several crops of wheat and corn without ever having been manured … My exhausted fields bring a clover not high enough for hay, but I hope to make seed from it … these however I shall hereafter put into peas … I have tried this year the Caroline drill. It is absolutely perfect … Our wheat and rye are generally fine, and the prices talked of bid fair to indemnify us for the poor crops of the two last years.

Source: To George Washington, June 19, 1976

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Wise leaders defuse conflict and then look for common ground.
A series of anonymous letters to a Philadelphia paper sought to discredit President Washington. The writer of those letters implied that Jefferson had a hand in supplying negative information. Three-fourths of this letter was Jefferson’s denial of any role in the controversy. He called all of it a “disgusting dish of old fragments.”

With that unpleasantness behind him, Jefferson turned his attention to farming. Not only could he and fellow plantation-owner Washington could find common ground there, perhaps he could mend the offense. He went on to describe crop yields, soil fertility and ground cover rotation to renew it. Ever the optimist, as farmers must be, the quantity of his wheat and rye crops and the prices hoped for in 1796 would make up for losses in the previous two years.

Intent on minimizing the rift between them, Jefferson concluded by expressing his “very affectionate compliments to Mrs. Washington” and his “great and sincere esteem and respect” for the President.


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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.

His business address is ThomasJeffersonLeadership.com.

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