Let’s start over, shall we? — Thomas Jefferson Leadership


My dearest Anne

I do not know whether it is owing to your laziness or mine that our letters have been so long intermitted [suspended]. I assure you it is not to my want of love to you, and to all of those about you, whose welfare I am always so anxious to learn. but it is useless to discuss old bankrupt scores. we will therefore burn our old accounts, and begin a new one on the 1st. day of October next.

Source: Thomas Jefferson letter to Anne Cary Randolph, 6 July 1806

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Wise leaders know when a do-over is called for.
Anne Randolph, age 15, was Jefferson’s first grandchild. He wrote to his grandchildren often and encouraged, often insisted, they write him regularly. They rarely complied to his satisfaction.

Grandpapa, as he was known to them, again drew attention to the lack of correspondence but acknowledged the problem might be on his end. (Very likely it was not, for no one would ever accuse him of “laziness” or lack of attention to his sole surviving child and her growing family.)

Regardless the cause, he wrote it was “useless to discuss old bankrupt scores,” suggesting they burn them and start over. It was a philosophy he applied to his political leadership as well, being willing to set past offenses aside and start again if an opponent was similarly-minded.

“…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
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.

Self-Educated American, ‘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.