Bridging The Gap- President Thomas Jefferson’s Leadership, 1801–1809 (Piracy Surges: American Merchant Ships)

Fun Fact about Thomas Jefferson: He loved Ice Cream. As a diplomat to France, he was introduced to this tasty dessert and enjoyed it.

Welcome back everyone. I hope you enjoyed my story about President John Adams. We were able to glean insights from him as a person, a husband, and a leader. His assignment as the second President was just as tough or tougher than the one of President Washington, as there was an evident demand on him to sustain and improve the health of the American people and continue developing the office of President.

Now, onward to the third United States President-Thomas Jefferson, 1801–1809. As a delegate of the Continental Congress, he is well known for being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence- 1776. A critical time when the American colonists wanted independence from Great Britain. They wanted their own government and felt they had a right to think this way and the means to make it happen. Of course, it was met with challenge from the British and the Revolutionary War ensued in 1775. To fast forward…after some years of fighting, the British surrendered and the Americans won their independence in 1781.

As the President, Thomas brought a myriad of experience to the office. Demands were placed on him at the beginning of his term, that he and his team had to address swiftly and accurately. One that was associated with the Declaration of Independence was the piracy surges against American merchant ships along the Barbary Coast of North Africa. These activities started after America became independent of Great Britain. There were no American naval patrols in this area. Therefore, merchant ships were vulnerable to piratical raids, bribes, and kidnapping.

This illegal behavior and a large tribute payment that a high-ranking, Tripoli official demanded from America was unacceptable. President Jefferson would not comply with his demands, and the War of Barbary/Tripoli started from 1801–1805. In response to the war, the President strengthened the Navy and dispatched warships to the Coast of Tripoli. There, they devastated the Naval and Land forces with swift and decisive fighting power. As a result, the conflict ended with the Peace Treaty of 1805.

Per the four leadership attributes for this Project, I rated President Jefferson, accordingly, as shown in the table. His administration moved quickly to address the piracy problem in the Barbary North Africa Coast. Peace was achieved and merchant ships were able to travel with the assurance that they would have a safe voyage without interference.

As a leader, we cannot cower and cave-in because of the hand that was dealt to us. We must engage, make mistakes, learn from them, listen to our teams, manage fallout, and so much more. Caving-in and giving up are not acceptable when we have not tried and exhausted healthy alternatives. President Jefferson, after his inauguration, had to quickly make critical decisions to address the piracy problem. He did not ask for this challenge. It was dealt to him/his team and they knew they had to protect the American people. So, they quickly moved from decision to action and engaged the problem with optimism and strategy. As a result, peace was achieved in this region.

As customary in my stories, please take an inventory of your leadership toolbelt and assess your position on the four attributes. Add them if they are missing; Adjust them if they are unhealthy; Sustain them if they are solid; and Improve them to continue to grow. Your Team; Your Constituents; Your Customer; and Your Family need you to stay engaged.

[1] The White House Historical Association. “Thomas Jefferson”. The White House Historical Association Website, 16 January 2019, Thomas Jefferson; 1801–1809

[2] 25 Things You Might Not Know About Thomas Jefferson. “Jake Rosen”., 13 April 2019, Thomas Jefferson Facts

[3] Declaration of Independence. “History.Com Editors”. History, 2 July 2019, About the Declaration of Independence

[4] Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “First Barbary War”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 May. 2020, The First Barbary War. Accessed 4 March 2021.

[5] Encyclopedia.com, Cengage. “Peace and Amity, Treaty of 1805”. Encyclopedia.com, 20 March 2020, Peace Treaty of 1805

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