Tag Archives: Albemarle County

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize: “[A] commanding and important book.”—Jill Lepore, The New YorkerThis epic work—named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times—tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.

In the mid-1700s the English captain of a trading ship that made runs between England and the Virginia colony fathered a child by an enslaved woman living near Williamsburg. The woman, whose name is unknown and who is believed to have been born in Africa, was owned by the Eppeses, a prominent Virginia family. The captain, whose surname was Hemings, and the woman had a daughter. They named her Elizabeth.
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Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: A Photographic Portrait

Specially created in collaboration with Ken Burns for his documentary film series on Thomas Jefferson, these rich photographs portray Jefferson's Palladian masterpiece, Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia, as Jefferson might have photographed it himself — with his own refined intellectual and aesthetic vision. Jefferson died in 1826, the year photography was invented. In the spirit of this early era, award-winning photographer Robert Lautman has captured the house artistically using a unique mid-nineteenth-century method of creating photographs. After shooting the spaces with a large-format camera, and using only natural light — photographing the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon, utilizing shutters and doors for lighting control — he printed the images with a platinum-palladium process on hand-coated paper. The resulting photographs display a never-before-seen radiant atmosphere of this enchanting place, masterfully reproduced in this charming gift volume.

Begun in 1768 when Jefferson was only twenty-five years old, Monticello continued to be altered with changes and additions until his death. It remains the single home in America on the World Heritage List of international treasures. Jefferson, the only architect ever to serve as president, believed this house was his individual exploration and expression of classical architecture. Seen here are the harmonious proportions of the building, warm interiors, extensive grounds, romantic gardens, and elegant furnishings, along with some of Jefferson's prized personal belongings.

Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson

Much has been written about Thomas Jefferson, and with good reason: He was the architect of our democracy, a visionary chief executive who expanded this nation’s physical boundaries to unimagined lengths. But Twilight at Monticello is entirely new: an unprecedented look at the intimate Jefferson in his final years–from his return to Monticello in 1809 after two terms as president until his death in 1826–that will change the way readers think about this American icon. Basing his narrative on new research and documents culled from the Library of Congress, the Virginia Historical Society, and other special collections, Alan Pell Crawford paints an authoritative, deeply moving portrait of the private Jefferson–the first original depiction of the man in more than a generation.

Though physical illness and family troubles, Jefferson remained a viable political force, receiving dignitaries and corresponding with close friends, including John Adams and other heroes from the Revolution; helping his neighbor James Madison during his presidency; and establishing the University of Virginia. It was also during these years that Jefferson’s idealism would be most severely, and heartbreakingly, tested.

Thomas Jefferson on Wine

In Thomas Jefferson on Wine, John Hailman celebrates a founding father's lifelong interest in wine and provides unprecedented insight into Jefferson's character from this unique perspective. In both his personal and public lives, Jefferson wielded his considerable expertise to influence the drinking habits of his friends, other founding fathers, and the American public away from hard liquor toward the healthier pleasures of wine.

An international wine judge and nationally syndicated wine columnist, Hailman discusses how Jefferson's tastes developed, which wines and foods he preferred at different stages of his life, and how Jefferson became the greatest wine expert of the early American republic. Hailman explores the third president's fascination with scores of wines from his student days at Williamsburg to his lengthy retirement years at Monticello, often using Jefferson's own words from hundreds of immensely readable and surprisingly modern letters on the subject. A new epilogue covers the ongoing saga of the alleged wine swindle involving bottles of Bordeaux purported to belong to Jefferson.

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves

Is there anything new to say about Thomas Jefferson and slavery? The answer is a resounding yes. Master of the Mountain, Henry Wiencek’s eloquent, persuasive book—based on new information coming from archaeological work at Monticello and on hitherto overlooked or disregarded evidence in Jefferson’s papers—opens up a huge, poorly understood dimension of Jefferson’s world. We must, Wiencek suggests, follow the money.

So far, historians have offered only easy irony or paradox to explain this extraordinary Founding Father who was an emancipationist in his youth and then recoiled from his own inspiring rhetoric and equivocated about slavery; who enjoyed his renown as a revolutionary leader yet kept some of his own children as slaves. But Wiencek’s Jefferson is a man of business and public affairs who makes a success of his debt-ridden plantation thanks to what he calls the “silent profits” gained from his slaves—and thanks to a skewed moral universe that he and thousands of others readily inhabited. We see Jefferson taking out a slave-equity line of credit with a Dutch bank to finance the building of Monticello and deftly creating smoke screens when visitors are dismayed by his apparent endorsement of a system they thought he’d vowed to overturn. It is not a pretty story. Slave boys are whipped to make them work in the nail factory at Monticello that pays Jefferson’s grocery bills. Parents are divided from children—in his ledgers they are recast as money—while he composes theories that obscure the dynamics of what some of his friends call “a vile commerce.”
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