Tag Archives: Thomas

The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Jefferson (Cambridge Companions to American Studies)

This Companion forms an accessible introduction to the life and work of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. Essays explore Jefferson's political thought, his policies towards Native Americans, his attitude to race and slavery, as well as his interests in science, architecture, religion and education. Contributors include leading literary scholars and historians; the essays offer up to date overviews of his many interests, his friendships and his legacy. Together, they reveal his importance in the cultural and political life of early America. At the same time these original essays speak to abiding modern concerns about American culture and Jefferson's place in it. This Companion will be essential reading for students and scholars of Jefferson, and is designed for use by students of American literature and American history.

Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello

When Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, he left behind a series of mysteries that have captured the imaginations of historical investigators for generations. In Jefferson's Secrets, Andrew Burstein draws on sources previous biographers have glossed over or missed entirely. Beginning with Jefferson's last days, Burstein shows how Jefferson confronted his own mortality. Burstein also tackles the crucial questions history has yet to answer: Did Jefferson love Sally Hemings? What were his attitudes towards women? Did he believe in God? How did he wish to be remembered? The result is a profound and nuanced portrait of the most complex of the Founding Fathers.

Jefferson’s Great Gamble: The Remarkable Story of Jefferson, Napoleon and the Men behind the Louisiana Purchase

Jefferson's Great Gamble tells the incredible story of how four leaders of an upstart nation–Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Livingston–risked the future of their country and their own careers; outwitted Napoleon Bonaparte, the world's most powerful ruler; and secured a new future for the United States of America.

For two years before the Louisiana Purchase, the nine principal players in the deal watched France and the United States approach the brink of war over the most coveted spot on the planet: a bustling port known as New Orleans. And until the breakthrough moment when a deal was secured, the men who steered their countries through the tense and often beguiling negotiations knew only that the futures of both nations were being questioned, and that the answer was uncertain.
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In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal

The belief that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and fathered a child (or children) with slave Sally Hemings—and that such an allegation was proven by DNA testing—has become so pervasive in American popular culture that it is not only widely accepted but taught to students as historical fact. But as William G. Hyland Jr. demonstrates, this “fact” is nothing more than the accumulation of salacious rumors and irresponsible scholarship over the years, much of it inspired by political grudges, academic opportunism, and the trend of historical revisionism that seeks to drag the reputation of the Founding Fathers through the mud. In this startling and revelatory argument, Hyland shows not only that the evidence against Jefferson is lacking, but that in fact he is entirely innocent of the charge of having sexual relations with Hemings.

Historians have the wrong Jefferson. Hyland, an experienced trial lawyer, presents the most reliable historical evidence while dissecting the unreliable, and in doing so he cuts through centuries of unsubstantiated charges. The author reminds us that the DNA tests identified Eston Hemings, Sally’s youngest child, as being merely the descendant of a “Jefferson male.” Randolph Jefferson, the president’s wayward, younger brother with a reputation for socializing among the Monticello slaves, emerges as the most likely of several possible candidates. Meanwhile, the author traces the evolution of this rumor about Thomas Jefferson back to the allegation made by one James Callendar, a “drunken ruffian” who carried a grudge after unsuccessfully lobbying the president for a postmaster appointment—and who then openly bragged of ruining Jefferson’s reputation. Hyland also delves into Hemings family oral histories that go against the popular rumor, as well as the ways in which the Jefferson rumors were advanced by less-than-historical dramas and by flawed scholarly research often shaped by political agendas.
Reflecting both a layperson’s curiosity and a lawyer’s precision, Hyland definitively puts to rest the allegation of the thirty-eight-year liaison between Jefferson and Hemings. In doing so, he reclaims the nation’s third president from the arena of Hollywood-style myth and melodrama and gives his readers a unique opportunity to serve as jurors on this enduringly fascinating episode in American history.

Thomas Jefferson and the Rocky Mountains: Exploring the West from Monticello

Although he did not travel farther inland than the slopes of the Appalachians, Thomas Jefferson must take his place alongside Zebulon Pike, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and Lewis and Clark–the men who blazed the great western trails. Donald Jackson cogently recounts Jefferson’s fundamental role in promoting and shaping the exploration, settlement, and development of the Trans-Mississippi West.

Framing a Legend: Exposing the Distorted History of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

A penetrating critical perspective on the question of Thomas Jefferson's paternity that will make you rethink recent conventional wisdom. It is accepted by most scholars that Jefferson had a lengthy affair with his slave Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children, a conclusion based on a 1998 DNA study published in Nature and on the work of historian Annette Gordon-Reed. Framing a Legend argues compellingly that the DNA evidence is inconclusive and that there are remarkable flaws in the leading historical scholarship purporting to show such a liaison. It critically examines well-known books by Fawn Brodie, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Andrew Burstein. Among other defects in these authors' works, Holowchak notes selective use of evidence, ungrounded speculation, tendentious psychologizing, and unpersuasive argumentation. He delves into what we know about Thomas Jefferson's character by showing that the historical facts do not suggest any romantic interest on Jefferson's part in his female slaves. Turning to the genetic evidence, Holowchak points out that, though DNA analysis indicates the presence of a Y-chromosome from some Jefferson male in the Hemings family line, it is unwarranted to conclude that this must have come from Thomas Jefferson. Finally, he discusses Jefferson's racial attitudes and says that they argue against any liaison with Sally Hemings.

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.

Jefferson and Religion (Monticello Monograph Series)

Thomas Jefferson's faith was of an eclectic sort; as he said, "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." He had a general interest in Christianity, seen through the lens of his Enlightenment philosophical views. He greatly admired the gospels and their central figure Jesus, but gave them a particularly Jeffersonian treatment in his own editing and reordering of them. This essay by Eugene R. Sheridan, is regarded by scholars as an authoritative treatment of a complex topic.
The essay in this book originally appeared as the introduction to Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels, a volume in the second series of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, published by Princeton University Press in 1983.

Passions : The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson

This is a biography of Thomas Jefferson at leisure, enjoying two of his passions–wine and travel. Twelve of the sixteen chapters cover Jefferson's five years in France where he served as our minister and traveled through France, England, Germany, Italy and Holland. "Passions" was selected by Robert M. Parker, Jr. as "1995 Wine Book of the Year," and was the winner of the 1995 "Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year" competition. It is a marvelous account of America's first wine connoisseur and gourmet.