Thomas Jefferson

The year is 1859. Read more >>

A STUDY IN HISTORICAL SILENCES

Although he married only once, Thomas Jefferson had two families. The first was by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson; the second, after her death, was by her young half sister, Jefferson’s quadroon slave Sally Hemings. Read more >>

WHERE DID IT GO?

As we commemorate the anniversary of the founding of our nation we are conscious of a paradox: we have almost miraculously maintained the continuity of those institutions which the Founding Fathers created, but in large measure we have betrayed the principles Read more >>

Vain, snobbish, distinctly upper-class in his libertine social habits, Gouverneur Morris nevertheless saw himself justifiably as "A Representative of America"

Of all the remarkable men who forgathered in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, and perhaps to do even more, Gouverneur Morris was certainly the most talkative. Read more >>

After the American sailor's ship was captured, he was held a slave in Algeria for 15 years

1. Cathcart sails for Spain. Some account of his puerile adventures in the Revolution. He is captured by pirates, hauled to Algiers, and set to work for the dey. Rich garments and poor food. Read more >>

The brilliant Polish engineer who made possible the victory at Saratoga was a fighter for freedom in both America and his homeland

A large crowd was on the wharf as the Adriana arrived in Philadelphia from England on the evening of August 18, 1797. Aboard was a distinguished passenger whose name few Americans could pronounce but whose noble reputation was well known. Read more >>
William Maclay, elected by the Pennsylvania Legislature to the Senate of the United States, left his farm near Harrisburg early in March, 1789, and journeyed to New York to attend the first session of the First Congress. Read more >>
On any list of events that have altered the course of history the opening of Japan to foreign trade in 1854 must surely rank high. Read more >>

A careless America has lost or ignored most of its priceless collection of patent models. Sometimes exquisite,sometimes little more than toys, those that remain display in the inventors’ own handiwork the history of our technology

The engaging artifacts on the preceding page are, for all their quiet simplicity, survivors of an extraordinarily harrowing career. More important, they are part of a national treasure that is now threatened and dwindling almost daily. Read more >>

A seasoned scholar examines in detail evidence that the widowed Thomas Jefferson took as his mistress Sally Hemings, the beautiful quadroon half sister of his late wife

Did Thomas Jefferson, widowed at thirty-nine, take as a mistress Sally Hemings, the beautiful quadroon half sister of his late wife? This careful study of the known facts and of the long, bitter argument on the subject is the work of a seasoned scholar. Read more >>

We have come a long way from the philosophy of the Enlightenment...a shift that represents a retreat rather than an advance, argues the noted historian.

We think of our own time as an Age of Enlightenment, but it flouts and even repudiates two essential principles of the Enlightenment: first the priority of the claims of science and culture over those of politics, and second the cosmopolitan and even universal nature of science Read more >>

The revival in the nineteenth century of medieval motifs in architecture extended from villas and furniture to farmhouses and vineries

Many of the visitors who admire the classic calm of Monticello would be startled if they knew of the original intentions of Thomas Jefferson. Read more >>

It was a romance in which the statesman found his Head at war with his Heart

Why is it that American history books contain so few romantic episodes? Read more >>

The idea goes back to the very beginnings of our national history. Then as now, it was built upon human relationships, and these—as Mr. Jefferson found to his sorrow—make a fragile foundation.

Is it libel to say that the President of the United States tried to seduce his neighbor’s wife—even if he did? Thomas Jefferson tried to gag the venomous editor of upstate New York’s Wasp; Alexander Hamilton argued brilliantly in defense of journalistic candor.

“At a Court of general Sessions of the Peace, holden at Claverack, in and for the county of Columbia, it is presented that Harry Croswell, late of the city of Hudson, in the county of Columbia aforesaid, Printer, being a malicious and seditious man, and of a depraved mind Read more >>

In a strange message to the intriguing General Wilkinson, the soldier-explorer seemed to predict his own geographical befuddlement and his capture by the Spanish.

Back from France with an epicure’s knowledge of haute cuisine , our third President served the most lavish dinners in White House history

I dined a large company once or twice a week, Jefferson dined a dozen every day,” remarked the frugal New Englander John Adams in recalling early hospitality in the “President’s House” in Washington. “I held levees once a week. Read more >>

The American system of choosing a President has not worked out badly, far as it may be from the Founding Fathers’ vision of a natural aristocracy

Jefferson and Madison led a revolutionary fight for complete separation of church and state. Their reasons probed the basic relation between religion and democracy

Medicine was primitive and their knowledge of it limited, but in their hazardous journey to the Pacific, Lewis and Clark lost only one patient

His feat was more daring than Paul Revere’s, but Virginia’s hero had, alas, no Longfellow

If you mean to be a historical figure, it is a good idea to get in touch with a leading literary figure—a Longfellow, a Homer, a Virgil. Paul Revere, Odysseus, Aeneas—they all took this precaution. Poor Captain Jack Jouett didn’t. Read more >>

Among his many other achievements, Jefferson was one of the leading architects of his day, responsible for the introduction of the Greek Revival style into America.

Architecture was not the least of Thomas Jefferson’s formidable talents. In his designs there was much of the monumental dignity of the classical models which all his life he sought to emulate. Could not America revive the glory that was Greece and Rome? Read more >>

When he offered Congress his library, his foes charged that it was full of books which “never ought to be read” and probably ought to be burned

When, on the night of August 24–25, 1814, General Robert Ross burned Washington, most though not all, of the infant congressional library went up in flames. Patrick Magruder, who doubled as clerk of the House and librarian, had betaken himself to Virginia Springs, and the convulsive efforts of his assistants to save the library foundered on the lack of wagons. A subsequent congressional investigation concluded somewhat illogically that the hapless Magruder should have foreseen this embarrassment and provided for it, and accepted his resignation. Read more >>

Washington was his idol, but he could not apply his American ideals to a France sliding into the Terror

Lafayette, at the head of a group of young French nobles, first landed on American soil amid the live oaks hung with Spanish moss on the swampy shores of the little port of Georgetown in the southern Carolinas, in the early summer of 1777. Read more >>