Children Of Monticello

In Virginia, a quarrel is going on about who can be allowed to lie in a family graveyard. Because the family is Thomas Jefferson’s, the outcome of the dispute is important to every American.

All graveyards are sacred ground, the one at Monticello no more sacred than any other. As an acknowledged descendant of Thomas Jefferson, I have the birthright to be buried in the family graveyard at Monticello near the spot where we buried my father last year and my mother the year before.

 
 
 
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The Last Rebel Ground

From Richmond to Appomattox Court House, roads unchanged for 140 years tell the story of the final days, the final hours of the Confederacy

It’s hardly more than the size of your bedroom, half of it living quarters, the rest the office. “What about a bathroom?” I ask National Parks Ranger Tracy Chernault.

 

It’s hardly more than the size of your bedroom, half of it living quarters, the rest the office. “What about a bathroom?” I ask National Parks Ranger Tracy Chernault. Read more »

Stonewall Jackson’s Deadly Calm

COMING TO TERMS WITH THE MOST COMPELLING AND MYSTERIOUS OF CIVIL WAR HEROES

“THERE WAS A WITHCERY IN his name,” a Mississippian wrote, “which carried confidence to friend and terror to foe,” Northerners victimized by Stonewall Jackson’s daring thrusts were hardly less laudatory. Gen. Gouverneur K.Read more »

The Chicken Story

A CENTURY AGO you’d eat steak and lobster when you couldn’t afford chicken. Today it can cost less than the potatoes you serve with. What happened in the years between was an extraordinary marriage of technology and the market.

King Henri IV of France was a great king. He was also, perhaps, the world’s first real politician—for in the course of his ten-year battle to secure the French throne for the Bourbon dynasty he began deliberately enlisting public opinion and even invented the political slogan to help him do so. Instinctively knowing the shortest route to his people’s hearts, he told them, “I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he is unable to have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” Read more »

Private Flohr’s Other Life

The young German fought for American Independence, went home, and returned as a man of peace

Georg Daniel Flohr, a butcher’s son, enlisted at nineteen in the Regiment Royal-Deux-Ponts, a German outfit in the service of France, and came to America in 1780 with the Comte de Rochambeau’s army to help the Continentals in their struggle against Great Britain. Readers of this magazine may recall the beautifully illustrated diary Flohr kept of his service, which for a century lay unnoticed in Strasbourg’s main library.Read more »

The Destruction Of Fighting Joe Hooker

He told Lincoln he was better than any other officer on the field at Bull Run and got the Army’s top job. He built a beaten force into a proud one and stole a march on Robert E. Lee with it. He was twenty-four hours away from winning the Civil War. Then he fell apart.

“He sat in the full realization of all that soldiers dream of—triumph; and as I looked upon him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army had won, 1 thought that it must have been from such a scene that men in ancient times rose to the dignity of gods.” Read more »

Jefferson’s Second Home

THIS SPRING, THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF JEFFERSON’S BIRTH, RESTORATION BEGINS ON POPLAR FOREST, WHICH HE ONCE CALLED “THE BEST DWELLING HOUSE IN THE STATE, EXCEPT THAT OF MONTICELLO.” WHILE THE WORK PROGESSES, THE HOUSE IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, AND ITS GHOSTLY EMPTINESS HEIGHTENS THE SENSE IF ITS ORIGINAL OCCUPANT.

Only rarely did Thomas Jefferson speak directly of his second home, Poplar Forest, referring rather to “my property in Bedford” or employing some other casual euphemism. This obliqueness about a place in which he took so much pride was typical, another of the apparent contradictions in the Virginian who looms so large in our culture of contradiction—this highly public man who at the height of his political career built a second home to escape all the people and the attention he had attracted to the first. Read more »

Nat Turner Revisited

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the most controversial historical novel in memory, the author of The Confessions of Nat Turner speaks of a novelist’s duty to history and fiction’s strange power not only to astonish but to enrage

Twenty-five years ago this November, I found myself in Ohio, where I was being awarded an honorary degree at Wilberforce University. The university, one of the few all-Negro institutions in the North, was named after William Wilberforce, the great British abolitionist of slavery, and so I marked the special appropriateness of this honor when I accepted the invitation a few weeks earlier.Read more »

The Booth Obsession

The author joins the thousands who feel compelled to trace the flight of Lincoln’s assassin

The first non-children’s book I ever read was Philip Van Doren Stern’s novel The Man Who Killed Lincoln. How it fell into my hands I cannot say. I retain a clear memory of going to my mother to inquire about what appeared on page 16: “A big buck Negro, whose black skin glistened with sweat, held in his arms a young mulatto girl who was hysterical with desire.” Very baffling. What could it mean? Read more »

The House Of Many Layers

The Colonial Revival was born in a time of late-nineteenth-century ferment, and from then on the style resurfaced every time Americans needed reassurance

What would you do if you owned a Rembrandt that had been painted over by Picasso? A similar problem confronted the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1969, when it came into possession of Carter’s Grove, a mansion on Virginia’s James River that had been built between 1750 and 1755 and extensively remodeled in the 1930s. Should the house be restored to its original condition to portray the life and society of Virginia’s colonial aristocracy, or should it be preserved as it was received, to illustrate a more contemporary social milieu?Read more »