Thomas Jefferson

Important new information on the central figure in the early American republic has surfaced with the publication of new volumes of Jefferson's journals and correspondence.

Jefferson transformed an elegant country house into an American symbol, a paradigm for the young nation’s architecture.

Incensed that many leading European scientists had belittled North America's climate and fauna, Thomas Jefferson shipped them evidence and published a long reply in Notes on the State of Virginia.

It has been called one of the most consequential debates in American history. The Revolution's greatest orator later fought to stop ratification of the Constitution because of his worries about powers proposed for the Federal government

Under the Articles of Confederation, these United States were barely united. Unable to agree on either foreign or domestic policy, they sank into economic depression. In May 1787, delegates from twelve states (Rhode Island sent none) arrived in Philadelphia to define a new federal government. Read more >>

Aaron Burr's 1807 trial challenged the Constitution

In late March 1807 Aaron Burr arrived in Richmond, Virginia, in a vile mood, filthy and stinking. He had just endured a month of hard travel under heavy guard through the dense forests of the Southeast. Read more >>

Thomas Jefferson took his scissors to the Bible in search of truth

LIKE A CURMUDGEON who writes cranky letters to the editor, retired president Thomas Jefferson wanted to get the news without editorial bias or commentary—the Good News, that is, because he was reading the Bible. Read more >>

An impetuous and sometimes corrupt Congress has often hamstrung the efforts of the president since the earliest days of the Republic

On a little-remarked, steamy day in late June 1973, a revolution took place in Washington, D.C., one that would transfer far more power and wealth than did the revolt against King George III in 1776. Read more >>

As Adams and Jefferson died, America came of age

Over the question of whether Missouri should be admitted to the Union as a free or slave state in 1820, creative moderates brokered an ingenious compromise that averted civil war

On February 13, 1819, 35-year-old Congressman William Cobb unfolded his six-foot frame from his chair in the chamber of the Old Brick Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and locked his gray eyes on James Tallmadge Jr. of New York. There was little love lost between the grandson of Georgia’s most famous patriarch and the accomplished city lawyer. They had tangled on issues before, Cobb eloquently if savagely attacking Andrew Jackson over his campaign in Florida against the Seminoles; Tallmadge had defended the general with equal vigor. Read more >>

Without major compromises by all involved and the agreement to avoid the contentious issue of slavery, the framers would never have written and ratified the Constitution

In September 1789, at the end of the Constitutional Convention, James Madison wrote in dismay to his old friend Thomas Jefferson, who was an ocean away in Paris. “I hazard an opinion,” he lamented, “that the plan should it be adopted will neither effectively answer the national object nor prevent the local mischiefs which everywhere excite disgust against the state governments.” Read more >>

A historian tackles one of American history’s thorniest questions

In the nearly 11 years since the publication of my book Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, I have traveled throughout the United States and overseas talking about them—and life and slavery at Monticello. Writers are, in the main, solitary creatures. Read more >>

Sharp business skills ensured the first president’s phenomenal success

America’s greatest leader was its first—George Washington. He ran two start-ups, the army and the presidency, and chaired the most important committee meeting in U.S. history, the Constitutional Convention. His agribusiness and real estate portfolio made him America’s richest man. He was as well known as any actress, rapper, or athlete. Men followed him into battle; women longed to dance with him; famous men, almost as great as he was, some of them smarter or better spoken, did what he told them to do. He was the Founding CEO. Read more >>

Why Have Our Presidents Almost Always Stumbled After Their First Four Years?

Suppose they could go on "Meet The Press"...

The explorers who set out two hundred years ago were in danger for three years. Their legacy was in danger for decade after decade—and it was Meriwether Lewis who almost killed it.

“WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS…”

On July 4, in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress brought a new nation into the world by adopting the Declaration of Independence. Read more >>

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.

When John Adams was elected President, and Thomas Jefferson Vice President, each came to see the other as a traitor. Out of their enmity grew our modern political system.

VOTER TURNOUT MAY BE DOWN IN RECENT YEARS, BUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE COMMON CITIZEN HAS GROWN TO FAR SURPASS ANYTHING THE FOUNDING FATHERS EVER DREAMED OF

A Jefferson descendant on luck, ancestry, and the meaning of the DNA findings

DAVID McCULLOUGH tells why he thinks history is the most challenging, exhilarating, and immediate of subjects

Bernard A. Weisberger’s well-balanced look at the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings story (“In the News,” November 1997) led me to wonder anew at both the staying power and the meaning of this tale. Just what is it that is so scandalous here? Read more >>

AFTER THREE TIMES traveling the trail they blazed, the author imagines what the two captains of Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery would make of the civilization we have built on the tremendous promise they offered

…and grow, and grow, from almost no employees to three million. Don’t blame the welfare state, or the military; the truth is much more interesting.

The DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE is not what Thomas Jefferson thought it was when he wrote it—and that is why we celebrate it

ON IT HE GAVE THE NEW nation a new industry, wrote a protoguide to New England inns and taverns, (probably) did some secret politicking, discovered a town that lived up to his hopes for a democratic society, scrutinized everything from rattlesnakes to rum manufacture—and, in the process, pretty much invented the summer vacation itself

BY THE END OF THE FIRST CONGRESS, IN THE SPRING OF 1791, Thomas Jefferson badly needed a vacation. The first Secretary of State disliked the noise, dirt, and crowds of the capital, Philadelphia, and the cramped routines of office work. Read more >>

The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew.

Paris is every day enlarging and beautifying,” Thomas Jefferson noted with satisfaction during his residence there as minister to France. The city under construction was a delight to Jefferson, the art patron and amateur architect. Read more >>

Once seen as a vice and now as a public panacea, the national passion that got Thomas Jefferson in trouble has been expanding for two centuries

“I’m dad-gum disgusted at trying to police every half-square and every half-house,” Sen. Huey Long told a radio audience in Louisiana in May 1935. “You can’t close gambling nowhere where the people want to gamble.” Read more >>

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson stood together in America’s perilous dawn, but politics soon drove them apart. Then in their last years the two old enemies began a remarkable correspondence that is both testimony to the power of friendship and an eloquent summary of the dialogue that went on within the Revolutionary generation—and that continues within our own.

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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. Read more >>