Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thomas Jefferson -- Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

The New York Times (4/13/2016)

Thomas Jefferson was born on this day in 1743 at his father’s plantation on the outskirts of the Virginia settlement.
He wrote the Declaration of Independence, before serving the new United States as minister to France, secretary of state, vice president and president.
Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and he was an astronomer, farmer, inventor, musician, naturalist and philosopher.
But it’s his legacy as a hypocrite — fighting for freedom from Britain while owning slaves — that is the subject of two new books.
Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” was written by Annette Gordon-Reed, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, and Peter S. Onuf, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Virginia. Jefferson’s “aspirations were inextricably linked to his limitations,” the authors say.
Jefferson was most likely the father of all six children of one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, historians say.
She’s the focus of Stephen O’Connor’s debut novel, “Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings,” which includes fictional interviews with Hemings’s family members.
Jefferson’s words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...” were adopted on July 4, 1776. He died precisely 50 years later, not long after a slave adjusted the pillow on his deathbed.

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