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List of memorials to Thomas Jefferson

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This is a list of memorials to Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States and the author of the United States Declaration of Independence.

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>> David Ferriero: Good evening. I'm David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. It's a treat to welcome you this evening to the William G. McGowan Theater here at the National Archives, whether you're here in person or joining us on our YouTube Channel. We're looking forward to hearing from Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf, authors of the recent and very well received "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination." After the program they will be signing copies of their book in the lobby. First I'd like to tell you about two other programs coming up on Tuesday, May 31. At noon we'll have author David Priess who will be here to talk about his book, "The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama." A former intelligence officer Priess interviewed every living president and vice president as well as many others involved with the production of the president's top secret Daily Intelligence Report, his book of secrets. Later that day, 7:00 p.m., Gary Zola, the author of "We Called Him Rabbi Abraham," will discuss why Abraham Lincoln was given the title of rabbi by America's small but growing Jewish population. To learn more about these and our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events in print or online at There are copies in the lobby as well as a signup sheet so you can receive it by regular mail or e-mail. You will also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities. Another way to get more involved in the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The foundation supports the work of the agency, especially our education and outreach programs. And the CEO, President, of our foundation is right there in the front row, A'lelia Bundles. >> [Applause] >> David Ferriero: Now Doctor as of this past weekend. Congratulations. >> [Cheers and Applause] >> David Ferriero: And there are applications for membership, also, in the lobby. A little-known secret that I keep telling everyone about, no one has ever been turned down for membership in the Archives Foundation. Thomas Jefferson had many roles and personas. Here at the National Archives we hold documentation of the public/political Jefferson as Delegate to the Continental Congress, Envoy to France, Secretary of State, and President of the United States. The centerpiece of this building's rotunda holds the Declaration of Independence. We preserve the records of the Continental Congress which contain debates and correspondence documenting the efforts of a new nation trying to get a foothold on the world stage. The treaties, congressional messages and other federal records of Jefferson's presidency documented time during which the nation was tested on the international stage while at home it doubled its territory. The richest source of information about Jefferson comes from his own pen. And we have an unparalleled source of those writings and Founders Online. The papers of six major founders of the United States' projects supported by our National Historical Publications and Records Commission come together to offer free online access to the original words of Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. Jefferson's papers alone amount to over 43,000 documents. And more is yet to come. Founders Online allows all of us, students, casual readers, scholars, like tonight's guests, authors, to learn more about Jefferson and the public feature and the person in his own words. Tonight we hear from Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf about their new study of Jefferson's life, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs." Since its release last month the book has received praise from many reviewers. Peter Baker in "The New York Times" wrote, "To the already bursting Jefferson cannon they add a fresh and layered analysis, one centered more on his interior life than his deeds for posterity. Gordon-Reed and Onuf are not the first to search for the other ways into Jefferson's private place nor will they be the last but they've provided a smart and useful map for those certain to follow." Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor for American Legal History at Harvard, also a professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and formerly a visiting professor of American History at the Queens College, University of Oxford. She's the author of a number of books including "The Hemingses of Monticello." For whcich she won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Peter Onuf is Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia and Senior Research Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. Previously he was the Harmsworth Professor of American History at the University of Oxford. He is the author of a number of Jefferson books including "The Mind of Thomas Jefferson" and is co-host of the public radio program, "Back Story with the American History Guys." Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf. >> [Applause] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Here we are. Welcome, everybody, on this beautiful day. I'm told it has been raining here incessantly. We had a similar problem like that in New York. But it's been a beautiful, beautiful day. >> Peter Onuf: Yeah. And we'd like to talk about our book. We're going to start by talking about ourselves because that's what's really interesting about this book. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Forget about him. What about us? >> Peter Onuf: What about us? Enough Jefferson already. We'd like to talk a little bit about our collaboration. It's unusual in our line of work to collaborate because historians are the last of the petty bourgeois shop keepers out there who run their own operations. But we go way back, 20 years. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Mm-hmm. >> Peter Onuf: We've been talking for those 20 years. And at some point Annette realized, because I'm pretty clueless, that we had a book in us. So explain that. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Explain it. Well, we always start out say being this because I think it's very, very critical. I met Peter back in 1995, I believe it was. I had written a book, a manuscript, on Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings and American controversy in response to some op-eds I had seen about the movie "Jefferson in Paris' in which people were saying it couldn't be possible that Jefferson had a relationship or liaison, however you want to call it -- we can talk about that later, maybe -- with slaves on his plantation. There was no evidence that this happened. Jefferson wouldn't be involved with a slave girl. So I sat down to write what I thought would be an op-ed and it kept getting longer and longer and longer. And I ended up writing a book. And I wanted to try to test out what I was saying. Basically it was sort of looking at the historiography and questioning some of the ways that historians had written about it. The original title was "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: Historians and the Enterprise of Defense." Because that's what I thought was going on here. They were acting like defense lawyers, thinking about this story. So I sat down and wrote this book. And then I had it in my mind that I would have people read it. And I wanted particular types of people to read it. I wanted people who I thought would be hostile to what I was saying, people who believed what the historians -- >> Peter Onuf: Me. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Yes. White guy. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation professor at the University of Virginia. Ok, how is he going to think about this? Right? This is what I'm thinking. Now, of course he's going to be opposed to this idea. I'd picked some other people who had written about it and sent it to them as well. I called Peter on the phone. I'm at law school, in which we have faculty assistants. I thought everybody had faculty assistants so I was surprised, being thoroughly sexist, I was surprised when a male voice answered the phone. "Uh, uh, I want to talk to Professor Onuf." He said, "This is Professor Onuf." And I sort of -- I was nonplussed there for a second. I managed to tell him that I was calling him -- I was going to write a query letter to see if he would read my manuscript. He said, "This is sort of a query phone call, I would guess." And I said, "Yeah, I suppose so." And he agreed to read it. And lo and behold, he did not hate the manuscript. This is what I thought. He liked it. I went down to Monticello to see him. And a woman, Cinder Stanton, unbeknownst to me who was a friend of his, was a senior historian at Monticello, I sat down with her. I also sent him a copy of it. I had sent him a copy of it and then he wanted to see me as well. So I went to his office and we talked. I liked him immediately. We became friends. So it's been this long conversation about Jefferson. He's an intellectual historian. I am a social historian. I wondered about politics as well. So we decided that we would continue our conversation over the years. Once he decided he was thinking about retiring, and I didn't want him to sort of ride off into the sunset, wherever he was going to go, I said we should do a book together. And he agreed to do it. So this is something -- it's easy to do when you know each other as well as we know each other. It would be much harder if we had wildly divergent views about Jefferson but we pretty much agreed, from our different perspectives. So it's been a fun ride. >> Peter Onuf: As a rule, I don't do people. When I got the job at Virginia, it was to be the Thomas Jefferson professor so I was necessarily associated with a person. And I've had to do a lot of work on Jefferson over the years but I always focused on what was up there, his mind, and found him to be frustrating and fascinating. I'm deeply conflicted about Thomas Jefferson. And just between us, I think she's always been a little soft on the guy. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: But she -- >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Just what you want, 18th Century plantation owner. Go ahead. >> Peter Onuf: She threw down the gauntlet. She challenged me. And I have to say, actually looking at this person as a person, trying to make sense of him, has been a great treat. I've extended my range. And old people don't think they have any range to extend. So it's been a lot of fun. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Oh, come on. >> Peter Onuf: I think the common ground that we explored together is what you might call applied psychology, trying to make sense out of how Jefferson fashioned himself, a sense of himself, and trying to connect. And I think this is the big contribution we are trying to make, is to overcome the sphinx complex, the idea that Jefferson -- that's a literary reference, for you readers -- overcome the idea that Jefferson can't be known. We think there's a lot you can know about Jefferson. And he's telling us all the time, of course unintentionally because he always insisted that his private life and his inner most thoughts were his alone. And it was nobody else's business. It was just Jefferson. Well, he is, as pop- psychologists say, protesting too much. We took as a point of departure the idea that this distinction between private and public, which is in many way as a very modern distinction that we have fashioned in the modern world to protect ourselves to create selves that we can celebrate and take pictures of. I haven't mastered that yet. I'm too old. That idea of self in some ways, you could say Jefferson anticipates that. But the self, of course, is, as we know, a social construction. That is, there is no self except in relationship to other selves. So this is the point of departure. We don't think you can make the distinction Jefferson insisted on. To that extent, we don't take him at his word. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Mm-hmm. >> Peter Onuf: But the working method has been he deserves to be taken seriously and we're going to say this word once tonight, and you may not repeat it in any question. We think it is terminally boring to call him a hypocrite. Oh, a hypocrite? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Hypocrisy. >> Peter Onuf: The H-word. It's the end of all conversations about Jefferson. It, in effect, accepts his distinction between private and public and says Jefferson knows he's a liar, he is not owning up to the life he lives and his responsibility, of course, for the enslavement of his own people. So if you want to leave now because you had a question planned -- >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: -- it's ok. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: It's ok. Well, the idea was to -- we think it's been in a ditch. Jefferson scholarship has been in a ditch because of that construction of him, the notion of hypocrisy and he's a hypocrite. As you said, it's the conversation stopper. And here's a person who had his hand in so many aspects of American life from politics to science, all kinds of things; a very interesting person that you really don't get a chance to deal with and you have to deal with him because he's at the center of so much of American life in the early American republic. I mean, a person who once he takes office in 1800, he has two terms and then he has his acolytes who come after him, Madison and Monroe, a brief moment for John Quincy Adams. Then we get Jackson, sort of a knockoff Jefferson. >> Peter Onuf: Doesn't belong on money, though. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: But a person who sees himself as Jeffersonian. We don't really have that record of political influence for that length of time and how can you just sort of use that individual and sort of dismiss him with the word hypocrisy? There's a lot there to deal with. So we do say in the book that we are -- and we sort of qualify this whenever it is all reasonable -- to take him at his word. What that means you is take him seriously. And we do something else that I think is very, very important. There's a historian, Virginia Scharff the first time I met her -- she's written a book about Jefferson, "The Women Jefferson Loved." This was before she had written the book. She was working on it. we met at the OAH. And she said -- she asked a question. She said, "What if the people in Jefferson's life actually mattered?" In other words, if the people around him were not just used as pawns or people to sort of reflect upon him, if you took all of them seriously. So not only do we take Jefferson seriously that he has a set of motivations, a set of hopes and desires that he expresses, some that he expresses through actions, some through his words, but everybody around him we take seriously as well to try to get a portrait of what is going on in his life. And sort of move aside, move some of the things that have been written about him -- I guess Lincoln has been written about more than he but there are so many biographies. There's such a construction of Jefferson that comes from other people's -- I think a lot of people's wishes and desires and so forth. And every generation has their own expectations. You know, we'd really try to get most -- most of the work we use, the research is pretty much his letters, some secondary sources. But primary sources, we try to do that to sort of build him as much as -- you know, from the inside-out as much as we possibly can with also using some of the things that we've learned over the past 20, 30 years. And slavery historiography, political history, all of those things to bring to bear to give a different portrait of him. >> Peter Onuf: Right. So we thought we would start tonight -- because we don't want to bore each other and we're doing this quite a bit so tonight we're going to try something new. It's always new. We don't know what's going to happen. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: And mean that really. But go ahead. >> Peter Onuf: But this is sort of true. Let's talk about religion. Inevitably we will talk about slavery. That's probably what you all are interested in. And unless there's a Unitarian out there -- would you disclose? All right! Finally. This is the first time on our tour. It's astonishing because --I believe that was a woman. >> [Inaudible] >> Peter Onuf: All right. [Laughter] Wonderful to meet you. I hope we can talk later. I'm a lapsed Unitarian. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: How do you tell? A lapsed Unitarian. That's an interesting concept. Forgiven. >> Peter Onuf: Jefferson thought that every young man, with all due respect, but every young man in America would be a Unitarian one day. You know that quotation, I'm sure. >> [Inaudible] >> Peter Onuf: Yes. So what went wrong? What happened? It's very easy to dismiss Jefferson as some kind of, well, I don't know, French philosopher. And we had a fight. We cherish our only disagreement so far because we work it for all it's worth. We really haven't disagreed about anything, not even about this, honestly. But we'll stage it nonetheless. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: He thinks we weren't disagreeing. >> Peter Onuf: Ok. Let's disagree >> Annette Gordon-Reed: No. It was about religion. I had taken Jefferson to -- when he says that he's a Christian, a sect unto by himself, unto himself or whatever, that he was sort of paying lip service for the purposes of sort of throwing people off the trail. I didn't think he took it very, very seriously. Because when he describes himself as a Christian -- I grew up in the United Methodist tradition, the littlest Methodist, as one of my friend's fathers called it. And there are certain precepts, certain things you believe if you are a Christian if you come up in that tradition and Jefferson didn't believe any of them. He didn't believe in the divinity of Christ. He didn't believe in the trinity. And I thought, well, how does that fit into an ocean of Christianity if you don't believe any of those things? The analogy I made is somebody said that they didn't believe there was one God and they didn't believe that Muhammad was his messenger. If they were to say they were Muslim, that might make people -- prick people's ears up and think, well, what's going on here. I thought about it. And from talking to him -- >> Peter Onuf: Talking to Jefferson? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: No, no. Talking you. >> Peter Onuf: She does channel Jefferson. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Talking to you, I thought about -- I got the sense that I might -- I'm worried I might have offended you by suggesting that, you know, that a Unitarian -- that if he believed those things, that he could not call himself a real Christian. But he convinced me, reminded me -- you know, as I thought more about it, people have argued about the substance of Christianity for centuries and centuries. And there are councils where people say this gospel is in, that gospel is out. And who am I to say from my perspective that you must believe these certain things. If he says that he's a Christian, if he understands his understanding of what Jesus meant and why it was important to him, who am I to not take that seriously? So I backed off -- that's one point of disagreement. A small point of disagreement. But I think it's not serious in the sense that it was -- >> Peter Onuf: Our friendship is not at risk. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Not at risk but I do think it's a serious point about Jefferson and Christianity; that it is not right for me or others to suggest, have a litmus test of things and say -- a checkbox and say we have the answer and he has to be out of the club. >> Peter Onuf: But it forced us to take his religious quest, his spiritual quest seriously. Here's a crucial sight for trying to explode that private-public distinction. This is an intensely private thing for Jefferson. But it's a private quest for an understanding of the world, of everything, of the passage of time. It's what he does in his private moments but it has cosmic significance for him. We'll try to show the ways in which it relates to his political view, but the first thing to say -- and I hope there's no Calvinists here. We've got the Unitarian. We're going to try to offend everybody in time. We should have little cards you give us so we could know what to say. There's a wonderful tie-in here with the Texas school board that some of you are from Texas know -- if I say that, then she'll be offended because she's from Texas. Do you know what they did in Texas? Do you want to tell them? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, because of Jefferson's religious beliefs, or what they perceive to be non-belief, they wanted to take him out -- a discussion of him -- they didn't want to take him out of the history textbooks totally but there used to be a section where Jefferson was discussed as the figure of enlightenment, an important figure influencing the beginning of the United States. So what they did was to take him out of that discussion. And now he's just a list of people. He's sort of like a laundry list of folks who were influential during that time. He doesn't have that special place. So what they did is they replaced him with John Calvin and Saint Thomas Aquinas. >> Peter Onuf: Right. There's the light for you. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: Ok, it's Jefferson versus Calvin. And what does Jefferson say about John Calvin? He says John Calvin is an atheist! "Don't call me an atheist," says Jefferson, "it's John Calvin." Now, why does he say that? It's because Calvin is a Neoplatonist. Many of you suffered through the republic when you were young, so you know what I'm talking about. He believed in these ideal forms. It's all mystification. There's all of this mediation between you and God. And the preachers -- this is his great animosity towards priest craft. Those human beings who assume to speak for, with a special privileged relationship to God, and you are worshiping them not God. Jefferson's spiritual quest is for a direct connection with the teachings of Jesus to enable him to understand the creator, nature's God; the God who created this wondrous thing, this world we live in. And think, we are so jaded and cynical, we know somebody will figure everything out in due time and there's no mystery left. But put yourself in the 18th Century when they didn't know anything. And imagine that you believed it was a lawful world, that it made sense but you could only begin to discern those laws because of the light that learning was shedding on the world. It was the invention of printing. It was the republic of letters. We began to see things. And imagine trying to figure out some of those laws, not to master creation but think of this as a form of worship, to begin to appreciate the massive, infinite scale of this creation which you could only begin to glimpse. And you'll never fully know it. After all, we only have a brief moment on earth, something that she's not persuaded of yet because she's so young. Yeah, I can't do this. I can't start waving my dead hands? My self-description is I'm a nearly dead white guy. In fact, this is where I'm getting a little weak on Jefferson, a little sympathetic. I always accused her, as I did recently, of being soft on Jefferson. When Jefferson gets really old -- and I get soft on him, too. I've become to appreciate his effort, an effort which is based on faith alone, that there is some pattern, some lawfulness. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Intelligent design. >> Peter Onuf: He used that phrase, intelligent design. I think we need to renew our appreciation for that sense of awe and wonder that, to me, is the essence of true religious faith. Anyway, enough preaching. Though if you like this -- >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: It's important. It's ironic because he's the person who is seen as the great atheist. It affected his political career. That was the charge against him in the 1790s. People saw him as a threat to the United States because he was taking God out of it. And that could not have been further from the truth. He believed that the United States would be a religious country. The only question was what kind of a religious country it would be and what would be the nature of that. He did not want a country in which, as you said, priests and people who served as mediators or people who might influence people in ways that he didn't think, you know, made sense in a Republican society. He believed in the enlightenment. That's the thing that's very, very difficult for people to accept about Jefferson. He really did, in fact, believe in progress. That's hard for us to think. We're much more cynical, I believe. I don't want to say cynical. I'd say realistic. We know there is no straight line progression, progress, you know, to the future. Go back? We have no idea. We actually believe things are going to get better and better and better. And that's a tough, tough one for us to take. >> Peter Onuf: Well, it was a tough one for him to take in his own time. He died in 1826, July 4. Of course, that's very mystical. That must mean something. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Mm-hmm. >> Peter Onuf: And before his death, had he been paying attention -- and he did know this. He would know that racial slavery was becoming more deeply entrenched in America. He knew that slavery was an injustice yet there it was, spreading across the land. He knew that the American Revolution had not triggered a series of democratic revolutions across the world because what happened in France was a repudiation, was a horrible outcome. It seemed almost the antithesis of what Jefferson imagined the American Revolution to be. Rivers of blood would flow before the peoples of Europe would gain -- cross that threshold of self-government, become real peoples, real nations. All of this was happening while he was still alive that is this massive failure of the enlightened project, you might say. Yet he still believed in it. He still had faith in it. I think the contrast is striking. And this is what Annette is alluding to between our attitude of call it disenchantment, call it in this particular moment of malaise with populism which is kind of a pejorative word for democratic sentiment. Do we share Jefferson's faith? I think that's what's amazing about it. That's probably the nicest thing we'll say about him all night. It's going downhill from here. But keep that in mind as we continue. Let's pivot from that of that idea of fatherhood, creator, to our title. Maybe you could explain. I hope you're mystified by this title. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: There was a controversial thing with our publisher, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs." They were not thrilled by that. Well, some people were not thrilled about that. Because they thought it was too religious it made it sound like some, you know -- like a patriarch, religious patriarch. The phrase comes from a letter that he wrote in 1793 to Angelica Schuyler Church -- people who have seen the musical "Hamilton" may know the Schuyler sisters. She was the most flamboyant of the sisters. He writes to her as he's about to come home to Monticello, after he has lost the battle in the cabinet with Alexander Hamilton, Angelica's brother-in-law, actually. He's talking about going back to Monticello. He says, "I've got my books, my fields to farm, to watch for the happiness of those who labor for mine," namely enslaved people. Talks about his daughters and says, "If they come live next to me and everything proceeds, I'll consider myself as blessed as the most blessed of the patriarchs." And we thought this was an interesting way to describe himself. Another letter a couple of years later he described himself as an antediluvian patriarch. You think, What's going on here? You are the so-called apostle of liberty. You are about to become the head of the Democratic-Republican Party. You're a Republican in your sentiments. You are a person who championed the French Revolution long after other people had sort of abandoned it, been getting their heads chopped off. This is a figure from ancient times. A patriarch controls everything, the people around himself. We know what patriarchy means. And we wanted to explore that. This is -- how he sees himself, that's what he's seeing. >> Peter Onuf: It just occurs to me. And I can't help it; I come up with new stuff. He's looking back to the Bible. He's trying to find out what Jesus said. His conception of the future depends on the long arc of history, of time. And the use of the word patriarch suggests that there's something about fatherhood which is natural. Nature is a key word for Jefferson. Of course, if it's natural, that's a normative term, not just descriptive, out in nature. It's what is and should be. And central to his political philosophy and his way of life is a conception of fatherhood and of family values. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Family values and patriarch. We think of patriarch in a negative way. I said autocrat. He thinks of it in terms of responsibility. >> Peter Onuf: Right. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: That that's what he's talking about. I'm watching for this. I'm doing this. But he is in control but he sees himself as responsibly. >> Peter Onuf: All right. So I want you to explain how a patriarch -- because this is the epitome of domestic despotism. Isn't it? Any of you old men remember what it was like when they took you seriously? >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, yeah. People had to take him seriously. Particular people had to take him seriously, definitely. Well, what's it like? He had a good sense of himself. You're a patriarch if you see yourself responsible. Responsible? Nobody wants to believe that they are exercising too much power. >> Peter Onuf: Right. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: And so this is his understanding of himself as something -- when you think about slavery -- and this is a big part of it. He is this way with his family, his legal white family as well. But as far as enslaved people go, he has a vision of himself as somebody who is a good patriarch. >> Peter Onuf: Right. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: He is a good patriarch. He's watching for the "happiness of those who labor for mine," is what he said. >> Peter Onuf: That word happiness. An interesting one for him to be using in reference to his slaves. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: A person who thought -- >> Peter Onuf: Right. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: As a younger man, who had written of slavery as if it were, Peter has written about, a state of war. These people are inevitably conflicted. Inevitably opposed to one another. So we talk in the book -- we should say structurally, the book has three structures. The first part is called patriarch. We sort of explain how he came to be this particular thing. The second part is called traveler. We take him out of Virginia. He goes to France. And we also have him -- we talk about his life as a politician. And the third part is called enthusiast. And we investigate some things or talk about some things in Jefferson's life that are not -- things that are influences but are not the political things, music, visitors. And then privacy and prayers and religion. But it's crucial, we say, that his conception of his self is a patriarch. When he's writing to Angelica Church, he has come back from France and his attitude about slavery has changed while he's in Paris. He goes to this place that he loved. Some aspects of it he loves; music, architecture, the sort of high art there he thinks is wonderful. But he is in some ways, he's frightened. You could say horrified, by France society. French women who are forward, who are out in the streets, who inject themselves into politics and so forth. He looks at the French peasantry. This is prerevolutionary France. People were starving in the streets. And he compares that to his home to Virginia to his place and the people at the bottom there, that is to say enslaved people, he makes a comparison. He says they're not starving. Now, we understand that freedom, lack of freedom, is a real problem but he makes a comparison between their situation and at home. We also talk about the fact that while he's there, James and Sally Hemings are in Paris with him. James Hemings, he's brought over to be trained as a chef in some of the greatest kitchens in Paris and in France. And Sally Hemings comes over later on. These two people are his wife's half siblings. Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayles, had six children with an enslaved woman, Elizabeth Hemings, and James and Sarah Hemings are the products of that union. And they are with Jefferson in Paris. And they are the faces of slavery to him there. So all of these things are going on. As he's thinking about slavery, his attitude is changing, they are there and he judges himself as a slave owner by how he deals with them, which is very, very different than what would be a typical enslaver or enslaved relationship that he would have with people down the mountain or other masters would have either. So all of this changes his attitude about himself as a patriarch. So when he uses that phrase, he's seeing himself as this new vision of himself as the responsible patriarch. He's going to be a good slave master. >> Peter Onuf: And it's important to remember that before Jefferson went to France, he had had some bad experiences in Virginia with the British invasion with his pathetic --well, I don't mean to be judgmental -- his poor performance -- >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Problematic performance. >> Peter Onuf: The term of art. And if you read his only published book, "Notes in the State of Virginia," you see it's a long complaint about what is wrong with Virginia. And this is the backdrop for what it is saying about the change in attitude; that being in France enables him to see things about America in a different frame. Because when he's in Virginia, he will tell you, as he does in "Notes in the State of Virginia, being this is written while the war is still going on. And while his slaves are escaping to the British lines, while the prospect of a race war is very real, not just a figment of his imagination, the idea that enslaved people could be a fifth column joining with the British to overthrow the revolution, destroy American independence, that's very real. It didn't happen. He's in Paris. And then, as Annette says -- and this is where we had the most fun with Jefferson's sexual anxieties, which he projects on to young men. Don't go to Europe if you're thinking about it. There's nobody young here so I don't need to warn you. You will learn -- >> Annette Gordon-Reed: There are young people here. >> Peter Onuf: Yeah, there are. Yes, go for it. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: Those women of the street, those fast women, those Salonnieres that Annette is talking about, you'll be drawn in. You will be seduced. Jefferson knows what he's talking about because he is almost seduced by it. And he sees then, as he looks back across the ocean, not only does he come to terms with slavery with Sally and James, in a way, becoming domesticated, part of a kind of family that has affective, sentimental ties. There's a kind of reciprocity. All of these things. He could begin to feel with some degree of legitimacy -- of course, we know things are very strange in that household in Paris. Annette has written about that brilliantly. But he looks across the ocean and he sees, this is where we have wholesome, nuclear families. This whole notion of the family being the central institution in America -- we don't have them anymore but there was a time in the 1950s when they were proudly represented on television, and sitcoms. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: Family values. It goes back to Jefferson. Because it is that family, which is the foundation of the republic. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Mm-hmm. >> Peter Onuf: And contained within that family are enslaved people, for the time being. Remember that convenient idea of progress, things are going to get better. When the world was at war, Jefferson saw that it was compelling to do something about slavery. When peace came, Jefferson understood his role as that of a steward: In the meantime, I will try to ameliorate to improve the condition, of my slaves, make them happy. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: And once you start thinking that way, once you think you can make people happy in that situation, that's the absolute end of any kind of effort to do anything socially about it. He had tried as a young man, introducing a bill to have emancipation in Virginia. That failed. 1796, St. George Tucker tries to present a bill to the legislature. They won't even take it. They won't even accept it. Jefferson understands, and I think rightly so -- and people criticize him for not trying. But he had ambitions. He had ambitions for the country. The revolution and the maintenance of the American Revolution was his obsession, not slavery, not race. He turned himself to that. Now, we know as happens so often in life, there are things you want, things you think are important, and there's something over here that's a problem and you say that will take care of itself. But that is the thing that ends up being lethal. Because obviously in the end the Union breaks apart because of this, because it wasn't dealt with. So once he realizes -- he believes that there's no Republican solution. And when I say Republican, I mean Virginians were not going to vote slavery out in the 1780s, in the 1790s. He could have tried to do that. He could have spent his life devoted to trying to change their minds. And I don't think we would be sitting up here on the stage talking about him now if he had done that. >> Peter Onuf: This is the dilemma. Let's take a Jeffersonian lesson in democratic government. The basic principle -- you say the mother of principle of Republican government is majority rule. It has to be the rule that we abide by. Now, you say, well, majorities can be mistaken. And they can, indeed. We know that. We have lived with that throughout American history. Yet, Jefferson believes in the progress of enlightenment. That's the thing we keep coming back to. When we talk about the empire of the imagination or a subtitle, that's our way of evoking that idea. And it's only with the passage of time when we reach the point that the majority of his fellow patriarchs -- the second important point to make; he's not the only patriarch. He's not George Washington who is seen as the father of his country. He is the father of his people at Monticello and a society. It's a nation of fathers and families. That's his beautiful vision. And what attaches people within the family are bonds of love and affection. Now, that seems worse than a caricature when we're talking about enslaved people but it's very much part of his sentimental view of human relations. He's a student of the Scottish moral sense philosophy of the enlightenment. He believes in the essential, social impulse, this capacity for identification. After all, equality and Republicanism doesn't make any sense if we don't come together, if we don't have common bonds and attachments. That's part of that faith that we were talking about. So, you must be patient because if he imposes emancipation on his fellow slave owners because he has superior wisdom, then they are his slaves. That's the logic of the Revolutionary period. That's why we will pray, as Jefferson does -- and he uses that word prayer in 1814 -- that the younger generation will carry on this good work because the enlightenment is progressive. It's very hard for us not to reject all of this as -- I'm not going to say that H-word, but just dismiss it as nonsensical. Don't you understand that this is an enduring and powerful institution? But that's the measure of his faith. And the problem he presents to us is one that we face today. And that is, How do you square our moral sense with the reality that in a republic we are bound by the will of our fellow citizens; that we cannot exercise power over them? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Yes. And the other thing that's running through this, the notion of Republicanism, is tainted, influenced, by the doctrine of white supremacy. He thinks about the community and a family. The family is the basic unit, goes out to the community, out to the state, out to the nation. It's a nation of families. People who are in a common mating pool. How can you say how can you be equal citizens? How can you say that we're all Americans if you say you can't be in my family? We're all equal, and we're all American, but you can't be in my family. And he's not even close to being able to talk about -- well, that he speaks against it. He's assuring, well, we can't do this. And the reason we can't do this, we can't live here together, because we can't all be in one family. And that is something that Americans have struggled with from the very beginning. It's something we struggle with now. Certainly couldn't have said the opposite of that, that we should all come together. Because, again, we still -- we would not be sitting here talking to him. And that's a very difficult thing for us to -- a sort of line to cross now. I mean, we're at a point where things are changing but you have commercial -- this is only the last 10 years or so that you see commercials with couples that are of different races. And when you do, people complain. People still complain about it. I remember reading somewhere, I think it may have been Alabama, they had laws on the books against interracial marriage. They wanted to go through and clean up the laws because it's unconstitutional; they can't do that. But there's some huge percentage of people that said, no, leave it on the books even if it's not legal. So this issue of race and the place of African American people goes through all of this question. He sees fellow patriarchs with their fellow white patriarchs because he can't conceptualize African American people and white people living together as a family. Because that was so far from what anybody could say at the time. You know, I think -- should we have people ask us questions? We're just sort of -- >> Peter Onuf: Oh, I had much more to say. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: You can say something else but I want to -- >> Peter Onuf: Yes. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Hear other people ask us questions. We'll still talk. >> [Question Inaudible] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Oh, wait a minute. I think you have to come to a microphone. Because they are doing -- >> Peter Onuf: While he's walking to the microphone, I would like to underscore the point that Annette is making. And that is, what you might call the central tragedy of American democracy. We long for those strong, affectionate attachments that Jefferson reads into his family of families, the nation, the family writ large. That's robust. That's thick. That's not soulless like the liberal idea of Adamistic individuals, each a sovereign unto himself or herself. These are the connections that make social life meaningful yet it's also a boundary that excludes people. And those people who are being excluded, this is why I come back and want to remind you that Jefferson's ideas about separate nations, about separating blacks and whites, come out of the experience of the American Revolution. And his solution is an enlightened one even though we find it horrific. And that is emancipation and patriation or later called colonization. If the peoples were separated, then we could declare the enslaved people. We could declare them -- remember the happiness which is passive? We could declare them a free and independent people. That's his language in "Notes in the State of Virginia." And then we would have two free peoples. And they could meet together. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: But separately. But in different places. You see it -- I'll say this. I'm sorry. I said I want to hear from you and now I keep talking. >> Peter Onuf: You might line you. Yeah. Make sense? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Because people [Indiscernible], Jefferson's last manservant, there's no doubt in my mind -- the family says this, that Jefferson loved Burwell, that Jefferson had enormous affection for Burwell Colbert. And Jeff Randolph talks about his companions and people that he grew up with. He talks about loving them. What you cannot do is talk about love between a man and a woman. This notion of affection -- unless it's mammy. You can love Mammy. Because you're not going to have children with Mammy. Mammy is like mom, a mother figure. So it's interesting this notion of love and affection. He knows all of this. They talk about all of this type except the kind that produces children. So love is there, or some notion of love, some realization and they talk about it but not anything that is transgressive -- not the transgressive kind. And that's enough. >> Ok. Jefferson did have mixed race children. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Yes. >> When they got older, at least in some cases, he let them have their freedom. Maybe not with emancipation papers but let some of them go to Ohio. Evidently felt some sort of family responsibility toward them or some affection toward them more than to other enslaved people that he was responsible for. Can you say -- without getting into the H-word -- >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: You don't have to abide by that. >> Is there any realm in which he actually overcame the racial prejudice in his own family life and could see -- had some family affection toward his mixed race children? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, Madison Hemings said that he was not in the habit of showing partiality or fatherly affection to them. And he says he was affectionate to his grandchildren. And what that suggests -- people talk about Jefferson, you know, playing games with his grandchildren. So that's what is meant by -- he compares himself to his grandchildren who would have been his cohort. Not Jefferson's oldest daughter who is the age of their mother. We don't know -- he spent time with them -- in my first book I had not thought about this very much. But when I was writing "The Hemingses of Monticello" there are these letters where he's talking about going to Poplar Forest. He'll tell the overseer: The others will be coming up next week. I'm coming up with Johnny Hemings and his assistants or apprentices. He put his sons under the tutelage of John Hemings who was the carpenter, the master carpenter at Monticello. So these guys are going up. It's a 90-mile trip to Poplar Forest. It's a long way. He's up there with them in a small place, for long stretches of time. He goes with his granddaughters who write letters about this time period. And he talks about them stopping for picnics and doing stuff like that. She never mentions Beverly Madison in those things but they are there. So they are named for people who are his friends and favorite relatives. He has a plan about them. The two oldest children don't get papers because they go as white people. And you don't want papers if you're white because then that would mean that you were not white. You would be enslaved. The youngest two are given their freedom. So it's hard to say what love means. He's certainly not treating them like other people are treated. I mean, their only family that kind of leaves the place intact as free people. But you don't really know -- he's not talking about it. Madison suggests that, as I said, he wasn't in the habit -- people transform that and say he never. But what he says is -- he's kind to everybody. But it's sort of a detachment. So I get a sense that he just didn't know -- it was a tough situation because at some point his grandchildren move into Monticello. I suspect that their lives could have been very different. The Hemings' children's lives could have been very different if Martha and her children lived in some other county. But he can't treat his enslaved children -- illegitimate is the word they would have used -- the same way he treats his legitimate, white, grandchildren. That would be an insult to his daughter. And Martha [Indiscernible], the most important person in Jefferson's life. He would not do -- yeah. I just can't see them being treated the same way. >> Thank you. I have a question with more to today's world. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Today's world? >> Yes. Please bear with me for a moment here. I find the title fascinating, "Empire of the Imagination." Is it possible to build an empire of imagination today? Let me explain what I mean. Albert Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. What if a country of small or medium-sized, say 10 million to 15 million people, were possible to be organized as a mere perfect [Indiscernible]. Would that captivate the imagination of the world, perhaps? What if the country was led by somebody who, you know, is not only a man of theory but a man of action, who could actually make that happen using a blend of the best ideals that are classic ancestors, including Jefferson had come up with, and blending that with modern state organization theories? Like, for example, those contained in the [Indiscernible], the book. That's my question. Thank you. >> Peter Onuf: Well, how many people live in Finland? Seven million? Something like that. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Something like seven or eight million people. >> Peter Onuf: We have a good friend, a distinguished Jeffersonian scholar, who keeps telling me that Finland is a Jeffersonian republic. There is some argument for this. Connectivity is really important to Jefferson in his world of correspondence, writing letters, being in touch with the world. And Finnish kids grow up embedded, implanted, with cell phones in their ears so they are always connected and they have the best educational system in the world, evidently. And education is very important to Jefferson, who is very concerned about the rising generation. It's a wonderful question. I have to say good luck if you happen to be in charge of this country. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: That would be great. But I'd like to put it this way. And I'll be brief about it. To be a visionary -- and Jefferson is a classic visionary. He can see things. He can see far. He got it wrong about the Unitarians but he did have a notion of continental -- >> Annette Gordon-Reed: So far he's got it wrong. >> Peter Onuf: Maybe tonight we're going to begin a revival. But he did see the expansion of the American way of governance and the way of life across the continent. You can say that's probably the most powerful validation of Jefferson's vision. Yet, to have vision, you have to overlook things. And I think that would be the way I think we both think about Jefferson and his choosing to cite himself on a -- his home on a hilltop, this seemed to be enabling him to look far across space and through time. But he didn't see things that were directly beneath his gaze. That he overlooked. I use the word realism, people like Alexander Hamilton, more realistic. They don't necessarily get it. They don't necessarily leave the great legacy. But maybe they don't overlook those things. They have to deal with them. So I with, Einstein -- and I'm happy to be associated with Einstein - >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: That's so stupid. I'm all for imagination. I think that's a wonderful idea. I would say the one thing that Jefferson would caution you -- wherever you are now because you've disappeared. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Right there. >> Peter Onuf: There you are. You mentioned an enlightened individual, a man of action, a man of vision. Beware of men of action and men of vision. The great dominant hero figure of the 19th Century was Napoleon. And Jefferson lived long enough to see what a man who in many ways is a man of modernity and kind of enlightenment is also a man who brings unparalleled carnage to the European continent. So I don't want you to launch this project just yet. I think you need, as my friend would say, you need a whole country of Finns, who all agree about these basic values and ideas and share your vision. It has to be a collective vision. So there. >> Hello. I think I'm one of your younger viewers. >> Peter Onuf: Yes! >> I've always had an interest in American history. Also, I'm a music teacher. I think that there's no denying the impact that Hamilton has had on pop culture. My seventh and eighth grade students actually quote the musical. They think it's so cool that I've seen it. They are like, I want to see it so bad. I'm just wondering about your opinion on how Jefferson was portrayed, and if you've seen it, and if you listen to the music in your car? >> Peter Onuf: We love it. Jefferson -- this is going to be sort of silly because, you know, Daveed Diggs, who is not a white guy from Virginia with the right complexion or hair color, but he's very cool. We had the privilege of meeting him. He came out to talk to a bunch of Jeffersonians to say what are they like. He was officially invited by the President of Monticello, I don't know, have a residence in the house, whatever. But he's very cool. In Jefferson's day and in his way he had a sort of aura about him as well. Nothing like Daveed Diggs. As an authority on this, it's a different kind of coolness. But I think he was a cool guy. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: I thought it was a good portrayal of him. I said in a newspaper article it was so wrong that it's almost right. He captures the sort of mischievous nature of I think of politics, not Jefferson's demeanor. It's as if what's going on inside of Jefferson -- it's turned inside-out. And it's all out there, the stuff that's going on in his head. I think it's quite amazing what he does. You know, I think it is good for young people to see it and to be excited about it so long as you tell them -- it's all wrong. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: That Alexander Hamilton was not an abolitionist. He did not like immigrants. He was, you know, for the big banks. It's just a weird thing. I did this piece about this. I kind of got in trouble about it. What I was trying to explain was despite all of the things that are, you know, not right about it, historians love it because someone said you can't argue with art. It really is a work of genius how he's taken letters, things that we quote all the time and turned it into music. I would watch it. I listen to it on my iPhone all the time. I'd love to see it again. I think it's wonderful. I think it's actually good for Jefferson. >> Peter Onuf: Yes. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: You hear the lines. The stuff he says, except for "What did I miss?" And he sort of comes back and he's been in France and doesn't know they've written a constitution. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Which he did, though. >> [Laughter] >> Annette Gordon-Reed: The other song -- he's not the villain. He's much more sympathetic than the original. It's just that he's --he's Cab Calloway. You don't expect Jefferson to be Cab Calloway, Andre 2000. But I do think it's great. It's wonderful. >> I think as Americans we're still pretty idealistic and hopeful. Apparently we're all going to vote to change something this year. >> [Laughter] >> But I'm wondering -- so we should give Jefferson some credit for that, I think. And I'm wondering if you would use another P-word, not the H-word but a P word that is the paradox. We have very high ideals: All men are created equal. Even Jefferson didn't know how we were going to interpret those words 200 years later. But we have a hard time sort of making that into a reality. >> Peter Onuf: Right. >> So, we're the children of the American paradox and Jefferson is our father. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: Yeah. He has left a paradoxical legacy that is obvious in the record of American history. It says he can be taken in so many ways. And that is what you're articulating here. But there are better and worse ways to take Jefferson. I think that's the value, the added value, of a proper historical understanding, embedding him in his own time. He's not a libertarian. The idea of equality doesn't degenerate for him into the sovereignty of the self, as I've expressed before. There are things that are irredeemable in Jefferson's legacy. He, in his time, believed that there was a natural superiority to males and that they had a role to play in family formation and leadership. He was a white supremacist, as Annette has said. But I do think it's the hope itself. I don't know -- I'd love to hear it affirmed that we are an idealistic people. I wonder if we are more complacent than idealistic, if what those ideals are, what we're stretching for, why we cherish ourselves so much, is there some higher end toward which we aspire? I'm not clear. But I spend my time in the 18th Century and early 19th Century. So maybe you could tell me things are not the way they seem to be. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: What do they seem to be? >> Peter Onuf: Pretty terrible, Annette. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Pretty terrible? >> Peter Onuf: Oh, God. Am I going to get political now? No, no. I would say -- and this is nothing new. There is a dialogue in American history that's true, another way of saying paradox, and it might behoove us to look back at Jefferson's fears and anxieties. He wasn't a Pollyanna. He had great hopes. But as I say, those are hopes that he had to pray for. He had no empirical evidence that things were going to turn out the way he prayed they would yet he feared that everything would fall apart. And the main way we know this is his fear of -- his fear throughout his life in politics that the revolution would fail, that Americans would not preserve the Union, that those basic principles which he says ought to be our creed as a people would not inspire the rising generation. All of those hopes that young people would save the world, would make it better. There's always that fear, a fear that old people have always had, that the young people just aren't up to it. Was that better? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Well, it's depressing but sure. >> [Laughter] >> I recently had the pleasure -- the privilege of visiting the country of Haiti. And I wonder if you could reflect on Jefferson's attitude towards the black revolution in Haiti and how you see the impact that that revolution had on that period. One might think based on what you said earlier he might see it as a site for potential. Patriation as some other presidents ultimately did as well. Of course, Haiti struggled for so, so long and still is struggling for respect. And even now, having to sue the United Nations over what's happened there with cholera. But back to Jefferson, how would he view it? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: The first thing he says about it -- he writes a letter to his daughter. One of the early things -- the revolution -- he says, you know, they've taken over -- the blacks have taken over Haiti and they've set up a regular government; that's what's going to happen in the rest of the Caribbean. So it's sort of like a matter of fact thing. And then when there are reports of white people killing black people, then all of a sudden he switches and it becomes fear. Because again -- remember, Virginia, at this time, it's about 40% black, that the Haitian contagion -- because refugees are coming to Virginia, Philadelphia, other places, and they are telling the stories about the things that happened. Then all of a sudden he's like, you know, we can't have this. We can have an age of revolution but he's not ready for a revolution in which -- now I'm going to get political. Black people cannot kill people for their freedom. White people can fight for their freedom. Black people can't fight for their freedom. And that's true now. Black people are supposed to pray. Pray for it. Not fight for it. And that was his attitude. At first, you know, oh, this is like a revolution. And then it gets really serious. And then it's cut off, his administration doesn't support. Later in life he says, well, you know -- after he's out of office he says, "I would recognize Haiti." Because, as you know, they wouldn't do it. I would do that but white people are too prejudice to accept that. So you're sort of thinking, wait a minute. It's like he's saying -- nobody ever thinks they're prejudice. Right? I'm not prejudiced. It's those other people over there. They're not ready for it. But it's a terrible story. Because without white supremacy -- again, it's this benevolent thing about declaring independent people. Whites could come along and say, all right, you're free. Whites can help you set up your country, whatever. But if you're going to fight, you can't fight and kill for your freedom. So it's a double standard about revolution. >> Peter Onuf: Again, geopolitics intersects with insurrection. That's his frame of reference. You say, well, where could you actually put these people? That's a good question. And that's quite right. You declare them a free and independent people but not really. He imagined as a kind of protectorate. Well, something like, say, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the British predecessor. And, again, the notion of fighting and killing, of course, in the Civil War, black troops were directed by white officers. So this powerful anxiety about the racial order being turned upside down. So, in theory, yes, at some future date, in some distant place. And the best way to track this is to look at what he thinks about different possible sites for colonization and they keep getting more and more distant. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: He doesn't think -- we could live together. >> So I was very pleasantly surprised to hear you begin with a discussion of Jefferson and religion. That's not what I expected when I came here tonight. But I was also surprised at the distinction you were drawing between Jefferson's sort of private religious world and Jefferson the public man. It would never have occurred to me based on what I know of him and what I know of Unitarian history to have made that distinction. I was sitting here trying to think of what that is. One reason is because when he was writing, it was right around the time of the Unitarian controversy, centered at Harvard Divinity School, center in Massachusetts. I can't believe he wouldn't have known about that and what was going on and the conversations that were going on. But the bigger reason is because the religion that he was talking about -- as far as I know, he never darkened the door of a Unitarian church. >> Peter Onuf: They didn't have a lot in Virginia. >> Not a lot in Virginia. But -- so it wasn't he was saying join a Unitarian church. When you were speaking of his religious or spiritual values, it's not only that what was said and believed and what is still part of that tradition, it's not only that the creator created nature and we find the sublime in nature. It's not only that nature is the path that we pursue the search for truth and meaning but that the creator created reason. And that's the link to the public Jefferson, it seems to me, that makes his private religious life make sense with the writer of the Declaration of Independence struggled with his context that he was in. It's all part and parcel to me. I just wondered if in your research, in your thinking about linking these different aspects of his life, "Empire of the Imagination," if you looked at the Jefferson Bible. >> Peter Onuf: Absolutely. >> Figured into your analysis? >> Annette Gordon-Reed: We didn't get to go through a full thing but that is, of course, the link. For people that don't know, Jefferson started -- first while he was in office to create a Bible that he thought would sort of be purged of all the mystifications and so forth. And he took a razor and cut out the miracle and created his own version of the New Testament. It was called :The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Yeah. We have a whole chapter talks about that. It talks about reason and how it does fit into his public life. >> Peter Onuf: It's similar to his testimony of slavery as an injustice. It gets out despite himself. He doesn't want to publicize his ideas. If they become publicized and he never disowns them -- he says, yes, I said these things and I still believe. But he was, as he saw himself, ahead of his time, ahead of the curve of enlightenment. And in due course he had great hopes that the tendency of politics and religion in America was moving towards a religion of the people, a democratic religion, a Christianity that was, we might say, largely based on practicable matters, ethics, amorality. This would happen in the fullness of time. That was his dream and fantasy. He was so excited about this idea that he wrote to people in Cambridge and said bring your preachers to us and they will be rejected from pulpits -- because, of course, we have bigoted sectarians, even his good friends in Charlottesville with whom he socializes but -- you will find in the fields, people will gather from all around. You'll have a Unitarian camp meeting, a revival. Can you imagine that? >> Yeah. [Laughter] We have them. >> Peter Onuf: I think that brings us full circle to where we started. And that is, these religious ideas of his are not just for his own edification. When he imagines his afterlife, he imagines witnessing the unfolding of the history he played a part in that is the progress of enlightenment, the liberation of peoples, and the triumph of reason. I'd only add to reason, though, and this is a point that we make throughout, is that effective sentimental dimension, the heart as well as the head that's crucial to his beliefs. So the world wasn't ready. But even if the world was for his religious testimony, but he thought the arteries were good because people were looking in the marketplace, the religious marketplace, they were looking for efficacious preaching and they need it in order to organize their lives. This was observed in the 1830s. Religion is tremendously important in America. And more and more groups like the Disciples of Christ and -- are rejecting doctrinal tests. Because it's part religion. It gets to basic things. It's truly democratic. And ultimately at the end of the day there's this convergence of a proper understanding of the cosmos of the world and the attitude toward it. And a politics of love and respect that we would have for each other. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: One more question? >> Continuing on the religion theme. Early you mentioned he was attacked or called an atheist by a political opponent, which is maybe parallel to some things we still see today with politicians running. Did he take that personally? People attack his religion. How did that make him feel? Did he fight back or did he just kind of let it go? >> Peter Onuf: Oh. No. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Oh, he took it personally. >> Peter Onuf: Yes. Very personally. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: I think that's one of the reasons he sits down -- the 1790s, his first election and the second, you know, it was a horror show in terms of that. People thought -- one woman thought people buried their Bibles because they thought he was going to outlaw the Bible; that adultery and incest would become the norm if he were elected president. Yeah, he didn't believe -- he was surprised that people would think that because religion was a private matter. So he had his own religious beliefs. And he wasn't an atheist. That's why he sits down to write the Bible. He thinks it could be something that could be useful, eventually, when people were ready for it. This is sort of his antidote to this notion of people going after people in public for their views. >> Peter Onuf: He didn't like conflict. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: No. He did not like conflict. >> Peter Onuf: He had an idea, a vision, of social harmony. And maybe we could end with that, with the importance of music. This is not just a chapter in which we indulge in a hobby of Jefferson's, something that he had fun doing. In many ways his engagement with music, the passion of his soul, was a reflection or instantiation of his notions of a larger cosmic harmony. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: People together in harmony. That brings us back to this notion of patriarch with him in control in a way. >> [Laughter] >> Peter Onuf: Orchestrating. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Orchestrating it all. >> Peter Onuf: Imagine the Declaration of Independence, which I'm wearing here tonight, as sheet music for America. We're all singing from it. With that elevating thought and with that notion of idealism sustaining us for a few more generations, we say adieu. >> Annette Gordon-Reed: Adieu. Thank you. >> [Applause]


High schools

Lists of high schools named after Jefferson:

Elementary schools

  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Anaheim, California
  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Glendale, California
  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Burbank, California
  • Jefferson Elementary, Huntington, New York
  • Thomas Jefferson, Morristown, New Jersey
  • Jefferson School, Union City, New Jersey
  • Thomas Jefferson, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Jefferson-Barnes Elementary, Westland, Michigan (Closed)
  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Chicago, Illinois

Universities and colleges


  • Jefferson Highway, running from New Orleans to Winnipeg
  • Jefferson Road, Metro Detroit, Michigan
  • Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California
  • Jefferson Drive on the National Mall, Washington, DC
  • Jefferson Street, Miami Beach, Florida
  • Jefferson Ave. Newport News, Virginia
  • Thomas Jefferson Parkway. Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Jefferson Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Jefferson Blvd. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York



It is notable that Jefferson County in Virginia became part of West Virginia as a result of the American Civil War. Virginia sued West Virginia to regain it, but lost the case before the United States Supreme Court when it was decided in 1871.


Proposed states and territories




See also

This page was last edited on 15 September 2019, at 18:46
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