A New Look At Thomas Jefferson: 'Most Blessed Of Patriarchs'

Download Audio
Thomas Jefferson, by Rembrandt Peale (1805)
Thomas Jefferson, by Rembrandt Peale (1805)

We're celebrating the Fourth of July by looking back on conversations we've had about the people who founded our country. We spoke to two of the nation's most distinguished scholars of Thomas Jefferson: author of the Declaration of Independence and slave-owner.

Annette Gordon-Reed is a Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who wrote the definitive history of Sally Hemings and her family — she's the enslaved woman with whom Jefferson had a long-term relationship.

Peter Onuf is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded, and senior fellow at Monticello's International Center for Jefferson studies.

Gordon-Reed and Onuf write in their book, "It is impossible to understand 18th and 19th century America, and the country the United States has become, without grappling with [Jefferson] and his legacy."

They do so in their book, "Most Blessed of Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination."


Annette Gordon-Reed, author and professor of history at Harvard University. She tweets @agordonreed.

Peter Onuf, author and professor of history at the University of Virginia.

This segment aired on July 4, 2016.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live