Jon Meacham on Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham discusses the complex Thomas Jefferson, who he calls the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history. In Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Meacham shows that Jefferson’s understanding of power and human nature enabled him to move men, learn from his mistakes, and prevail.


Jon Meacham

Comments [10]

Amy from Manhattan

There's a difference btwn. "the world as it way" & the world as he (or anyone) perceived it.

Nov. 13 2012 12:31 AM
The Truth from Becky

Amazing who some people choose as "heroes" or in his words "most successful"..smh Wonder if you would think the same thing if you were descendant(s) of slaves?? hmmm

Nov. 12 2012 12:41 PM

1800 "is a complicated election" in no small measure because Jefferson won a close vote on the basis of the disproportionate power granted to slave-holding states through the three-fifths of a man clause.

Nov. 12 2012 12:36 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Do we know how Jefferson treated the people he held in slavery, aside from having sex w/some of them? We know some slaveholders were worse than others.

Nov. 12 2012 12:23 PM

How about some comment on how Jefferson would certainly _not_ have become president if not for the three-fifths of a man clause in the Constitution? Slaves could not vote, were entirely unrepresented, had no rights, but they counted for purposes of assigning votes in the electoral college. Jefferson's political strategy certainly depended upon the unjust added political power of slave-holding states.

Nov. 12 2012 12:23 PM
Tucker Ranson from Manhattan

I note with puzzlement that in discussions of Sally Hemming, it is seldom mentioned that she was the half-sister of Jefferson's deceased wife.

This brings up (at least) two thoughts: that at this time it was not uncommon for widows to marry the sister of their deceased wife, and that of two sisters, one could be "free" and the other "slave," with all that implies.

Nov. 12 2012 12:22 PM

Meacham's assessment of Jefferson has to considered in light of Meacham's past adoration of noted conservatives and racists, like Rev. Billy Graham. Monticello a "biracial society" is a hell of a euphemism — no suggestion at all of the gross inequality and injustice, not unlike Meacham's comments on contemporary right-wingers.

Nov. 12 2012 12:16 PM

What new insight does Mr. Meacham feel he provides that Mr. Malone's magnum opus did not give?

Nov. 12 2012 12:15 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Jefferson said that "blacks smelled wrong,copulated with apes in Africa and said that he was making a 4% profit anually on the birth of black children" discuss

Nov. 12 2012 12:12 PM
Ed from Larchmont

There seems to be a lot of recent research on Tom Paine. What was in general the interaction between him and Thomas Jefferson? Does the language in the Bill of Rights owe a lot to Tom Paine?

Nov. 12 2012 12:11 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.