Guess what. I am a Thomas Jefferson fanatic. Do you think it’s a coincidence that I go to business school at his alma mater? I think not. I actually love US presidents in general. I know a lot of useless trivia about them, but TJ is my favorite by far.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting his house, Monticello, outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. I was in Charlottesville by myself for a completely different reason, but you better believe I booked a tour at Monticello before I left. I’ve done a lot of mansion tours in my day: up in Newport, RI, The Biltmore in NC, Versailles in Paris, the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT, and several chateaus in the Loire Valley just to name a few. This tour was different because I knew TJ was there. I loved learning about all of the choices he made in the design, and about his daily habits in the house. I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!
But I digress, this post is actually about a new book about TJ that I recently bought on tape (well CD actually). I bought the audio version of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, because I’m doing a lot of long drives this month, so I thought it would be good for that. I haven’t even finished the book yet, but I’ve decided to give it a good review. Often times, these types of books are rather dry, and difficult to get through at times. I find this one continually interesting. I am filled with little tidbits about TJ and his family that I never knew before and I’m only up to 1784. Here are a few I’ve learned so far:
- Martha Jefferson (TJ’s wife) actually went by Patty
- Patty made TJ swear on her death bed that he would never re-marry and he abided by her request
- TJ’s relationship with his mother is largely unknown because all of their correspondence was destroyed when her house burnt down, there is question as to how well they actually got along
- Sally Hemmings (TJ’s slave and mistress) was actually his wife’s half sister because her father was Patty’s father (the Hemmings served Patty’s family until Patty’s father died)
- Though TJ held numerous leadership roles, perhaps his most disappointing was his stint as governor of Virginia, to his embarrassment, his tenure was largely criticized in an official capacity by the Virginia House of Burgesses
The fact that I live in Virginia is an added bonus as I listen to this book. I am constantly hearing the names of streets and schools in the area, and now I can identify the significance of their namesake. Who knew there were so many important Virginians!
Have you read or listened to any good books lately?