Feb 10, 2017

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
By Jon Meacham

This video review compares Ron Chernow's Hamilton book to Meacham's Jefferson book, in style and content. My conclusion is that they're both good, but I prefer Alexander Hamilton. More entertaining, more fair, more information.
There are a few things I didn't mention in the video. When he finally got to the President's House (the White House), he very consciously opted against pomp and much of the kingly processions that Washington and Adams did. For example, he wore no sword to his inauguration.
He was exceptionally casual, even when hosting grand dinners. Some diplomats from Old Europe were offended that he would receive them in his slippers. He wasn't a bum, of course. He was making his point about republican government, that ours was for the People.
Jefferson also chose to have a blind spot for his own contradictions regarding slavery. (All the old Virginians did, including Washington.) Unprepared visitors were shocked when they'd look across the table and see Jefferson's servant standing in the ready, with the exact face of his master sitting at the table. It was just never mentioned, lest you offend the patriarch. When Jefferson died, all the Hemmings slaves were freed, but not the rest.
His tombstone mentions three items.
Here was buried Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

The implication is he was more proud of his creations than his title.