Aug 26, 2021
Thomas Jefferson was our most confounding founder. He personified the contradictions extant at the dawn of the American republic, a man capable of eloquently articulating the Enlightenment ideals of liberty and equality as the primary author of the American creed -- the Declaration of Independence -- while also owning hundreds of slaves over the course of his long life. Moreover, it is widely accepted that Jefferson fathered several children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, with whom he had a relationship spanning nearly four decades. In this episode, Joseph Ellis, one of the leading scholars of early American history, discusses why Jefferson's complicated legacy remains relevant today. He tackles Jefferson's governing philosophy, his political skills, his views on race and human progress, and why the man means different things to different people, just as he did during his lifetime.