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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 4. AMERICAN SPHINX ~ CHAPTER 2 (75 - 106) (02/22/10 - 02/28/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This begins the fourth week's reading in our new Presidential Series group discussion.

The complete table of contents is as follows:

Prologue. Jefferson Surge: America, 1992-1993 p.3
1. Philadelphia:1775-76 p.27
2. Paris: 1784-89 p.75
3. Monticello: 1794-97 p.139
4. Washington, D.C.: 1801-1804 p.200
5. Monticello: 1816-1826 p.273
Epilogue. The Future of an Illusion p.349
Appendix. A Note on the Sally Hemings Scandals p.363


The assignment for this week includes the following segments/pages:

Week Four - February 22bd - February 28th -> 2. Paris: 1784-89 p.75 - 106
Friends Ands Pirates - Diplomatic Futilities - Voice of America


We look forward to your participation; but remember this is a non spoiler thread.

We will open up threads for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on February 1st. This will be the fourth week's assignment for this book.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

A special welcome to those who will be newcomers to this discussion and thank you to those who have actively contributed on the previous Presidential Series selection. We are glad to have you all.

~Bentley

TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Here also is the syllabus:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

American Sphinx The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis


message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe (blues) Jefferson - America's minister plenipotentiary to France

Chapter 2 begins with another detailed look at Thomas Jefferson...

The man entering Paris in August 1784 was older and more complicated than the young Virginian who had ridden into history nine years earlier at Philadelphia. He was traveling in a phaeton again, but this one was a larger, studier carriage, handcrafted by his slaves at Monticello, with glass on four sides to protect the passengers. He was accompanied by his twelve-year-old daughter Martha, named after her mother but best known as Patsy, an uncommonly tall and long-limbed girl with her father's bright eyes and angular bone structure. His other companion was James Hemings, a nineteen-year-old mulatto slave who had replaced Jupiter as a favorite servant. Hemings was also along to learn the fine art of French cooking. pg 75

We know that when he made his first official appearance with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin at the French court at Versailles, the physical contrast struck several observers as almost comical, like watching a cannonball, a teapot, and a candlestick announce themselves as the American trinity.pg 76

Jefferson's term as governor is mentioned as the first of two major incidents, the second being the most traumatic in his entire life. "Stories spread throughout the state of Jefferson's ignominious last-minute escape on horseback, implying rather unfairly that he had behaved in a cowardly fassion or that he was derelict in his duty by allowing the state to become so vulnerable to British military occupation. ...and Jefferson himself learned that his refined sensibility was ill suited for the rigors of leadership during times of crisis. As for the emotional effects, Jefferson confided to a friend that the experience had "inflicted a wound on my spirit that will only be cured by the all-healing grave." Also, his wife of ten years, Martha, "gave birth for the seventh time in their ten-year marriage. The daughter, named Lucy Elizabeth, was only the third to survive, and Martha herself fell desperately ill after delivery. She lingered on through the summer, with Jefferson at her bedside nearly around the clock. Family lore, reinforced by reminiscences within the slave community at Monticello, described a melodramatic deathbed scene in which Martha extracted a promise from Jefferson that he would never marry again, allegedly because she did not want her surviving children raised by a stepmother. He never did. She died on September 6, 1782.
"We can never know for sure whether, as family tradition tells the story, he promised his wife that he would never remarry. The promise he made to himself undoubtedly had the same effect: He would never expose hi soul to such pain again; he would rather be lonely than vulnerable." pg 77-79

For more detailed information about Jefferson's escape from the British as governor of Virginia, here is a book recommendation.

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Michael Kranish

Of note is Jefferson's most ambitious anti-slavery initiative, the Ordinance of 1784, "which established the principles on which all new states would be admitted to the Union on an equal basis with existing states. The final provision required the end of slavery in all newly created states by 1800. But it lost by one vote, prompting Jefferson to remark later that "the fate of millions unborn [was:] hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment! It was the most far-reaching proposal to end slavery that Jefferson ever wrote but also the high-water mark of his antislavery efforts, which receded afterward to lower levels of caution and procrastination." pg 80


message 3: by Joe (last edited Feb 22, 2010 06:00AM) (new)

Joe (blues) Jefferson in Paris - Book Recommendations

The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson by William Howard Adams Jefferson Abroad (Modern Library) by Thomas Jefferson
William Howard Adams
Thomas Jefferson


message 4: by Joe (last edited Feb 22, 2010 05:59AM) (new)

Joe (blues) Thomas Jefferson at Wikipedia: Minister to France

Because Jefferson served as minister to France from 1785 to 1789, he was not able to attend the Philadelphia Convention. He generally supported the new constitution despite the lack of a bill of rights and was kept informed by his correspondence with James Madison.

While in Paris, he lived in a home on the Champs-Élysées. He spent much of his time exploring the architectural sites of the city, as well as enjoying the fine arts that Paris had to offer. He became a favorite in the salon culture and was a frequent dinner guest of many of the city's most prominent people. In addition, he frequently entertained others from French and European society. He and his daughters were accompanied by two slaves of the Hemings family from Monticello. Jefferson paid for James Hemings to be trained as a French chef (Hemings later accompanied Jefferson as chef when he was in Philadelphia). Sally Hemings, James' sister, had accompanied Jefferson's younger daughter overseas. Jefferson is believed to have begun his long-term relationship with Sally Hemings in Paris. Both the Hemings learned French during their time in the city.[46:]

From 1784 to 1785, Jefferson was one of the architects of trade relations between the United States and Prussia. The Prussian ambassador Friedrich Wilhelm von Thulemeyer and John Adams, both living in the Hague, and Benjamin Franklin in Paris, were also involved.[47:]

Despite his numerous friendships with the social and noble elite, when the French Revolution began in 1789, Jefferson sided with the revolutionaries.



Above is a memorial plaque on the Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, marking where Jefferson lived while he was Minister to France. The plaque was erected after World War I to commemorate the centenary of Jefferson's founding of the University of Virginia.

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_j...


message 5: by Joe (new)

Joe (blues) Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia: Paris

Thomas Jefferson lived in Paris from August 1784 to September 1789: five years that were, according to Lucia Stanton and Douglas L. Wilson, "arguably the most memorable of his life. Paris—with its music, its architecture, its savants and salons, its learning and enlightenment, not to mention its elegant social life…had worked its enchantments on this rigidly self-controlled Virginia gentleman, and had stimulated him to say and do and write remarkable things."

Jefferson was sent to Paris by Congress to join American Ministers Plenipotentiary Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. When Franklin returned to America in 1785, Jefferson succeeded him. Jefferson wrote to John Jay in June, 1785: "On the 14th. of May I communicated to the Count de Vergennes my appointment As Minister Plenipotentiary to this court, and on the 17th delivered my letter of credence to the King at a private audience."

From his youth, Jefferson dreamed of taking the Grand Tour of Europe, but it wasn’t until the forty-one year old widower received a diplomatic appointment to Paris in 1784 that the dream became a reality. Early in his life Jefferson learned to admire European culture through books, as Peter Jefferson had insisted that his son have a classical education.

His enthusiasm for being in Paris is seen in a letter he wrote to Charles Bellini, September 30, 1785: "Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe!...You are perhaps, curious to know how this new scene has struck a savage of the mountains of America...Were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy their architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should want words. It is in these arts they shine."

Jefferson wrote about Parisian architecture to Madame de Tessé: "While in Paris, I was violently smitten with the Hôtel de Salm, and used to go to the Thuileries almost daily, to look at it." He saw the remodeled Palais Royal, the Halle aux Bleds, and various cathedrals, including Sainte-Genevieve (the Panthéon) and the Madeleine.

In Paris, Jefferson was introduced to the leading artists of the day. He met Jacques Louis David and posed for Jean Antoine Houdon "for a portrait bust that was later exhibited in the Salon of 1789." He attended the 1789 exhibit at the Salon Carrée in the Louvre with Gouverneur Morris, and they saw works by Hubert Robert, David and Madame Vigée Le Brun. Copies of the European Masters that Jefferson purchased at auctions and at indebted estates hung on the walls of his elegant Parisian house, the Hôtel d’Langeac.

Jefferson wrote about engineering feats that he saw in Paris: "He marveled at the hydraulic pumping system that provided the water for the royal gardens and called attention to the quiet magnificence of Parisian bridges…On his tours…his pen was kept busy recording his rapid-fire observations—on soil, on crops and livestock, on roads, and canals, and on local customs."

While in Paris, Jefferson attended several theaters where he saw "plays by Racine, Molière, Lasage, and Dancourt. But the most notable production he attended was Beaumarchais’ Mariage de Figaro, ou La Folle Journée."

Jefferson especially enjoyed visiting the book stores of Paris: "While residing in Paris, I devoted every afternoon I was disengaged, for a summer or two, in examining all the principal bookstores, turning over every book with my own hand, and putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science."

Susan Stein, in The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, writes about Jefferson "Shopping for a Lifetime" in France. He bought furniture, kitchen utensils, candlesticks, teapots, tablecloths, fabric and many other items. When he arrived back in America he would eventually have 86 packing crates shipped to him from Paris.

Source:
http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/...


message 6: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments My initial and quick impression of Jefferson in Paris was that this couldn't have been more timely an opportunity for a temporary change in his life. I think it helped 'finish' his intense grief over losing his wife, and gave him all that exposure to French/European art, culture and shopping that he had only dreamed of, along with the work he was over there to do.


message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe (blues) Virginia wrote: "My initial and quick impression of Jefferson in Paris was that this couldn't have been more timely an opportunity for a temporary change in his life. I think it helped 'finish' his intense grief o..."

I can only imagine the grief he was going through. Yes, very timely indeed.


message 8: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments I can, too. I was, though, pleasantly surprised that Ellis, a man, made the comment about Martha continuing to get pregnant and Jefferson obviously taking part in spite of all her miscarriages and tough times in pregnancy and birthing. Neither of them, obviously, said no. What didn't help was that women in those days usually didn't have any choice; if their husband commanded, they did it. Also, losing children either in birth or through illness was still something to expect as a frequent happening, so large families were common, or at least attempting to have a large family. Nowadays with pregnancy and birthing much more safe, along with vaccinations and modern medicine, women, if they are their own person with brains, have the freedom to say no more pregnancies if it is dangerous for them.


message 9: by Joe (new)

Joe (blues) Virginia wrote: "I can, too. I was, though, pleasantly surprised that Ellis, a man, made the comment about Martha continuing to get pregnant and Jefferson obviously taking part in spite of all her miscarriages and..."

That is so true, Virginia. I can't tell you how many times I have ready about 8 or 10 or ever 12 or more pregnancies back in those days. These women must have been pregnant just about their entire young adult life, if these women ever get any older.


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
It really is hard to believe that Martha went through seven pregnancies in ten years. She was pregnant for most of their marriage; you have to wonder how selfish a person Jefferson must have been to put Martha through this ordeal. No wonder she was able to extract such a promise; I am sure he felt very guilty about his part in her end.


message 11: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig It is crazy, isn't it? I think it was fairly common back then to have as many children as possible because of the high infant mortality rate. TJ is a perfect example of that!

I'd love to find the source where Ellis gets this promise idea from. TJ burned all his letters to his wife after her death, so maybe he talked with his daughters about it. He may have promised not to marry, but not fall in love as in the case of Maria Cosway.


message 12: by Joe (last edited Feb 25, 2010 07:21AM) (new)

Joe (blues) I found this over at librarything.com... very interesting points indeed.

Ironically, Ellis’s book is fraught with as many contradictions as he claims for Jefferson. For instance, on page 79, he discusses the death of Jefferson’s wife and the alleged pledge he made to her not to remarry. He says, “We cannot know for sure whether, as family tradition tells the story, he promised his dying wife that he would never remarry. The promise he made to himself undoubtedly had the same effect. He would never expose his soul to such pain again; he would rather be lonely than vulnerable.” If we cannot know for sure whether he made a promise to his wife, how can we know anything about a promise he made to himself. Later on in the same chapter on page 110, he recounts Jefferson’s whirlwind “affair” and “rhapsodic adventure” with the married miniaturist, Maria Cosway, which culminates in the famous and more-than-vulnerable “Dialogue between the Head and the Heart.” He also, apparently, begins his affair with Sally Hemings in Paris, which Annette Gordon-Reed and Fawn Brodie have portrayed as a reciprocal relationship, rather than that of the common master-slave sexual paradigm. Two relationships begun within a few years of this “promise he made to himself,” one highly intense and the other lasting almost four decades, hardly makes Jefferson seem like a man who had promised himself to be lonely.

Source:
http://www.librarything.com/work/27600


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "It is crazy, isn't it? I think it was fairly common back then to have as many children as possible because of the high infant mortality rate. TJ is a perfect example of that!

I'd love to find th..."


Bryan, you are so right about TJ (smile). And of course you are correct about Cosway.

But I cannot imagine a woman wanting to be pregnant every year; nor a husband wanting it either in this day and age.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "I found this over at librarything.com... very interesting points indeed.

Ironically, Ellis’s book is fraught with as many contradictions as he claims for Jefferson. For instance, on page 79, he di..."


Joe, that is an interesting find. Thank you for posting it. It gives us something else to think about.


message 15: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments librarything quote: "...Two relationships begun within a few years of this “promise he made to himself,” one highly intense and the other lasting almost four decades, hardly makes Jefferson seem like a man who had promised himself to be lonely."
In the emotion of the deathbed moment, Jefferson may have made the promise to ease Martha's mind, plus at that instant, he couldn't imagine any other woman in his life, understandably. And, he didn't marry again; I believe the only promise was to not marry again. I believe nothing was said about not being involved with other women in his future.


message 16: by Karol (new)

Karol One thing that amazed me in this section was that the problem of international terrorists justifying their actions by the Koran dates back to the earliest years of our nation. I've read some modern-day liberal opinions that suggest that at least in part, America brought 9-11 on itself. However, in the 1780's, when America had not been around long enough to proactively offend Muslim nations, there were pirates who believed "that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners." This is certainly not something I learned in any of my American history classes . . .

I found it fascinating, too, that Jefferson firmly sat on a political fence re. slavery, saying that he longed for it to be abolished, but that his ideas were ahead of their time. The next generation of Americans would have to be the ones to take that step; that course belonged in THEIR hands, not in the hands of Jefferson's own generation (which was currently holding all the political offices).


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