Annette Gordon-Reed on Re-imagining Jefferson

Question: What is our biggest misconception of the man?

Gordon-Reed:    Wow.  As a cold sort of statue-like figure, as a person who was… he is seen almost, he’s portrayed almost like a Sherlock Holmes’ character, a sort of all intellect and primarily intellect and not a person of passion.  He was a deeply emotional person, and like lots of emotional people try to hide that by appearing somewhat detached and aloof.  So, I think the notion of a cold and cerebral Jefferson is a misconception.  I mean, he was almost irrational in some ways and in passions about politics, about people, all kinds of things.  So that would be it, getting rid of the sort of cold Jefferson.  There is this notion of him as someone who’s this sort of unfeeling, detached person and there’s just, that’s not right.  I mean, he’s very much a man of sentiment and feeling and that I think comes true in, well, as you said, with his attitudes about wine and food and architecture and all those kinds of things, but he is not all mind.  The head and heart, the famous letter that he writes to Maria Cosway and a lot of people assumed, well, the head wins because that’s what Jefferson is, but I don’t think that that’s right.

Annette Gordon-Reed says despite the popular notions of Jefferson, he had a big heart.

Ethnic chauvinism: Why the whole world shouldn’t look like America

We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.

Videos
  • When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
  • American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
  • We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

First solar roadway in France turned out to be a 'total disaster'

French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.

Image source: Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
  • French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
  • Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
Keep reading Show less