Annette Gordon-Reed on Re-imagining Jefferson
Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor of law at New York Law School and a professor of history at Rutgers. She earned a place in history with her first book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, which had an acclaimed but stormy reception when published in 1997, and which The New Yorker described as “brilliant.” She is recognized as one of our country’s most distinguished presidential scholars.Gordon-Reed spent her early career as an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, and as Counsel to the New York City Board of Corrections. She speaks or moderates at numerous conferences across the country on history and law-related topics. Gordon-Reed is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and son.
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.
The tactics that work now won't work for long.
Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is where the work of Marcus Aurelius.
- Meditations is a collection of the philosophical ideas of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Written as a series of notes to himself, the book is much more readable than the dry philosophy most people are used to.
- The advice he gave to himself 2,000 years ago is increasingly applicable in our hectic, stressed-out lives.
By working together, and learning from one another, we can build better systems.
- Many of the things that we experience, are our imagination manifesting into this physical realm, avers artist Dustin Yellin.
- People need to completely rethink the way they work together, and learn from one another, that they they can build better systems. If not, things may get "really dark" soon.
- The first step to enabling cooperation is figuring out where the common ground is. Through this method, despite contrary beliefs, we may be able to find some degree of peace.
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