(Part one of two) When Abigail Adams died in late October, 1818, her husband, John, brokenhearted, said, “I wish I could lie down beside her and die, too.” Today, the two are […]
Free Speech for Dummies (and Dittoheads)
Last October, country music star Hank WIlliams, Jr. made a remark about Obama and Hitler playing golf, touching off a controversy that saw ESPN end its relationship with Williams (who had been […]
July 4th and the Death of Independence
The clock on the fireplace mantel along the far wall still ticks away the seconds. On May 10, 1863, that same clock, in that same place, ticked away the last few hours […]
Review: Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis
I recently completed my fifth trip through Joseph Ellis’s indispensable Founding Brothers. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2001, the book provides one of the best all-around glimpses of the […]
Jefferson: Self-governance and "the field of knowledge"
Final part in a series “The field of knowledge,” said Thomas Jefferson, “is the common prosperity of all mankind.” Jefferson’s words are inscribed in big bold letters in the entryway of Monticello’s […]
Mr. Jefferson's library: "a necessity of life"
Part three in a series “I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in June of 1815. The former president had just packed his personal library—some 6,700 volumes—into a […]
Jefferson: The man who moved mountains
Second in a series He leveled the top of the mountain with gunpowder. He began the project in 1768, when he was twenty-five. He had his slaves literally sheer off the tip […]
Jefferson: America's great contradiction
First in a series I sit on a small wooden bench, little more than a plank with legs, really, beneath a tulip poplar whose wide branches umbrella me. The grass around the […]
D.C.—part two: "What about me?"
I can almost hear Thomas Jefferson calling from across the tidal basin, from across the centuries: “What about me? What about me?” I hardly give the Jefferson Memorial a second glance. I […]
Street smarts: the American revolution
Grover helps Thomas Jefferson meet a deadline: