Thomas Jefferson Travels: Selected Writings, 1784-1789
Acclaimed travel and adventure expert Anthony Brandt illuminates Jefferson’s inspiring voice, restless imagination and penetrating intelligence, drawing on his voluminous travel diaries and personal correspondence to reveal the man himself and the world in which he played such a vital role. Powerfully written in Jefferson’s own words, the book traces his journeys throughout Europe during his five-year residency in Paris, where he replaced Benjamin Franklin as U.S. Minister to France. His insightful, sophisticated impressions give readers a new perspective on European life in the 18th century.
Jefferson’s eloquent observations of his tours through southern France, northern Italy, Germany and Holland shed light on those places in history and deepen our understanding of one of the most progressive, cosmopolitan men of his age. He knew most of the leading lights of the liberal French aristocracy, which gave him a marvelous perch from which to watch the French Revolution begin. He conferred with the Marquis de Lafayette on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man.
The letters trace how Jefferson’s friendships with Adams and Abigail Adams developed; they reveal all that we really know of his love affair with the artist Maria Cosway; they show his interest in architecture developing and maturing, and they demonstrate his extraordinary skill in diplomacy. Brandt also addresses the question of whether Jefferson’s possible sexual relationship with Sally Hemings began in Paris. “This is a man whose mind grew wings,” Brandt writes, presenting Jefferson as a man no longer possible to idolize, but impossible not to like.
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