The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

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Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016 - African Americans - 208 pages

One of U.S. history's most eminent figures, Thomas Jefferson is as elusive as he is revered. The Private Jefferson opens a window onto the third president's inner life by exploring the single largest cache of Thomas Jefferson's private papers, held--to the surprise of many--at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Essays by Peter S. Onuf ("The State of the World: Thomas Jefferson's Political Vision"), Andrea Wulf ("Revolutionary Gardens: Jefferson, Politics, and Plants"), and Henry Adams ("The Architectural Jefferson: The Draftsman and His Ideals") underscore aspects of Jefferson's character--his unusual creativity and less frequently studied perspectives on the world--rather than retelling the well-known achievements of his political career. The qualities that come to the forefront are, instead, the principles, passions, and faith that suffused his actions as a statesman, including his love of the natural world as well as his lifelong effort to find a balance between his role on an international stage and his need for a domestic retreat, a reverie for study and experimentation.

Generously illustrated with full color reproductions of architectural drawings, letters, and other manuscripts, this volume is published as a companion to the exhibition The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Both exhibition and book celebrate the society's 225th year.

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About the author (2016)

Andrea Wulf is an English historian and writer, born in New Delhi, India in 1972. She studied design at the Royal College of Art. She is a public speaker and has lectured in the UK and USA. Her books include This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History; Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation; and Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens. Her award winning book, The Brother Gardeners, received a CBHL Annual Literature Award in 2010. The Invention of Nature: How Alexander Von Humboldt Revolutionized Our World, received the 2015 Costa Book Award in the biography category, and the 2016 Royal Society Science Book Prize for 'outstanding popular science books' written for a non-specialist audience.

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