Join us for a book talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alan Taylor, who will be speaking about his new book, Thomas Jefferson’s Education. This event will be co-sponsored by the Charlottesville Center for History and Culture and will be free and open to the public.
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a brilliant, absorbing study of Thomas Jefferson’s campaign to save Virginia through education. By turns entertaining and tragic, this beautifully written history reveals the origins of a great university in the dilemmas of Virginia slavery. It offers an incisive portrait of Thomas Jefferson set against a social fabric of planters in decline, enslaved black families torn apart by sales, and a hair-trigger code of male honor.
In 1819 Jefferson’s intensive drive for state support of a new university succeeded. His intention was a university to educate the sons of Virginia’s wealthy planters, lawyers, and merchants, who might then democratize the state and in time rid it of slavery. But the university’s students, having absorbed the traditional vices of the Virginia gentry, preferred to practice and defend them. The university was born with the flaws of a slave society. Instead, it was Jefferson’s beloved granddaughters who carried forward his faith in education by becoming dedicated teachers of a new generation of women.
Alan Taylor is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for History, most recently for The Internal Enemy, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Taylor lives in Charlottesville and Davis, California.