I’ve embarked on a new e-book project inspired by my ongoing work at the Jefferson Hotel. Thomas Jefferson: Defining America, will be a short biography of T-Jeff (new nickname I just came up with) and it should be out sometime towards the end of winter, 2015. I began work on it this past Saturday while ensconced in the hotel’s book room - what a resource. The shelves are packed with all sorts of resource material regarding Jefferson’s life & times.
Don’t worry, unlike my last book there’ll be no Kickstarter campaign here, so you can put your wallets away (for now).
I thought I’d share with you the opening paragraphs of what will surely become the greatest American biography ever written,
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13th, 1743 at Shadwell plantation in Goochland (later Albermarle) County, Virginia. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a self made man who found success as a farmer and surveyor. His mother Jane was a member of the venerated Randolph clan - one of Virginia’s most elite families. A beneficiary of the economic security and social standing afforded by his parents, Thomas Jefferson began life well positioned within the hierarchy of colonial Virginia. The Jefferson family was large. Thomas was the firstborn son and one of six children, having two older sisters, two younger sisters and one younger brother.
He loved music and by age nine was an adept violinist. His father kept a well stocked personal library, and Jefferson’s lifelong love of books was kindled at an early age. Private tutors oversaw his education and young Thomas displayed particular skill in the study of Greek and Latin. He spent much time outdoors, was a good rider and a fair hand at dancing.
Peter Jefferson was the central figure in his son’s life. When the beloved father died at age forty-nine, his then fourteen-year-old son felt himself adrift and alone. Later in life, Jefferson would recollect that, “…the whole care and direction of my self was thrown on my self entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me,”. Amongst those whom Jefferson loved, the theme of untimely death and personal loss would be recurrent throughout his life.
Thomas would find solace in his relationship with Dabney Carr, his closest friend. Throughout boyhood and into young manhood the two were constant companions, roaming widely across the untamed hills of Peter Jefferson’s estate. On one particular hill, there stood a favorite oak under which the two would pass the time. They made a pact between them that whoever died first, the other would see to their burial beneath the shade of this cherished tree.
For those of you playing along at home, does anyone care to guess what this hill would later become known as?