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Released: 2012-10-16

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek


Is there the rest new to claim about Thomas Jefferson and slavery? The answer is a convincing sure. Master of the Mountain, Henry Wiencek’s eloquent, persuasive guide—in response to new knowledge coming from archaeological work at Monticello and on hitherto lost sight of or disregarded proof in Jefferson’s papers—opens up an enormous, poorly understood dimension of Jefferson’s world. We should, Wiencek suggests, practice the cash.


Up to now, historians have supplied best simple irony or paradox to explain this phenomenal Founding Father who used to be an emancipationist in his adolescence after which recoiled from his personal inspiring rhetoric and equivocated about slavery; who enjoyed his renown as a progressive leader yet saved some of his own kids as slaves. But Wiencek’s Jefferson is a man of trade and public affairs who makes a hit of his debt-ridden plantation thanks to what he calls the “silent profits” received from his slaves—and due to a skewed moral universe that he and lots of others without difficulty inhabited. We see Jefferson doing away with a slave-equity line of credit with a Dutch bank to finance the constructing of Monticello and deftly developing smoke screens when guests are dismayed by way of his apparent endorsement of a system they idea he’d vowed to overturn. It is not an attractive story. Slave boys are whipped to make them work within the nail manufacturing unit at Monticello that will pay Jefferson’s grocery payments. Oldsters are divided from youngsters—in his ledgers they’re recast as cash—while he composes theories that obscure the dynamics of what a few of his friends call “a vile commerce.”


Many people of Jefferson’s time noticed a catastrophe coming and tried to stop it, however not Jefferson. The pursuit of happiness had been badly distorted, and an oligarchy was once getting very wealthy. Is this the quintessential American story?

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Writer: Henry Wiencek Publisher: Farrar, Straus and.. Binding: Hardcover Language: English Pages: 352

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