He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Yet Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and struggled throughout his life to reconcile that fact with his notions of freedom.
How did his position as a slaveholder affect his presidency? Historian Henry Wiencek explores that perplexing question in Thomas Jefferson
on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Based on new archeological work at Monticello and on hitherto overlooked or disregarded evidence in Jefferson's own papers, Wiencek opens up a poorly understood dimension of Jefferson's world. He suggests we follow the money, that Jefferson's wealth explains the baffling paradox of a man who was an emancipationist in his youth but then recoiled from his own inspiring rhetoric, who enjoyed his renown as a revolutionary leader yet kept some of his own children as slaves.
Wiencek's Jefferson is a man of business and public affairs who makes a success of his debt-ridden plantation thanks to what he calls the "silent profits" gained from his slaves.
Wiencek is the author of several books including Master Of The Mountain:Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves. Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
The event is part of the Hail to the Chiefs series on the American Presidency co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library and the Truman Library Institute and co-sponsored by KCUR's Up to Date.