Mr. Jefferson's Women
By Jon Kukla
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400078578, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 14, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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From the acclaimed author of A Wilderness So Immense comes a pioneering study of Thomas Jefferson's relationships with women, both personal and political.
The author of the Declaration of Independence, who wrote the words “all men are created equal,” was surprisingly uncomfortable with woman. In eight chapters, Kukla examines the evidence for the founding father's youthful misogyny, beginning with his awkward courtship of Rebecca Burwell, who declined Jefferson's marriage proposal, and his unwelcome advances toward the wife of a boyhood friend. Subsequent chapters describe his decade-long marriage to Martha Wayles Skelton, his flirtation with Maria Cosway, and the still controversial relationship with Sally Hemings. A riveting study of a complex man, Mr. Jefferson's Women is sure to spark debate.
Jon Kukla received his BA from Carthage College and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. From 1973 through 1990 he directed historical research and publishing at the Library of Virginia. From 1992 to 1998 he was curator and then director of the Historic New Orleans Collection. From 2000 to 2007 he was director of Red Hill, The Patrick Henry National Memorial in Charlotte County, Virginia. He now lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia.
“Fascinating. . . . Serious, meticulous, and well-written.”
—The Boston Globe
“A fine, critical and needed study of one aspect of Jefferson's complicated and extraordinary life.”
“Kukla knows his period. . . . As the last few years have made abundantly clear, Thomas Jefferson was rather less sterling than his prose.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Will make people with open minds think again about what they believe.”
“Persuasive and entertaining.”