Thomas Jefferson

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Under a Monticello Restroom, a Hidden Piece of History

Restoration to show bedroom of slave Sally Hemings

(Newser) - A $35 million restoration of Monticello is underway, but it's what's been buried under a restroom there for nearly 80 years that's been attracting the most attention of late: the bedroom of Sally Hemings, one of President Thomas Jefferson's slaves and the mother of six children... More »

UVa Staff, Students to President: Stop Quoting Jefferson

Teresa Sullivan was trying to unite community after election, but quote backfired

(Newser) - "Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today" was one of Thomas Jefferson's "canons of conduct," and so faculty and students at the college he founded, the University of Virginia, wasted little time in responding to an email from the school's president that... More »

This 1815 Jefferson Letter Could Be Yours

If you have $325K to spare

(Newser) - Hidden in the box of heirlooms were four sheets of paper, on which the writer threatened "eternal war" with England, compared the War of 1812 to the American Revolution, and lamented the downfall of Napoleon. Now, the 1815 letter written by Thomas Jefferson to then-US Ambassador to France, William... More »

Thomas Jefferson's Lost Chemistry Lab Found

The 200-year-old chemical hearth was preserved by accident

(Newser) - A worker renovating the Rotunda at the University of Virginia made an unexpected discovery when he crawled through a hole in the wall: part of a chemistry lab partly designed by Thomas Jefferson nearly 200 years ago, the Charlottesville Newsplex reports. The brick chemical hearth—one of the only remaining... More »

New Political Casualty: Jefferson-Jackson Dinners

Democrats scrapping the tradition over slave-owning legacy

(Newser) - Democrats in Iowa last weekend officially ditched the name of their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, a move that's part of a larger trend taking place around the country, reports CNN . While the party has long celebrated Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson at such dinners, the pair's own slave-owning history... More »

Declaration of Independence Transcript May Hold Error

In the form of a period, says Danielle Allen

(Newser) - It's being hailed as "the battle of the period." Is a small spec of ink that appears on the Declaration of Independence a period or not? In a draft paper that one historian calls "a remarkably convincing piece of detective work," Danielle Allen argues that... More »

Jefferson Was 'Creepy'

Law professor says new biographies cut him too much slack on slavery

(Newser) - Two new high-profile biographies of Thomas Jefferson are out, and both go way too easy on him over slavery, writes Albany Law School professor Paul Finkelman in the New York Times . They're guilty of the sin committed by many Jefferson biographies—they either gloss over his slave-owning ways or... More »

10 Weird Thanksgiving Facts

It was supposed to be a day for fasting...

(Newser) - Thanksgiving feasts and TV dinners may seem like polar opposites, but in fact, the holiday gave birth to the prepackaged meals. Swanson bought way too much turkey in 1953—an extra 260 tons of it—so a salesman suggested packing the leftovers into 5,000 aluminum trays, accompanied by sweet... More »

What's the White House Worth?

Real estate experts look at value of presidential homes

(Newser) - Just for fun, the Wall Street Journal asked a housing expert to appraise three famous DC-area residences that have hosted at least one of our presidents. The history makes them priceless, but that aside, here's what they found:
  • George Washington's Mount Vernon: To move into this elegant estate,
... More »

Declaration of Independence Was Illegal

At Philadelphia debate, British team makes the case against nationhood

(Newser) - Teams of British and American lawyers clashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday over the legitimacy of the United States of America. At the debate, sponsored by legal associations from both countries, lawyers for the former colonial power argued that America's Declaration of Independence in 1776 "was not only illegal,... More »

Misquoting Founders Is a Political Epidemic

You can't believe all you read online

(Newser) - Between the current interest in America’s founders and a “willingness to believe” the Internet, political misquotes are flying these days, writes David A. Fahrenthold in the Washington Post . A look over the past two years of C-SPAN and the Congressional Record shows that politicians—including congressmen, senators, and... More »

Jefferson Would've Joined, not Busted, Dancers

'Father of American dance' hailed

(Newser) - Fiddle-playing, freedom-loving Founding Father Thomas Jefferson would not have been happy with the heavy-handed arrest of dancers at the Jefferson Memorial , writes Sarah Kaufman. It's absurd to ban dancing in Jefferson's name because not only was the third president fond of dancing himself, America owes its dance heritage... More »

Thomas Jefferson's Last Books Turn Up in Library

St. Louis' Washington University now holds third-largest collection

(Newser) - About 70 books in the library at Washington University in St. Louis were once pored over by a voracious reader in early America—a guy by the name of Thomas Jefferson, the New York Times reports. The school just learned that the books were part of the last library Jefferson... More »

Sorry, Tea Partiers, You Don't Get All the Founders

Washington, Hamilton would have hated you

(Newser) - The Tea Party loves to claim solidarity with the founding fathers, as though they’d all endorse the current Republican agenda. (Remember this craziness ?) Well, not so fast, says historian Ron Chernow. “The truth is that the disputatious founders—who were revolutionaries, not choir boys—seldom agreed about... More »

Put an Atheist on Supreme Court

(Newser) - President Obama should "absolutely" take into account the religious views of his next nominee for the Supreme Court, but not for the usual reasons, Marc Cooper says. "Clearly, the next person to take the bench should be an atheist," he writes for the Los Angeles Times . Having... More »

Virginia Is for Lovers (of Revisionist History)

States seems content to forget the facts, Collins says

(Newser) - Virginia might not be so much for lovers as for haters, writes Gail Collins—or at least crazy revisionists of history. Gov. Bob McDonnell's celebration of "Confederate History Month," which failed to acknowledge the existence of slavery in its "love affair with all things Confederate," is... More »

Our Sexiest Presidents

Ranking chief executives Nos. 1 through 43

(Newser) - With Valentine’s Day tomorrow and Presidents Day on Monday, Nerve ranks America’s chief executives, from Washington to Obama, on sex appeal. Richard Nixon—“Certainly the least sexy person connected in any way to Deep Throat”—is 43rd and last; here are the top five:
  • Theodore Roosevelt:
... More »

It's Un-American to Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

We aren't medieval subjects serving feudal lords and kings

(Newser) - Americans everywhere ought to applaud 10-year-old Will Phillips, who told his teacher to "go jump off a bridge" after doing what we all should do: criticizing the Pledge of Allegiance. Phillips argued that because gay marriage isn’t legal, there isn’t “liberty and justice for all”—... More »

200-Year-Old Presidential Code Cracked

Mathematician unravels cipher that stumped Jefferson

(Newser) - A code that stumped Thomas Jefferson and other cryptologists for over two centuries has finally been cracked, the Wall Street Journal reports. The cipher—sent to Jefferson in 1801 by mathematician Robert Patterson as an example of the perfect code—piqued the interest of defense cryptologist Lawren Smithline, who tackled... More »

Remember History: Give Pirates No Quarter...

How Jefferson would deal with Somalia

(Newser) - The US can learn from its 18th-century experience with piracy, Michael Oren writes in the Wall Street Journal. America had no Navy in 1785, so when the Barbary Pirates demanded a million-dollar tribute in exchange for free passage through the Mediterranean, America paid. That million dollars represented 10% of the... More »

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