Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf: Jefferson, Slavery, and the Moral Imagination
Monticello, the mountaintop plantation of Thomas Jefferson outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, is a landscape of contradictions at the heart of the American experience. Like his fellow Virginians, George Washington and James Madison, Jefferson – the most revered philosopher of the early republic’s Enlightenment ideals – was deeply involved in the nation’s original sin of slavery. Not only was he a slave owner. DNA testing has strongly suggested that he fathered children with Sally Hemings. In today’s divisive and distrustful moment, how can Americans grapple productively with the most challenging obstacles to finding common ground for the common good, especially at the troubled crossroads of race and American memory?
The Hauenstein Center was proud to partner with Grand Valley’s Division of Inclusion and Equity to explore this question with historians Annette Gordon-Reed (Harvard University) and Peter S. Onuf (University of Virginia) in commemoration of the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.