Annette Gordon-Reed: Getting History Right


Is Thomas Jefferson to be deplored as a slave-owner who had a family with a young woman he owned or is he to be celebrated as one of the country’s most essential and gifted founders?  Or, should he be both—condemned and revered?

That is the question Annette Gordon-Reed, the brilliant Harvard law professor, historian, and author of the Pulitzer prize-winning The Hemingses of Monticello:  An American Family, has long wrestled with.  In conversation with SVWC associate director Anne Taylor Fleming, Gordon-Reed reflects on her evolving feelings about Jefferson and on the moral responsibility of the historian, and talks about her recent memoir, On Juneteenth, a stirring remembrance of growing up black in Texas.  Hers is the rare wise and nuanced voice we need in today’s overheated culture.