marlene lopez

Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia. He is the Senior Fellow at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. A leading scholar of Jefferson he is the author, co-author, and editor of numerous books, including, Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American NationhoodThe Mind of Thomas Jefferson; and Jeffersonian Legacies. He is co-host of the weekly public radio program and podcast Backstory with the American History Guys. His most recent book, co-authored with Annette Gordon-Reed, is Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright). Tracing Jefferson’s philosophical development from youth to old age, the authors explore what they call the “empire” of Jefferson’s imagination, and the vaulting ambition that propelled him into public life as a modern avatar of the Enlightenment who, at the same time, likened himself to a figure of old—”the most blessed of the patriarchs”— not just to his country, but also to his family, the white half that he loved so publicly, as well as to the black side that he claimed to love, a contradiction of historical magnitude.