The Private Jefferson: "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" by Peter Onuf | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Featured Promotion

Immerse yourself in Virginia's history by visiting one of our exhibitions.


The Story of Virginia
We're continuing to reach out to our community! Yesterday several more of our staff volunteered to assist at the Fe…

The Private Jefferson: "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" by Peter Onuf


On January 5 at noon, Peter Onuf delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “The Private Jefferson: 'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs.'”
"Most Blessed of the Patriarchs": Tracing Jefferson's philosophical development from youth to old age, historian Peter Onuf explores what he calls the "empire" of Jefferson's imagination—an expansive state of mind born of his origins in a slave society, his intellectual influences, 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." Indeed, Jefferson saw himself as a "patriarch," not just to his country and mountain-like home at Monticello 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 extraordinary historical magnitude.

Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Professor of History Emeritus and Senior Research Scholar at Monticello, is the author of “The State of the World: Thomas Jefferson’s Political Vision,” in the exhibition catalogue, The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the coauthor with Annette Gordon-Reed of “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. He is also a co-host (the “18th Century Guy”) of the popular public radio program and podcast BackStory with the American History Guys.


Help Notes:

  1. Only update text copy above line.
  2. Do not use cut or past.
  3. Do not use line breaks or cariage returns.
  4. Do not remove or backspace over line.
  5. Do not insert images or lists.
  6. To add and remove alert change the region settigns below for the VHS-sub (default theme) field below. Set to none to not display alert. Set to Content to display alert.