American Sphinx - Study Guide Prologue Summary & Analysis

Joseph Ellis
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Jefferson is probably the most beloved and admired of American presidents. He is claimed by liberals and conservatives and by Democrats and Republicans. Both William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow have claimed that Jefferson shared their views of evolution and creation. Both Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover claimed to have followed Jefferson's ideals in their very different ways of handling the Depression.

The author was amazed to find 400 people attending a rather scholarly evening devoted to Jefferson in 1993. He had expected about 40. An actor portrayed the president in a historically accurate way. Ellis points out that the audience was too well mannered to ask the two provocative questions that most people have, about Jefferson's slave ownership and his relationship with Sally Hemings. Sally Hemings was a slave Jefferson inherited from the family of his wife, Martha Wales. Hemings was a quarter black and had reportedly...

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This section contains 627 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the American Sphinx Study Guide
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