Annette Gordon-Reed

Professor of Law and History, Harvard University
Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Burden of Slavery

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed for a discussion of her work as a lawyer/historian focusing on the contradictions of the life of Thomas Jefferson.  Recalling her intellectual odyssey. Professor Gordon-Reed elucidates her contribution to Jeffersonian scholarship including her most recent book “The Most Blessed of Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination(written with Peter S. Onuf). Topics covered in the conversation include how her training as a lawyer empowered her to overturn the conventional historical view of the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Professor Gordon-Reed highlights the structural intellectual racism at the heart of Jeffersonian historiography  which ignored the factual evidence which pointed to Jefferson as the father of Sally Heming’s children.  In examining the evolution of Jefferson’s ideas on slavery, Professor Gordon-Reed emphasizes how Jefferson’s theory of slavery evolved as he adapted to the reality of American social and political life. She concludes with an the implications of her work for understanding the present turmoil over black/ white relations in the U.S. today.

Recent Interviews

Apr 20 2017
See video
Mar 21 2017
See video
Oct 13 2016
See video
Sep 29 2016
See video