Renowned historian Henry Wiencek knew he was on the trail of something massive when his research into Thomas Jefferson turned up a heretofore unquoted line from Jefferson to a friend in a letter: "Invest every farthing in slaves." This, from the framer of the Declaration of Independence? But it's true. According to Wiencek's research, Jefferson didn't view slavery as an embedded system too big to change or an inherited evil; it was simply a way to make money. And Jefferson needed the money, so he needed to be an active, major slaveholder — even if some of those slaves were his own illegitimate children. Wiencek outlines his findings in his new book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves. Henry Wiencek visits Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com) at 7 p.m. this evening to discuss the book and the American president, and his slaves. Admission is free.
Mon., Oct. 15, 2012