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Professor Alan Taylor – Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.


Selected works

  • Thomas Jefferson’s Education.

  • William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic.

  • American Colonies. The Settlement of North America to 1800.

  • The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution.

  • The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832.

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Episode #1

Q: Thomas Jefferson – Professor Alan Taylor – Intro


  • Originally an historian of early American Republic – Northern States

  • Researched Archive of Escaped Slaves 1812

  • Studied Jefferson writings on slavery

  • Holds Jefferson Chair in History - University of Virginia

Episode #2

Q: What motivated Jefferson to create a university?


  • Jefferson: brilliant, distinct, self-educated

  • Alarmed at societal issues facing Virginia

  • Proponent of democratization & ultimate solution to slavery

  • Education: the key to raise the next generation of American leaders

Episode #3

Q: Was Jefferson’s Vision Successful?


  • Not in the way Jefferson hoped

  • Jefferson belief in the ability to transform young people

  • Atmosphere of bullying, dominating

  • Entrenched Slavery: “school for tyranny”

  • Tradition of honor and duels

Episode #4

Q: Was Jefferson naïve?


  • Jefferson: man if the enlightenment

  • Belief in building rational people

  • University of Virginia architecture

  • Creating little Jefferson?

  • Up against power of society

Episode #5

Q: What did Jefferson write about Slavery?


  • Elegant writings condemning slavery

  • Belief in gradual emancipation

  • Overtly racist musings

  • Quoted by both pro and anti-slavery proponents

Episode #6

Q: Slavery: Could Jefferson Have Done More?


  • Owned hundreds of slaves

  • Washington freed his slaves upon death

  • Jefferson’s influence if he freed his slaves

Episode #7

Q: What was Jefferson’s view on religion?


  • Very critical of tradition

  • Adherent of free religious choice

  • Separation of Church and State

Few Jews and Catholics in Virginia

Episode #8

Q: How does Jefferson view Jews & Judaism?


  • Appalled by any legal discrimination based on religion

  • Would welcome Jews to the University of Virginia

  • No sympathy for organized, traditional religion

Full Interview - Professor Alan Taylor 

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