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Special Lecture with Dr. Jim Sofka   NEW!

  • This course will be delivered in a "Distance Learning" format through Zoom.
  • Enrolled members will receive an enrollment reminder with the link before the lecture.
  • *Our classes are not recorded due to copyright and privacy regulations. 

Jefferson as Political Leader: Character, Complexity, and Cunning in the Founding Era

While Jefferson is widely lauded as the “author” of the American Revolution and a sage of the Founding generation, he was also a gifted, ambitious, and cunning political leader. This presentation will investigate Jefferson’s leadership methods across his 40-year political career and explore how his education and practical experience shaped the skills he deployed to such great advantage both in and out of public office and how they informed the legacy he left to future generations of Americans.   That Jefferson managed to create an opposition to the Federalists, build a new political party, and manage American foreign policy in an era of global war impresses historians today; in the context of his times these required leadership skills that were truly singular and extraordinary.  While Jefferson can appear hypocritical—an early advocate of limited Presidential power, he expanded the scope of that office far beyond his Federalist predecessors—he did not consider himself an ideologue and was unafraid to change course when political realities demanded it.  In our conversation, we will examine how and why the “political” Jefferson was a far more sophisticated, but also deeply conflicted, leader than many of his critics—and even his supporters—care to admit.