Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Times

Cynthia Kierner. Univ. of North Carolina, $35 (376p) ISBN 978-0-8078-3552-4
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Thomas Jefferson’s eldest surviving daughter, Martha (1772–1836), joined her mother and Jefferson’s slave-mistress Sally Hemings as one of three prominent women in the third president’s life of public prestige and personal tragedy. Kierner, a professor of history at George Mason University, describes how Martha, educated in a Parisian convent, witnessed the births of the American and French Revolutions and later served as her father’s confidante, balancing multiple concerns while following the era’s approved societal and marital constraints. Even when married with 11 children and conflicted over slavery, resourceful Martha remained entangled in her father’s world, from serving as hostess at the White House (in place of her late mother) to overseeing a cadre of Monticello’s female slaves spinning cotton to reduce the family’s financial strain. With an emphasis on the complexities of the extensive relationships among the Jeffersons, Randolphs, and Wayleses (the family of Jefferson’s wife), Kierner succeeds in presenting a well-cited clear view of Martha’s role both behind the scenes of a notable historical figure and as an example of the rarely chronicled contributions of women during the early American era. 30 illus., 1 map. Agent: Lisa Adams, Garamond Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-1-4696-1902-6
Open Ebook - 376 pages - 978-0-8078-8250-4
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 371 pages - 978-1-4696-0176-2
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