January 19, 2010 Jefferson's 'Flight from Monticello' Is Subject of Book Discussion

Little-Known Episode in Founding Father’s Life Haunted Him for All His Days

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

“June 4. British horse came to Monticello.” Thomas Jefferson scribbled this short and almost casual notation in a memorandum book in the middle of 1781. The note belies the urgency, fear and dread that Jefferson must certainly had been feeling as he put pen to paper, for only moments earlier British troops invaded his beloved home of Monticello. This moment in Jefferson’s long and distinguished life—the moment when he decided to flee Monticello—would haunt him for all his days. It is also an episode in the founding father’s life that has not been thoroughly discussed by most historians.

Michael Kranish will discuss and sign his book “Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War” (Oxford University Press, 2010) on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at noon, in the Mary Pickford Theater, third floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E.

The event, part of the Books & Beyond author series sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The book will be for sale during this program.

Kranish illuminates the events that unfolded as Benedict Arnold, in command of British troops, descended on Virginia and eventually occupied Williamsburg. Arnold was easily able to take control of the rest of the state, leaving Jefferson to take to the back roads, with a British force quite literally nipping at his heels. Though he was running for his life, Jefferson would be called a coward for his actions, and worse: He would later receive a letter in refuge that accused him of being responsible for all that had happened since the British invaded Virginia earlier that January. His political enemies would also attempt to use this episode against him in his bid for the presidency; and the personal demons these events unleashed would plague him until the end of his life.

Kranish is a reporter in the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe. He is the co-author of the New York Times best-seller “John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography.”

Kranish’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at www.facebook.com/booksandbeyond/. Presented are discussions of books whose authors have appeared, or will appear, in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

The Center for the Book (www.loc.gov/cfbook/) was established by Congress in 1977 “to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries.” With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The Center also oversees the new Read.gov website, with its exclusive “Exquisite Corpse Adventure” serialized story.


PR 10-012
ISSN 0731-3527