Unwilling to directly address the issue of abolition, Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia to educate the state's wealthy young men, hoping that in time they would come to an enlightened solution to the slavery issue. But as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Internal Enemy relates here, the students had absorbed the traditional vices of the Virginia gentry, and were in no hurry to forsake the advantages of slave labor. Instead, as Alan Taylor explains, it was Jefferson's beloved granddaughters who carried forward his faith in education by becoming dedicated teachers of a new generation of women.
"No historian has more astutely investigated or more powerfully written about the early American republic than Alan Taylor. In [this history], Taylor adds to his previous prizewinning studies of early American politics, expansion, and arts and letters, with an examination of the founders' vision of education, reckoning, at once, with its audacity and its timidity."—Jill Lepore