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A Revolutionary Friendship: Author Lecture with Francis D. Cogliano

The First Cabinet, by Thomas Phillibrown, after Chappel, 1858. Gift of The Kiplinger Family, 2018 [M-5692]

A Revolutionary Friendship is the first full account of the relationship between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, countering the legend of their enmity while drawing vital historical lessons from the differences that arose between them.

A book signing and reception with complimentary beer, wine, and hors-d'oeuvres will take place after the lecture. 

Only virtual tickets remain; the in-person lecture has SOLD OUT. This event is part of the 2024 Michelle Smith Lecture Series. 

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The Michelle Smith Lecture Series is supported by an endowment established by a generous grant from the late Robert H. and Clarice Smith.

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Individual Lecture:
In-person: $55 for members, $60 for non-members

Virtual Lectures: $40 for members, $55 for non-members

The link for virtual attendees will be sent via email.

The Michelle Smith Lecture Series

A Revolutionary Friendship: Washington, Jefferson, and the American Republic

By the time George Washington died in 1799, he and Thomas Jefferson were estranged. But for most of their thirty-year acquaintance they enjoyed a productive relationship. Because they shared so much, their disagreements have something important to teach us.

For instance: Whereas Washington believed in the rule of traditional elites, Jefferson preferred a meritocratic approach, by which elites were elected on the basis of education and skills. And while Washington emphasized a need for strong central government, Jefferson favored diffusion of power across the states. Cogliano argues that common convictions equally defined their relationship: a passion for American independence and republican government, as well as a commitment to westward expansion and the power of commerce. They also both evolved a skeptical view of slavery, eventually growing to question the institution.

What remains fascinating is that the differences between the two mirrored key political fissures of the early republic, as the unity of revolutionary zeal gave way to competing visions for the new nation. This book brilliantly captures the dramatic, challenging, and poignant reality that there was no single founding ideal—only compromise between friends and sometime rivals.

Francis D. Cogliano

Francis D. Cogliano is the interim Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. He is also Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh where he serves as the University’s Dean International (North America). He received his B.A. in history from Tufts University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Boston University. He has taught at universities in the United States, England, and Scotland and has been a member of the History Department at the University of Edinburgh since 1997.


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