A new Madison presidency episode is now available!
Presidencies of the United States

03 - Thomas Jefferson Episodes

The intro and outro music for the first four Thomas Jefferson episodes is from “Yankee Doodle Variations” as performed by Carrie Rehkopf. The full recording can be found at Wikipedia. Subsequent episodes feature selections from “Jefferson and Liberty” as performed by The Itinerant Band. Check out their website for information on upcoming appearances and to purchase CDs or digital downloads of their music.

January 23, 2022

3.41 – Jefferson Q&A

You asked, and I answered! As we wrap up our series on Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, listeners submitted questions ranging from Franco-American relations during Jefferson’s tenure to what pets he kept to how would I go about explaining Jefferson’s complex legacy to him. Listen in as I answer your final questions about the man from Monticello and his impact on American history.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

January 09, 2022

3.40 – Jefferson Post-Presidency

Year(s) Discussed: 1809-1826 After leaving the presidency, Thomas Jefferson found himself kept quite busy with both public business and personal matters. While striving to be a doting grandfather and fretting over his family’s life struggles, the former president worked in vain to escape the vicious cycle of debt in which he had become trapped. Meanwhile, he used his retirement to take on the task of improving public education in Virginia which inevitably landed him in the middle of political struggles once more.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 14, 2021

3.39 – Sunset and Sunrise

Year(s) Discussed: 1807-1809 As the end of Jefferson’s second term neared, the Embargo Act came under increasing criticism at home, Napoleon’s plans for conquest continued apace in Europe, and the nation chose the man who would become the fourth President of the United States. Though the clock had not struck on his presidency, his last months in office would find the man who had been a leader for decades take a step back as his thoughts turned increasingly to his life once he left the President’s House.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 21, 2021

3.38 – Electioneering

Year(s) Discussed: 1806-1808 As the 1808 presidential election neared, the infighting in the Democratic-Republican faction was exacerbated by not one but two challengers to Secretary of State James Madison’s candidacy – Vice President George Clinton and former US Minister to Britain James Monroe. Meanwhile, Napoleon’s constant wars in Europe continued to impact US foreign policy, and the Jefferson administration began a new round of negotiations with British envoy George Rose to seek a resolution to the crisis precipitated by the Chesapeake-Leopard incident while working out how to effectively enforce the Embargo Act.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

October 24, 2021

3.37 – O Grab Me

Year(s) Discussed: 1806-1808 With a diplomatic resolution to the Chesapeake/Leopard affair looking increasingly unlikely and the threat of war looming, President Jefferson and his administration worked in late 1807 to devise an alternative to war while also preparing for the nation’s defense. Meanwhile, James Monroe’s frustrations continued in London while there was a shift in power in Congress.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

October 03, 2021

3.36 – Trial

Year(s) Discussed: 1806-1807 Little did the Jefferson administration, while preparing to prosecute the former Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, for treason, that they would be faced at the same time with an external challenge that threatened to plunge the nation into war. In mid-1807, the President, his Cabinet, and the nation were all anxious for the latest information from the Burr trial in Richmond as well as whether Great Britain was truly declaring war on the US following the attack on an American naval vessel off the coast of Virginia.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 19, 2021

3.35 – And Everything Else

Year(s) Discussed: 1806-1807 Concurrent with the events of the Burr conspiracy, the Jefferson administration and its agents were engaged in other work on multiple fronts. Lt. Zebulon Pike was leading an expedition westward while Gen. James Wilkinson took questionable measures in the name of national security in New Orleans. In London, James Monroe and William Pinkney worked against all odds to finalize a treaty with Great Britain. Meanwhile, the President had to decide upon a new Attorney General as well as not one but two Supreme Court justices.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 05, 2021

3.34 – Conspiracy

Year(s) Discussed: 1806-1807 Aaron Burr’s plans were finally starting to come to fruition, but little did the former Vice President know that he had a turncoat in his midst. Meanwhile, as the Jefferson administration struggled to get a grasp of the scope of the conspiracy, it was forced to action, and the haphazard nature of it would have consequences on down the line.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

August 08, 2021

3.33 – Glimmers of Hope

Year(s) Discussed: 1805-1806 With American and Spanish military forces amassing along the western US border and with the commanding general of the Army potentially involved in a secession and/or filibustering plot with the former Vice President, late 1806 was a time of trepidation for President Jefferson and his administration. Before long, though, a few hopeful prospects started to appear including the return of Jefferson’s protege turned continental explorer, Meriwether Lewis.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

July 11, 2021

3.32 – Time Draws Short

Year(s) Discussed: 1805-1806 As Jefferson reflects upon the unexpected death of his mentor, various situations at home and abroad in 1806 imperil the future of the nation. A British ship unintentionally kills an American sailor, threatening the peace negotiations being conducted in London. Around the same time, expeditions to explore the west provoke Spanish forces already gathered on the border. Meanwhile, the President receives word of a domestic plot involving not only the former Vice President but also the commanding general of the US Army.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

June 30, 2021

3.31 – Waves on the Horizon

Year(s) Discussed: 1804-1806 As tensions between the US and Spain increase over West Florida and the border with Tejas, Aaron Burr travels to the west and back again to meet with folks across the nation as his plot progresses. Meanwhile, supporters of Jefferson in Congress attempt to move against Rep. John Randolph of Roanoke, and a House Ways and Means Committee meeting gets so raucous that a duel seems to be in the making.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

May 30, 2021

3.30 – The Tide in Europe

Year(s) Discussed: 1804-1806 The Napoleonic Wars continue apace in Europe as Napoleon plots an invasion of Britain, and Admiral Horatio Nelson searches for the French fleet in the Mediterranean. As battles continue on land and sea across the continent, American diplomats in London, Paris, and Madrid continue their work. Meanwhile, the untimely death of a key leader opens up opportunities for the US to negotiate a treaty.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

May 03, 2021

3.29 – A Winter to Remember

Year(s) Discussed: 1804-1805 President Jefferson had much to celebrate in the latter half of 1805 as he finally secured a new Attorney General, envoys arrived from distant lands in the east and the west, and his daughter and her family joined him in the President’s House for the winter. Little did he know, though, that difficult negotiations in Madrid and the machinations of the former Vice President, Aaron Burr, would soon lead to difficulties for his administration.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

April 04, 2021

3.285 – The Two Marthas

Year(s) Discussed: 1748-1836 Studies of Thomas Jefferson’s life often discuss the impact of the two Marthas – his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, and his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph – on him, but few studies examine matters with the focus on the lives of the two women. While our knowledge of Martha Jefferson is limited, in this episode, we sift through the fragments of what we know about her before shifting to her daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. In addition to the narrative, part of the episode features an interview with a special guest, Dr. Cynthia A. Kierner, whose biography of Martha is an invaluable resource for learning more about a person who was educated in Paris and mingled with presidents and political leaders but is far too often relegated to the background of history. Her life has much to tell us about the role of women and families in the early republic as well as in US presidential history.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

March 21, 2021

3.28 – The Calming Seas

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1805 With the war with Tripoli continuing to drag on year after year, Jefferson and his administration had to determine whether the best course to bring it to a conclusion lay with opening up a new front by partnering with foreign agents or through engaging in a new round of diplomacy. Meanwhile, a change in the command of the US naval squadron in the Mediterranean took the wind out of the sails of what had been an energetic force.

03 - Thomas Jefferson