A new episode of the Madison presidency series is now available!

Season 3

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

February 27, 2021

3.27 – Second Term, Same as the Worst

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1805 Jefferson’s second inauguration may have been a non-event, but on numerous fronts, various tensions were building in early 1805 that threatened to make his second term one to remember. Cabinet members plotted to further their own ambitions while Aaron Burr schemed with foreign powers and domestic discontents in order to return to prominence. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the president, one of his appointments would put a double agent in place to potentially break the recently acquired Louisiana Purchase away from the US.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 14, 2021

3.235 – A Western Interlude

Year(s) Discussed: 1804-1805 With the Lewis and Clark expedition underway to explore the upper reaches of the Missouri River, President Jefferson at the end of his first term turned his attention to gathering support and talent for expeditions in the southern portions of the Louisiana Purchase. Meanwhile, the Corps of Discovery arranged for Jefferson to get a first-hand account of life west of the Mississippi River.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 01, 2021

3.26 – Present but Absent: The Hemings Family of Monticello

Year(s) Discussed: 1735-1873 Throughout Jefferson’s life and career, he was surrounded and served by various enslaved individuals of three generations of the same family. In this episode, we examine the lives of the Hemings family as some worked to attain their freedom, other Hemingses disappeared from the historical record without a trace, and one became the most famous enslaved individual in the United States for bearing the third President’s children.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 06, 2020

3.25 – What’s Next

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1805 As James Monroe set off for his new special mission to Spain, a new congressional session began with Democratic-Republicans aiming to settle a long-standing issue as well as put their mark on the judiciary branch. However, they would find that their plans quickly went awry, and the events of early 1805 would have impacts on Jefferson’s second term and beyond.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 15, 2020

3.24 – Truth and Consequences

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1805 With a presidential election looming, the Jefferson administration had to consider how to wrap up the first term and transition to the second. For some, that meant moving into new positions. For others, retirement was in their future. As the campaign worked to rally the public, the decisions of 1804 made at home and abroad would have far-reaching consequences.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 27, 2020

3.23 – One Man Left Standing

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1804 While diplomatic disagreements occupied the attention of the Jefferson administration, Vice President Aaron Burr was occupied with a dispute of a more personal matter in the aftermath of his failed gubernatorial bid. Alexander Hamilton’s opposition to his campaign did not go unnoticed, and Burr was determined to have Hamilton answer for his words, one way or another.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 13, 2020

3.22 – A Death in the Family

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1804 While Vice President Burr worked to secure his political future in his bid for the New York governorship and New England Federalists plotted to separate from the Union, the Jefferson family suffered the untimely loss of one of its members in the early months of 1804. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, both the British and the French governments went through reorganizations that would impact their relations with the United States for years to come.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

August 30, 2020

3.21 – A Plotting We Will Go

Year(s) Discussed: 1803-1804 In the wake of multiple political losses in the first few years of the 19th century, as the election of 1804 neared, numerous Federalist leaders from New England began to consider the possibility of whether their prospects and those of their home region would be better served by breaking away from the United States. In the meantime, Commodore Edward Preble arrived in the Mediterranean to prosecute war against Tripoli while back in Albemarle County, the life of one of Jefferson’s family members hung in the balance.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

July 19, 2020

3.20 – Action and Reaction

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1804 As Jefferson’s first term entered its final year, numerous developments at home and abroad would start chains of reactions with long-reaching consequences. In the Caribbean, a nation declared its independence that would prove to be of particular concern to white Americans in the southern US. Meanwhile, Congress debated what kind of government to establish for the new lands west of the Mississippi River, and the Senate convened in the first impeachment trial in American history.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

July 03, 2020

3.19 – The Not So Merry Merry

Year(s) Discussed: 1802-1803 The new British Minister to the US, Anthony Merry, arrived in Washington, DC in late 1803, and though his arrival was initially seen as a strengthening of British-American relations, it would soon prove to be quite the opposite. Meanwhile, the end of the year saw representatives of the Jefferson administration on both sides of the Atlantic assume new roles as well as Louisiana officially brought into the United States.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

June 01, 2020

3.18 – The Boys Are Back in Town

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 Though the Louisiana Purchase Treaty had been concluded, President Jefferson understood that didn’t mean it was a done deal, and he and his administration got to work in the latter half of 1803 on getting the treaty ratified by the Senate and in pushing through legislation to carry through the purchase. However, they also had to contend with increased criticism in the press and with a gnawing concern in many minds, including that of the President, that there was nothing in the Constitution that said the United States could in fact acquire new territory.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

May 24, 2020

3.17 – Sailing in New Waters

Year(s) Discussed: 1802-1803 Despite some early successes, the US naval efforts against Tripoli languished in 1802 and early 1803, and with the cost of maintaining a squadron in the Mediterranean climbing, President Jefferson and his administration had to consider alternates in both leadership and approaches to tackle the situation. Meanwhile, various young men in Jefferson’s life moved into new roles in 1803, and the President’s personal and political realms began to overlap in new ways.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

April 26, 2020

3.16 – Up River, Down River

Content Note: This episode mentions the topic of suicide. Year(s) Discussed: 1802-1803 As the Jefferson administration awaited word on the outcome of Monroe’s mission to France, the territorial governors and government agents in the western US dealt with various issues including labor shortages, troubled relations with neighboring indigenous nations, and the economic chaos caused by the port of New Orleans being closed to American shipping. To the east, the President and his Cabinet worked with Meriwether Lewis to prepare him for the planned transcontinental expedition as news came from across the Atlantic that would reshape the United States forever.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

April 05, 2020

3.15 – Of Wars and Pieces: The Indigenous Nations Up to 1803

Content Note: This episode discusses the epidemics that spread through indigenous populations in the Americas upon the increased and sustained contact with Europeans starting at the end of the 15th century. Year(s) Discussed: approx. 9000 BCE-1803 Over the course of millennia, the peoples of the Americas developed rich cultures and prosperous nations that were often unique to one another as well as on the global stage. However, the course of these civilizations was forever changed as European explorers and settlers came from across the Atlantic in ever increasing numbers. In this episode, we’ll take some time to examine the indigenous nations present in what became the eastern and central portions of the United States leading up to the year 1803 and the Louisiana Purchase.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

March 08, 2020

3.14 – Can I Make a Purchase?

Year(s) Discussed: 1803 Despite US Minister to France Robert R Livingston’s best efforts to conclude a treaty with France on his own, the arrival of Special Envoy James Monroe in Paris marked the beginning of a new phase of negotiations which soon led to the acquisition of a large swath of territory for the United States, an event known today as the Louisiana Purchase. Though swift, the diplomatic back and forth in April 1803 proved to be precarious from the first proposal until the signatures were on the final document.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 23, 2020

3.13 – Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803, 1807 As James Monroe began his special mission to Europe in early 1803, he would come to find that the situation on the continent was rapidly changing as the Peace of Amiens was proving to be a shaky one. Meanwhile, President Jefferson had to deal with some staffing changes at home and abroad.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

February 08, 2020

3.12 – And the Beat Goes On

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As a new state joined the Union, state and federal leaders in the US worked to redefine the nation’s governmental institutions and its approach to foreign affairs. Jefferson put some plans into motion to stretch American influence through an expedition across western North America. Meanwhile, as Democratic-Republicans sought to wrest control of the judiciary from Federalists, the Supreme Court delivered a pivotal ruling.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

January 20, 2020

3.11 – Making Plans for Monroe

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As continued resistance in Saint-Domingue threatens French First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte’s plans to take control of Louisiana, President Jefferson works to keep tempers cool on the domestic front while turning to a trusted ally, James Monroe, to find a permanent solution to the New Orleans situation.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 30, 2019

3.10 – We Need to Talk

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803 As French First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte begins to shift the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere in his favor, President Jefferson works to counter these ambitions through diplomatic efforts in both Washington and Paris. Meanwhile, a Mediterranean power declares war on the US, and Jefferson’s powers of persuasion are put to the test when dealing with family matters.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 15, 2019

3.09 – Yazoo to You Too

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1802 While the Jefferson administration made a breakthrough in settling a long-standing dispute with the state of Georgia over its western land claims in 1802, the new US Minister to France, Robert Livingston, began his mission trying to get answers on the situation with the colony of Louisiana. Meanwhile, peace in Europe and a new phase of the conflict in Saint-Domingue threaten to upend Jefferson’s vision for the west.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

December 01, 2019

3.08 – The Enabler-in-Chief

Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1802 The Democratic-Republican reform agenda moved beyond appointments as the Seventh Congress began its session. From the federal judiciary to the organization of the west, Jefferson wielded the soft power of the presidency in order to move ideas along. However, he would not be the only one working to shape the future of the government and the nation, and there was no guarantee as to whose vision would prevail.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 17, 2019

3.07 – The Door to the West

Year(s) Discussed: 1798-1801 Jefferson and his administration early on focused their attention on the civilian and military operations in the western frontier of the US and worked through the year leading up to the convening of the first session of the Seventh Congress to determine who would stay and who would go. Meanwhile, despite his concerns about a standing army and navy, Jefferson also worked in his first year in office to establish two key supports for the US military establishment: a military academy and a dry dock.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

November 03, 2019

3.06 – To Limited Arms

Year(s) Discussed: 1795-1801 Jefferson managed to get a permanent Secretary of the Navy just in time for Commodore Dale’s naval squadron to engage in combat in the Mediterranean. In addition to that key post being filled, the administration was able to make some additional structural decisions during the final months of 1801 in time for the new congressional session in December. Meanwhile, a new opposition was organized by a key Federalist leader to ensure that Jefferson’s first annual message would not go unquestioned.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

October 13, 2019

3.05 – Affairs, Foreign and Domestic

Year(s) Discussed: 1799-1801 The beginning of Jefferson’s administration coincided with changes in other parts of the world including France, Great Britain, Spain, and Saint-Domingue that would ultimately come to impact the United States. Meanwhile, as Jefferson continued to assemble his Cabinet, he and his administration also had to deal with a new round of negotiation with Napoléon’s government and appeasing an irate office seeker who threatened to expose the President to public scandal.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 29, 2019

3.04 – A Deadly Revenge

Year(s) Discussed: 1801 Literally and figuratively, the new President worked to get his house in order following his inauguration. With a limited number of positions available and plans to shrink the size of the federal government even further, Jefferson set ground rules for his new administration to determine whether to retain Federalist office holders or oust them in favor of Democratic-Republicans. Despite a nod towards non-partisanship, Jefferson’s decisions were criticized by members of both parties.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 15, 2019

3.03 – The Revolution of 1800

Year(s) Discussed: 1800-1801 As Jefferson assumed office and Democratic-Republicans took control of the federal government in March 1801, new leaders emerged while others exited the stage or moved to the periphery. The new administration would get its start still dealing with the aftermath of the recent contentious election, and the new President had to weigh, with his words and his first decisions, how to balance his obligations to his party and the best interests of the nation.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

September 01, 2019

3.02 – Jefferson Pre-Presidency Part Two

Year(s) Discussed: 1774-1801 Between the publication of “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and his assuming the presidency, Jefferson made a name for himself by drafting the Declaration of Independence, struggled to see his home state of Virginia through the Revolution as governor, experienced a devastating personal loss, and served the new nation at home and abroad. Though his rise in national prominence as the leader of the opposition would ultimately lead to him becoming the third President, not only his public record but also various facets of Jefferson’s personal life would pose challenges for the new administration before it even began.

03 - Thomas Jefferson

August 17, 2019

3.01 – Jefferson Pre-Presidency Part One

Year(s) Discussed: 1612-1774 From his birth in Albemarle County, VA, Thomas Jefferson’s personality and public career began to take shape through his education at William and Mary, and his introduction to the world of politics in colonial Virginia. Along the way, he would be influenced by family members and mentors and would in turn start to impact his own young family, his neighbors, those individuals he enslaved, and the course of events in British North America.

03 - Thomas Jefferson