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Only two guests were invited to what was arguably the most elegant, sumptuous, and important dinner party that Thomas Jefferson ever hosted. Each course was prepared and laid out in advance so that no servants would enter the dining room to disrupt conversation and overhear random remarks, which they might later repeat to others. Privacy was imperative. Jefferson believed that the very future of the United States of America depended on convincing Alexander Hamilton to agree to a compromise he and Madison were ...
Only two guests were invited to what was arguably the most elegant, sumptuous, and important dinner party that Thomas Jefferson ever hosted. Each course was prepared and laid out in advance so that no servants would enter the dining room to disrupt conversation and overhear random remarks, which they might later repeat to others. Privacy was imperative. Jefferson believed that the very future of the United States of America depended on convincing Alexander Hamilton to agree to a compromise he and Madison were proposing on two issues that threatened to tear the young republic apart.
Plying his guests with the fine wine and exquisite cuisine only a former ambassador to France could provide, Jefferson set the stage for a compromise that enabled the federal government to pay its debts, both domestic and foreign, and make the American dollar "as good as gold."
In Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's, you'll discover the little-known story behind this pivotal evening in American history, complete with wine lists, recipes, and wonderful illustrations of 1790s New York, then the nation's capital. It is a feast not to be missed for lovers of American history, fine dining, and a compelling true story well told.
1 Before the Clash 3
2 An Old Friend's Bombshell 15
3 The Mounting Anger 27
4 The Radical Conservative 41
5 Aggressive Lobbying 51
6 Thoughts of Breaking Up 61
7 Jefferson's Awakening 75
8 A Country without a Capital 85
9 Doubters and Believers 95
10 Nearing a Decision on the Capital 107
11 That Day on the Street 117
12 Dinner at Secretary Jefferson's 125
13 The Philadelphia Story 139
14 Doubts Settled, Doubts Revived 149
15 Hamilton the Unstoppable? 159
16 Before the Fall 171
17 From Brilliance to Disaster 179
18 The Disappearing Cabinet 193
19 One Heart and One Mind 209
20 The Jefferson Factor 221
Appendix A Recipes from Monticello's Kitchen 229
Appendix B Alexander Hamilton's Letter to New Coast Guard Officers 239
Posted February 2, 2009
Many of us remember John F. Kennedy's now famous comment to a gathering , 'I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. ' History corroborates Mr. Kennedy's estimation of Jefferson's mental acuity but it does not recount how often Jefferson dined alone. Fortunately, what it does relate is the story of an evening when Jefferson hosted two guests for dinner - Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. This was a momentous time in our nation's history, and that evening is faithfully recalled by author/historian Charles A. Cerami in Dinner At Mr. Jefferson's. In 1790 Jefferson evidently decided to resolve differences and perhaps the best way to do it was over excellent food and fine wines. To that end he invited Hamilton and Madison to dinner. The host was correct - during that meal bargains were struck: the Federal government would be responsible for Revolutionary War debts, which pleased Hamilton, and the capital would be moved, which pleased Jefferson and Madison. While the crux of the evening is well known what delights is Cerami's description of those hours as he not only imagines the conversation but includes recipes for dishes served and notes wines enjoyed. A remarkable reading by voice performer William Dufris literally transports the listener to that eventful dinner. The winner of thirteen Earphones Awards and voted a 'Best Voice at the End of the Century' by AudioFile magazine, he delivers an estimable narration. - Gail Cooke
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Posted January 8, 2009
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