Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello: Her Life and Timesby Cynthia A. Kierner
As the oldest and favorite daughter of Thomas Jefferson, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph (1772-1836) was extremely well educated, traveled in the circles of presidents and aristocrats, and was known on two continents for her particular grace and sincerity. Yet, as mistress of a large household, she was not spared the tedium, frustration, and great sorrow that most… See more details below
As the oldest and favorite daughter of Thomas Jefferson, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph (1772-1836) was extremely well educated, traveled in the circles of presidents and aristocrats, and was known on two continents for her particular grace and sincerity. Yet, as mistress of a large household, she was not spared the tedium, frustration, and great sorrow that most women of her time faced. Though Patsy's name is familiar because of her famous father, Cynthia Kierner is the first historian to place Patsy at the center of her own story, taking readers into the largely ignored private spaces of the founding era. Randolph's life story reveals the privileges and limits of celebrity and shows that women were able to venture beyond their domestic roles in surprising ways.
Following her mother's death, Patsy lived in Paris with her father and later served as hostess at the President's House and at Monticello. Her marriage to Thomas Mann Randolph, a member of Congress and governor of Virginia, was often troubled. She and her eleven children lived mostly at Monticello, greeting famous guests and debating issues ranging from a woman's place to slavery, religion, and democracy. And later, after her family's financial ruin, Patsy became a fixture in Washington society during Andrew Jackson's presidency. In this extraordinary biography, Kierner offers a unique look at American history from the perspective of this intelligent, tactfully assertive woman.
Cynthia Kierner's intriguing new biography of Martha Jefferson Randolph . . . is the first to tell her story from her point of view. It gives depth to the history of elite white southern women and their responsibilities, liabilities, and possibilities in the Early National period and illuminates the family ripples widening from the splash Jefferson created by taking up with his slave, Sally Hemings.Women's Review of Books
[A] thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written account. . . . This will have wide appeal to students of American history, women's studies, and biography.Library Journal
A nicely written, amply documented book that renders both the mundane and the exciting aspects of Randolph's life engrossing.West Virginia History
In Kierner's capable hands, Martha Jefferson Randolph (1772-1836) emerges from her famous father's shadow as an intelligent, well-educated, pragmatic, and 'tactfully assertive' woman who brought up eleven children, managed a large and complex household, weathered a turbulent marriage, and coped with both financial reverses and family scandals.Journal of Southern History
- The University of North Carolina Press
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Cynthia A. Kierner is professor of history at George Mason University.
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