A few months ago I finished one book and was hunting for a new something to read. Amazon is incredibly helpful during these times of transition by offering many suggestions. I don't know about you, but I get a little twitchy when I don't have anything to read. So I glanced through the many options and landed on "America's First Daughter", by Stephanie Dray and Laurel Kamoie. I have to confess that I was not a huge fan of American history. Give me books featuring a Tudor or Plantagenet and I've got a little bit of a mental road map, but of my our country's history, I've been slacking. But, you know it was near election time and there is always a lot of conversation throwing the words "our founding fathers" around like weapons and I decided to give it a go. It is fiction, but it was meticulously researched with all dates and cast of characters accurate. It was on my kindle so I swiped the screen and started reading. I read and I read and I kept reading. At one point I looked to see how far I was and it was less than 40% to which I was thrilled, because this book could not end until Jefferson did. It's 642 pages and with each swipe I fell more in love with Jefferson and his family.
It is beautifully written from the point of view of Jefferson's oldest daughter Martha, who is referred to as Patsy throughout the book. It begins with the death of Jefferson's wife and follows his life through tragedy, slavery, Paris, his political career, and his relationship with Sally Hemmings. I'm not going to give you a Jefferson 101 here, but he was extraordinary. As I read I was mentally planning a trip to see Monticello. I HAVE to see Monticello.
Sadly, I finish the book and then head to the library to get every other book on Jefferson I can find. I read biographies, books about the gardens at Monticello. Books about Sally Hemmings and the Hemmings family. I scour Netflix for any film, documentary or otherwise, on Jefferson and his life. I am obsessed in the best possible way.
So a week or so later I am sitting at Emerson's birthday party talking with my sister about her upcoming trip out East and right out of the blue she says, "......and I think we'll visit Monticello." SAY WHAT!? YOU ARE GOING WHERE? Oh boy, I am green with envy, but she is my sister so I give her the scoop on the book and she finds it in the library and reads it all the way to Monticello, and like me, she joins team Jefferson. She called me from the car as they left Monticello to tell me how amazing it was and how much she wished we had been there together. She brought be me back a guide book that I have read again and again.
Then, just by accident I am channel surfing and land on the PBS special about "Hamilton" the musical and I am transfixed. There is Jefferson....I know him! And Lafayette.....Adams....Washington. These are my people now. I know these dudes. I've read of their dreams and sacrifices. Oh man, Hamilton, don't turn your back on Aaron Burr! I have gone from ho-hum on American history to on fire for information. All this from one book. One little spark to begin a journey that I'm still traveling. I LOVE when that happens.
So today as I cast my vote I thought about Thomas Jefferson and his co-patriots and I quietly thanked them for their part in bringing me, a woman, to a place where I was able to cast my vote for another woman. What a day to remember.
I hope that your voting experience was positive and that, as the ballots are tallied we remember the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause to withdraw from a friend."