Oct. 27, 2020

Episode 10 - You May Set To Win The Prize

Episode 10 - You May Set To Win The Prize

Hannah to Thomas Jefferson, 15 November 1818

In …

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Hannah to Thomas Jefferson, 15 November 1818 In which Hannah, a woman enslaved by Thomas Jefferson at his vacation home of Poplar Forest, writes to him about his health and his property. In today's episode I am joined by Brandon Dillard, the Manager of Historic Interpretation at Monticello, and we talk about how public historic sites talk about slavery, and how valuable letters like Hannah's can be to interpreters. Sources and more reading: The transcribed text of the letter: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-13-02-0355 The letter in Hannah's handwriting: https://classroom.monticello.org/media-item/letter-from-hannah/ More about Hannah: https://www.poplarforest.org/learn/thomas-jeffersons-life-and-times/the-enslaved-people-of-poplar-forest/slave-biographies/ More about Poplar Forest: https://www.poplarforest.org/learn/ Jefferson's boils: Jefferson's Memorandum Books, vol. II. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition, ed. James P. McClure and J. Jefferson Looney. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008–2020. pg. 1350, note 88. "Hoping to eradicate the “seeds” of his rheumatism, TJ had planned a short visit to the Warm Springs, but was persuaded to extend his stay to three weeks—a decision he ever after regretted. He lived in one of the log cabins of the thermal establishment presided over by merry landlord John Fry, took the 98° waters three times daily in the hexagonal bath building, suffered acutely from boredom, and late in his stay broke out in boils, probably from a staphylococcus infection. This painful complaint, with associated fever and debility, made his return journey a torment. Having arrived at Monticello in a state of extreme exhaustion, he was incorrectly treated with mercurial ointments for what his doctor supposed to be scabies, and was soon at “death’s door.” When medication was stopped he gradually began to recover, but he missed his autumn visit to Poplar Forest, was not able to return to normal activity until December, and always blamed “the unlucky experiment of the springs” and its aftermath for the recurring ill health from which he suffered over the next few years (TJ to MJR, 7, 14, 21 Aug. 1818; TJ to Francis W. Eppes, 11 Sep. 1818; TJ to James Breckenridge and to William Alston, 6 Oct. 1818; TJ to Henry Dearborn, 5 July 1819; Percival Renier, The Springs of Virginia [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1941], p. 102-7; [Philip H. Nicklin], Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs . . . by Peregrine Prolix [Philadelphia, 1837], p. 25)."