Friday, May 4, 2018

May 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 5                                                                      May 1, 2018
The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner
MYSTERY SOLVED:  Readers of this newsletter may remember that we have written several times over the years about the fate of the “Levy Lions,” the four statues that Jefferson Levy had arrayed at Monticello. The lions—which were pictured oin the engraving of Monticello that was on the back of the $2 bill from 1929-1976—were sold after the Thomas Jefferson Foundation bought Monticello from Levy in 1923 and disposed of all of its non-Jefferson contents.

Decades later, we learned that two of the lions made their way to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville. But the fate of the other two remained unknown. Until now.

Rebecca English, who lives near Charlottesville, started a quest to find the two missing Levy Lions after she thought she spotted one outside a house not far from Monticello nearly five years ago. She first wrote about that on her excellent Forsythia Hill blog in December of 2013.

In that and subsequent posts Rebecca reported on her progress (or lack thereof) trying to track down the missing lions. Then early this year she hit pay dirt. She discovered the lions at a historic home listed for sale in Hendersonville, North Carolina, near Asheville.



“I knew the second I saw the lions that they were authentic,” Rebecca writes in her blog. She did some close side-by-side comparisons of photos of the lions from the late 19th and early 20th century at Monticello and shots of the ones in North Carolina. The only discrepancy Rebecca found was “time and wear,” she wrote. “The lions are missing a few teeth but everything else matches up!”

The Levy Lions sit regally on the rear terrace (see photo above) of a historic house called Chanteloup, which was built in 1840 for a French count and countess on 28 acres of land and sometimes is known as “Little Biltmore.” In 1900 new owners brought in the pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the terraced gardens.

Rebecca drove to Hendersonville to confirm what she suspected. “Not only was the trip to see the lions amazing,” she wrote, “but the property owners celebrated this event with us by providing lunch on the veranda. I could gaze upon the lions and the Olmsted gardens and watch the birds dip and dive down in the valley below.”


Below are photos Rebecca took and kindly gave us permission to use of the lions at Chanteloup.
You can read her entire post at http://bit.ly/LevyLionsFound




EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my May speaking events. For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Tuesday, May 1– Talk on Ballad of the Green Beret and book signing for the Veterans Military History Group at the Silver Spring (Maryland) Senior Center.
·         Saturday, May 5 – Talk on Ballad for the Lane’s Mill DAR Chapter and book signing at monthly meeting in Centreville, Virginia
·         Monday, May 14 – Talk on What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life for the Chasseur Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
·         Tuesday, May 15 – Talk on Francis Scott Key, the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the history of the American flag at the JCC of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax. More info at http://bit.ly/JCCFlag
·         Saturday, May 19 – Moderator of a 9:30 a.m. panel on Vietnam War Biography at the annual Biographers International Organization (BIO) Conference, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. For more info and to register go to https://www.regonline.com/2018BIOconference


  
If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com
For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.   

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 4                                                                      April 1, 2018
The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner
JEWS OF C’VILLE:  Virtually every large and mid-sized city in the American South has had significant Jewish communities since the mid-19th century. Charlottesville, Virginia—the home of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia, and Monticello (owned by the Levy family from 1834-1923)—is no exception.

That was the point of a March 18 walking tour of C’ville led by long-time U-Va. History Professor Phyllis Leffler. During the tour Prof. Leffler looked at the Jewish families and businesses in that Central Virginia city, including U.S. Navy Lt. Uriah Levy (who was born in Philadelphia in 1792), who purchased Monticello in 1834.

Professor Leffler has had a long interest in the Jews of Charlottesville. In the mid-1990s she and U-Va. Anthropology Prof. Jeff Hantman were the driving forces behind an extensive exhibit at U-Va.’s Alderman Library called “To Seek the Peace of City,” which took an in-depth look at the picture. The title comes from Jeremiah 29.7: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away ... for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”


That exhibit lives today in an extensive on-line presence at  http://bit.ly/SeekthePeace It tells the “story of colonial era Sephardic Jews and of nineteenth century immigrants first from Bavaria and Wurttemberg and then from Kovno and Minsk. It is a story of peddlers and merchants, and of involvement and leadership in local government, the arts and education. It is a story of the commitment of a few to the creation and maintenance of local civic and religious institutions.”
“To Seek the Peace of the City” is an expansion of a 1993 U-Va. exhibit, “Jewish Life at Mr. Jefferson's University,” which was presented as part of the University’s commemoration of Thomas Jefferson’s 250th birthday.
On the March tour, Leffler explained that there were Jews in the city “from the earliest, pre-Revolutionary period.” But, “like many small towns there weren’t enough to constitute a community. Before the 1870s, there weren’t enough Jews to build anything.” She went on to point out that Charlottesville “was a tiny, tiny town, but for merchants and itinerant travelers, it was a location that made sense west of Richmond and on the trade route between Baltimore and Lynchburg. It was good spot for merchants to get established.”
Most of the merchants, she said, operated along what is now C’ville’s downtown mall, where they owned “shoe shops, department stores, and restaurants. “They [also] served on school, city and community boards,” she said. “They were remarkably integrated into the life of Charlottesville. As prominent merchant families, they all really took a role in the city and making it work.” (Here’s a like to the Charlottesville Daily Progress article on the tour in the: http://bit.ly/Cvillearticle)

Leffler included Uriah Levy’s nephew Jefferson Levy in her tour, as he spent considerable time in Charlottesville after buying out his uncle’s other heirs and taking control of Monticello in 1879. A committed real estate and stock speculator, Jefferson Levy (who sold Monticello to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1923) bought and sold a good number of other properties in C’ville.
As I noted in Saving Monticello, his first significant purchase in the city came in 1887 when he bought a building at the corner of Park and High Streets known as the Town Hall, which had been built in 1852. Town Hall, a large, three-story Georgian style brick structure, was used as a gathering place for local groups, traveling speakers and touring theatrical companies. By the mid-1880s, though, it had fallen into disuse.



Jefferson Levy remodeled Town Hall and in 1888 renamed it the Levy Opera House. He enlarged the stage and put in a new orchestra pit with dressing rooms below it, inclined the floor to improve sight lines and installed a horseshoe-shaped gallery, new opera chairs and two boxes on the sides of the stage.

The Levy Opera House hosted the first symphony orchestra that played in Charlottesville, the Boston Symphony, which came to town in 1891. That year Jefferson Levy leased the Opera House to Jacob (“Jake”) Leterman and Ernest Oberdorfer, sons of the founders of Charlottesville's German Reform synagogue. Leterman and Oberdorfer brought in other symphony orchestras, minstrel shows and various types of theatrical productions.

In 1907, Levy leased the building to the Jefferson School for Boys, a small boarding and day prep school, for $400 a year. An addendum to the lease stipulated that if any theatrical performances were given in the Opera House, it “shall be advertised as the Levy Opera House,” and that Jefferson Levy retained the right to his box there. The school moved out in 1912. Two years later Levy sold the building, and it was subdivided into apartments. Today it has been remodeled into office space and is still known as the Levy Opera House.


EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my ten April speaking events. It’s one of the busiest months—if not the busiest—in my seventeen years of doing talks for my books. Five of the talks are on Saving Monticello. For info on my new book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Friday, April 6 – Talk on Francis Scott Key and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and book signing for the Daughters of 1812 Association of State Presidents annual banquet in Washington, D.C.

·         Tuesday, April 10 - Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing at the ExxonMobil Spouses Club luncheon in Great Falls, Virginia.

·         Tuesday, April 10 – Talk on The Civil War Battle of Monocacy based on my book, Desperate Engagement, for the Southern Maryland Civil War Roundtable at the College of Southern Maryland in LaPlata, Md. For info, go to http://somdcwrt.org

·         Wednesday, April 11 – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing at the monthly meeting of the Arlington House DAR Chapter, Arlington, Virginia.

·         Thursday, April 12 – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing for the National Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century National Conference, Washington, D.C.

·         Friday, April 13 – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing at the Annual Meeting of Presidential Families of America, Washington, D.C.

·         Saturday, April 14 – Field trip at the Monocacy National Battlefield Park for the Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table, Frederick, Maryland.

·         Sunday, April 15 – Talk on Flag: An American Biography at the annual meeting of the Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede, Washington, D.C.

·         Friday, April 27 – 2:45 p.m. talk on Desperate Engagement and book signing at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation’s 2018 National Civil War Conference, “Avenue of Invasion” (9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Open to the public. For more info and to register, go to http://www.shenandoahatwar.org/avenue-of-invasion

·         Friday, April 27 – 6:00 p.m. talk on Saving Monticello at the “Eat, Drink, Be Literary” event sponsored by the Hillsboro Historic Old Stone School in Hillsboro, Virginia. A fundraising event open to the public. For info email events@oldstoneschool.org or call 540-486-8001.

If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com
For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 3                                                                      March 1, 2018

The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner

THE CLOCK (CON’T.) In the January SM Newsletter I wrote about the time in December of 1937 when a Richmond jeweler named Otto Frederick Ostergren was hired to repair Thomas Jefferson’s famed seven-day clock, which has graced the Monticello Entrance Hall since 1805.
The problem was that the clock hadn’t been working properly since the 1850s when Uriah Levy owned the place. 

To do the repair work, Ostergren had to remove the clock from the premises, and take it to his workshop. So that day in December 70-plus years ago, Mr. Ostergren showed up at Monticello and with the help of an assistant, took the clock down and carefully loaded it into the trunk of his car and then drove off to Richmond.  

Bill Bergen, the dean of the tour guides at Monticello—and a subscriber to this newsletter—emailed me after he received it and sent along an image of a photo I’d never seen. It’s an evocative (and to my mind, historic) picture of Ostergren and his assistant gently placing the clock into the trunk of his car.
Thanks to Bill for digging in out; to Jack Robertson, the Foundation Librarian at Monticello’s Jefferson Library, for discovering its provenance; and to the Library of Virginia for giving me permission to reprint it here:



THE MEDALS: The University of Virginia and Monticello will award three Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals—the highest external honors U-Va. (which does not award honorary degrees) bestows—on April 13, Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.

The Medal in Architecture will go to David Adjaye, a world-renowned architect best known for his innovative sculptural designs, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Adjaye, who was born in Tanzania, was recently knighted last year by Queen Elizabeth for his architectural work, and was named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine. His website is http://www.adjaye.com

The Medal in Citizen Leadership will go to Morgan Carrington “Cary” Fowler Jr., an agriculturalist and the former executive director of the Crop Trust. He has worked for decades on crop diversity and conservation. Fowler founded the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a heavily fortified seed bank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Svalbard Archipelago some 1,300 miles from the North Pole. It’s the world’s largest collection of crop diversity, and holds more than 930,000 distinct varieties.

The Medal in Law will go to Frank H. Easterbrook, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, and former Department of Justice official who specializes in antitrust, criminal and corporate law.

The Medal
“Thomas Jefferson was an essential architect of American life. A philosopher, revolutionary, president, scientist, diplomat, educator, farmer and epicure, Jefferson shaped the new nation,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, the president and CEO of the Foundation. “We are honored to welcome the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal recipients, each of whom, like Jefferson, has made a profound impact on our world and will inspire future generations of leaders.”

The ceremonies on April 13 include free public lectures at U-Va. by the medal recipients, a formal dinner at Monticello and a luncheon in the Dome Room of the Thomas Jefferson-designed Rotunda on the U-Va. grounds. Details at this page on Monticello's website.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: According to a recent announcement in the Charlottesville Daily Progress, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the good folks who own and operate Monticello, are looking for volunteers to work at the Monticello Visitor Center (pictured below). For more info, email volunteer@monticello.org or call 434-984-9869.

EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my March speaking events. For info on my new book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Monday, March 12  – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing for the Anna Maria Fitzhugh DAR Chapter in Alexandria, Virginia
·         Thursday, March 29 - Talk on Ballad of the Green Beret for the Rotary Club of Purcellville in Purcellville, Virginia


If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at Marc527psc@aol.com I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.

Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February 2018

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 2                                                                      February 1, 2018

The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner

THE KITCHEN: The latest archaeological news at Monticello came late last year when a dig in the South Pavilion cellar discovered portions of several stoves used by Jefferson’s enslaved French-trained chef James Hemings.

An excellent, well-illustrated article in Live Science (http://bit.ly/MontKitchen) reveals what happened when researchers started digging in a space in the cellar that had been used as a visitors’ bathroom for more than fifty years before the Thomas Jefferson Foundation decided to restore the cellar to what it was in Jefferson’s time.

The article notes that the archaeological team also found a trove of other artifacts, including pottery and glass bottle fragments, animal bones, and toothbrushes, along with the original brick kitchen floor, and pieces of the fireplace and four stew stoves.


The photo above, from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, shows the recreated stew stoves.
James Hemings, who was born in 1765, was among the scores of slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law John Wayles. James’ mother was Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings. It’s all but certain that John Wayles was his father—as well as the father of all of James Hemings’ five full siblings, including his younger sister Sally. That meant that those Hemings siblings also were Thomas Jefferson’s wife Martha’s half brothers and sisters.

Jefferson took James (and Sally) Hemings to Paris in August of 1784, when he served as U.S. Minister (Ambassador) to France, which is where James learned to cook. He was freed by Jefferson in 1796, seven years after they returned from France.

I do not mention James Hemings in Saving Monticello, as he had left Monticello well before the story I tell begins—and he died in 1801. Nor do I mention his famed younger sister Sally Hemings for the same reason. The only time the name “Hemings” comes up in my book is when I discuss Thomas Jefferson’s death in 1826 and his will.

In it, Jefferson left his walking staff to James Madison. He gave watches to each of his grandchildren, and donated his books to the University of Virginia—although they later were sold, instead, to raise cash.

A codicil in the will granted freedom to five of Monticello’s enslaved people who had learned trades, all of whom were members of the Hemings family: Joe Fossett, Burwell Culbert, and John, Madison and Eston Hemings. Burwell Culbert, who was Jefferson’s butler and main household servant, also received $300. All five newly free men were also given houses.

For more info on James Hemings, take a look at the Foundation’s excellent sketch of his life at http://bit.ly/2JamesHemings

HIS THREE DAUGHTERS: Another member of the Hemings family is one of the three women profiled in the just-published book, Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black in a Young America (Ballantine Books, 425 pp. $28, by Katherine Kerrison, a Villanova University U.S. History Professor.

Image result for jefferson's daughters

The book is a combined biography of Thomas and Martha Jefferson’s two daughters, Martha, whom Jefferson called “Patsy” (1772-1836), and Maria (1778-1804), known as “Polly”—along with Kerrison’s reconstruction of the life of Harriet Hemings, who was born in 1801, the daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation and most historians believe that Jefferson and Sally Hemings had a total of six children following the death of his wife Martha in 1782. Harriet was the eldest.

Harriet Hemings was given her freedom at age 21. She left Monticello, and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1822, four years before Jefferson’s death. She never saw her mother or father after that.

According to Kerrison’s book, Harriet Hemings (who was seven-eighths white) married a white man in Washington and had several children. She and her children lived as white people.

Kerrison’s life stories of Martha and Maria, Jefferson’s white daughters, includes their time with him in Paris where fourteen-year-old Sally Hemings served as Maria’s companion. You can read the New York Times review of the book by Mary Beth Norton at http://bit.ly/DaughtersReview  and Kerrison’s recent essay on the topic in the Washington Post at http://bit.ly/JeffDaughters

EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my February speaking events. For info on my new book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Saturday, February 10  – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing for the Oak Hill Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812 in McLean, Virginia
·         Sunday, February 25 - Talk on Ballad of the Green Beret for the Mayflower Society of Washington, D.C., in Vienna, Virginia

Image result for marc leepson

If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at Marc527psc@aol.com I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  


Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 2018

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XV, Number 1                                                                      January 1, 2018

ONE GREAT CLOCK: A little over eighty years ago, on December 15, 1937, to be exact, the Charlottesville Daily Progress newspaper reported that a Richmond jewleler named Otto Frederick Ostergren had repaired Thomas Jefferson’s famed seven-day clock. Ostergren, the article said, got the clock working properly for the first time since the late 1850s during the time when Uriah Phillips Levy owned Monticello

“Jefferson may have been a novice, but he evidently knew enough about clocks to design a good one that had but one major fault,” the newspaper reported in 1937. “This fault was in the striking mechanism, which if it ever got out of order, would stop the entire complicated apparatus. As a result, the great clock has run but a third of the time during the 130 years it has been at Monticello.”

Ostergren, the article went on to say, simplified the clock’s mechanism “to take care of the major difficulties.” Once more, it said, “the people of Charlottesville will hear the doleful tolling of the hours as they did back in the days when the clock was running and the striking hammer resounded on the huge disk placed up in the roof. At times, the tolling would continue for hours, and then someone would have to climb out on the roof and set the apparatus right.”

Dec 15

Jefferson designed the one-of-a-kind clock, and sent his plans to a Philadelphia clockmaker named Peter Spruck to build. Spruck created it with the help of his apprentice Robert Leslie in 1793. It wasn’t installed in Monticello’s Entrance Hall, though, until 1805 when Jefferson was president. The Great Clock has remained there ever since—one of only a handful of items that has been in Monticello continuously from Jefferson’s time to today.

I first mention the Great Clock in Saving Monticello in the section on the brief (1831-34) ownership of Monticello by the eccentric Charlottesville pharmacist James Turner Barclay. He bought the place from Jefferson’s daughter Martha and her son Thomas Jefferson Randolph after they had sold virtually all the furniture and furnishings in the years following Jefferson’s death in 1824.

According to his daughter, Barclay bought special tools to repair the clock, which, she said, had been broken for “many years.”

Barclay signed a contract to sell Monticello to Uriah Levy in 1834, but the sale was delayed for two years when the parties had a dispute over what exactly would convey to Levy. The contract called for Levy to receive Monticello and its “appurtenances” and 230 acres of land. Barclay would keep the houses’ valuable pier mirrors and the seven-day clock.

However, a land survey revealed that Barclay had sold off all but 218 of Monticello’s acres. So Levy asked Barclay to annul the initial contract, which he did. The parties wrote a new one in which Barclay dropped the price to $2,500 and, according to Levy, threw in the mirrors and clock. Barclay disagreed with that and legal wrangling (a lawsuit and a counter suit) ensued. It ended in 1836 when the parties settled the lawsuits and Uriah Levy took possession of the house—including the Great Clock and the mirrors.

Image result for daily progress monticello clock jefferson

Uriah Levy, a U.S. Navy lieutenant when he bought Monticello, spent most of his time at sea, in the 1850s. His caretaker at Monticello, Joel Wheeler, lived in and ran Monticello, but didn’t exactly maintain the place well.

That included the Great Clock, which was in the mid-1850s was unused and in bad shape. “Dust and rust corrode the silent wheels,” a visitor reported in 1856. According to the Richmond clockmaker Frederick Ostergren the Great Clock would stay in that condition until 1937.

You can read a full description of the Great Clock on the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s online Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia at http://bit.ly/JeffGreatClock

To read the Daily Progress article, go to http://bit.ly/ProgressClock

EVENTS: Here are my January speaking events. For info on my new book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
  • ·       Thursday, January 4 – Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing for the Leesburg Rotary Club, Leesburg, Virginia
  • ·       Tuesday, January 9 – 12:30 p.m. talk on Francis Scott Key and “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. Open to the public. For info, call 703-537-3068 or go to http://bit.ly/jccnvKey
  • ·       Thursday, January 11 – Talk on Flag: Saving Monticello and book signing at the monthly meeting of the Falls Church (Va.) DAR chapter.
  • ·       Thursday, January 25 – 1:00 p.m. talk on What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key: A Life and book signing for Montgomery County (Md.) Oasis, 7125 Democracy Blvd. Bethesda. Open to the public. For info, call 301-469-6800, ext. 211.

 Image result for marc leepson

If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at Marc527psc@aol.com I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.

Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.   

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December 2017

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XIV, Number 12                                                                   December 1, 2017

THE STORY: Simon Schama, the acclaimed Columbia University professor, may be best known as the voice of dozens of BBC, PBS, and History Channel documentaries. That includes the monumental five-part “The Story of the Jews,” a sweeping, 3,000-year history, which Schama wrote and narrated for BBC and PBS in 2013.

Schama’s latest book is The Story of the Jews, Volume Two: Belonging: 1492-1900 (Harper Collins, 800 pp.), which came out in October. It is the second of what will be three volumes that cover the same territory as Schama did in the documentary.



The book is “an engaging and electrifying read by a skilled literary craftsman, cultural historian and tour guide,” the novelist and essayist Thane Rosenbaum wrote in his Washington Post review. The Story takes us to “such far-flung places,” Rosenbaum wrote, such as Venice, London, Paris, Istanbul, Jerusalem, and San Francisco.

In the earlier volume, the documentary, and in the new book Schama tells the stories of well-known people such as Baruch Spinoza, Alfred Dreyfus, and Theodor Herzl. But he also gives us “an all-star team of largely unsung Jewish heroes,” as Rosenbaum put it, “who inject humanity and spunk into what might otherwise have been morbid tales of endless persecution.”

This largely unsung group includes David Ha-Reuveni, a 16th century European traveler and mystic; the 18th-century British boxer Daniel Mendoza; the mid-16th century Italian showman Leone de’Sommi; the mid-17th century Chinese general Chao Ch’eng; the pioneering mid-18th century French physician Jacob Rodrigues Pereire; and the mid-19th century American actress, painter, and poet Adah Isaac Menken.

Plus—I am happy to say—Schama tells the story of the one and only Uriah Phillips Levy in the book. He recounts what I wrote about in Saving Monticello: UPL’s stewardship of Monticello and includes the story of the statue of Thomas Jefferson that Levy commissioned in 1833, which now is in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda.

AMERICAN HERITAGE: When I started doing the research for the 1997 Preservation magazine article on the Levys and Monticello (which would become the progenitor of Saving Monticello), I discovered an article on that exact subject by Annabelle Prager in the February/March 1978 issue of American Heritage magazine.
The article proved to be well researched and accurate, although the writing was a tad too flowery in places and the tone a bit too hagiographic. It was also too vague on the misrepresentations made by Maude Littleton in her 1909-1914 campaign to take Monticello from Jefferson Levy.
Nevertheless, overall Ms. Prager did a fine job telling the Levys’ Monticello story.
To wit: “Visitors to Monticello today, taking in its handsome lawns,” she wrote, may not know that “Monticello was saved from ignominious ruin because it had the good fortune to fall into the hands of men who believed that its builder, Thomas Jefferson, was the greatest of all Americans.
“To these owners—first, Uriah Phillips Levy, and later his nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy—Monticello was a shrine.”
I just discovered that the article is on line, I believe, for the first time. You can read it at http://bit.ly/AHMonticello



EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my December speaking events. For info on my new book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Monday, December 4  – 4:00 p.m. Eastern appearance on the Mike Slater Show, AM 760, San Diego on Lafayette: Idealist General.
·         Tuesday, December 5 -  Release of “Civics 101” Podcast by New Hampshire Public Radio on the U.S. Flag Code and my book Flag: An American Biography. Go to http://bit.ly/Civics101Flag
·         Friday, December 15 – 3:00 p.m. talk on Flag: An American Biography and book signing at Arbor Terrance retirement community, 1100 Dranesville Rd., Herndon, Virginia. Free and open to the public. To make a reservation and for more info, call
703-956-6311. 

If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at Marc527psc@aol.com I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. 

We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, Lafayette, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.