Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter

The latest about the book, author events, and more

Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XIII, Number 11                                                                   November 1, 2016

THE PRIME OF HIS LIFE:  I have made great use of Google Books while doing the research for my books. That amazing service, which began in 2002, continues to digitize thousands of books from large libraries. Many of the books were published centuries ago. Among them are bound volumes of 19th century magazines. I found lots of great primary-source material in those magazines for my biographies of Francis Scott Key and the Marquis de Lafayette.

But not for Saving Monticello, since Google Books wasn’t around when I researched the book in 1999 and 2000. Although a few issues of old magazines were digitized and on line then, I mostly had to dig out magazine articles dealing with the Levys and Monticello the old-fashioned way, by looking for copies of the magazines in libraries and archives.

hese days I regularly search Google Books (and lots of other places on line) for material for this newsletter, and regularly come up with things I’d never seen before. The latest new-to-me article I found is “A True Jeffersonian and Real Democracy,” which appeared in the November 11, 1898, issue of The Illustrated American, a Harper’s Weekly-like magazine founded by Lorillard Spencer, the president of Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, in 1890.

The short article with two pictures of Monticello even contained a few facts about Jefferson Levy’s life that I hadn’t known.

Whoever wrote the factually accurate article was greatly impressed by Jefferson M. Levy, who purchased Monticello from the other heirs of his uncle Uriah Levy in 1879, and repaired, restored and preserved Monticello for more than four decades before selling it to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1923. Noting that he “comes from a family which has been prominent in New York for over two hundred years,” the article goes on to note that Levy, at age 56, was “in the prime of life and one of the most active men in the political and business life of the metropolis.”

Describing him as “a working, enthusiastic Democrat,” the article says that Jefferson Levy “contributed liberally” to the party over a period of twenty-five years (which I hadn’t known) and took “an active part” in the New York City Real Estate Exchange, the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade.

The article goes on to praise Uriah Levy for his Navy service and both Levys for their stewardship of Monticello. Since acquiring the place in 1879, the article notes, Jefferson Levy “has watched and preserved it with jealous care.” The home “is maintained with a care worthy of the Democratic party and in accord with its glorious traditions.”

It ends with praise for Jefferson Levy’s support of President McKinley’s “war with Spain,” aka, the Spanish-American War, and points out that Levy “contributed liberally to the various funds for the relief of the soldiers” who fought in the war.

Levy had just been elected to Congress and the article ended with an assessment of how he would do on Capitol Hill. It was upbeat, noting that he would “zealously watch and advance” the “business interests of New York,” and that he’d be “a representative, alert, energetic and particularly well informed regarding all the needs and interests of this great city.” Levy went on to serve three terms in Congress, largely fulfilling those predictions as a business-oriented, conservative Democrat. He spoke out strongly against income taxes and antitrust legislation, and was a consistent proponent of a strong U.S. military.


EVENTS:  My next book, the first-ever biography of Barry Sadler, will be published May 1. We are about to change the title slightly. It will now be called Ballad of the Green Beret, with the same subtitle: The Life and Wars of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler from the Vietnam War and Pop Stardom to Murder and an Unsolved, Violent Death. It’s available for presale today on Amazon

 Here are my November events:

  • On Thursday, November 3, I’ll be doing a talk at 12:00 noon at the North Cross School, in Roanoke, Virginia, on What So Proudly We Hailed. The event is free and open to the public at the North Cross School, 4254 Colonial Ave., Roanoke. 

  • On Saturday, November 5, I’ll be speaking to the Henry Clay DAR Chapter, in Annandale, Virginia, about Saving Monticello.

Please email me if you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including my Francis Scott Key biography, What So Proudly We Hailed, and Lafayette: Idealist General, my concise bio of the Marquis de Lafayette—at For more details on other upcoming events, go to SMOnline That’s the “Author Events” page on my website,

Facebook, Twitter: If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request. If you’re on Twitter, I’d love to have you as a follower.

Gift IdeasIf you would like a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello, e-mail me at Or go to 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.  

The SM Newsletter On Line: You can read back issues of this newsletter at I welcome comments. If you have received this in error, or do not wish to continue receiving it, please send an email and I’ll take you off the list.

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