Tom Chaffin - Revolutionary Brothers

Tom Chaffin - Revolutionary Brothers

Monday, Nov 25, 2019 7:00 PM

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

In a narrative both panoramic and intimate, Tom Chaffin captures the four-decade friendship of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette.

About the Book

The bond linking Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette constituted a singularly extraordinary friendship, one which played a key role in the making of two revolutions—and two nations. The author of the Declaration of Independence first met Lafayette in 1781, when the young French-born general was dispatched to Virginia to assist Jefferson, then the governor, in fighting off the British. The charismatic Lafayette, hungry for glory on the battlefield, could not have seemed more different from Jefferson, the reserved and philosophical statesman. But when Jefferson, a newly-appointed diplomat, moved to Paris three years later, speaking little French and in need of a diplomatic partner, their friendship began in earnest.

As Lafayette opened doors in Paris and Versailles for the neophyte emissary, so too did Jefferson stand by Lafayette as the Frenchman became inexorably drawn into the maelstrom of his country's revolution. The Virginian offered counsel to the young aristocrat as he drafted The Declaration of the Rights of Man and remained a firm supporter of the French Revolution, even after he returned to America in 1789. But Jefferson soon learned that the French Revolution's excesses had led to the persecution of Lafayette and his family. By 1792, the upheaval had rendered him a man without a country, locked away in a succession of Austrian and Prussian prisons. The burden fell on Jefferson—and Lafayette's other friends, including Alexander Hamilton's sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church —to win his release. The two would not see each other again until 1824, in a powerful and emotional reunion at Jefferson’s Monticello.

Steeped in primary sources, "Revolutionary Brothers" casts fresh light on this remarkable, often complicated, friendship of two extraordinary men.

About the Author

Tom Chaffin is the author of, among other books, "Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary;" "Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah;" and "Pathfinder: John Charles Frémont and the Course of American Empire." His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, the Oxford American, Time, Harper's, and other publications. He lives in Atlanta.