Eastern Michigan University Campus Life welcomed famed historical biography author Jon Meacham on Tuesday night. Meacham gave a lecture about the subject of his most recent book, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” which was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times. After the lecture, Meacham opened the floor for questions and stayed for a book signing.
Meacham brought to light that while Thomas Jefferson is regarded as one of the greatest politicians and intellectuals in our country’s history, he also owned slaves for his entire life and was an enemy of the Native American people.
“[Jefferson] represents the best and the worst of us,” Meacham said. “Because he does both, he stays with us.”
Senior political science major Sara Box attended the event because she is interested in the history of our government.
“I like learning about specifically what our past presidents did, and how they impact us today,” Box said.
Box said she felt Meacham’s lecture was both intelligent and funny.
Meacham kept the audience laughing with his impressions of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.
“He made me want to buy his book and read it,” Box said.
Ricardo Alfonso, a senior psychology major agreed with Box.
“I thought what [Meacham] had to say was interesting, and I thought it was relevant to what is happening today,” Alfonso said.
Meacham connected Jefferson’s history to the current political climate by saying that the greatest lesson our nation can learn from Jefferson is, “his idea that the life of the mind and the political mind of the nation need not be separate.”
“Politics is about give and take, not just give,” Meacham said.
Meacham said he feels it is important for college students to learn about Jefferson.
“College students are at a particularly rich time of intellect, and he connects to so many different aspects of intellectual interests,” Meacham said.
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