Thomas Jefferson | St. Louis Public Radio

Thomas Jefferson

Today marks the 274th anniversary of the birth of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Rembrandt Peele | Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 13, 2017 marked the 274th anniversary of the birth of American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

On St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh looked back on the complicated legacy of the United States' third president and explored the impact of his presidency regionally with Washington University professor Peter Kastor.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Four presidents have ties to the St. Louis area, and each has left his mark on it.

Ulysses S. Grant came to St. Louis in 1843 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and farmed in the St. Louis area for six years. He met his future wife here; Julia Dent was the sister of one of Grant’s classmates at West Point. The two were married in St. Louis in 1848. Grant led the Union armies to victory in the Civil War, and was elected the 18th president of the United States, taking office in 1869.

A Conversation With Thomas Jefferson's Modern Editor

May 15, 2014
via Wikimedia Commons

From his commission of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, to the name of the city’s most recognizable landmark, St. Louis has particularly strong ties to Thomas Jefferson.

As the editor of “Light and Liberty: Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness,” a collection of Jefferson's writing organized into 34 essays, Eric Petersen has spent years reading Jefferson's letters and state papers.

(Courtesy Collection of The New-York Historical Society)

As the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is seen as a champion of liberty. Yet during his lifetime he owned more than 600 slaves and at the time of his death, more than 130 slaves were sold to pay off his debts.

An exhibit currently on display at the Missouri History Museum elaborates on this paradox.

From the exhibit

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Thomas Jefferson’s convoluted and complicated history as a slave owner – while long espousing opposition to the institution -- goes well beyond his likely 30-plus-year liaison with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.

That fact is made clear in the newest exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.”

Washington University in St. Louis, named for the first American president, announced this President’s Day, the discovery of a tie to another president.

The university recently learned that its libraries have a collection of books originally owned by Thomas Jefferson.

The 28 titles, including 74 volumes, were donated to Washington University in 1880, with no mention of their provenance.