Long journey with Mr. Jefferson
William G. Hyland
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The magisterial collaboration over half a lifetime between historian Dumas Malone and his subject, Thomas Jefferson, is the basis for William G. Hyland Jr.'s compelling Long Journey with Mr. Jefferson. Malone, the courtly and genteel historian from Mississippi, spent thirty-eight years researching and writing the definitive biography of the man who invented the United States of America.
Hyland provides a surprising portrait of the man many consider America's greatest historian, recording in detail Malone's struggle to finish his towering six-volume work on Jefferson through excruciating pain and then blindness at the age of eighty-three. Hyland includes Malone's previously unpublished correspondence with such notables as John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, George H. W. Bush, Felix Frankfurter, and Fawn Brodie. Readers are treated to an exclusive look at private family documents and Malone's unfinished memoir, which reflects on history, social commentary, and his life's accomplishments.
Offering much more than most biographies, this book imparts extensive insight into Malone's earlier years in Mississippi and Georgia, and how they shaped his character. Through interviews with Malone's intimates, family members, rivals, and subordinates, Hyland generates a true portrait of the man behind the intellect and the myth.
Malone later became a member of the faculties of Yale, the University of Virginia, and Columbia. As editor in chief of the Dictionary of American Biography (DAB), he brought that monumental work to completion and later served seven tumultuous years as director of the Harvard University Press. In 1959 Malone returned to Mr. Jefferson’s “Academical Village,” the University of Virginia, and finished his “long journey” at the place where it all began. The more I learned about Malone, read his
years and more than a million words later, but it proved an adequate workshop during the next two years. Malone was often asked why he picked Thomas Jefferson as the subject of a comprehensive biography. In 1974 he wrote, “I was attracted to Mr. Jefferson as a subject of inquiry because he was not only a controversial figure, but also one of extraordinary diversity. To live with him intimately is a liberal education.”6 The proof of Jefferson’s diverse interests was self-evident. Malone related
Benet said that [Douglas Southall Freeman] should be given at least ten Pulitzer Prizes and then should be chained to his desk to write a biography of [George] Washington. —MARY TYLER FREEMAN CHEEK MCCLENAHAN1 I recognized him as one of the masters of our craft. —DUMAS MALONE2 During the last week of January 1962, John Glenn delayed for the third time his attempt to rocket into space to become the nation’s first earth-orbiting human. Bill “Moose” Skowren, the Yankees first baseman, was given
grateful to Senators of Phi Beta Kappa for nominating me for this award. As for president Shannon, [I] have long been in debt to him for his kind acts and generous words. He has now made the debt overwhelming. I will merely say here that I wish Mr. Jefferson could know him.”18 In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson invited Malone to be a part of the “Historic Documents Bill and archive.” Special Assistant to the President Lawrence F. O’Brien (whose office was later burglarized in the Watergate
the way scholarship is done. It should be cooperative, not competitive. In a sense you are a rival to other scholars, but most of all you help each other. I don’t like this antagonistic spirit.9 Malone thought a great deal about the relationship between history and biography but considered himself a historian first and foremost. “History is greater than biography,” he explained. “The sort of biography I do, dealing with the relatively distant past is a part of history. You use the same criteria