In his latest work  Friends Divided JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON, Pulitzer  Prize author Gordon Wood turns his sights on the stark contrasts in the philosophies of America’s  most famous founding fathers. 

Incredible research and access to the writings of both men delivers a portrait of dramatically different and often conflicting views of the formation of the of the new nation. Adams the son of a Massachusetts shoemaker and hardscrabble farmer, Jefferson born into  plantations of the slave holding southern aristocracy.  They were friends, malevolent enemies, then friends again.  Each leaving his enduring  mark on America’s formative years. 

If your passion is American history Friends Divided is an important read.  As you would expect it is the work of a scholar minus any whimsical passages or grand tours of the American landscape.  Both Patriots receive their share of the authors scorn. If you favor one over the other be prepared for the harsh criticism of an acclaimed historian.  Does Wood have a favorite. Yes he does.  Enjoy.

A wonderful companion read, preferably first, is Wood’s Empire of Liberty. Search this site for my observations.


The story of Sojourner Truth is well-known within antislavery literature.  This narrative, first written with the aid of a white woman, Olive Gilbert in 1850, was reprinted in 1875 with additional notes by Mrs. Francis W. Titus. The most recent publication which is the subject of this post was published by Ebony Classics in 1970.
Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in Upstate New York in 1825. Slavery at the large farms along the Hudson was common in that period. She was one of thirteen children  and most of her siblings were sold by the age of ten. She herself had five owners, and her five children were also enslaved, one of whom she managed to retrieve. That story is a riveting part of the narrative.

This remarkable woman  through her own determination  and with no education  became an extraordinary force in the antislavery and  early women’s movement. Standing six feet tall and wearing  a turban she spoke the language of enslaved people and often delivered her message through poetry and song. She had become such a force by the time of her death in 1883 that this “ high priestess of righteousness and equality “ had earned private audiences with both Presidents Lincoln  and Grant.  Historians place Sojourner’s influence only behind that of Harriet Tubman. She knew the “ hell of slavery” and spoke for the millions of women who had no voice. She said of her meeting with Lincoln, ” As I was taking my leave, he arose and took my hand, and said he would be pleased to have me call again.  I felt that I was in the presence of a friend, and now I thank God from the bottom of my heart that I always have advocated for his cause.”

Don’t miss the significance of the title “ BOOK OF LIFE.”  This is a rare personal glimpse into a world that can only  be elucidated by one who lived it.  You may well feel Sojourner’s presence.