Meeting Report

September 16, 2012

Cleo Kocol


Cleo Kocol knows about Thomas Jefferson. An accomplished author, Cleo has recently written (in The Humanist) and spoken (to the Renaissance Society at Sacramento State) about the personal Thomas Jefferson.

Nearly twenty of us learned that the third President of the United States could dance, sing, converse and play cards—but was painfully shy around women. Although his shyness might have caused him discomfort, it didn’t ultimately keep him from enjoying their company, in marriage or as friends and lovers.

We were all aware of Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings, but until Cleo listed them for us, few of us realized that the man had four other important female relationships during his long life. She furthermore elucidated Jefferson’s complex, contradictory views on race and slavery, which ultimately led him to free the Hemings family, but not—final irony—Sally herself.

Thank you, Cleo Kocol, for your fascinating presentation on one of our favorite Founding Fathers. We all came away with a better understanding of the man’s humanity.

Report prepared by Roger Zabkie

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