Thomas Jefferson: The Essential Democrat

Three Wednesdays, February 21 and 28 and March 7, 6:30–8:00 p.m. | Covenant Church, 4949 Caroline, 77004, in the museum district. Parking in the church’s lot is limited; parking on the surrounding streets is widely available.

Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty (Basic Books, 2017) is widely praised as the best one-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson. Its author, John B. Boles, the William Pettus Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, the former editor of the Journal of Southern History, and, most recently, an acclaimed biographer, will present three lectures on Thomas Jefferson. Professor Boles will discuss Jefferson’s role in the founding of our country and in its early governance and will describe his remarkable personal qualities.

February 21: Overview
Professor Boles will place Jefferson in the context of his time and place—how he reflected and was formed by his environment— and will discuss how Jefferson has been treated by historians over time.

February 28: Jefferson in France
Jefferson’s time in France, 1784–1789, profoundly affected his ideas on government. He witnessed the French monarchy’s disregard of its people, which sharpened his belief in the virtues of a republican form of government.  He left France just as the Revolution was beginning, and the political and economic discontent he witnessed there, especially the poverty of the French peasantry, strengthened his democratic tendencies.

March 7: Jefferson as President and Politician
Jefferson’s presidency was a time of exploration and expansion and political growth.  As a reluctant president who led the nation through eight tumultuous years, Jefferson was also a reluctant politician who presided over the country in the early stages of its two-party political system.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


Register today!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.