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A Talk With Pulitzer Prize Winners Past

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Over the next few months, we'll speak with past winners to mark the Pulitzer's centennial. This week, we interviewed Annette Gordon-Reed. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for "The Hemingses Of Monticello." She has a new book, "Most Blessed Of The Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson And The Empire Of The Imagination," which digs into Jefferson's mind and his contradictions.

ANNETTE GORDON-REED: I think to ask the question how could someone who was a slave owner write the Declaration of Independence, you know, how could he own slaves when he did this other thing, how could he know that slavery was wrong? I mean, that's a problem for us. But there were many, many, many more people who didn't think that slavery was wrong. I mean, the real question is how did somebody who grew up the way he grew up - I mean, the story we tell and the - you know, of him - his first memory of being handed up on a pillow to an enslaved person, this institution bounded his life. And yet he thought that it was wrong.

SIMON: You can hear more of that interview later this hour. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.