December 1789. Thomas Jefferson had been home less than three weeks, and his country was calling again. As United States minister to Paris, Jefferson had relished the sparkle of French wit, the savor of French cuisine and the glories of the gallic countryside. He had also witnessed the opening scenes of the French Revolution.
Now he was back in his native Virginia, just getting settled in his beloved Monticello, when a letter arrived from New York. It was from a fellow Virginian, George Washington — the newly installed first president of the United States of America. Washington wanted Jefferson to serve as his secretary of state. Reluctantly, Jefferson accepted the chief executive’s summons.