Thomas Jefferson

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Oxford University Press, Sep 4, 2003 - History - 288 pages
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Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone, describing himself simply as "Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." It is in this simple epitaph that R.B. Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder--not as a great political figure, but as leader of "a revolution of ideas that would make the world over again." In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American--the first concise life in six decades. Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account. Here are all of Jefferson's triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings. Jefferson was indeed multifaceted--an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader--and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in the American enlightenment, that "revolution of ideas" that did so much to create the nation we know today. Together with the less well-remembered points in Jefferson's thinking--the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt (both personal and national)--they form the heart of this lively biography. In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson more clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations. More important, we see, in Jefferson's visionary ideas, the birth of the nation's grand sense of purpose.
  

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Thomas Jefferson

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Two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Bernstein (law, NYU; Are We To Be a Nation?) has produced a readable biography of a leading figure of the young American nation. He effectively weaves together ... Read full review

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Contents

1 A Young Gentleman of Virginia 17431774
1
2 We hold these truths 17631776
15
3 The Hard Work of Revolution 17761784
36
4 Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe 17841789
55
5 The parties styled republican and federal 17891793
81
6 Touching Earth 17941797
105
7 The reign of witches 17971801
117
8 We are all republicans we are all federalists 18011805
135
9 A splendid misery 18051809
158
10 Enthusiasm and Anguish 18091826
170
Take care of me when dead
191
Notes
199
Chronology
229
Bibliographical Essay
235
Index
244
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About the author (2003)

R. B. Bernstein is Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York Law School and director of online operations at Heights Books, Inc. The author or editor of eighteen books on American constitutional history, including Are We to Be a Nation? and Amending America (both nominees for the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes), he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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