Notes on the State of Virginia

Front Cover
Penguin, 1999 - History - 330 pages
8 Reviews
A request in 1780 by the French legation to the United States to learn more about the newly formed thirteen states of America stimulated in Jefferson, as he later described it, a "mysterious obligation for making me much better acquainted with my own country than I ever was before." Written during his first term as governor of Virginia, Notes on the State of Virginia is at once a scientific discourse, an attempt to define America, and an examination of the idea of freedom. With the same genius and clear, flexible prose style that informs the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson chronicles Virginia's natural, social, and political history. In his introduction to this annotated edition, which discusses the work's origins and composition, Frank Shuffelton focuses particularly on Jefferson's response to contemporary scientific writings on "New World degeneracy, " his differing treatment of blacks and Native Americans, and his influential role in creating a mythicized American self-image.
  

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Review: Notes on the State of Virginia

User Review  - Thomas A Wiebe - Goodreads

Jefferson's only book, an answer to French inquiries regarding Virginia while our allies during the Revolutionary War. Reluctantly published by Jefferson first in France. While showing the amazing ... Read full review

Review: Notes on the State of Virginia

User Review  - Tom Wiebe - Goodreads

Jefferson's only book, an answer to French inquiries regarding Virginia while our allies during the Revolutionary War. Reluctantly published by Jefferson first in France. While showing the amazing ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
vii
A NOTE ON THE TEXT
xxxiii
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING
xxxv
Notes on the State of Virginia
1
Charles Thomsons Observations
205
Draught of the Constitution
217
Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
231
Relative to the Murder of Logans Family
233
Letters and Documents
265
EXPLANATORY AND TEXTUAL NOTES
289
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Politician, philosopher, farmer, architect, and author, Jefferson was born to Peter and Jane Randolph Jefferson on April 13, 1743, in Tuckahoe, Virginia. As Jefferson observed in his autobiography, his parents could "trace their pedigree far back in England and Scotland." At the age of 16, Thomas Jefferson entered William and Mary College; at age 24, Jefferson was admitted to the bar; at 25, he was elected to the Virginia Assembly. Renowned for his political contributions to the American colonies, and later, to the embryonic Republic, Jefferson published in 1774 A Summary View of the Rights of British America, celebrating the inalienable natural rights claimed by the colonialists. In 1775 Jefferson was elected to the Continental Congress; in 1776 he joined the five-person committee responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence---a document that is widely regarded as being largely Jefferson's own work. In 1779 Jefferson was elected governor of the state of Virginia, and in subsequent years he distinguished himself both as a cosmopolitan international politician and as a man committed to the future of Virginia. In 1789 he was appointed U.S. secretary of state, in 1797 he served as vice president under President John Adams, and in 1801 he was elected third president of the United States. Jefferson's literary career was no less stellar than his political accomplishments. He authored tracts and books on such diverse subjects as gardening, the life of Jesus, the history of Virginia, and the practices of farming. The precise descriptions of nature that inform his Notes on the State of Virginia (1787) are frequently credited with foreshadowing the Hudson River school of aesthetics. Thomas Jefferson died on the fourth of July. His grave marker, engraved with words of his own choosing, states, "Here lies Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.

Frank Shuffelton is Professor of English at the University of Rochester, New York.

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