Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

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University of Virginia Press, 2001 - History - 250 pages
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Thomas Jefferson believed that the American revolution was a transformative moment in the history of political civilization. He hoped that his own efforts as a founding statesman and theorist would help construct a progressive and enlightened order for the new American nation that would be a model and inspiration for the world. Peter S. Onuf's new book traces Jefferson's vision of the American future to its roots in his idealized notions of nationhood and empire. Onuf's unsettling recognition that Jefferson's famed egalitarianism was elaborated in an imperial context yields strikingly original interpretations of our national identity and our ideas of race, of westward expansion and the Civil War, and of American global dominance in the twentieth century.

Jefferson's vision of an American "empire for liberty" was modeled on a British prototype. But as a consensual union of self-governing republics without a metropolis, Jefferson's American empire would be free of exploitation by a corrupt imperial ruling class. It would avoid the cycle of war and destruction that had characterized the European balance of power.

The Civil War cast in high relief the tragic limitations of Jefferson's political vision. After the Union victory, as the reconstructed nation-state developed into a world power, dreams of the United States as an ever-expanding empire of peacefully coexisting states quickly faded from memory. Yet even as the antebellum federal union disintegrated, a Jeffersonian nationalism, proudly conscious of America's historic revolution against imperial domination, grew up in its place.

In Onuf's view, Jefferson's quest to define a new American identity also shaped his ambivalent conceptions of slavery and Native American rights. His revolutionary fervor led him to see Indians as "merciless savages" who ravaged the frontiers at the British king's direction, but when those frontiers were pacified, a more benevolent Jefferson encouraged these same Indians to embrace republican values. African American slaves, by contrast, constituted an unassimilable captive nation, unjustly wrenched from its African homeland. His great panacea: colonization.

Jefferson's ideas about race reveal the limitations of his conception of American nationhood. Yet, as Onuf strikingly documents, Jefferson's vision of a republican empire--a regime of peace, prosperity, and union without coercion--continues to define and expand the boundaries of American national identity.

  

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Review: Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

User Review  - Erica - Goodreads

Although published 12 years ago, this book feels fresh. Onuf's key terms--empire, nation, federal, republican, etc, vibrate with new life in regards to TJ, bordering on the rich new life AMST heavy ... Read full review

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Contents

Jeffersons Empire
1
We Shall All Be Americans
18
Republican Empire
53
The Revolution of 1800
80
Federal Union
109
To Declare Them a Free and Independant People
147
4 July 1826
189
Notes
193
Bibliography
229
Index
243
Copyright

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Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood by Peter S ...
Jefferson's Empire The Language of American Nationhood. by Peter S. Onuf. 240 pages 6 1/8 x 9 1/4. Cloth ISBN 0-8139-1930-4 • $39.50. 271 pages 6 x 9 ...
www.upress.virginia.edu/ books/ onuf.html

Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood
Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood. By Peter S. Onuf. (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2000. Pp. xiv, 250. ...
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JSTOR: Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood
Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood. By Peter S. Onuf. (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 2000. Pp. xi, 250. $27.95. ...
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Bibliographies of NEH Summer Institutes; Thomas Jefferson ...
"To Declare Them A Free And Independent People," in Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood. University Press of Virginia, 2000. ...
www.thomasjeffersonpersonalitycharacterandpubliclife.org/ bibliography.html

Virginia Libraries - volume 46, number 3
Peter S. Onuf, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000. xi + 250 pp. ...
scholar.lib.vt.edu/ ejournals/ VALib/ v46_n3/ campbell.html

Course Materials
Please find below your detailed book information. Book Title: Jefferson's Empire. Author: Onuf, Peter S. ISBN: 0813920906 ...
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Comment: Peter S. Onuf's book, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood, is actually a collection of five essay that, as he says in his ...
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Thomas Jefferson's nationalist vision of New England and the War ...
In his recent book, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood, and elsewhere, Onuf argues that Jefferson believed that national harmony, ...
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Johann N. Neem - Beyond the Wall: Reinterpreting Jefferson's ...
Peter S. Onuf, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Charlottesville, VA, 2000), 80–108. 18. Jefferson, Notes on the State
muse.jhu.edu/ journals/ journal_of_the_early_republic/ v027/ 27.1neem.html

Ari Helo and Peter Onuf | Jefferson, Morality, and the Problem of ...
For further discussion see Peter S. Onuf, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Charlottesville, 2000), 147–88. ...
www.historycooperative.org/ journals/ wm/ 60.3/ helo.html

About the author (2001)

Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, is the editor of Jeffersonian Legacies and, with Jan Lewis, of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture.

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