Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation

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University of Virginia Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 360 pages
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Praise for Natalie Bober’s previous work:

"Natalie Bober’s Thomas Jefferson is a gift to us all. She makes him present, alive, and accessible: a man of intellect, feeling, grief, purpose, and great imagination."—Ken Burns, documentary producer

"Natalie Bober has provided what is probably the most thorough and intellectually sophisticated narrative that any [young adult] book on the Revolution has ever attempted." —Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

"Even readers raised on political cynicism will come away from this feeling stirred by this powerful, exciting story of their government’s birth."— Booklist *Starred*

To many Americans, Thomas Jefferson is the architect of our freedom. And yet the author of the Declaration of Independence also participated in a society that depended on slavery, and was himself the owner of slaves. How are we to reconcile this contradiction? This new life of Jefferson by Natalie S. Bober does not evade this difficult question.

From the first page, we are taken into Jefferson’s world, to help us understand what it meant to be a man of his time. He stands before us as a shy, freckle-faced, and, for the eighteenth century, unusually tall young man. We follow him through a life in which he gave words to American independence, journeyed to France as ambassador, and triumphed in a bitter campaign not unlike our recent presidential elections. He served two terms in the White House, but the achievements most important to him were as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and as architect and founder of the University of Virginia, which stands today as a living monument to his belief in the importance to a democracy of higher education open to everyone. His belief in the "illimitable freedom of the human mind" speaks to us even today. Thomas Jefferson taught us the power of the word. He showed us that words beautifully shaped can reshape lives. The Jefferson revealed here is distinguished by his often contradictory nature but also by his optimism, his curiosity, and his exceptional sense of his own place in history.

Like Bober’s earlier books on Abigail Adams and the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation will appeal to students of history of all ages. This book faces the fact that Jefferson was a flawed human being—yet insists that this does not disqualify him as a hero.

 

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Contents

On the Edge of the Wilderness
3
Discovering Devilsburg
19
Bold in the Pursuit of Knowledge
22
Rhetoric of Revolution
32
The Spirit of the Law
36
Zeal to Improve the World
39
First Assignment First Failure
44
Essay in Architecture
50
Public Service and Private Misery
129
One Fatal Stain
137
That Eternal Separation
145
A New Door Opens
153
Behold Me on the Vaunted Scene of Europe
162
Dialogue between the Head and the Heart
174
Changing the Shape of His Country
187
Crusade against Ignorance
196

All Men Are Born Free
55
Worthy of the Lady
59
PEN OF A REVOLUTION
67
Young HotHeads
69
The Rights of British America
74
A Masterly Pen
78
An Expression of the American Mind
90
A Revolutionary Document
101
Legal Reform in Virginia
118
Religious Liberty
120
Conflict in the Cabinet
211
Our Own Dear Monticello
219
We Are All Republicans We Are
241
Architect of American Expansion
253
PATRIARCH OF MONTICELLO
269
Authors Note
305
Notes
315
Bibliography
333
Index
351
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About the author (2008)

Natalie S. Bober is the author of numerous books of history for young readers, including Countdown to Independence: A Revolution of Ideas in England and Her American Colonies 1760-1776 and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution.

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