Papers, Volume 22

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Princeton University Press, 1986 - Biography & Autobiography - 560 pages
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The months covered by this volume illustrate the variety of topics characteristic of the Jefferson Papers. Subjects range from Jefferson's continued overseeing of the planning of the Federal District that became Washington, D.C., to his worries over his debts and his exchange of correspondence with the free black Benjamin Banneker. This period, an unusually significant time for Jefferson as Secretary of State, saw the opening of a new phase of diplomacy. When Jefferson returned to the capital after a stay at Monticello in the fall, the first British minister to the United States had arrived, and the new representative from France had been in the city since August.


During this time Jefferson began keeping private notes on important political conversations, notes that he later collected and bound. These notes were published after his death as Jefferson's Anas, a work never closely examined until now and often extended beyond Jefferson's evident intention. Ascertaining that Jefferson collected and intended only those documents from his tenure as Secretary of State to be used to challenge the Federalist interpretation of Washington's administration, the present editors publish the Anas notes not as compiled late in Jefferson's life or as amplified by others, but in chronological order, in the context in which they were written. Also discovered during the preparation of this volume was a new, later date or that portion of Jefferson's famous Espistolary Record written in his own hand.


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About the author (1986)

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.