Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side / Edition 1

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Overview

In the most controversial analysis ever written of the apostle of American liberty, the distinguished constitutional historian Leonard W. Levy examines Jefferson’s record on civil liberties and finds it strikingly wanting. Clearing away the saintliness that surrounds the hero, Mr. Levy tries to understand why the “unfamiliar” Jefferson supported loyalty oaths; countenanced internment camps for political suspects; drafted a bill of attainder; urged prosecutions for seditious libel; condoned military despotism; used the Army to enforce laws in time of peace; censored reading; chose professors for their political opinions; and endorsed the doctrine that means, however odious, are justified by ends. "Implicitly," Mr. Levy writes, "this book is a study of libertarian leadership in time of power and time of danger...Jefferson should be seen [by his biographers] as a whole man in the perspective of his times, but my task is to determine the validity of his historical reputation as the apostle of liberty." "Blunt words and blunt facts...an indispensable book."—Commentary.

A distinguished constitutinal historian examines Jefferson's record on civil liberties and finds it strikingly wanting.

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Editorial Reviews

Commentary
Blunt words and blunt facts...an indispensable book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780929587110
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 8/28/1989
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 255
  • Sales rank: 812,440
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard W. Levy, whose Origins of the Fifth Amendment won the Pulitzer Prize in history, is formerly Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional History at Brandeis University and Andrew W. Mellon All-Claremont Professor of Humanities and History at the Claremont Graduate School. His other writings, many of which have also won awards, include The Palladium of Justice, Blasphemy, The Establishment Clause, Freedom of the Press from Zenger to Jefferson, Original Intent and the Framers' Constitution, and Jefferson and Civil Liberties. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2000

    Classic demolition of historical myth

    This book, which first appeared in 1963, is essential reading for anyone who is interested in civil liberties, Thomas Jefferson, or the early American republic. To be sure, Jefferson, long acclaimed as the preeminent American philosopher of liberty, is the most eloquent defender of liberty in American literature ... but his record as a civil libertarian leaves a lot to be desired. Leonard W. Levy, one of the deans of American constitutional history, assessed Jefferson's actual record on such things as freedom of speech and press, due process, rights of the accused, intellectual freedom, and so forth -- always checking Jefferson's thoughts and deeds against standards of civil liberty that were available, even prevalent, in his own time. His book is a formidably researched and eloquent analysis of the many inconsistencies and hypocrisies in Jefferson's record.

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