Light and Liberty: Thomas Jefferson and the Power of Knowledge

Overview

Although Thomas Jefferson’s status as a champion of education is widely known, the essays in Light and Liberty make clear that his efforts to enlighten fellow citizens reflected not only a love of learning but also a love of freedom. Using as a starting point Jefferson's conviction that knowledge is the basis of republican self-government, the contributors examine his educational projects not as disparate attempts to advance knowledge for its own sake but instead as a result of his unyielding, almost obsessive ...

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Light and Liberty: Thomas Jefferson and the Power of Knowledge

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Overview

Although Thomas Jefferson’s status as a champion of education is widely known, the essays in Light and Liberty make clear that his efforts to enlighten fellow citizens reflected not only a love of learning but also a love of freedom. Using as a starting point Jefferson's conviction that knowledge is the basis of republican self-government, the contributors examine his educational projects not as disparate attempts to advance knowledge for its own sake but instead as a result of his unyielding, almost obsessive desire to bolster Americans’ republican virtues and values.

Whether by establishing schools or through broader, extra-institutional efforts to disseminate knowledge, Jefferson's endeavors embraced his vision for a dynamic and meritocratic America. He aimed not only to provide Americans with the ability to govern themselves and participate in the government of others but also to influence Americans to remake their society in accordance with his own principles.

Written in clear and accessible prose, Light and Liberty reveals the startling diversity of Jefferson’s attempts to rid citizens of the ignorance and vice that, in the view of Jefferson and many contemporaries, had corroded and corrupted once-great civilizations. Never wavering from his faith that "knowledge is power," Jefferson embraced an expansive understanding of education as the foundation for a republic of free and responsible individuals who understood their rights and stood ready to defend them.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

Jean M. Yarbrough

This wide-ranging anthology provides fresh evidence of Jefferson's artistic and political genius. With essays on civilian and military education, public architecture, and art, the collection offers a new slant on this most brilliant of men.

author of <I>Jefferson and Education </I> - Jennings Wagoner

Light and Liberty artfully brings together, in a single volume, fresh perspectives on many of Jefferson’s Enlightenment ideas and experiences that nourished his belief that a free people, properly informed, could govern themselves.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813932361
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 1/26/2012
  • Series: Jeffersonian America Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. S. McDonald, Associate Professor of History at the United States Military Academy, is the editor of Thomas Jefferson’s Military Academy: Founding West Point (Virginia).

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy xi

Acknowledgments xv

List of Abbreviations xix

Introduction 1

"The Yeomanry of the United States Are Not the Canaille of Paris": Thomas Jefferson, American Exceptionalism, and the "Spirit" of Democracy Brian Steele 19

"To Diffuse Knowledge More Generally through the Mass of the People": Thomas Jefferson on Individual Freedom and the Distribution of Knowledge Johann N. Neem 47

Consistent in Creation: Thomas Jefferson, Natural Aristocracy, and the Problem of Knowledge Richard A. Samuelson 75

The Jefferson Gospel: A Religious Education of Peace, Reason, and Morality Cameron Addis 96

West from West Point: Thomas Jefferson's Military Academy and the "Empire of Liberty" Christine Coalwell McDonald Robert M. S. McDonald 116

Thomas Jefferson, Colporteur of the Enlightenment Frank Shuffelton 137

"Presenting to Them Models for Their Imitation": Thomas Jefferson's Reform of American Architecture Craig A. Reynolds 158

Recording History: The Thomas Sully Portrait of Thomas Jefferson Gaye Wilson 187

Afterword: Light, Liberty, and Slavery Joyce Appleby 207

Notes on Contributors 217

Index 221

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