Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson

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"One of the most provocative studies of Jefferson of the last thirty years. Effectively challenges the received wisdom of Jefferson's politics—and more generally on the origins of American democracy—in refreshing and wholly original ways."—Sean Wilentz, author of Chants Democratic

"Elegant and compelling. . . . On the leading edge of the field."—John M. Murrin, coauthor of Colonial America

Author Bio: Richard K. Matthews is professor and chair of the department of government at Lehigh University. The Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson is the first volume in his revisionist trilogy on the Founding that continues with If Men Were Angels and that will conclude with Alexander Hamilton and the Creation of the Heroic State.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History
This brilliant book makes a signal contribution to the literature.
Journal of Politics
A fresh, intelligent, engaging reinterpretation of Jeffersonian politics . . . significant for anyone interested in Jefferson's thought.
Perspective Reviews of New Books
Should be compared with Daniel Boorstin's The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson as a contemporary classic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700602568
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 2/28/1984
  • Pages: 184

Table of Contents


1. The "Jeffersonian" Tradition: The Future of an Illusion

2. Property: "The Earth Belongs to the Living"

3. Political Economy: Land, Liberty, and Leisure

4. The Nature of Man: Red, White, and Black

5. Jeffersonian Government: Public and Private Happiness

6. Jefferson in the American Context: The Liberalism of Madison and Hamilton

7. Jefferson's Political Philosophy Revisited: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness


Selected Bibliography


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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    The "True" Jefferson

    Richard Matthews "Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson" is truly an amazing contribution to American historical study. Matthews refutes the "Lockean liberal" cariacture given Jefferson by historians and brings out the radical that he was. Jefferson was not a believer in property rights as an absolute natural right. His "earth belongs to the living"theory clearly shows the radical nature of his thought on societal revolution. Matthews also points out Jefferson's democratic and humanistic views on the "moral sense" that he believed all races and people had.This moral sense is what makes all equal. Jeffersonian government is explored. Radical democracy in the form of "ward republics" is Jefferson's solution for keeping the revolutionary spirit alive. Democracy right down to the local level. Public schools, care of the poor, militia duty, construction of roads, etc would be completed in the ward. Most important wold be the ability of the ward to assemble to resist tyrannical acts of any other sphere of government, state or federal. Overall this is a very informative and myth shattering work! A great buy.

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