The Essential Jefferson

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Overview


An idealist with unshakable faith in his fellow citizens, Thomas Jefferson viewed the will of the people as the moral foundation of government. This trust in common sense and reason is prominent among Jefferson's contributions to young America and its growing traditions. In this collection of his writings, the founding father articulates his thoughts on issues of moral and political philosophy — including the basis, aim, and structure of government — as well as a wider range of subjects, from economics and religion to intellectual freedom, education, secession, and slavery.
Jefferson frequently voices his firm belief in scientific advances as the means to popular enlightenment and social progress. "His curiosity was insatiable," notes editor and distinguished educator John Dewey. "He occupied practically every possible position of American public life, serving in each not only with distinction but with marked power of adaptability to the new and unexpected." Dewey selected these extracts from public and private letters and documents, an abundant trove that extends over 60 active years. Modern readers will find this volume a treasury of ever-relevant ideas and observations.
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What People Are Saying

Peter Onuf
Historians and political scientists alike will welcome publication of Jean Yarbrough's excellent new documentary edition. Yarbrough's fine Introduction combines a good brief account of Jefferson's life and career with an astute and persuasive overview of Jefferson's political theory. (University of Virginia)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486465999
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 2/29/2008
  • Series: Dover Books on Americana Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Public papers and addresses
1 A summary view of the rights of British America (1774) 3
2 A declaration by the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled (with Jefferson's original draft and congressional amendments) (1776) 18
3 The Declaration of Independence (as adopted by Congress) (1776) 23
4 A bill for establishing religious freedom (1777) 27
5 Report on government for western territory (1784) 29
6 Opinion on the constitutionality of a national bank (1791) 32
7 Opinion on the French treaties (1793) 37
8 Draft of the Kentucky resolutions (1798) 48
9 First inaugural address (1801) 55
10 To messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and others, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the state of Connecticut (1802) 59
11 Second inaugural address (1805) 60
12 Report of the commissioners for the University of Virginia (1818) 65
Excerpts from Notes on Virginia (1782)
1 Query VI (a quarrel with Buffon : the new world is not inferior) 79
2 Query VIII (should America encourage immigration?) 89
3 Query XI (a description of the Indians) 94
4 Query XIII (the Virginian constitution) 98
5 Query XIV (the laws of Virginia : slavery, the natural endowments of the black race, education) 109
6 Query XVII (religious freedom) 125
7 Query XVIII (the effect of slavery on manners) 130
8 Query XIX (agrarian virtue) 132
9 Query XXII (commerce, shipping, and self-defense) 134
Correspondence
1 To Edmund Pendleton, Aug. 26, 1776 (early views on constitutionalism) 141
2 To David Rittenhouse, July 19, 1778 (an obligation higher than politics) 143
3 To John Jay, Aug. 23, 1785 (a preference for sailors over manufacturers) 146
4 To Charles Bellini, Sept. 30, 1785 (French and American morals) 148
5 To John Banister, Jr., Oct. 15, 1785 (the disadvantage of study abroad) 150
6 To James Madison, Oct. 28, 1785 (a "fundamental right to labor") 153
7 To James Madison, Jan. 30, 1787 (Shays's rebellion and western secession) 155
8 To Anne Willing Bingham, Feb. 7, 1787 ("the tranquil pleasures" of American society) 159
9 To Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787 (the moral sense) 161
10 To William S. Smith, Nov. 13, 1787 ("the tree of liberty") 166
11 To James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787 (objections to the Constitution) 168
12 To Francis Hopkinson, Mar. 13, 1789 (party : "the last degradation of a free and moral agent") 172
13 To James Madison, Mar. 15, 1789 (a bill of rights) 174
14 To James Madison, Sept. 6, 1789 ("the earth belongs to the living") 176
15 To Benjamin Banneker, Aug. 30, 1791 (equality and "our black brethren") 181
16 To the President of the United States (George Washington), Sept. 9, 1792 (the conflict with Alexander Hamilton) 182
17 To Elbridge Gerry, Jan. 26, 1799 ("a profession of my political faith") 190
18 To William Green Munford, June 18, 1799 (progress and perfectibility) 193
19 To Dr. Joseph Priestley, Mar. 21, 1801 (something new under the sun) 196
20 To the U.S. Minister to France (Robert Livingston), Apr. 18, 1802 (the strategic importance of New Orleans) 198
21 To Benjamin Hawkins, Feb. 18, 1803 (a plan for civilizing Indians) 201
22 To Wilson Cary Nicholas, Sept. 7, 1803 (the Louisiana Purchase and constitutional amendments) 203
23 To Henri Gregoire, Feb. 25, 1809 (Negro equality and rights) 205
24 To John Tyler, May 26, 1810 (education and the wards) 206
25 To John B. Colvin, Sept. 20, 1810 (the "law of necessity and self-preservation") 208
26 To John Adams, June 15, 1813 (an airing of our political differences) 211
27 To John Adams, Oct. 28, 1813 (the natural aristocracy) 214
28 To J. Correa de Serra, Apr. 19, 1814 (happiness and virtue) 220
29 To Thomas Law, June 13, 1814 (the moral sense) 222
30 To Joseph C. Cabell, Feb. 2, 1816 ("divide the counties into wards") 226
31 To P. S. Dupont de Nemours, Apr. 24, 1816 (the moral principles on which government is founded) 229
32 To John Taylor, May 28, 1816 (what is a republic?) 233
33 To Francis W. Gilmer, June 7, 1816 (the sense of justice is natural to man) 237
34 To Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816 (how to reform the Virginian constitution) 239
35 To Isaac H. Tiffany, Aug. 26, 1816 ("this new principle of representative democracy") 246
36 To Nathaniel Burwell, Mar. 14, 1818 (ideas on female education) 247
37 To Judge Spencer Roane, Sept. 6, 1819 (constitutional construction) 250
38 To John Holmes, April 22, 1820 ("a fire bell in the night") 254
39 To Jared Sparks, Feb. 4, 1824 (a plan for emancipation) 256
40 To Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824 (the lessons of experience; Christianity and the common law) 260
41 To Henry Lee, May 8, 1825 ("the object of the Declaration of Independence") 267
42 To William Branch Giles, Dec. 26, 1825 (resistance to consolidation) 269
43 To James Madison, Feb. 17, 1826 ("take care of me when dead") 273
44 To Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (last thoughts on the Declaration of Independence) 277
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