The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson

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In 1784 Thomas Jefferson moved to the sophisticated and exhilarating city of Paris, where he spent the next five years as minister from the new United States of America. These were formative years for France, for the United States, and for Jefferson's cultural and intellectual development. This engaging book recreates in word and illustration the atmosphere and personalities of prerevolutionary Paris, and it reveals the profound impact they had on one of America's first transatlantic citizens. Adam's principal ...
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Brand new first edition, first printing Yale University hardcover and dust jacket in mint condition. Mylar cover.

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Overview

In 1784 Thomas Jefferson moved to the sophisticated and exhilarating city of Paris, where he spent the next five years as minister from the new United States of America. These were formative years for France, for the United States, and for Jefferson's cultural and intellectual development. This engaging book recreates in word and illustration the atmosphere and personalities of prerevolutionary Paris, and it reveals the profound impact they had on one of America's first transatlantic citizens. Adam's principal focus is on Jefferson's role as the preeminent American envoy in Europe after the departure of Benjamin Franklin, his participation in the cultural and political life of the city, and his private intrigues to help his friends bring the Bourbon monarchy to heel. Finally, Adams places the author of the Declaration of Independence in the middle of his second revolution and chronicles the dramatic events leading to the upheaval of 1788-1789. The book is richly illustrated with art of the period and with specially commissioned photographs of Parisian sites by Adelaide de Menil.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In an elegantly written survey, Adams, a historian, critically examines the effects on Thomas Jefferson of his period as American minister to Paris during the waning years of the ancien régime.

In retrospect, Jefferson's arrival in Paris in 1784 as the representative of the fledgling US may seem inauspicious: The new country was mired in debt, particularly to France, from the recently ended revolution; indeed, America may have seemed little more than a banana republic, barely united under the patchwork Articles of Confederation; and Jefferson, a retiring figure from a rural backwater whose principal authorship of the Declaration of Independence was generally unknown in France, seemed ill-suited to succeed the popular, cosmopolitan Benjamin Franklin as America's representative in the sophisticated French capital. In the event, Adams shows, Jefferson excelled as a diplomat. He succeeded in opening up French markets for American exports, in negotiating payment of the enormous debt to France, and in establishing credibility for the new country, while receiving a peerless education in Europe's Machiavellian politics that stood him in good stead when he became president. Meanwhile, as Adams demonstrates at great length, Jefferson fit well into the aesthetic, intellectual, and scientific circles of Paris. His friendships with leading intellects of the period, like Condorcet and Lavoisier, as well as with great salon leaders like Madame d'Houdetot and Madame Helvetius, broadened his outlook and introduced him to the best of European culture. Adams examines in detail the social aspects of Jefferson's life in Paris and his many close friendships with women. He also suggests that Jefferson developed a taste for French radicalism during his Paris years that led him to support the French Revolution even after the Terror had claimed the lives of close friends.

A balanced and well-researched look at Jefferson's life and intellect during a crucial period in his development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300069037
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Taking Leave 1
2 A Provincial Prelude 25
3 The City 37
4 The Patriot Aesthete 78
5 The Liberal, Literary, Scientific Air of Paris 123
6 The Diplomat 159
7 The Women in His Life 207
8 "Storm in the Atmosphere" 251
Notes 299
Bibliography 331
Index 340
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