Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy

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In his probing new study, Francis Cogliano focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s relation to history, both as the context in which he lived, and as something he made considerable, and conscious, efforts to influence. He was acutely aware that he would be judged by posterity, and he believed that the fate of the republican experiment depended to a large extent on how it was rendered by historians.The first half of the book situates Jefferson's ideas about history within the context of eighteenth-century historical thought. It then considers the efforts Jefferson made to shape the way the history of his life and times would be written: through the careful preservation of most of his personal and public papers, and through the institutions he left behind, including his home, Monticello, and the University of Virginia. The second half of the book considers the results of Jefferson's efforts to shape historical writings about himself and his period, which have issued forth in an unbroken stream from his day to our own. Although Jefferson seemed to have achieved apotheosis in the years following World War II, his rise above controversy was short-lived. Earlier political questions were replaced by arguments over race, class, and gender, and recent scholarship has criticized Jefferson's attitudes and actions with regard to civil liberties, Native Americans, slaves, and women, not least in the context of debates surrounding his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. Our complex feelings about Jefferson’s relation to these issues are a reflection of the man who helped engineer their place in our historical discourse.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

Simon Newman

"An exceptionally well researched and persuasively written book [that] asks who Jefferson was in new and exciting ways. This is a book that needed to be written, and happily, is one that was undertaken by an exceedingly thorough, judicious, open-minded, and creative historian.—Andrew Burstein, University of Tulsa, author of Jefferson’s Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello"Thomas Jefferson continues to enthrall, excite and enrage academics, students and members of the American public. This book promises to provide a useful study of Jefferson’s construction of his own historical image, and the reconstructions of that image that have occurred over the past half century.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813927336
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 5/10/2008
  • Series: Jeffersonian America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,154,172
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Francis D. Cogliano is a Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh and the author of Revolutionary America, 1763-1815: A Political History.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Abbreviations     xi
Introduction: The Estimation of the World     1
History     19
The Revolution     44
Jefferson's Papers     74
Monticello     106
Jefferson's Epitaph     137
Sally Hemings     170
Slavery     199
America and the World     230
Conclusion: Jefferson Survives     259
Index     269

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