Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation

Overview

Praise for Natalie Bober’s previous work:

"Natalie Bober’s Thomas Jefferson is a gift to us all. She makes him present, alive, and accessible: a man of intellect, feeling, grief, purpose, and great imagination."—Ken Burns, documentary producer

"Natalie Bober has provided what is probably the most thorough and intellectually sophisticated narrative that any [young adult] book on the Revolution has ever attempted." —Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of ...

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Overview

Praise for Natalie Bober’s previous work:

"Natalie Bober’s Thomas Jefferson is a gift to us all. She makes him present, alive, and accessible: a man of intellect, feeling, grief, purpose, and great imagination."—Ken Burns, documentary producer

"Natalie Bober has provided what is probably the most thorough and intellectually sophisticated narrative that any [young adult] book on the Revolution has ever attempted." —Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

"Even readers raised on political cynicism will come away from this feeling stirred by this powerful, exciting story of their government’s birth."— Booklist *Starred*

To many Americans, Thomas Jefferson is the architect of our freedom. And yet the author of the Declaration of Independence also participated in a society that depended on slavery, and was himself the owner of slaves. How are we to reconcile this contradiction? This new life of Jefferson by Natalie S. Bober does not evade this difficult question.

From the first page, we are taken into Jefferson’s world, to help us understand what it meant to be a man of his time. He stands before us as a shy, freckle-faced, and, for the eighteenth century, unusually tall young man. We follow him through a life in which he gave words to American independence, journeyed to France as ambassador, and triumphed in a bitter campaign not unlike our recent presidential elections. He served two terms in the White House, but the achievements most important to him were as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and as architect and founder of the University of Virginia, which stands today as a living monument to his belief in the importance to a democracy of higher education open to everyone. His belief in the "illimitable freedom of the human mind" speaks to us even today. Thomas Jefferson taught us the power of the word. He showed us that words beautifully shaped can reshape lives. The Jefferson revealed here is distinguished by his often contradictory nature but also by his optimism, his curiosity, and his exceptional sense of his own place in history.

Like Bober’s earlier books on Abigail Adams and the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation will appeal to students of history of all ages. This book faces the fact that Jefferson was a flawed human being—yet insists that this does not disqualify him as a hero.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

Annette Gordon-ReedNew York Law School
Bober has taken on an extremely vital, but difficult, task: writing a history that speaks to young people, black and white alike, in a way that is respectful to both cultures.... Hits all the relevant points that young readers should know about the third president, while adding new perspectives that are always nuanced. The detail is rich and her presentation is elegant.
VOYA - Tina Frolund
Bober deftly narrates the chronological events of Thomas Jefferson's life and times while tracing the evolution of Jefferson's intellect. She gracefully explicates the philosophical influences and personal habits that prepared Jefferson to become the author of the Declaration of Independence and a diligent, skillful statesman. Never dwelling long in any one phase of Jefferson's life, Bober follows Jefferson from boy to student, revolutionary, statesman, president, and finally retired patriarch. She accomplishes it all while compassionately elucidating the main themes of Jefferson's life: the importance of his friendships; the tragedy of his wife's early death; his devotion to his daughters; the joy he found in his grandchildren; his lifelong dedication to his mountain home, Monticello; his sense of duty and honor; his devotion to music and books; the discipline he brought to his intellectual pursuits; his outstanding contributions to an emerging nation; and the mystery of his relationship with his slave Sally Hemings and her children. Bober, a well-known and respected author, writes an exemplary biography. Elegant and straightforward, this volume is a rewrite of her earlier biography about Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: Man on a Mountain (Atheneum/S & S, 1988/VOYA October 1988). Bober wanted the opportunity to incorporate new information about Jefferson and his relation to slavery. This appropriate title for high school readers might also draw adults who would enjoy an approachable yet scholarly biography. An excellent companion read would be Bober's Countdown to Independence: A Revolution of Ideas in England and Her American Colonies: 1760-1776 (2001/VOYA April 2001).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813927329
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Pages: 376
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Natalie S. Bober is the author of numerous books of history for young readers, including Countdown to Independence: A Revolution of Ideas in England and Her American Colonies 1760-1776 and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution.

University of Virginia Press

Natalie S. Bober is the author of numerous books of history for young adult readers, including Countdown to Independence: A Revolution of Ideas in England and Her American Colonies, 1760–1776 and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

Chronology     ix
Family Tree     xiii
Sentimental Revolutionary
On the Edge of the Wilderness     3
Discovering Devilsburg     19
"Bold in the Pursuit of Knowledge"     22
Rhetoric of Revolution     32
The Spirit of the Law     36
Zeal to Improve the World     39
First Assignment, First Failure     44
Essay in Architecture     50
All Men Are Born Free     55
"Worthy of the Lady"     59
Pen of a Revolution
"Young Hot-Heads"     69
The Rights of British America     74
A Masterly Pen     78
"An Expression of the American Mind"     90
A Revolutionary Document     101
Legal Reform in Virginia     118
Religious Liberty     120
"Public Service and Private Misery"     129
"One Fatal Stain"     137
"That Eternal Separation"     145
Facing the Enlightenment
A New Door Opens     153
"Behold Me on the Vaunted Scene of Europe"     162
Dialogue between the Head and the Heart     174
Changing the Shape of His Country     187
"She Must Come"     191
"Crusade against Ignorance"     196
A Summer of Violence     200
"Splendid Misery"
Conflict in the Cabinet     211
"Our Own Dear Monticello"     219
"I Have No Ambition to Govern Men"     232
"We Are All Republicans, We Are All Federalists"     241
Architect of American Expansion     253
Patriarch of Monticello
Octagonal Retreat     269
"A Fire Bell in the Night"     272
Scandal     274
"The Venerable Corps of Grandfathers"     276
"I Cannot Live without Books"     286
"Thomas Jefferson Still Survives"     293
Author's Note     305
Acknowledgments     310
Notes     315
Bibliography     333
Index     351
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Interviews & Essays

S08

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