Agrarian; confident champion of freedom and uneasy slaveholder; advocate of a government strictly limited to the needs of his time - Thomas Jefferson remains a force in our political and social thought. Part of the continuing interest in him comes of curiosity about a statesman as withdrawn and elusive in personality as he was clear and eloquent in words. Recent DNA evidence that he probably fathered one or more children by one of his slaves deepens the mystery about him. The greater question has to do with his pronouncements about the nature and foundations of liberty, so direct and simple in expression.
In this anthology of Jefferson's writings, Peter Onuf begins with an Introduction entitled, "Making Sense of Jefferson," which is then followd by 86 selections from a variety of documents: letters, official papers, public addresses, and opinions, including an extensive selection from Notes on the State of Virginia, making this an ideal reader for a variety of venues.