Thomas Jefferson (Oxford Portraits Series): The Revolution of Ideas

Overview


In this new concise biography Thomas Jefferson historian R.B. Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder not as a great political figure, but as leader of a "revolution of ideas that would make the world over again".

Bernstein examines Jefferson's strengths and weaknesses, his achievements and failures, his triumphs, contradictions, and failings. Thomas Jefferson details his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy,...

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Overview


In this new concise biography Thomas Jefferson historian R.B. Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder not as a great political figure, but as leader of a "revolution of ideas that would make the world over again".

Bernstein examines Jefferson's strengths and weaknesses, his achievements and failures, his triumphs, contradictions, and failings. Thomas Jefferson details his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings. An architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader Jefferson was multifaceted, and Bernstein explores these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in American enlightenment the "revolution of ideas" that did so much to create the nation we are today. Bernstein also examines the less-remembered points in Jefferson's thinking the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt (both personal and national).

Thomas Jefferson is the latest title in the Oxford Portraits series, which offers informative and insightful biographies of people whose lives shaped their times and continue to influence ours. Each volume in the series is heavily based on primary documents, including writings by and about each subject. Every Oxford Portrait is illustrated with a wealth of photographs, original letters, manuscripts, and memorabilia that frame the personality and achievements of its subject against the backdrop of history. Every volume in the series can be incorporated into the American history curriculum at the middle and high school levels.

Discusses the private life and public career of the fifth president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Winner, Otto L. Walter Distinguished Faculty Writing Prize of the New York Law School

Honorable Mention, Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award

"An honest look at Jefferson's life, accomplishments, and inconsistencies. Bernstein does not gloss over his subject's flaws and the controversies that surrounded him.... Attractive and appealing." --Jeffrey A. French, Euclid Public Library, School Library Journal

From the Publisher

"An honest look at Jefferson's life, accomplishments, and inconsistencies. Bernstein does not gloss over his subject's flaws and the controversies that surrounded him.... Attractive and appealing." -- Jeffrey A. French, Euclid Public Library, School Library Journal

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-An honest look at Jefferson's life, accomplishments, and inconsistencies. Bernstein does not gloss over his subject's flaws and the controversies that surrounded him. The contradictions between Jefferson's beliefs and his behavior, while exposing his human side, are not used to denigrate him or to diminish his accomplishments. Obvious controversies, such as his owning slaves in spite of his writings, his relationship with Sally Hemings, his conflicts with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, and his volatile friendship with John Adams, are supplemented with lesser-known facts. His determination to lead the life of a landed gentleman despite his inability to afford it; the continuous construction at Monticello that made it much less pleasant than the museum it is today; his pride in founding the University of Virginia and his disappointment in the conduct of the student body; and, simply, the rough edges of his personality are all effectively delineated. The development of Jefferson's religious beliefs is particularly well described, but a misquoting of the Virginia Bill for Religious Freedom results in an incomprehensible sentence. Overall, the book reads well, although some of the background events would benefit from more detail. Black-and-white photos and period prints complement the text. Attractive and appealing, this book is similar in reading level to Joyce Appleby's Thomas Jefferson (Times, 2003) and in content to Norman Risjord's Thomas Jefferson (Madison, 1994).-Jeffrey A. French, Euclid Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195143683
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: Oxford Portraits Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

R. B. Bernstein is Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York Law School and director of online operations at Heights Books, Inc. The author or editor of eighteen books on American constitutional history, including Are We to Be a Nation? and Amending America (both nominees for the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes), he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
1 A Young Gentleman of Virginia (1743-1774) 15
"It would be to my advantage to go to the college" 18
2 "We hold these truths..." (1763-1776) 29
"All men are created equal" 48
3 The Hard Work of Revolution (1776-1784) 52
"Almighty God hath created the mind free" 59
4 "Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe!" (1784-1789) 72
5 "The parties styled republican and federal" (1789-1793) 100
6 Touching Earth (1794-1797) 127
7 "The reign of witches" (1797-1801) 142
"The aspect of our politics has wonderfully changed" 148
8 "We are all republicans, we are all federalists" (1801-1805) 164
"Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle" 166
"A Wall of Separation" 169
9 "A splendid misery" (1805-1809) 190
10 Enthusiasm and Anguish (1809-1826) 203
"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man" 225
Epilogue: "Take care of me when dead..." 227
Chronology 237
Further Reading and Websites 241
Historic Sites 243
Index 245
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