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Ye Will Say I Am No Christian": The Thomas Jefferson/John Adams Correspondence on Religion, Morals, and Values / Edition 1

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Overview

The "Culture Wars" have produced a lot of talk about religion, morals, and values, with both sides often hearkening back to our Founding Fathers. Here is your chance to learn firsthand what two of the most influential pillars of the American Republic thought about these perennial topics. From 1812 to July 4, 1826 — when ironically death claimed both men — Thomas Jefferson and John Adams exchanged letters touching on these still controversial issues.
These little-known letters contain many surprising revelations. In the 1800 presidential election, in which the Republican Jefferson opposed the Federalist Adams, religion was a topic of hot debate, as reflected in this correspondence written many years after. What was it about Jefferson’s religious beliefs that provoked such vitriol against him in the campaign? And what was there in Adams’s theology that prompted certain Calvinists and Trinitarians to label him "no Christian"? Though they expressed different opinions, Jefferson and Adams agreed on what they called the "corruptions of Christianity." Despite their criticisms and their critics, both men considered themselves Christians, in different senses of the term.
Hearing these champions of liberty and freedom of religion speak out frankly on church and state, the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, morality, and virtue, modern readers may well ask themselves whether either of these Founding Fathers could today be elected president. Editor Bruce Braden has done us all a service by collecting this revealing and intimate historical correspondence on topics that continue to stir emotions and debate in the 21st century.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you're interested in knowing at firsthand what John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, those two wonderful letter-writers, thought about philosophy, ethics, and religion (particularly Christianity), Bruce Braden's carefully edited collection of their correspondence during the early years of the American republic is indispensable. The two men stimulated each other by their exchanges, and this compilation will stimulate you too."
Paul F. Boller Jr.
Emeritus Professor of History
Texas Christian University
"Braden renders a significant service in making available the stimulating, provocative, elegant correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the subjects of religion and morality. We are in his debt."
Edwin S. Gaustad
Author of Sworn on the Altar of God:
A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson
"What a pleasure and benefit it is to have these splendid letters again in print! Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are national treasures, especially in these elegant, interesting, and profound exchanges about religion, philosophy, and morals. The warmth and trust of their friendship as revealed in these letters makes them especially rich and rewarding to read. That the writers were signers of the Declaration of Independence and then the second and third presidents of the United States makes the exchanges especially significant for all Americans."
Ralph Ketchum, Professor Emeritus
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Publishers Weekly
America's founding fathers have long been revered or reviled for their praise or rejection of religion. Along with Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams probed most deeply into their own religious psyches and the cultural role of religion. Braden, a postal carrier and independent scholar, collects a portion of the pair's letters dealing with matters of morality and religion. The letters range over the usual questions for which these men have already become known: the human/divine nature of Jesus, the afterlife, moral philosophy, the place of religion in the state. The collection lacks a critical apparatus, however, and Braden provides no rationale for his choices or method of selection. Although he does provide footnotes for the letters, the notes offer nothing more than brief identifications of writers or others mentioned in the correspondence. Braden arranges the letters chronologically from 1787 to 1826 (when both men famously died on July 4), but the correspondence lacks any direction or structure. Moreover, the collection contains twice as many of Adams's letters to Jefferson as those Jefferson wrote to Adams, although Adams's epistles lack the sparkling erudition of his cohort's writings. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591023562
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Braden, with an undergraduate degree in sociology and an MA in personality theory and religion, is an independent scholar and the author of two books of poetry.
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