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Seeing Jefferson Anew

In His Time and Ours

John B. Boles, Randal L. Hall

Publication Year: 2010

While intended to update, in effect, now decades-old major biographies of Jefferson, these essays by leading Jefferson scholars represent no simple search for a usable past but instead a tough-minded but fair examination of a complex man who in fundamental ways represents both the promise and the problems of the American experience.

Published by: University of Virginia Press


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pp. v-v

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pp. vii-viii

These essays were originally presented at a conference held at Rice University on February 23–25, 2007, and entitled ‘‘Thomas Jefferson: In His Time and Ours.’’ Funded by a grant from Lisa Simon of Southern National Bank and matched by anonymous contribution, the symposium was one of an ongoing series of biennial symposia dedicated to different aspects of Southern history. Our colleagues ...

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pp. 1-11

In a readily understandable way, history is—as one definition has it—a conversation between the present and the past. Such a definition suggests that as present concerns and issues change, then the nature of the conversation will change too. New questions will asked, old assumptions will be reexamined, and current perspectives will shed fresh light on what once were considered settled...

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Thomas Jefferson and American Democracy

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pp. 13-39

The continuing cascade of scholarship on Thomas Jefferson suggests that the third president retains his exalted standing in the American pantheon, notwithstanding iconoclastic assaults from both right and left.1 In the wake of the civil rights movement, Jefferson’s ownership of large numbers of slaves represented the biggest threat to his reputation. Yet even his bitterest critics ...

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Natural Politics: Jefferson, Elections, and the People

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pp. 40-65

In January 2007 at the ceremonial opening of the 110th Congress, the first to be led by a female Speaker of the House, minority leader John Boehner and the incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred repeatedly to the nation’s Founders when trying to put the historic event in context. Boehner acknowledged the significance of electing the first woman Speaker of the House and commented graciously ...

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The Many Wests of Thomas Jefferson

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pp. 66-102

‘‘Jefferson and the West’’ is a phrase that rolls off the tongue. It seems familiar. It suggests continuity. After all, what account of Thomas Jefferson is complete without a discussion of his abiding interest in the West? Indeed, it is almost impossible to conceive of Jefferson without the West, for it was in the West that Jefferson ...

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Jefferson and Slavery

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pp. 103-125

Once on a magnificent Sunday afternoon I sat with a group of Georgetown University undergraduates on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, where we discussed the legacy and memory of the author of the Declaration of Independence. What better way to kick off a new semester of ‘‘Society and Politics in Jeffersonian America’’? Jefferson loomed over us, larger than life. It dawned on me that I...

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Placing Thomas Jefferson and Religion in Context, Then and Now

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pp. 126-151

The letter Thomas Jefferson penned to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, in January 1802 ranks among the most important ever composed by any president. The previous October the Baptists had written him a congratulatory letter on his inauguration. In it they expressed their desire that complete religious freedom might one day be achieved in Connecticut. There the Congregational clergy enjoyed a church establishment linked to the Federalist ...

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Jefferson and Women

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pp. 152-171

Thomas Jefferson’s attitudes about women were remarkably conventional, so conventional, for the most part, that to describe them is essentially to provide an account of the standard views about sexual difference and women’s roles held by men of his time, place,and social standing. To be sure, different men (and women, for that...

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Jefferson in the Flesh

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pp. 172-194

Thomas Jefferson devoted his energies to scientific study at least as much as he speculated on the art of government. Nothing was too big or too small for his mind: he was interested in the operations of all-encompassing natural forces and the interior nature of the ...

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pp. 195-199

The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of popular interest in the lives of the Founders with best-selling biographies by authors like David G. McCullough, Joseph J. Ellis, Ron Chernow, and Walter Isaacson. However, the celebratory tone of such books is rarely found in modern works on Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, in venerating his opponents and rivals, these biographers are often hostile in their treatment of Jefferson. The disparity ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 201-208

List of Contributors

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p. 209


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pp. 211-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780813929972
E-ISBN-10: 0813929970
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813929934
Print-ISBN-10: 0813929938

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 761717596
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Seeing Jefferson Anew

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Subject Headings

  • Presidents -- United States -- Biography -- Congresses.
  • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Influence -- Congresses.
  • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Historiography -- Congresses.
  • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Congresses. -- Political and social views
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