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Thomas Jefferson
Suggested Reading



"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
(JOSEPH J. ELLIS)
At different times Thomas Jefferson has been claimed by Southern secessionists and Northern abolitionists, New Deal liberals and neoconservatives Now historian Joseph J. Ellis restores our most elusive national icon to human dimensions with insight, sympathy, and superb style, shrewdly sifting the facts from the legends and the rumors. From the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Ellis unravels the contradictions of his character, giving us the slaveholding libertarian, the enemy of government power who exercised it audaciously as president; and the visionary who remained blind to his own inconsistencies. A marvel of scholarship and a delight to read, American Sphinx is a book whose appeal transcends history buffs and biography fans and provides an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
(JOSEPH J. ELLIS)
In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award—winning author of American Sphinx explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.

The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers–re-examined here as Founding Brothers–combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes–Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence–Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.

Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution
(John Ferling)
Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the American Revolution and of the three Founders who played crucial roles in winning the War of Independence and creating a new nation: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Braiding three strands into one rich narrative, John Ferling brings these American icons down from their pedestals to show them as men of flesh and blood, and in doing so gives us a new understanding of the passion and uncertainty of the struggle to form a new nation. A leading historian of the Revolutionary era, Ferling draws upon an unsurpassed command of the primary sources and a talent for swiftly moving narrative to give us intimate views of each of these men. He shows us both the overarching historical picture of the era and a gripping sense of how these men encountered the challenges that faced them. We see Washington, containing a profound anger at British injustice within an austere demeanor; Adams, far from home, struggling with severe illness and French duplicity in his crucial negotiations in Paris; and Jefferson, distracted and indecisive, confronting uncertainties about his future in politics. John Adams, in particular, emerges from the narrative as the most under-appreciated hero of the Revolution, while Jefferson is revealed as the most overrated, yet most eloquent, of the Founders. Setting the World Ablaze shows in dramatic detail how these conservative men--successful members of the colonial elite--were transformed into radical revolutionaries.

The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams
(Lester J. Cappon)
An intellectual dialogue of the highest plane achieved in America, the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spanned half a century and embraced government, philosophy, religion, quotidiana, and family griefs and joys. First meeting as delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775, they initiated correspondence in 1777, negotiated jointly as ministers in Europe in the 1780s, and served the early Republic--each, ultimately, in its highest office. At Jefferson's defeat of Adams for the presidency in 1800, they became estranged, and the correspondence lapses from 1801 to 1812, then is renewed until the death of both in 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.

Lester J. Cappon's edition, first published in 1959 in two volumes, provides the complete correspondence between these two men and includes the correspondence between Abigail Adams and Jefferson. Many of these letters have been published in no other modern edition, nor does any other edition devote itself exclusively to the exchange between Jefferson and the Adamses. Introduction, headnotes, and footnotes inform the reader without interrupting the speakers. This reissue of The Adams-Jefferson Letters in a one-volume unabridged edition brings to a broader audience one of the monuments of American scholarship and, to quote C. Vann Woodward, 'a major treasure of national literature.'

Thomas Jefferson
(R. B. Bernstein )
Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone, describing himself simply as 'Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.' It is in this simple epitaph that 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.' In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American--the first concise life in six decades. Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account. Here are all of Jefferson's triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from 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. Jefferson was indeed multifaceted--an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader--and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in the American enlightenment, that 'revolution of ideas' that did so much to create the nation we know today. Together with the less well-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)--they form the heart of this lively biography. In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson more clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations. More important, we see, in Jefferson's visionary ideas, the birth of the nation's grand sense of purpose.

Thomas Jefferson : Writings
(Edited by Merrill D. Peterson )
The most comprehensive one-volume selection of Jefferson ever published. Contains the "Autobiography," "Notes on the State of Virginia," public and private papers, including the original and revised drafts of the Declaration of Independence, addresses, and 287 letters.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
(William L. Beiswanger, Peter J. Hatch, Lucia Stanton, Susan R. Stein, Wendell Garrett )
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's magnificent mountaintop home in Charlottesville, Virginia, has attracted public attention ever since Jefferson's day, when sightseers regularly visited the grounds in hopes of catching a glimpse of the former president. Today, each year more than half a million people from around the world visit Monticello, the only home in America on the United Nations' list of World Heritage Sites that must be protected at all costs.
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello is a superb collection of essays, adorned with beautiful color photography, that showcases this American treasure. Designed by Jefferson himself, Monticello is a model of elegance and symmetry. It is also home to Jefferson's world-class collection of art and porcelain from France, scientific instruments from England, the finest American furniture from Philadelphia and New York, and enduring furnishings made in Monticello's own joinery by enslaved craftsmen. The celebrated gardens and grounds form an experimental yet breathtakingly lovely landscape featuring flowers, fruits, and vegetables of the Old and New Worlds.
Featuring essays by Monticello's scholarly staff, this stunning book explores all aspects of Jefferson's home. A section on the plantation and the enslaved community at Monticello provides a larger context in which to place and understand the house, its activities, and its owner.

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