THOMAS JEFFERSON & THE NEW NATION
by Merrill D. Peterson
THOMAS JEFFERSON: RETURN TO MONTICELLO
(Volume Two of Two)
ISBN 978-0-945707-31-8 $37.50
529 pages plus bibliography, appendix & index
Jefferson entered the Revolutionary theater in 1769,
at twenty-six years of age. Seven years later he penned the creed
of the new nation, and became the ardent reformer of colonial institutions.
In the crisis of war he governed the state of Virginia. He made major
contributions in vital areas of national policy, and acted as a catalyst
of the nation's intellectual and cultural life. He served successively
as Minster to France, Secretary of State, Vice President, and President,
and in retirement he fathered the country's first authentic state university.
Jefferson's life - - amazingly rich, productive, and interesting
in itself - - serves Mr. Peterson as a vehicle for interpreting in human
terms the experience of the new nation. This is not, then, a conventional
biography: it portrays the historical Jefferson and his role in the nation's
shaping with a grandeur, power, and depth of understanding that makes it
simultaneously the biography of a nation coming into being.
Mr. Peterson finds three dominant themes - - democracy,
nationality, and enlightenment - - running through Jefferson's career.
While these have many variations, and their orchestration is complex, together
they disclose the basic coherence of his life and thought. The book,
based on a rare command of the entire body of Jefferson literature, but
in the main upon Jefferson's papers and correspondence, avoids stereotypes
and oversimplifications, and explains Jefferson's thought and action within
the flow of experience and the public drama in which he was so prominent.