by Merrill D. Peterson


(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.
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