The US Constitution says nothing about a presidential cabinet, yet this institution has grown powerful. Lindsay M. Chervinsky tells the story of George Washington’s cabinet, an ad hoc panel that responded to emergencies of the day. It is supposed to be the Senate’s job to advise the president, but the first cabinet changed that expectation forever.
This compelling narrative demonstrates the passionate interest the
Jeffersonian presidents had in wresting land from less powerful foes and
expanding Jefferson's "empire of liberty."
The first two decades of the 19th century found many Americans
eager to move away from the crowded eastern seaboard and into new areas
where their goals of landownership might be realized. Such movement was
encouraged by Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe- collectively known
as the Jeffersonians- who believed that the country's destiny was to have
total control over the entire North American continent. Migration patterns
during this time changed the country considerably and included the roots
of the slavery controversy that ultimately led to the Civil War. By the
end of the period, although expansionists had not succeeded in moving into
British Canada, they had obtained command of large areas from the Spanish
South and Southwest, including acreage previously controlled by Native
Utilizing memoirs, diaries, biographies, newspapers, and vast amounts
of both foreign and domestic correspondence, Frank Lawrence Owsley, Jr.,
and Gene A. Smith reveal an insider's view of the filibusters and
expansionists, the colorful- if not sometimes nefarious- characters on
the front line of the United States's land grab. Owsley and Smith describe
in detail the actions and characters involving both the successful and
the unsuccessful efforts to expand the United States during this period-
as well as the outspoken opposition to expansion, found primarily among
the Federalists in the Northeast.
In this volume, Kevin J. Hayes collects thirty accounts of Thomas Jefferson written by his granddaughters, visiting dignitaries, fellow politicians, and others who knew him as a family man, public servant, intellectual, and institution builder. The letters and reminiscences of those who knew Jefferson personally reveal him to be a warm, funny man, quite unlike the solemn statesman so often limned in biographies.
To friends and enemies alike he was the model of a republican gentleman, profoundly knowledgeable in philosophy and natural history, able to converse in several languages, and capable of great wit but contemptuous of ceremony and fancy dress. Through these excerpts, we can see the nation’s third president as his family knew him—a loving husband, father, and grandfather—and as his peers did, as a tireless public servant with a fondness for tall tales.
Although the nation changed substantially between the presidential terms of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, these two leaders shared common interests and held remarkably similar opinions on many important issues. In Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Unfinished Work of the Nation, Ronald L. Hatzenbuehler describes the views of two of our nation’s greatest presidents and explains how these views provide valuable insight into modern debates.
In this groundbreaking new study—the first extended examination of the ideas of Lincoln and Jefferson—Hatzenbuehler provides readers with a succinct guide to their opinions, comparing and contrasting their reasoned judgments on America’s republican form of government. Each chapter is devoted to one key area of common interest: race and slavery, the pros and cons of political parties, state rights versus federal authority, religion and the presidency, presidential powers under the Constitution, or the proper political economy for a republic. Relying on the pair’s own words in their letters, writings, and speeches, Hatzenbuehler explores similarities and differences between the two men on contentious issues. Both, for instance, wrote that they were antislavery, but Jefferson never acted on this belief, while Lincoln moved toward a constitutional amendment banning slavery. The book’s title, taken from the Gettysburg Address, builds on both presidents’ expectations that Americans should dedicate themselves to the unfinished work of returning the nation to its founding principles.
Jefferson and Lincoln wrestled with many of the same issues and ideas that intrigue and divide Americans today. In his thought-provoking work, Hatzenbuehler details how the two presidents addressed these issues and ideas, which are essential to understanding not only America’s history but also the continuing influence of the past on the present.
As controversial and explosive as it is elegant and learned, The Long Affair is Conor Cruise O'Brien's examination of Thomas Jefferson, as man and icon, through the critical lens of the French Revolution. O'Brien offers a provocative analysis of the supreme symbol of American history and political culture and challenges the traditional perceptions of both Jeffersonian history and the Jeffersonian legacy.
"The book is an attack on America's long affair with Jeffersonian ideology of radical individualism: an ideology that, by confusing Jefferson with a secular prophet, will destroy the United States from within."—David C. Ward, Boston Book Review
"With his background as a politician and a diplomat, O'Brien brings a broad perspective to his effort to define Jefferson's beliefs through the prism of his attitudes toward France. . . . This is an important work that makes an essential contribution to the overall picture of Jefferson."—Booklist
"O'Brien traces the roots of Jefferson's admiration for the revolution in France but notes that Jefferson's enthusiasm for France cooled in the 1790s, when French egalitarian ideals came to threaten the slave-based Southern economy that Jefferson supported."—Library Journal
"In O'Brien's opinion, it's time that Americans face the fact that Jefferson, long seen as a champion of the 'wronged masses,' was a racist who should not be placed on a pedestal in an increasingly multicultural United States."—Boston Phoenix
"O'Brien makes a well-argued revisionist contribution to the literature on Jefferson."—Kirkus Reviews
"O'Brien is right on target . . . determined not to let the evasions and cover-ups continue."—Forrest McDonald, National Review
"The Long Affair should be read by anyone interested in Jefferson—or in a good fight."—Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review
In this classic work by one of America's most distinguished historians, Daniel Boorstin enters into Thomas Jefferson's world of ideas. By analysing writings of 'the Jeffersonian Circle,' Boorstin explores concepts of God, nature, equality, toleration, education and government in order to illuminate their underlying world view. The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson demonstrates why on the 250th anniversary of his birth, this American leader's message has remained relevant to our national crises and grand concerns.
"The volume is too subtle, too rich in ideas for anyone to do justice to it in brief summary, too heavily documented and too carefully wrought for anyone to dismiss its thesis. . . . It is a major contribution not only to Jefferson studies but to American intellectual history. . . . All who work in the history of ideas will find themselves in Mr. Boorstin's debt."—Richard Hofstadter, South Atlantic Monthly
Marsh locates Pound and Williams firmly in the Jeffersonian tradition and examines their epic poems as manifestations of a Jeffersonian ideology in modernist terms.
The modernist poets William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound were latter-day Jeffersonians whose politics and poetry were strongly marked by the populism of the late 19th century. They were sharply aware of the social contradictions of modernization and were committed to a highly politicized, often polemical poetry that criticized finance capitalism and its institutions--notably banks--in the strongest terms.
Providing a history of the aesthetics of Jeffersonianism and its collision with modernism in the works of Pound and Williams, Alec Marsh traces "the money question" from the republican period through the 1940s. Marsh can thus read two modernist epics--Pound's Cantos and Williams's Paterson--as the poets hoped they would be read, as attempts to break the hold of "false" financial values on the American imagination.
Marsh argues that Pound's and Williams's similar Jeffersonian outlooks were the direct result of the political battles of the 1890s concerning the meaning of money. Although Pound's interest in money and economics is well known, few people are aware that both poets were active in the Social Credit monetary-reform movement of the 1930s and 1940s, a movement shown by Marsh to have direct links to Jeffersonianism via American populism. Ultimately, the two poets took divergent paths, with Pound swerving toward Italian fascism (as exemplified in his Jefferson and/or Mussolini) and Williams becoming deeply influenced by the American pragmatism of John Dewey. Thus, Marsh concludes, Pound embraced the fascist version of state-capitalism whereas his old friend proclaimed a pragmatic openness to the new selves engendered by corporate capitalism.
Money and Modernity exemplifies the best of recent literary criticism in its incorporation of American studies and cultural studies approaches to bring new insight to modern masterworks.
In the years after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling republic of America was viewed by many Europeans as a degenerate backwater, populated by subspecies weak and feeble. Chief among these naysayers was the French Count and world-renowned naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who wrote that the flora and fauna of America (humans included) were inferior to European specimens.
Thomas Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. president, and ardent naturalist—spent years countering the French conception of American degeneracy. His Notes on Virginia systematically and scientifically dismantled Buffon’s case through a series of tables and equally compelling writing on the nature of his home state. But the book did little to counter the arrogance of the French and hardly satisfied Jefferson’s quest to demonstrate that his young nation was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Enter the giant moose.
The American moose, which Jefferson claimed was so enormous a European reindeer could walk under it, became the cornerstone of his defense. Convinced that the sight of such a magnificent beast would cause Buffon to revise his claims, Jefferson had the remains of a seven-foot ungulate shipped first class from New Hampshire to Paris. Unfortunately, Buffon died before he could make any revisions to his Histoire Naturelle, but the legend of the moose makes for a fascinating tale about Jefferson’s passion to prove that American nature deserved prestige.
In Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, Lee Alan Dugatkin vividly recreates the origin and evolution of the debates about natural history in America and, in so doing, returns the prize moose to its rightful place in American history.
Does every increase in the power of government entail a loss of liberty for the people? James H. Read examines how four key Founders--James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson--wrestled with this question during the first two decades of the American Republic.
Power versus Liberty reconstructs a four-way conversation--sometimes respectful, sometimes shrill--that touched on the most important issues facing the new nation: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, federal authority versus states' rights, freedom of the press, the controversial Bank of the United States, the relation between nationalism and democracy, and the elusive meaning of "the consent of the governed."
Each of the men whose thought Read considers differed on these key questions. Jefferson believed that every increase in the power of government came at the expense of liberty: energetic governments, he insisted, are always oppressive. Madison believed that this view was too simple, that liberty can be threatened either by too much or too little governmental power. Hamilton and Wilson likewise rejected the Jeffersonian view of power and liberty but disagreed with Madison and with each other.
The question of how to reconcile energetic government with the liberty of citizens is as timely today as it was in the first decades of the Republic. It pervades our political discourse and colors our readings of events from the confrontation at Waco to the Oklahoma City bombing to Congressional debate over how to spend the government surplus. While the rhetoric of both major political parties seems to posit a direct relationship between the size of our government and the scope of our political freedoms, the debates of Madison, Hamilton, Wilson, and Jefferson confound such simple dichotomies. As Read concludes, the relation between power and liberty is inherently complex.
James Wilson. Portrait by Jean Pierre Henri Elouis. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
"Power versus Liberty provides fresh perspectives on the political thought of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson, statesmen and theorists who played crucial roles in shaping the American experiment in republican government. Read shows how these revolutionaries struggled to reconcile tensions between liberty and power; his important book succeeds admirably in reconstructing a fascinating debate over fundamental questions that continue to command our attention. Historians and theorists alike will gain much from Read's judicious and thoughtful analysis."
--Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia
"James Read in effect returns to the themes Bernard Bailyn put at the center of his classic study of the American Revolution and rescues them from the so-called Republican Synthesis. He extends Bailyn's analysis into the period of the early republic and shows how much insight the related themes of power and liberty can give when deployed by a deft hand."
--Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame
"In these deft essays, James Read offers an astute introduction to the four leading original architects of the American constitutional tradition: Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and James Wilson. Few writers have captured their essential ideas so concisely or appreciatively."
--Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University
Thomas Jefferson. Portrait by Rembrandt Peale. White House Collection, courtesy of White House Historical Association.
James H. Read is Associate Professor of Political Science at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University of Minnesota.
George W. Bush and Al Gore were by no means the first presidential hopefuls to find themselves embroiled in a hotly contested electoral impasse. Two hundred years earlier, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams endured arguably the most controversial and consequential election in American history. As the result of an intensely divided party process--the Federalists and the Republicans each convinced that the other would destroy the new nation if in control--the electoral system produced a tie, throwing the final decision to a House vote. Focusing on the wide range of possible outcomes of the 1800-1801 melee, this collection of essays situates the American "Revolution of 1800o in a broad context of geopolitical and racial developments in the Atlantic world as a whole. In essays written expressly for this volume, leading historians of the period examine the electoral, social, and political outcome of Jefferson's election in discussions strikingly relevant in the aftermath of the 2000 election.
Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles
Michael Bellesiles, Emory University
Jeanne Boydston, University of Wisconsin
Seth Cotlar, Willamette University
Gregory Evans Dowd, University of Notre Dame
Laurent Dubois, Michigan State University
Douglas R. Egerton, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
Joanne Freeman, Yale University
James E. Lewis Jr., independent scholar
Robert M. S. McDonald, United States Military Academy, West Point
James Oakes, City University of New York Graduate Center
Jeffrey Pasley, University of Missouri, Columbia
Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University
Bethel Saler, Haverford College
James Sidbury, University of Texas
Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis
James Horn is Saunders Director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and author of Adapting to a New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake.
Jan Ellen Lewis is Professor of History and Director of the Graduate History Program at Rutgers University, the author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Family Values in Jefferson's Virginia, and coeditor with Peter S. Onuf of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture (Virginia).
Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, is the author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Virginia).