Architect of American Liberty


By John B. Boles

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From an eminent scholar of the American South, the first full-scale biography of Thomas Jefferson since 1970

Not since Merrill Peterson’s Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation has a scholar attempted to write a comprehensive biography of the most complex Founding Father. In Jefferson, John B. Boles plumbs every facet of Thomas Jefferson’s life, all while situating him amid the sweeping upheaval of his times. We meet Jefferson the politician and political thinker — as well as Jefferson the architect, scientist, bibliophile, paleontologist, musician, and gourmet. We witness him drafting of the Declaration of Independence, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and inventing a politics that emphasized the states over the federal government — a political philosophy that shapes our national life to this day.

Boles offers new insight into Jefferson’s actions and thinking on race. His Jefferson is not a hypocrite, but a tragic figure — a man who could not hold simultaneously to his views on abolition, democracy, and patriarchal responsibility. Yet despite his flaws, Jefferson’s ideas would outlive him and make him into nothing less than the architect of American liberty.


Watercolor of west front of Monticello.

By Jane Pittman Braddick Peticolas, 1825.

Source: Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. Used by permission.

A Note on Capitalization

Thomas Jefferson usually did not begin written sentences with capital letters. However, Julian P. Boyd, founding editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, 1950–),1 silently capitalized the initial letters of Jefferson's sentences, and subsequent editors continued this practice until Volume 30, published in 2003. The editors of the following volumes rendered his writings exactly as Jefferson wrote them. I have decided to adopt the practice of the volumes I am citing; hence, in the letters from volumes prior to the thirtieth (which begins with January 1798), capitalization follows modern standards as established by Boyd. In citations of letters written after that date, I follow the usage of the editors and replicate Jefferson's almost capital-free style. I have only corrected Jefferson's sometimes idiosyncratic spelling when necessary for clarity.


THOMAS JEFFERSON puzzles us. By birth, education, and demeanor an aristocrat, he was the most thoroughgoing democrat of the Founding Fathers. As learned and bookish a man as any other of his era, he himself only wrote one book (accidentally) and merely attempted, halfheartedly, to write an autobiography. The most widely traveled and cosmopolitan of the Founders, he never journeyed south of his home state of Virginia or farther than fifty miles west of Monticello. A hesitant, ineffective orator, he was a sensational conversationalist. Known around the globe for penning the words "all men are created equal," he was a lifelong slaveholder. Critical of the very existence of mulattoes, he nevertheless had a long-term intimate relationship with a mixed-race slave woman, Sally Hemings, and fathered five children by her. Labeled a deist and sometimes charged with atheism, he came to believe himself a Christian, though of a special sort. Ridiculed as dreamy and philosophical to a fault, he was an effective political leader. Often praising the unique delights of his mountaintop rural retreat at Monticello, he in fact lived much of his adult life in Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and Washington, DC, and became a connoisseur of cities. He defies those trying to grasp him, down to the smallest details: famous as an oenophile, he preferred to dilute his wine with water.

How can one make sense of such a tangle of apparent contradictions? Surely not simply by picking and choosing one side or the other of these various binaries—aristocrat or democrat, unqualified lover of freedom or unrepentant slaveholder, true wine lover or snobbish dilettante. Jefferson's complexity renders him easy to caricature in popular culture. Particularly in recent years, Jefferson, long the hero of small d as well as capital D democrats, has seen his reputation wane due to his views on race, the revelation of his relationship with Sally Hemings, and his failure to free his own slaves. Once lauded as the champion of the little man, today he is vilified as a hypocritical slave owner, professing a love of liberty while quietly driving his own slaves to labor harder in his pursuit of personal luxury. Surely an interpretative middle ground is possible, if not necessary. If we hope to understand the enigma that is Thomas Jefferson, we must view him holistically and within the rich context of his time and place. This biography aims to provide that perspective.

We should begin by acknowledging that Jefferson lived in a world fundamentally different from ours. It was pre-Darwinian, which is only one reason most people, in general, did not expect much change in their lives. Jefferson's society was, compared to today, remarkably undemocratic, even though it was more democratic than any other society of the time. Women, blacks, and propertyless white males could not vote. Rigid expectations governed what women could and could not do; blacks were hardly considered persons, and racial slavery was commonplace throughout the nation; class distinctions were assumed to be practically immutable. A new democratic age was dawning, but its implications were poorly understood, as were the consequences of new modes of trade and production that would soon remake the American economy and society.

Many of Jefferson's assumptions reveal him to be a man thoroughly of his own time, which sometimes surprises us because we imagine him as so ahead of it. In many ways he was, but not in all, and it is the partiality of his escape from the prevailing beliefs of his age that so disappoints us. His expectations about his own patriarchal responsibilities, his fears of monarchy, his worries about the survival of the new nation, and his apparent belief that only Providence could eradicate some evils shaped many of his responses to the world as he found it. Like others of his class, he cared about his reputation and hence was thin-skinned in the face of criticism; he was relentlessly, and sometimes misleadingly, polite, as the code of gentlemen required; he believed reason essential to correct judgment about most things; he supposed his views to be not only correct but representative of the best interests of the people and that they, when not misled, agreed with his policies. As much as we might wish, Jefferson was not a modern man.

Though the most democratically minded of any of the Founders, he still expected elite white men who shared his views to lead government. He believed that all people of all races possessed basic natural rights but accepted the existence of stark inequalities in society. He knew slavery to be wrong but was also certain that for reasons of inherent inequalities between the races as well as a legacy of mutual hatred, whites and blacks could not live together in harmony. Hence emancipation would necessitate colonization—sending the newly freed slaves away from the United States to start a colony, perhaps even a nation, of their own. Yet he never found—or, really, looked for—a way to achieve this end financially or socially; whites would not give up the economic advantage of slave ownership, and where would funding come from for the immense expense of colonization? The internal struggle engendered by his belief in the inherent natural rights of all peoples and his entanglement in the moral, political, financial, and legal web of slavery demonstrates the complicated task of trying to do right in a world that does wrong. He could not imagine a world in which blacks and whites coexisted without conflict, a failure that haunted him in life and still haunts his legacy in death. The most elegant defender of liberty in the nation's history did not defend the liberty of those whose lives it would have most transformed. Later generations (and leaders, including Abraham Lincoln) would employ his ideas and his language as they labored to secure freedom and equality for all. Tragically, Jefferson, who best articulated the nation's loftiest aspirations, could not perceive or refused to recognize the full implications of his principles. He was the architect of American liberty almost despite himself.

We should not expect him to have embraced the values of a cosmopolitan, progressive person of the twenty-first century. How could he possibly have done so? Instead, we should try to understand the constraints—legal, financial, personal, intellectual—under which he lived. To understand certainly does not mean to approve or even forgive; rather, it means to comprehend why Jefferson made the kinds of decisions he made and saw the world as he did. He was a gentle, well-educated, idealistic man who sought—by his lights—to do right. Yet at times he acted in ways we now find abhorrent. Appreciating how this can be so is the task of the Jefferson scholar, the student of history, and perhaps every American citizen.

Jefferson puzzles us too because he does not fit neatly into modern categories. Although he spent almost four decades in appointed or elected government positions, he did not identify himself as a career politician. He made signal contributions to the craft of architecture but was never a professional architect. Devoted to science and claiming it as his first love, he lived in an era before "scientist" was an occupation. His reading was varied and idiosyncratic. He imbibed philosophy, starting with the ancients, but never worked out a philosophical system of his own. He long pondered religion but never found systematic theology attractive and attempted instead to simplify his religious beliefs and rejected proselytization of any form. He claimed as his home a tobacco plantation and loved gardening but never became a skilled or profitable planter. He enjoyed the study of the law but found legal practice unfulfilling. Despite his enormous learning and curiosity about practically every single thing in the world—and his notable accomplishments in many fields—he was not a match for any available vocation. He was at once an anomaly and a representative figure of his age. Jefferson happened to live at a moment in history when societies across the globe were undergoing fundamental changes in governance, and the resulting challenge attracted his energies and interests as did nothing else. This scholarly introvert found himself drawn onto the world's stage, where he helped shape a new nation that he hoped would become a model for all others.

Yet Jefferson was a homebody at heart. As he repeatedly told just about everyone he corresponded with, he loved the quiet of his library, the privacy of his quarters, gentle conversation with like-minded persons, the beauty of his gardens, tinkering with the inventions of others in his study—and he always contrasted these scenes of domesticity with the disharmony of the political world. Although he became skilled at governing and thought comprehensively about the future of the American nation, he never liked the give-and-take of politics, despised contentiousness, and wanted to be loved by all. Still, he made brilliant and implacable enemies, who saw him as an impractical idealist, a dissembler who concealed his real values and secretly conspired and hungered for power. Despite the challenges of the major offices he held—governor of Virginia, secretary of state, vice president, and president—and despite an adulthood plagued with debt, tragedy, and death, Jefferson retained his fundamental optimism.

The issues of race and slavery are so important to us today that they almost overwhelm our view of Jefferson. Of course we must face squarely where he stood on each. But we impoverish our understanding of the man if we do not examine as well his manifest contributions to a variety of fields, especially his commitment to political liberty and intellectual and religious freedom. Indeed, to put Jefferson in the context of his own times is to see that, for him, race and slavery were generally not of central importance. The views on race he presented in Notes on the State of Virginia, for instance, existed alongside longer passages about everything from caves to mammoths and from religion to the Virginia constitution.

This book attempts a full-scale biography. I have strived to present Jefferson in all of his guises: politician, diplomat, party leader, executive; architect, musician, oenophile, gourmand, traveler; inventor, historian, political theorist; land owner, farmer, slaveholder; and son, father, grandfather. Fully grounded in modern scholarship, the portrait of Jefferson that follows is admittedly sympathetic but critical when appropriate. In our time it is the fashion to demythologize our ancestors, to eagerly point out their faults and minimize their accomplishments—in short, to cut them down to size. Can we recognize the failures of those who came before us and yet acknowledge their contributions? I have tried to do just that: to humanize and contextualize Jefferson without either deifying or demonizing him. Jefferson challenges us more thoroughly than any other Founder, but in the end, he is the most attractive, most elusive, most complicated, most intellectual, most practical, most idealistic, most flexible, and most quintessentially American Founder of them all.




"A Hard Student"

TO BEGIN TO COMPREHEND Thomas Jefferson, we must start years before his birth. His surname appears several times in the early records of the colony of Virginia. The first Jefferson was a delegate to the initial legislative assembly in the colony in 1619, but there is no solid evidence he was related to the future president.1 In his brief autobiography, written when he was seventy-seven, Jefferson mentioned his family's belief that the first Jefferson in the New World came from Wales, near Mount Snowdon, but again, we have no genealogical proof.2 The first reference to a Jefferson whom we can link to Thomas was, in fact, a man of the same name who lived in Henrico County in the late seventeenth century. This Thomas Jefferson appears in records for serving as a juror and surveyor, among other such minor functions. By the end of his life he had become a middling farmer, possessing land and a few slaves. He died in 1697, leaving a son also named Thomas, who in turn had a son, born in 1708, named Peter.

Peter Jefferson's son Thomas, born on April 13, 1743, would become president of a country that did not yet exist. As Thomas later recalled, his father's education was "quite neglected," but "being of sound mind, sound judgment and eager after information, he read much and improved himself."3 For his time and place, Peter Jefferson's education was probably slightly better than average. Among his friends was William & Mary professor Joseph Fry, and he accumulated a library far superior to those of most men of his rank, suggesting that Peter's mind was capacious and well employed.

Family lore tells of his massive size and tremendous strength, portraying him as an almost mythical figure. Supposedly he could stand between two 1,000-pound barrels of tobacco lying on their side and, grasping each with one hand, set them upright simultaneously. As a surveyor in the western reaches of the colony, he overcame extreme cold, hardship, and danger from savage animals to lead his assistants in laying out their lines.4 He was apparently as comfortable with the rigors of the outdoor world as with the pleasures of reading Shakespeare in his study.

Peter inherited land on Fine Creek, beyond the falls of the James River, and as a young man whose surveying experience acquainted him with the best lands to the west, he was soon purchasing acreage outright and investing in speculative projects. In July 1735 he acquired 1,000 acres on the south side of the North Fork of the James River, later called the Rivanna River (land that would become Monticello). He was clearly ambitious. Notably, he had become fast friends with William Randolph, five or six years his junior, who lived twelve miles or so across and eastward down the James at a much larger, finer plantation home named Tuckahoe.

Tuckahoe had been built by Thomas Randolph, now dead, son of William, one of the famous founding Randolphs, planter-aristocrats whose ancestral home, Turkey Island, lay south of Richmond. Upstream of Tuckahoe, and just west of Fine Creek, lived one of young William's uncles, Isham Randolph, on a large plantation named Dungeness. Isham had made his fortune in tobacco, slaves, and trade. Peter visited Dungeness in the late 1730s, surely in the company of William. There he met and courted Isham's teenaged daughter, Jane; she and Peter would wed on October 3, 1739, when she was nineteen years of age, Peter thirty-one.5

Isham Randolph was wealthy, worldly, and highly educated. He had attended the College of William & Mary, took French lessons for a few weeks from learned surveyor and diarist William Byrd, and spent many years as a merchant captain in London. In that city in 1718, he married Jane Lilburne, and shortly thereafter the first of their many children, a daughter they named after her mother, was born; she was baptized on February 20, 1719, at St. Paul's, Shadwell. By the early 1730s she and her parents and siblings had moved to Virginia, where Isham established Dungeness, a smaller version of the great English manor houses.6 Owing to his time in London, Isham had an international network of acquaintances, and as the result of his friendship with the naturalist Peter Collinson, leading American botanist John Bartram visited Isham at Dungeness.7 All this goes to show how Jane had broader cultural and intellectual horizons than most of her contemporaries in colonial Virginia. And she saw in Peter Jefferson far more than a rough-hewn frontiersman.

Following his original purchase of 1,000 acres on the south side of the Rivanna in 1735, the very next year Peter acquired 200 acres across the river from William Randolph for, as the family enjoyed retelling, the price of "Henry Weatherbourne's biggest bowl of arrack punch!"—a transaction presumably initiated in a tavern.8 Peter may have begun clearing fields and even erected a small, temporary dwelling within a year or two—Jefferson recorded in his "Autobiography" that his father "was the 3d or 4th settler of the part of the country in which I live, which was about 1737."9 Shortly before or after his marriage to Jane, Peter moved to his Rivanna property, naming the homesite "Shadwell" in honor of his wife's baptismal location. Their first four children were born there: Jane in 1740, Mary in 1741, Thomas in 1743, and Elizabeth in 1744. The next year Goochland County was subdivided and Albemarle County came into existence. On February 28, 1745, a small group of the new county's citizens met near the present-day town of Scottsville and inaugurated the county government; among them was Peter Jefferson.10 Meanwhile he was purchasing more land, enlarging his fields, buying slaves, expanding his home and outbuildings at Shadwell, and fulfilling a range of civic responsibilities. Of all this his son Thomas remembered nothing.

WILLIAM RANDOLPH had married early, but in 1742 his wife died, leaving him with three small daughters and an infant son. Newly alert to the precariousness of life, William soon drew up a will, naming Peter one of the executors. Several years later, in failing health, Randolph added a codicil, requesting that "my Dear and loving friend Mr. Peter Jefferson do move down with his family to my Tuckahoe house and remain there till my son comes of age with whom my dear son and his sisters shall live."11 Randolph died suddenly in late 1745, and, perhaps surprisingly, early in 1746 Peter and Jane, with their then five small children, moved the approximately fifty miles to Tuckahoe and assumed responsibility for the four orphaned Randolph children. This journey, which took the family several days, Jefferson did recall: his first memory was of being carried on a pillow by a slave on horseback.

Perhaps we can explain the move easily: Peter no doubt felt honor bound to his friend, and William had been a first cousin of Jane's. Tuckahoe was a commodious house; the families could to a degree be segregated, and the Randolph slaves could oversee the Randolph children at night. Jane may well have felt more comfortable on the estate than in her smaller residence at Shadwell. While they dwelled at Tuckahoe she gave birth to four more children. Peter, with the help of seven overseers, managed the Tuckahoe plantation, and as an absentee owner (with a local overseer or two) he kept his personal slaves on the Rivanna, clearing fields, growing crops, and improving his properties. Peter and Jane received no remuneration for their duties to the Randolph children, but the Tuckahoe estate paid all their living expenses.12 The Rivanna estate's output was pure profit.

We know little of Thomas Jefferson's life during the Tuckahoe years. William Randolph had instructed that his son Thomas (and no doubt Thomas's sisters) be educated at home by tutors, and it was probably Jane Jefferson who had a little one-room school built near the house and arranged to have a teacher available for both the Randolph and the Jefferson children. The future president remembered being placed at "the English school" at age five, and Peter Jefferson's account book shows payment to a teacher in 1750 and 1752.13

The Oxford-educated Joshua Fry had come to Virginia in 1720 and in 1732 been appointed professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at the College of William & Mary; in 1737, however, he resigned this position and moved his family to Goochland County, where he became a good friend of Peter Jefferson. Fry was an accomplished surveyor; soon he and Peter were associated in various projects. Steady population growth and the need for fresh land on which to grow tobacco sent settlers westward, so land surveyors were in strong demand. In 1746 the colonial government contracted with some forty men, led by Fry and Peter Jefferson, to survey a boundary line from the headwaters of the Rappahannock River to those of the Potomac.

The success of this project led the colonial government to hire Fry and Jefferson in 1749 to extend the famous "dividing line" between Virginia and North Carolina. For this work the colonial council handsomely rewarded them; it also directed the two to compile a map of the populated portions of Virginia. The resulting Fry-Jefferson Map, completed in 1751 and promptly published in London, would be reprinted in subsequent decades.14 Peter's adventures in the West ignited a fascination with the frontier in his son Thomas that would never subside.

While his family was at Tuckahoe, Peter enlarged and refined his house at Shadwell, and possibly for that reason, his family decided to return there in early 1752. The Jeffersons were now members of the gentry, possessing approximately 2,650 acres at the Shadwell estate alone. Situated on a small ridge overlooking the Rivanna River to the south, the house sat in the middle of a ten-acre square, encompassing slave quarters, a kitchen separate from the main house, stables, storage sheds, orchards—in effect, a little village that constituted a working plantation. Contrary to what some earlier biographies suggested, the Jeffersons lived comfortably and corresponded directly with merchants in London, and their house reflected the most current styles. While geographically in the Piedmont, Shadwell was culturally a part of the earlier-settled Tidewater region to the east.

THOMAS JEFFERSON was nine when his family returned to Shadwell. How much interaction he had with Peter is unclear. He certainly looked up to his imposing, energetic father, who surely instructed him in such manly sports as horseback riding, hunting, and shooting, although only horseback riding remained a lifelong practice. Peter probably taught his son at least the rudiments of surveying—throughout his life Thomas Jefferson would be interested in and a student of maps.15 The son learned from his mother as well. Jane ran the household efficiently and, especially when guests were present, with an elegance appropriate to the family's rank in Albemarle society.16 She taught the children good manners, instructed them in dancing and music, and made sure they knew how to behave at table with guests. Still, Peter insisted that, while Jane might adequately supervise his daughters' education, his oldest son, Thomas, required more formal schooling.

Soon after the family moved back to Shadwell, Peter dispatched young Jefferson to the Latin school operated by the Reverend William Douglas, located between Shadwell and Tuckahoe. Jefferson boarded with the Reverend Douglas's family during the week, although on weekends he visited both his cousins at Tuckahoe and his family at Shadwell. A Scot, Douglas possessed a good-sized library and was no doubt well meaning, but Jefferson did not find him a very capable teacher, recalling him as "but a superficial Latinist, less instructed in Greek, but with the rudiments of these languages he taught me French."17 Even so, Jefferson continued under Douglas's tutelage until his father's death on August 17, 1757.

IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN entirely unexpected. Peter Jefferson's good friend Dr. Thomas Walker had been summoned first on June 25, and throughout July and mid-August the physician came another fourteen times.18 We do not know the nature of Peter's illness. Upon his death he left Jane with eight children, including two-year-old twins Anna and Randolph, but, importantly, with no debts.19

Peter willed the Shadwell house and plantation, one-sixth of his slaves, and all the household goods to Jane; he specified that each of his children should receive an education and designated a particular slave to go to each of his six daughters. He likewise left slaves to his two sons, directing that when Thomas turned twenty-one, he and his brother should divide equally the slaves not otherwise distributed. While the other children inherited young slaves, Peter gave Thomas his trusted slave valet, Sawney, who was roughly Peter's age. He probably intended Sawney to serve a quasi-fatherly role in helping Thomas daily navigate the next decade or so of his life. Peter owned a total of about 5,000 acres in Albemarle County and provided that Thomas and Randolph (who was only two) could choose between two roughly equal estates. Jefferson opted for one adjoining Shadwell south of the Rivanna (which became Monticello), leaving Randolph later to take possession of the other estate in southern Albemarle, which Peter had named Snowdon after the ancestral home in Wales. Until Thomas came of age, the executors, especially John Harvie, a frequent business partner of Peter's, would oversee the workings of the plantations and payment of all accounts.20 To Thomas, Peter also gave his books and surveying instruments.

Reverend James Maury delivered Peter's funeral sermon. In 1749 or slightly earlier Maury had joined with Dr. Walker and Joshua Fry to found the Loyal Land Company, with the goal of speculating west of the Allegheny Mountains. Irish born but of Huguenot stock, he had come to Virginia as an infant, graduated from the College of William & Mary, returned to England for ordination in the Anglican Church, and become a rector in Louisa County in 1754. He established a school at his home about fourteen miles northeast of Shadwell. Peter must have been aware of his son's unhappiness with Reverend Douglas, because Maury took over Thomas's education. He was to have a major influence on Jefferson, who fondly remembered him as "a correct classical scholar."21

JEFFERSON BOARDED with the Maury family and grew very close to them, especially James Maury Jr. Another student, Dabney Carr, became Jefferson's closest friend, and during this period Jefferson also met James Madison (not the future president but the boy who would become Episcopal bishop of Virginia and president of the College of William & Mary) and John Walker. He enjoyed walking and playing in the woods with the other schoolboys, and his proficiency with the violin grew.22


  • "Magisterial...perhaps the finest one-volume biography of an American president."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
  • "[A] splendid biography."—Wall Street Journal
  • "The fullest and most complete single-volume life of Jefferson since Merrill Peterson's thousand-page biography of 1970."—Gordon Wood, Weekly Standard
  • "A sympathetic (though not hagiographic) view of Jefferson that emphasizes the differences between his world and ours....[Jefferson] was, in Mr. Boles's words, the 'architect of American liberty,' a phrase the author uses without the sneers or hedges that have become de rigueur among recent chroniclers of the founding era....[a] splendid biography."—Wall Street Journal
  • "[A] good, solid, generally fair-minded biography... [Boles's] biography concentrates on the exterior events of Jefferson's private and public lives and weaves them together in a straightforward, clearly written narrative. It is the fullest and most complete single-volume life of Jefferson since Merrill Peterson's thousand-page biography of 1970."—Gordon Wood, Weekly Standard
  • "For all readers interested in understanding the enigmatic and controversial Jefferson as well as his shortcomings and triumphs within the context of his time."—Library Journal
  • "In a narrative as majestic as its subject, Boles takes a fresh, nuanced look at one of the America's most enigmatic founding fathers... Boles, an accomplished scholar well versed in the source material, deftly paints a picture of the world as Jefferson knew it, taking care not to mix up understanding with excusing, especially with the Virginian's relationship with Sally Hemings. This is a gem of a biography."—Publishers Weekly
  • "John Boles's deeply researched and judiciously balanced Jefferson is an exemplary biography. Animated by a warm and wise admiration for a great American, Boles never loses sight of Jefferson's limitations and failures-or of his extraordinary achievements."—Peter Onuf, University of Virginia, and coauthor, with Annette Gordon-Reed, of 'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs': Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
  • "Intensely satisfying... Boles does a particularly skillful job at weaving Jefferson's correspondence and other writings into the busy tempo of his year-to-year life, creating a fascinating dialogue on the page between the reserved and often diffident public man and direct and provocative private writer."—Christian Science Monitor
  • "[An] elegant, highly incisive new biography... The detail is impressive, equally so the fluidity of the presentation. The reader is enveloped in Jefferson's world."—Booklist
  • "A fully fleshed biography of Thomas Jefferson that emphasizes his creative paradoxes and accomplishments... A stately, knowledgeable study."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "John Boles's Jefferson is learned, fluent, sensitive, and magnificently detailed. It gives due attention to the intellectual currents and social circumstances that made Jefferson who he was, and its careful engagement with the complexities of slavery is convincingly integrated into the whole. Professor Boles has earned an eminent place for himself in the ever-active field of Jefferson studies."—Andrew Burstein, author of Jefferson's Secrets and coauthor of Madison and Jefferson

On Sale
Apr 25, 2017
Page Count
640 pages
Basic Books

John B. Boles

About the Author

John B. Boles is the William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University and the former editor of the Journal of Southern History. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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