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Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology Paperback – November 16, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0813190037 ISBN-10: 0813190037 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A clear, concise, and accurate account of the philosophical and religious views that inspired Thomas Jefferson to compose the United States' formative document." -- American Historical Review



"The great virtue of Jayne's study is that it uncovers the proselytizing mission of Jefferson and the Declaration." -- Choice



"This is an original, persuasive, and important study that puts the new theology of Locke and Jefferson in the context of traditional Judeo-Christian thought while illuminating the points of difference between the two." -- Garret Ward Sheldon



"Never before has anyone endeavored to establish a direct link between Jefferson's most famous statement on politics and his tolerance of divergent faiths." -- H-Net Reviews



"Jayne's Jefferson is right on the mark. His book is a convincing brief for Jefferson the American 'philosophe'. Behind his radicalism is the European Enligtenment. Case made." -- Isaac Kramnick



"This book began when Jayne, a philosopher, read the books that Jefferson recommended to friends. Janye's quest is to answer the riddle of whose ideas most influenced Jefferson when he drafted the famous Declaration of Independence." -- Journal of Church and State



"Jayne's wide-ranging research and sound judgments come as a welcome relief to one who has labored through the dyspeptic sermonizing of Conor Cruise O'Brien.... Jayne rejects the much-publicized work of Garry Wills and returns us to the once-standard interpretation associated principally with Carl Becker... And his interpretation is utterly convincing....Should stand for some time as the definitive work on the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence." -- Journal of Southern History



"This is a learned and clearly written book that advances and deepens our understanding of Thomas Jefferson's thought, especially as it had developed by the time he drafted the Declaration of Independence.... Jayne has written the best account we have of exactly how Jefferson's thought derived from the tradition of his 'Trinity of Immortals,' Bacon, Newton, and Locke." -- Journal of the Early Republic



"A stimulating and rather original book." -- Louis R. Harlan, The Key Reporter



"Demonstrates the importance of political thought and philosophical theology in Jefferson's worldview, and he shows how they would later be manifested in the Declaration of Independence." -- McCormick (SC) Messenger



"A strong appeal to the importance of liberty to understanding Jefferson and the Declaration." -- North Carolina Historical Review



"A powerful study, well organized, clearly written, and convincingly argued. It should be required reading for all students of American history and culture." -- Ohio History



"Jayne focuses his considerable historical and analytic skills on the mind of Thomas Jefferson. The result is a meticulously researched, cogently argued view of Jefferson that should force most readers to reconsider their understanding of him." -- Perspectives on Political Science



"Jayne's findings shed light on a controversy -- almost as old as the Declaration itself -- over how much credit Jefferson deserves for authorship.... A lucidly written, insightful treatment of a very complicated subject." -- Virginia Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; Reprint edition (November 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813190037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813190037
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Leeds on December 2, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contrary to popular interpretations by Garry Wills and Pauline Maier, in his book Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy & Theology, University Press of Kentucky (1998), Allen Jayne makes the most compelling case yet for understanding the ideas and ideals in the Declaration.
Garry Wills in his Inventing America (1978) credits the Scottish Enlightenment as Jefferson's primary source of ideas. But Allen Jayne meticulously shows that Jefferson was much more "eclectic," building from Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke; John Locke; Henry Home, Lord Kames; and Thomas Reid. Furthermore, quite beyond justifying our separation from England, Jayne focuses on what he calls a "heterodox theology" in the first paragraph of the Declaration, which replaces the Judeo-Christian orthodoxy with the "laws of Nature and of Nature's God." The "laws of nature," both moral and scientific, as Jayne explains, rejects not only the doctrine of predestination and original sin, but the idea of a chosen people. Instead, "Nature's God" created mankind as a social being endowed with a "moral sense" and "reason," by which individuals are capable of discovering truth on their own, without the aide of church or revelation. As Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia Peter S. Onuf observes, it was Jefferson's "first paragraph that changed the world."
Throughout his book, Allen Jayne demonstrates that Jefferson's vision in the Declaration while not containing, in Jefferson's words, "new principles or new arguments never before thought of," is not only an engaging and benevolent conception. It is a coherent philosophy as well.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Scott E. Rosenau on April 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For generations, historians have examined the Declaration of Independence looking for the source of Jefferson's ideas. Many have looked to John Locke and his Second Treatise on Government as the main source. While acknowledging Locke as an important source for Jefferson, Jayne also suggests that there were other sources for Jefferson's thought. In researching for this book, Jayne examined Jefferson's Commonplace Books, where he recorded selections from various authors. He compared these selections to the ideas in the Declaration and found ways that different authors influenced Jefferson's thoughts as they appeared in the Declaration of Independence.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G. F Gori on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Allen Jayne's "Jefferson's Declaration of Independence" is a fantastic book. Jayne explores the Scottish Enlightenment and the religious liberalism of Lord Bolingbroke, a hero of Jefferson. Also Jayne shows how Jefferson's own religious liberalism influenced his philosophy behind the Declaration when he referred to "Nature's God". This was not Jehovah, but the God of Reason, and the Universe. Jayne shows the influence of the "moral sense" Scottish philosophy on Jefferson as he formulated a coherent philosophy of freedom, and religious liberty. It is also shown how Jefferson believed that religious tyranny to be the worst of all tyrannies since it crushed the freedom of thought. Jefferson, a tireless opponent of mental slavery, used the theological influences of Lord Bolingbroke to inaugurate the new nation. A great study.
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Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology
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