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Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Jeffersonian America) Paperback – March 29, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0813920900 ISBN-10: 0813920906 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Jeffersonian America
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press; 1st edition (March 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813920906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813920900
  • 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 (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Jefferson's Empire is brilliant work by the historian best qualified to give us a new and thorough analysis of Jefferson's concepts of empire, nation, and union. It offers both a fresh angle of vision on Jefferson himself and a superb contribution to the renewed understanding of the importance of federalism to the founding generation.

(Lance Banning, University of Kentucky)

Peter Onuf has written a fine study of Jefferson's political thought approached as a coherent body of principles and affirmations formed during the critical years between his entering the lists as a polemicist for the patriot cause and his move to form an opposition to the Federalist policies in Washington's administration twenty years later. Jefferson's Empire is tightly argued, forcefully written, and intellectually challenging.

(Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles)

About the Author

Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, is the editor of Jeffersonian Legacies and, with Jan Lewis, of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Paul P. Robinette Jr. on April 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Peter S. Onuf's book, Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood, is actually a collection of five essay that, as he says in his introduction, were prepared for different conferences at different times and places. His book is a scholarly coherent and original whole that revolves around two major themes of Jefferson's ideas of empire and nation and their relationship to each other. This is not a biographic narrative, but Onuf's argument that Jefferson believed the American Revolution was the first, powerful step toward a world empire of independent, republics bound together in a union of mutual affection and support. First, the establishment of independent republics forming an expanding union, essential to republicanism, on the American continent. The European continent would follow, and finally a worldwide union of free and independent states, bound together in mutual admiration, aid and affection.
Thomas Jefferson's ideal of revolution, that he called the "Spirit of 1776" would become the "Spirit of Everyman." Onuf argues in his introduction that Jefferson's vision of an empire of liberty would not reflect the corruption Jefferson attributed to the British Empire, and the more enlightened people of Europe would embrace this new way of political rule and life. Jefferson's empire would be made up of independent self-ruling people. The American Revolution would transform the world!
In Onuf's first chapter, "We shall all be Americans," Thomas Jefferson was referring to the American Indians, whom he idealized as natural republicans when they were in their "natural state" and uncorrupted by the British. Jefferson accused the British of being guilty of misguiding and misleading the natives in their mutual quest to fight and overcome the American colonists.
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Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Jeffersonian America)
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