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The Jeffersonian Tradition in American Democracy. Paperback – January, 1960

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Hill & Wang Pub; 1St Edition edition (January 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809000288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809000289
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,446,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. F Gori on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Charles Wiltse's the Jeffersonian Tradition in American Democracy is a very good account of the intellectual background and philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. Wiltse starts out with the intellectual background for Enlightenment thought in Great Britian and France. It is shown how the philosophy of republicanism and libertarian thought progressed from the mid 17th century to the time of Jefferson.
Next Jefferson's intellectual background is explored. Locke, Bacon, Newton, Sidney, and Lord Kames are shown to be the main influences on our greatest founder. It then moves to Jefferson's progressive philosophy of liberty and republican thought. Public education, religious freedom, the abolition of slavery, ending primogenture and entail, and a republican constitution consume the mind of Jefferson.
Wiltse also goes into Jefferson's philosophy for "ward republics",a form of grass roots democracy. He details Jefferson's passion for ward republics to be the "salvation of the republic" as he called it. The main thing that makes this work so good id that it lacks the anti-intellectual postmodern "deconstruction" of Jefferson. No political correctness or extreme "presentism" viewpoint. A really good book for a Jeffersonian education.
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Format: Paperback
THE JEFFERSONIAN TRADITION IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY investigates Thomas Jefferson and the influence he has had on our American government.
Some of the philosophers that Jefferson read were explored. John Locke being one of them.

On page 40, Mr. Wiltse observed- "Jefferson combined with the rugged independence of the pioneer American, who had wrested from the wilderness a potential empire, the intellectual independence of the best in eighteenth-century thought, which had cast authoritarianism to the winds."

Some of the "Jeffersonian" politicians and writers through history were discussed. Foremost in my opinion was John Taylor "of Caroline". Some of the opinions that Taylor and Jefferson shared were the dreading of capitalism and opposition to the Supreme Court setting aside acts of Congress.

Jefferson advocated that government debt should be paid off in 19 years, or a generation. Jefferson also understood that the republic would make adjustments over time.

As the author states, "Good government springs from common interest in public affairs." That may be a point in his vision that eroded. Look at the laziness or lack of interest by citizens in participation(voting) today!

A few excellent Jefferson quotes are these;
"To profit by the mistakes of others is the essential lesson of history."

"Let common sense and common honesty have fair play, and they will soon set things to rights."

"Responsibility is a tremendous engine in a free government."

This is a "dated" book, but even so, it's a valuable lesson on Thomas Jefferson's long-lasting affect on the American government.
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