A biography of Thomas Jefferson, who despite his legendary intelligence and political savvy, could be ruthless, not to mention lawless, in his efforts to preserve his causes. Jefferson operated on two levels, as his opposition to slavery as a slaveowner attests. But as Willard Sterne Randall argues, this duality is what made him so effective. Whether Jefferson's 1784 draft of Virginia's constitution "prefigured the founding documents of republics in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, as well as the Confederate States of America," as Randall claims, is questionable, but his impact on international trade, diplomatic discussions and the success of the state of Virginia cannot be disputed.
Randall's masterful, gracefully written portrait brings us closer to Jefferson than any previous biography. The self-taught stoic who tried to make himself an embodiment of the Age of Reason was also, in Randall's view, a tortured romantic who kept a pledge to his dying wife not to remarry. Jefferson fell passionately in love with at least two married women, including British painter Maria Cosway with whom he gallivanted in Paris. As a statesman he could act illegally and ruthlessly if he perceived a serious threat to one of his causes, as in his drafting of secret orders that enabled George Rogers Clark to seize territory for Virginia under cover of the Revolution. Randall, biographer of Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Franklin, finds that Jefferson as president was an "ambivalent pragmatist" who often set aside his principles to achieve his goals. Randall dismisses as "preposterous" biographer Fawn Brodie's theory that the slave Sally Hemings was Jefferson's concubine; Brodie, he charges, relied on mere gossip and highly suspect, uncorroborated memoirs by ex-slaves.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Found it informative and interesting.Can see who influenced his basic belief about Jesus and the bible. Very educated man for any age of history.Published 8 days ago by charles watkins
Thomas Jefferson was a very compassionate man who loved his country and wanted it to be a great republic-by the people, for the people. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Im4Jesus2
A most interesting and insightful book packed full of his many philosophies, habits and vision. Should you be visiting his home be sure and read as it will give you far greater... Read morePublished 20 days ago by Queen
Overall, this is a good biography of Thomas Jefferson, covering the entirety of his life from his childhood to his college days at William & Mary, to his experience practicing law... Read morePublished 1 month ago by MICHAEL P. MCKEEVER
I wish David McCollough had written it. Too repetive and too detailed.Published 1 month ago by Melissa Smith
A true history buff read with more facts and less clutter than most biography books.Published 2 months ago by Alton E Imhof
Having read just about everything about Jefferson there was nothing really new but it was a good read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Pat Ryan
This is the worst translation of a book to Kindle that I've ever read.Published 2 months ago by Sharon Spurrier
Details of the life of Jefferson turned it to be quite different from what I learned at school. X xPublished 3 months ago by wabarron