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Looking for Mr. Jefferson

Clyde N. Wilson


Thomas Jefferson has received more contradictory interpretations and evaluations from more diverse viewpoints than any American leader, with the possible exception of Lincoln. Over the generations his reputation has ranged from the highest admiration to the worst condemnation. Much of this attention has involved opinion rather than fact—Jefferson distorted as a symbol for the purposes of later interpreters.

Clyde Wilson has spent a long historian’s career looking for the real Jefferson. He has collected his writings over a half century on this subject. He writes: “I like to think I have gotten closer to the real Jefferson than most of those who have written about him and that my view of this great subject has some unique value.”

Among important points Wilson argues are: in interpretation a distinction must be made between Jefferson the cosmopolitan intellectual and Jefferson the American public man; historians have deceitfully downplayed Jefferson’s fundamental devotion to state sovereignty.

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Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947660-96-0

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