Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online
Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online__below
Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online__front

Description

Product Description

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Seattle Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Bloomberg Businessweek

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.
 
Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.
 
The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity—and the genius of the new nation—lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President’s House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.
 
The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

Praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
 
“This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written.” —Gordon S. Wood
 
“A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before.” Entertainment Weekly

“[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man. . . . By the end of the book . . . the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend. . . . [An] absorbing tale.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

Review

Fascinating and insightful … Many books have been written about Jefferson’s life, but few have created such a vivid portrait … Meacham immerses the reader in that period of history to explain Jefferson’s behavior during an era when the nation was as contradictory as he was … extraordinary … essential.” The Associated Press

“[A]ccomplishes something more impressive than dissecting Jefferson’s political skills by explaining his greatness, a different task from chronicling a life, though he does that too — and handsomely. Even though I know quite a lot about Jefferson, I was repeatedly surprised by the fresh information Meacham brings to his work. Surely there is not a significant detail out there, in any pertinent archive, that he has missed.” —Joyce Appleby, Washington Post

“[Meacham] argues persuasively that for Jefferson the ideal of liberty was not incompatible with a strong federal government, and also that Jefferson’s service in the Congress in 1776 left him thoroughly versed in the ways and means of politics … Meacham wisely has chosen to look at Jefferson through a political lens, assessing how he balanced his ideals with pragmatism while also bending others to his will. And just as he scolded Jackson, another slaveholder and champion of individual liberty, for being a hypocrite, so Meacham gives a tough-minded account of Jefferson’s slippery recalibrations on race … Where other historians have found hypocrisy in Jefferson’s use of executive power to complete the Louisiana Purchase, Meacham is nuanced and persuasive..” —Jill Abramson, The New York Times Book Review

“[Meacham] does an excellent job getting inside Jefferson''s head and his world … Meacham presents Jefferson''s life in a textured narrative that weaves together Jefferson''s well-traveled career.” USA Today

“A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before. [Grade:] A-.” Entertainment Weekly

“Impeccably researched and footnoted … a model of clarity and explanation.” Bloomberg

 “[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man … By the end of the book, as the 83-year-old Founding Father struggles to survive until the Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of his masterful Declaration, the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend … [an] absorbing tale.” Christian Science Monitor

“Absorbing . . . Jefferson emerges in the book not merely as a lofty thinker but as the ultimate political operator, a master pragmatist who got things done in times nearly as fractious as our own.” Chicago Tribune
 
“[Jefferson’s] life is a riveting story of our nation’s founding—an improbable turn of events that seems only in retrospect inevitable. Few are better suited to the telling than Jon Meacham. . . . Captivating.” The Seattle Times

 “[Meacham] brings to bear his focused and sensitive scholarship, rich prose style … The Jefferson that emerges from these astute, dramatic pages is a figure worthy of continued study and appreciation … [a] very impressive book.” Booklist (Starred Review)

“An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success.” Kirkus Reviews
 
“Jon Meacham understands Thomas Jefferson. With thorough and up-to-date research, elegant writing, deep insight, and an open mind, he brings Jefferson, the most talented politician of his generation—and one of the most talented in our nation’s history—into full view. It is no small task to capture so capacious a life in one volume. Meacham has succeeded, giving us a rich presentation of our third president’s life and times. This is an extraordinary work.” —Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello
 
 “This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
 
“Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. Here was a man endlessly, artfully intent on making the world something it had not been before. A thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life

"A true triumph. In addition to being a brilliant biography, this book is a guide to the use of power. Jon Meacham shows how Jefferson''s deft ability to compromise and improvise made him a transformational leader. We think of Jefferson as the embodiment of noble ideals, as he was, but Meacham shows that he was a practical politician more than a moral theorist. The result is a fascinating look at how Jefferson wielded his driving desire for power and control." —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
 
"This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written; it is certainly the most readable." —Gordon Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution
 
“This is Jon Meacham''s best book yet. Evocatively written and deeply researched, it sheds brilliant light on facets of Thomas Jefferson we haven''t seen before, gives us original and unexpected new insights into his identity and character, and uses the irresistible story of this talented, manipulative, complicated man to bring us life lessons on universal subjects from family and friendship to politics and leadership. The Sage of Monticello made a considerable effort to turn his life into a mystery, but in a splendid match of biographer with subject, Meacham has cracked the Jefferson code." —Michael Beschloss

About the Author

Jon Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson,  American Lion. He is also the author of the  New York Times bestsellers  Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, American Gospel, and  Franklin and Winston. Meacham, who teaches at Vanderbilt University and at The University of the South, is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He lives in Nashville and in Sewanee with his wife and children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

one

A Fortunate Son

It is the strong in body who are both the strong and free in mind.

—Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson

He was the kind of man people noticed. An imposing, prosperous, well-liked farmer known for his feats of strength and his capacity for endurance in the wilderness, Peter Jefferson had amassed large tracts of land and scores of slaves in and around what became Albemarle County, Virginia. There, along the Rivanna, he built Shadwell, named after the London parish where his wife, Jane, had been baptized.

The first half of the eighteenth century was a thrilling time to be young, white, male, wealthy, and Virginian. Money was to be made, property to be claimed, tobacco to be planted and sold. There were plenty of ambitious men about—men with the boldness and the drive to create farms, build houses, and accumulate fortunes in land and slaves in the wilderness of the mid-Atlantic.

As a surveyor and a planter, Peter Jefferson thrived there, and his eldest son, Thomas, born on April 13, 1743, understood his father was a man other men admired.

Celebrated for his courage, Peter Jefferson excelled at riding and hunting. His son recalled that the father once singlehandedly pulled down a wooden shed that had stood impervious to the exertions of three slaves who had been ordered to destroy the building. On another occasion, Peter was said to have uprighted two huge hogsheads of tobacco that weighed a thousand pounds each—a remarkable, if mythical, achievement.

The father’s standing mattered greatly to the son, who remembered him in a superlative and sentimental light. “The tradition in my father’s family was that their ancestor came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowden, the highest in Great Britain,” Jefferson wrote. The connection to Snowden was the only detail of the Jeffersons’ old-world origins to pass from generation to generation. Everything else about the ancient roots of the paternal clan slipped into the mists, save for this: that they came from a place of height and of distinction—if not of birth, then of strength.

Thomas Jefferson was his father’s son. He was raised to wield power. By example and perhaps explicitly he was taught that to be great—to be heeded—one had to grow comfortable with authority and with responsibility. An able student and eager reader, Jefferson was practical as well as scholarly, resourceful as well as analytical.

Jefferson learned the importance of endurance and improvisation early, and he learned it the way his father wanted him to: through action, not theory. At age ten, Thomas was sent into the woods of Shadwell, alone, with a gun. The assignment—the expectation—was that he was to come home with evidence that he could survive on his own in the wild.

The test did not begin well. He killed nothing, had nothing to show for himself. The woods were forbidding. Everything around the boy—the trees and the thickets and the rocks and the river—was frightening and frustrating.

He refused to give up or give in. He soldiered on until his luck finally changed. “Finding a wild turkey caught in a pen,” the family story went, “he tied it with his garter to a tree, shot it, and carried it home in triumph.”

The trial in the forest foreshadowed much in Jefferson’s life. When stymied, he learned to press forward. Presented with an unexpected opening, he figured out how to take full advantage. Victorious, he enjoyed his success.

Jefferson was taught by his father and mother, and later by his teachers and mentors, that a gentleman owed service to his family, to his neighborhood, to his county, to his colony, and to his king. An eldest son in the Virginia of his time grew up expecting to lead—and to be followed. Thomas Jefferson came of age with the confidence that controlling the destinies of others was the most natural thing in the world. He was born for command. He never knew anything else.

The family had immigrated to Virginia from England in 1612, and in the New World they had moved quickly toward prosperity and respectability. A Jefferson was listed among the delegates of an assembly convened at Jamestown in 1619. The future president’s great-grandfather was a planter who married the daughter of a justice in Charles City County and speculated in land at Yorktown. He died about 1698, leaving an estate of land, slaves, furniture, and livestock. His son, the future president’s grandfather, also named Thomas, rose further in colonial society, owning a racehorse and serving as sheriff and justice of the peace in Henrico County. He kept a good house, in turn leaving his son, Peter Jefferson, silver spoons and a substantial amount of furniture. As a captain of the militia, Thomas Jefferson’s grandfather once hosted Colonel William Byrd II, one of Virginia’s greatest men, for a dinner of roast beef and persico wine.

Peter Jefferson built on the work of his fathers. Born in Chesterfield County in 1708, Peter would surpass the first Thomas Jefferson, who had been a fine hunter and surveyor of roads. With Joshua Fry, professor of mathematics at the College of William and Mary, Peter Jefferson drew the first authoritative map of Virginia and ran the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina, an achievement all the more remarkable given his intellectual background. “My father’s education had been quite neglected; but being of a strong mind, sound judgment and eager after information,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “he read much and improved himself.” Self taught, Peter Jefferson became a colonel of the militia, vestryman, and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

On that expedition to fix the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, the father proved himself a hero of the frontier. Working their way across the Blue Ridge, Peter Jefferson and his colleagues fought off “the attacks of wild beasts during the day, and at night found but a broken rest, sleeping—as they were obliged to do for safety—in trees,” as a family chronicler wrote.

Low on food, exhausted, and faint, the band faltered—save for Jefferson, who subsisted on the raw flesh of animals (“or whatever could be found to sustain life,” as the family story had it) until the job was done.

Thomas Jefferson grew up with an image—and, until Peter Jefferson’s death when his son was fourteen, the reality—of a father who was powerful, who could do things other men could not, and who, through the force of his will or of his muscles or of both at once, could tangibly transform the world around him. Surveyors defined new worlds; explorers conquered the unknown; mapmakers brought form to the formless. Peter Jefferson was all three and thus claimed a central place in the imagination of his son, who admired his father’s strength and spent a lifetime recounting tales of the older man’s daring. Thomas Jefferson, a great-granddaughter said, “never wearied of dwelling with all the pride of filial devotion and admiration on the noble traits” of his father’s character. The father had shaped the ways other men lived. The son did all he could to play the same role in the lives of others.

Peter Jefferson had married very well, taking a bride from Virginia’s leading family. In 1739, he wed Jane Randolph, a daughter of Isham Randolph, a planter and sea captain. Born in London in 1721, Jane Randolph was part of her father’s household at Dungeness in Goochland County, a large establishment with walled gardens.

The Randolph family traced its colonial origins to Henry Randolph, who emigrated from England in 1642. Marrying a daughter of the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Henry Randolph thrived in Virginia, holding office in Henrico County and serving as clerk of the House of Burgesses. Returning home to England in 1669, he apparently prevailed on a young nephew, William, to make the journey to Virginia.

William Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s great-grandfather, thus came to the New World at some point between 1669 and 1674; accounts differ. He, too, rose in Virginia with little delay, taking his uncle’s place as Henrico clerk and steadily acquiring vast acreage. An ally of Lord Berkeley, the British governor, William Randolph soon prospered in shipping, raising tobacco, and slave trading.

William became known for his family seat on Turkey Island in the James River, which was described as “a splendid mansion.” With his wife, Mary Isham Randolph, the daughter of the master of a plantation on the James River called Bermuda Hundred, William had ten children, nine of whom survived. The Randolphs “are so numerous that they are obliged, like the clans of Scotland, to be distinguished by their places of residence,” noted Thomas Anburey, an English visitor to Virginia in 1779–80. There was William of Chatsworth; Thomas of Tuckahoe; Sir John of Tazewell Hall, Williamsburg; Richard of Curles Neck; Henry of Longfield; Edward of Bremo. And there was Isham of Dungeness, who was Jefferson’s maternal grandfather.

As a captain and a merchant, Jefferson’s grandfather moved between the New and Old Worlds. About 1717, he married an Englishwoman, Jane Rogers, who was thought to be a “pretty sort of woman.” They lived in London and at their Goochland County estate in Virginia.

In 1737, a merchant described Thomas Jefferson’s grandfather’s family as “a very gentle, well-dressed people.” Jefferson’s mother, Jane, was a daughter of this house and had an apparent sense of pride in her British ancestry. She was said to have descended from “the powerful Scotch Earls of Murray, connected by blood or alliance with many of the most distinguished families in the English and Scotch peerage, and with royalty itself.”

The family of William Byrd II—he was to build Westover, a beautiful Georgian plantation mansion on the James River south of Richmond—had greater means than the Jeffersons, but the description of a fairly typical day for Byrd in February 1711 gives a sense of what life was like for the Virginia elite in the decades before the birth of Thomas Jefferson.

I rose at 6 o’clock and read two chapters in Hebrew and some Greek in Lucian. I said my prayers and ate boiled milk for breakfast. I danced my dance [exercised] and then went to the brick house to see my people pile the planks and found them all idle for which I threatened the soundly but did not whip them. The weather was cold and the wind at northeast. I wrote a letter to England. Then I read some English till 12 o’clock when Mr. Dunn and his wife came. I ate boiled beef for dinner. In the afternoon Mr. Dunn and I played at billiards. Then we took a long walk about the plantation and looked over all my business. . . . At night I ate some bread and cheese.

Whether in the Tidewater regions closer to the Atlantic or in the forested hills of the Blue Ridge, the Virginia into which Jefferson was born offered lives of privilege to its most fortunate sons.

Visiting Virginia and Maryland, an English traveler observed “the youth of these more indulgent settlements . . . are pampered much more in softness and ease than their neighbors more northward.” Children were instructed in music and taught to dance, including minuets and what were called “country-dances.” One tutor described such lessons at Nomini Hall, the Carter family estate roughly one hundred miles east of Albemarle. The scene of young Virginians dancing, he said, “was indeed beautiful to admiration, to see such a number of young persons, set off by dress to the best advantage, moving easily, to the sound of well-performed music, and with perfect regularity.”

Thomas Jefferson was therefore born to a high rank of colonial society and grew up as the eldest son of a prosperous, cultured, and sophisticated family. They dined with silver, danced with grace, entertained constantly.

His father worked in his study on the first floor of the house—it was one of four rooms on that level—at a cherry desk. Peter Jefferson’s library included Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, and Paul de Rapin-Thoyras’s History of England. “When young, I was passionately fond of reading books of history, and travels,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. Of note were George Anson’s Voyage Round the World and John Ogilby’s America, both books that offered the young Jefferson literary passage to larger worlds. A grandson recalled Jefferson’s saying that “from the time when, as a boy, he had turned off wearied from play and first found pleasure in books, he had never sat down in idleness.”

It was a world of leisure for well-off white Virginians. “My father had a devoted friend to whose house he would go, dine, spend the night, dine with him again on the second day, and return to Shadwell in the evening,” Jefferson recalled. “His friend, in the course of a day or two, returned the visit, and spent the same length of time at his house. This occurred once every week; and thus, you see, they were together four days out of the seven.” The food was good and plentiful, the drink strong and bracing, the company cheerful and familiar.

Jefferson believed his first memory was of being handed up to a slave on horseback and carried, carefully, on a pillow for a long journey: an infant white master being cared for by someone whose freedom was not his own. Jefferson was two or three at the time. On that trip the family was bound for Tuckahoe, a Randolph estate about sixty miles southeast of Shadwell. Tuckahoe’s master, Jane Randolph Jefferson’s cousin William Randolph, had just died. A widower, William Randolph had asked Peter Jefferson, his “dear and loving friend,” to come to Tuckahoe in the event of his death and raise Randolph’s three children there, and Peter Jefferson did so. (William Randolph and Peter Jefferson had been so close that Peter Jefferson had once purchased four hundred acres of land—the ultimate site of Shadwell—from Randolph. The price: “Henry Weatherbourne’s biggest bowl of arrack [rum] punch!”)

The Jeffersons would stay on the Randolph place for seven years, from the time William Randolph died, when Thomas was two or three, until Thomas was nine or ten.

Peter Jefferson, who apparently received his and his family’s living expenses from the Randolph estate (which he managed well), used the years at Tuckahoe to discharge his duty to his dead friend while his own Albemarle fields were being cleared. This was the era of many of Peter Jefferson’s expeditions, which meant he was away from home for periods of time, leaving his wife and the combined Randolph and Jefferson families at Tuckahoe.

The roots of the adult Jefferson’s dislike of personal confrontation may lie partly in the years he spent at Tuckahoe as a member of a large combined family. Though the eldest son of Peter and Jane Jefferson, Thomas was spending some formative years in a house not his own. His nearest contemporary, Thomas Mann Randolph, was two years older than he was, and this Thomas Randolph was the heir of the Tuckahoe property. Whether such distinctions manifested themselves when the children were so young is unknowable, but Jefferson emerged from his childhood devoted to avoiding conflict at just about any cost. It is possible his years at Tuckahoe set him on a path toward favoring comity over controversy in face-to-face relations.

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
2,607 global ratings

Reviews with images

Top reviews from the United States

Builder1
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
So disappointed
Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2018
After having read David McCullough’s John Adams which transports one to the world that John Adams lived in and Ron Chernow’s George Washington which tries to explain the inner thoughts of our first president, this biography of Thomas Jefferson simply provides a chronology... See more
After having read David McCullough’s John Adams which transports one to the world that John Adams lived in and Ron Chernow’s George Washington which tries to explain the inner thoughts of our first president, this biography of Thomas Jefferson simply provides a chronology of events without any insight.

McCullough chose to enlighten the reader how John Adams’s Mission to France was an incredible sacrifice rather than a failure. Chernow revealed why George Washington was universally revered. In this biography of Thomas Jefferson one gets the impression that Jefferson was so omnipotent that he alone wrote the declaration of independence, and single-handedly purchased the Louisiana territory.

The author was too timid to provide a context to the events in Jefferson’s life, which makes this a fine textbook, but a boring biography.
37 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Eric C. Evans
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Re-balances the Modern Perception of Jefferson
Reviewed in the United States on June 13, 2014
THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE ART OF POWER, by Jon Meacham is a great read, I enjoyed it Prologue through Epilogue. It is lively, interesting and insightful. I have read quite a lot on the Revolutionary Era, including several other biographies of Thomas Jefferson, and even so I... See more
THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE ART OF POWER, by Jon Meacham is a great read, I enjoyed it Prologue through Epilogue. It is lively, interesting and insightful. I have read quite a lot on the Revolutionary Era, including several other biographies of Thomas Jefferson, and even so I learned a lot about Jefferson in the reading of this book. However, there are elements of the book with which I take exception.

Mr. Meacham states in the Author''s Notes that this biography is, in part, a reaction to recent biographies of both George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton which have revised opinions of these three men, especially Hamilton. He writes, "Then came nearly two decades of highly acclaimed biographies of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington that understandably emphasized the virtues of their protagonist, often at Jefferson''s expense"(pg. 507). He cites specifically Joseph J. Ellis''s Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams , but I imagine he would also include in that list John Adams , by David McCullough and Ron Chernow''s two most recents works: Washington: A Life and Alexander Hamilton (all of them highly readable, excellent biographies).

Mr. Meacham does a good job--better than most--helping his reader understand that there was during the post-revolutionary period a real fear in certain quarters that the United States could revert to a monarchy. Not so well done in this book is separating over-heated political rhetoric from what Jefferson actually believed. The fact is, a man as unquestionably intelligent and savvy as Jefferson would have known the difference between hyperbolic political rhetoric-even his own-and reality.

It is clear that by the end of Washington''s second term Jefferson and the Republicans (largely whipped up by Jefferson and Madison) were frustrated and chaffing at the bit. Even then, I cannot accept, as Mr. Meacham seems to imply, that Jefferson put much store in all the monarchical conspiracy theories that had political currency at that time.

On balance most historians seem to believe that it was Jefferson''s actions and political maneuverings during the Washington administration which help ignite and escalate the overwrought, highly negative atmosphere that convulsed politics during Washington''s second administration and beyond. However, Mr. Meacham does not see it that way. Rather he explains Jefferson''s third-party maneuverings and obfuscations as a natural reaction to the situation in which he found himself and what, at his time, would have been expected of a man in his station. I did not completely accept this.

Jefferson''s relationship with Philip Ferneau and the National Gazette is not fully explored in this book and leaves the reader with the impression that Jefferson was only tangentially involved with the newspaper that regularly ravaged Washington and his administration. But at least Mr. Meacham does allude to the conection. What is a more egregious omission is any exploration of how duplicitous Jefferson (and especially Madison) became in dealing with Washington in his second administration.

Although Washington knew and understood that he had political differences with the two men, he still considered them trustworthy confidants. He had no idea the degree to which, through indirect means, the two men were so actively working against him. Jefferson and Madison continued to allow themselves to be taken into Washington''s confidence never once indicating that they were anything other that loyal friends. This I think is an essential part of Jefferson''s character and should not be excluded from a biography of his life especially one whose stated thesis is to show how artful, skillful and subtle was his accumulation and use of power.

The final difference I have with THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE ART OF POWER is the thesis that Mr. Meacham proposes at the beginning of the book and attempts to support throughout: that Jefferson''s vision for American, which contrasted with Washington''s and Hamilton''s allowed him and his proteges to control the Presidency for 40 years with only one four year interruption by John Quincy Adams. It is, of course true enough that Madison, Monroe, Jackson and Van Buren were disciples of Jefferson. But Mr. Meacham''s argument that Jefferson accomplished this feat by opposing and triumphing over the policies of Washington and Hamilton is not accurate. In fact, Mr. Meacham seems to believe that Jefferson was able to win the Presidency because, "He understood the country was open to--even eager for-- a government that seemed less intrusive and overbearing than the one Washington and Adams had created" (pg. 352).

While it is true that Jefferson and his proteges could not wait for Washington to exit the stage, the country itself never gave that indication, not in the slightest degree. Had he run, Washington would have easily won a third term. Adams, of course, was defeated for reelection, but that was not a rejection by the voters of Washington. Adam''s defeat was due more to yawning cleavage in the Federalist Party and the electoral advantage created by the 3/5 clause of the constitution giving a significant Electoral College advantage to states with large slave populations, than to any rejection of Washington, his policies or his style of governing.

Moreover, what Jefferson did to consolidate his hold on power was adopted in deed, if not in word, the Hamiltonian idea that the country needed a stronger central government governed by a stronger executive. For all of Jefferson''s concern over what he characterized as monarchical power grabs by Washington, Jefferson did more to increase the power of the President with the Louisiana Purchase than Washington did in his entire presidency. And that by no means was the only time Jefferson broadened and consolidated powers of the presidency. Where Washington had used restraint, Jefferson often resorted to expediency. Many such incidences are skillfully explored in this book. The inconstancy they pose to Jefferson''s rhetoric are attributed by Mr. Meacham to "pragmatism." In reality, they were actions which if Washington or any other Federalist had engaged in would been haled as auguries of monarchism by the Jeffersonians.

The part of this book I found most insightful and interesting is Mr. Meacham''s discussion of the debt assumption crisis. I had always believed that Hamilton got the better of Jefferson in this bargain which both resolved the crisis created the debt incurred by the state during the Revolutionary War and sited the nation''s capitol on the Potomac. However, Mr. Meacham does an excellent job of explaining all of the many and complicated subtleties, which seemed to be overlooked by other historians, which came in to play here. He argues persuasively how, even though Hamilton got what he wanted in the bargain, Jefferson also negotiated some meaningful concessions. The bargain struck between these two antagonists was actually much more balanced than I originally believed.

Having pointed to a few differences with Mr. Meacham and his view of Thomas Jefferson, I very thoroughly enjoyed this book and will most likely read it again. It is beautifully written, meticulously researched and goes a long way to re-balance the modern image of Jefferson, reminding its readers the debt that is owed to the drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the Sage of Monticello.
267 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
David H. MacCallum
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
all the keys to understanding a complex and extraordinary life
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2017
Great Britain’s hold on its small colonies hugging the Atlantic shoreline was constantly being tested in the mid to late 18th century. A number of remarkable men, all at or near the height of their powers, led the separation from the British rule. Only two or three men... See more
Great Britain’s hold on its small colonies hugging the Atlantic shoreline was constantly being tested in the mid to late 18th century. A number of remarkable men, all at or near the height of their powers, led the separation from the British rule. Only two or three men made the difference in this intense struggle. Thomas Jefferson was certainly one of these.

This superb biography of Jefferson has so many assets: it is relatively brief; it covers most of the important aspects of this complex man’s remarkable life; it leaves us with undiluted admiration for an extraordinary man; and it creates a tension, so much a part of America’s post-Revolution history, between the two major parties that struggled for early supremacy in the opening days of the American republic’s history.
Many other historians have surveyed the same ground but few have captured the essence of Jefferson’s personality -- deeply thoughtful, hopeful for the future of the society that was being created, eminently fair but stubborn and occasionally searing, a marvelous friend but a relentless enemy. John Meacham makes a great contribution to understanding the nation’s early story in this history.

The scope of the book is vast, covering all of Jefferson’s life, a life lived during the period of time when important events occurred back to back, crowding together from the Revolution to the early days of Washington’s presidency, the struggle between the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, and the Republicans, led by Jefferson, the early expansion of the country westward across the North American continent, the arguments with Great Britain. Jefferson was on center stage for most of this. His instincts were clear and sure: liberty, personal freedom, fairness, stubborness and unyielding when under attack.
In such a crowded life, the historian is faced with making choices. I would have wanted a fuller account of the election of 1800, which Jefferson barely won, defeating Aaron Burr by only two electoral votes; I would have liked to have had a more extensive discussion of his relationship with Sally Hemmings, whom he treated reasonably well but never was treated as an equal – a strange footnote to Jefferson’s life which, at least on the surface, was all about freedom and equal rights and the equality of mankind. The discussion of the country’s growing prosperity that enabled it to deal with British attempts to limit the success of the country could have been more extensive.

In such a complex life, any historian, including Mr. Meacham, has to make choices. In my opinion, this is a very successful work of history in painting a full portrait of a complex and extraordinary man.
42 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
D. Eppenstein
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nothing
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2018
I have read several biographies either about TJ or where he was a significant character. In all of these works I have been searching for the source of his publicly perceived greatness. In this book I feel I have come a bit closer to understanding it but I, as yet, cannot... See more
I have read several biographies either about TJ or where he was a significant character. In all of these works I have been searching for the source of his publicly perceived greatness. In this book I feel I have come a bit closer to understanding it but I, as yet, cannot accept it. Why, of all the Founders, does TJ merit monumental recognition alongside Washington in our nation''s capital? Reading this book I have added to my knowledge of this man. Yes, he was truly intelligent, creative, and talented but so were many others. This book informs me that this icon was a simply a self-centered, self-indulgent, patrician control freak waving the banner of populism. His contributions to the Revolution were minor compared to those of others. His greatest presidential accomplishment was the Louisiana Purchase but this feat was just good luck. Where is his political greatness? Granted, monarchy was the Red Menace and England the Evil Empire of TJ''s day but he saw or accused anybody that disagreed with him to be a monarchist. Adams, a monarchist? Adams was his friend and he stabbed this friend in the back to advance his interests. TJ was a deceitful snake with no stomach or courage to confront his critics or opponents. Yes, he had many talents but do his talents excuse his lack of character? This was an exceptionally well researched and written book but I come away from it still believing TJ was our first sleazy president.
10 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Nick M.
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A good book that verges on hagiography
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2017
The book is very informative and an interesting read. Unfortunately, Jefferson is painted too positively, his enemies too negatively, and some of the nuance of the era seems lost. For example, the Democratic-Republican fears of a looming monarchy are inflated, the... See more
The book is very informative and an interesting read. Unfortunately, Jefferson is painted too positively, his enemies too negatively, and some of the nuance of the era seems lost. For example, the Democratic-Republican fears of a looming monarchy are inflated, the Federalist fears of a bloody Jacobian revolution deflated. No doubt Jefferson knew how to wield power and cleverly directed a very successful political war against his enemies, but his hands got dirty in the process.

In short, this is a good book but as biography is verges on hagiography.
20 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
A. T. Yoshida
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Surprisingly Valuable
Reviewed in the United States on March 30, 2017
I began reading this book simply because, somehow, while I''d already read biographies of most of the Presidents - and many of some of them - I had somehow overlooked Mr. Jefferson. This book is not a hagiography - it acknowledges and discusses Jefferson''s flaws - but it... See more
I began reading this book simply because, somehow, while I''d already read biographies of most of the Presidents - and many of some of them - I had somehow overlooked Mr. Jefferson. This book is not a hagiography - it acknowledges and discusses Jefferson''s flaws - but it does something very valuable in how it gets across Jefferson''s point of view. As someone schooled in the modern trend I popular writings about the Founding era, and who is more ideologically sympathetic to early Federalism than Republicanism, I had always bought into the caricature of Jefferson as the impractical dreamer and considered some of his antipathy towards his opponents in the 1790s and 1800s as basically irrational. This biography, by telling Jefferson''s story in a plain and unadorned fashion, disabused me of such notions.
35 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Laura
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An insightful and well-written biography about one of the Founding Fathers
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2018
Writing: 5 Coverage: 5 An insightful and well-written biography about one of the Founding Fathers and the author of our Declaration of Independence. Jefferson didn’t fit the traditional view of a “hero.” He was an intellectual with refined tastes and while he... See more
Writing: 5 Coverage: 5

An insightful and well-written biography about one of the Founding Fathers and the author of our Declaration of Independence. Jefferson didn’t fit the traditional view of a “hero.” He was an intellectual with refined tastes and while he played a huge role in the establishment of the new country, he played a small, and often maligned, role in the revolutionary war itself.

His politics focussed unwaveringly on liberty — he felt that a personal liberty would create a sense of free inquiry that would help usher in “the reign of reason” and pave the way to a “war-free world of open markets.” He applied this focus on liberty and free inquiry to everything — including religion. We have him to thank in large part for the separation of church and state that formed part of the country’s foundation. While he professed a deep belief in God, he stood firm against the establishment of religion. He hoped that “subjecting religious sensibilities to free inquiry would transform faith from a source of contention into a force for good.”

When he finally became president, he said he would spend his presidential years “pursuing steadily my object of proving that a people, easy in their circumstances as ours are, are capable of conducting themselves under a government founded not in the fears and follies of man, but on reason… This is the object now nearest to my heart.” In his first presidential address — fresh from electoral machinations and utter hatred between his party (the republicans) and the federalists — he brought people together by pointing out that they were experiencing a difference of opinions, not of principle. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear this message a little more often today?

I started the book with a negative view of Jefferson (gleaned from reading the Hamilton and Adams biographies) and left with a far more positive view. While Jefferson was obviously a consummate politician, I didn’t really see the hunger for power that Meacham claimed, although Jefferson was an excellent wielder of power. He was raised to be a leader — on a large plantation if not of the whole country. He clearly would have preferred a life at home, engaging in his curiosities, and spending time with the family that he cherished. In his last years, he was able to indulge in the life of the mind that he craved. He created a university that was to be based on “the illimitable freedom of the human mind.”

It was hard to align this image of a man I grew to admire — one who fought for liberty, scientific enquiry, and religious tolerance, who believed in education for women, and who cared deeply for family and friends — with the man who kept slaves, and fathered children with his wife’s enslaved half-sister. Many have suggested that it was a different time with a different set of norms while others have pointed out that there was a strong abolitionist movement already and that a few of his local contemporaries had already freed their slaves. I liken it to meat eaters today — I can see a vegetarian future where the norm is horror at the thought of killing animals to eat their meat; but although we are exposed to that opinion today, the norm is still to eat meat, even if there is a part of us that thinks there is something “slightly unpleasant” about it. Regardless, I’m not willing to throw away the good that a person has done because they participated in a practice that I find abhorrent today.

Excellent book both for the fair coverage and the Pulitzer-worthy writing. Strongly recommended.
7 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Kai Lee
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Jefferson under a microscope
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2021
Although I did not reside or go to school in the United States until I began my PhD studies in 1963 at the age of 23, I probably had encountered more Thomas Jefferson memorabilia than most natural born Americans. In the summer of 1966, while working as a summer student in... See more
Although I did not reside or go to school in the United States until I began my PhD studies in 1963 at the age of 23, I probably had encountered more Thomas Jefferson memorabilia than most natural born Americans. In the summer of 1966, while working as a summer student in the office of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which at that time was located on the edge of the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, I lived in a dorm room at the University. The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. In the spring of 1969, I interviewed at the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg, Virginia, where Jefferson obtained his BA degree. William and Mary offered me a faculty position in its Department of Physics. Unaware of the historical reputation of William and Mary, I declined the offer. (Had I accepted, my life’s trajectory would undoubtedly be totally different). In the period 1967-1972, when I worked in Washington, D. C., I visited Jefferson Memorial by the Tidal Basin/Potomac River several times. Other than the name being famous, I did not know much about the life and work of Jefferson. However, in my mind, to be worthy of such a serene memorial in a fabulous spot along the Potomac, Jefferson must not only be a great man but also a saint. (After reading Jon Meacham’s book, I am afraid the sainthood part can no longer be retained.)

Before the content page in Jon Meacham’s book entitled “Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power”, there is this quote of President John F. Kennedy given at a dinner in honor of all living recipients of the Nobel Prize, 1962:
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
This extravagant praise of President Kennedy was followed by the author’s appraisal in “Prologue”, which includes fabulous praises of his own:
“Broadly put, philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.”
“A philosopher and a scientist, a naturalist and a historian, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment, always looking forward, consumed by the quest for knowledge.”

In the Prologue, the reader is confronted with a historical fact contrary to present-day experience: the spectacle that, in the 1800 election, the candidate for President (Jefferson) and the candidate for Vice President (Burr), although both of the same party, were voted separately and each received the same number of electoral votes. The election had to be decided by the House of Representatives. It was not until p. 299 of the book that the author explained that the election rule as we know it today was not in effect until the 12th amendment was enacted in 1804. A clear and upfront explanation given in the Prologue would go a long way to alleviate the reader’s confusion.

Following the Prologue are 43 chapters and an epilogue detailing all aspects of Jefferson’s life. His major achievements are relatively well known, including the draft of the Declaration of Independence, participant in Revolutionary War, Secretary of State under Washington, Vice President under John Adams, Third US President during whose Presidency the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition occurred. Below I list some items learned from the book which are interesting but less well known:
- Jefferson was not an orator like Lincoln or Patrick Henry. His communication strength was in the written word. He recognized the power of language in the art of leadership.
- While he stood in owe of Patrick Henry’s oratory (“Give me liberty, or give me death”), he had this interesting comment: “Although it was difficult, when he (Patrick Henry) had spoken, to tell what he had said, yet while he was speaking, it always seemed directly to the point.”
- In the wake of the British army’s burning of the roughly 3,000 books belonging to Congress at Washington in 1814, Jefferson offered to sell the nation his own collection. There were 6,487 volumes in Jefferson’s hands. They formed the core of the new Library of Congress.
- While he advocated religious freedom, Jefferson believed in the existence of a creator God and in an afterlife. Most significantly, he defended the moral lessons of the life and teachings of Jesus, whose divinity he rejected but whose words and example he embraced. “My fundamental principle would be…that we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power.”
- While it is well known that Jefferson owned slaves, it is less well known that he had words attacking the slave trade in the draft of the Declaration of Independence, but these words were cut out by the delegates to the Continental Congress. Indeed, earlier, while a Legislator and later Governor of Virginia, he and his allies prepared an amendment stipulating “the freedom of all [slaves] born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age” – deportation because it was inconceivable to Jefferson that free whites and free blacks could live together peaceably. The amendment failed. Jon Meacham stated that "Jefferson was never able to move public opinion on slavery. His powers failed him - and they failed America."
- Alexander Hamilton did not appear well in the book. He and John Adams were of the view that the British system of government was the most perfect constitution of government ever devised by man.
- When Jefferson told Hamilton that his trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced were Bacon, Locke and Newton, Hamilton disagreed, and responded by saying that the greatest man that ever lived was Julius Caesar.
- In Spring 1800, Hamilton and his father-in-law, appealed to John Jay, governor of New York, to change the state’s election laws before the new Republican majority took office, effectively overturning the verdict of the vote.
- Despite the above negative comments, it was sad to read that, on July 12, 1804, Hamilton died in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.
- Jefferson pursued Betsy Walker, his friend’s wife, in 1768. He did something similar again with Maria Cosway. He fathered 6 children, out of wedlock, with Sally Hemings.

In the Epilogue, the author concluded:
“With his brilliance and his accomplishment and his fame he is immortal. Yet because of his flaws and his failures he strikes us as mortal too – a man of achievement who was nonetheless susceptible to the temptations and compromises that ensnare all of us. He was not all he could be. But no politician – no human being – ever is.” This reader concurs and no longer considers Jefferson a saint.

As in other books, there are quotes worthy of our reflection. Here are a couple from this book.

“It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind.”

In 1824 Thomas Jefferson deemed coffee "the favorite drink of the civilized world."
2 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

Mrs. Sarah Catrin Morgan
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Solid
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 16, 2019
Jon Meacham''s "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" is an eminently interesting, exciting read. Meacham boils down Jefferson''s life into nine individual sections, the longest naturally being "The President of the United States, 1801-1809." It''s a neat - almost too neat - way...See more
Jon Meacham''s "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" is an eminently interesting, exciting read. Meacham boils down Jefferson''s life into nine individual sections, the longest naturally being "The President of the United States, 1801-1809." It''s a neat - almost too neat - way of dividing the book into easily digestible sections. I take issue with just two aspects of the book: (a) Meacham''s writing style is journalistic, not surprisingly given his past career, but at times journalistic to the point of informality; and (b) Meacham, in my opinion, whilst not blind to Jefferson''s faults, could have done with writing more extensively on Jefferson''s weaknesses. Overall, however, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to other interested in finding out more about Jefferson, a great man whose failings were equally as great as his successes.
4 people found this helpful
Report
Michael Coleman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great biography
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 15, 2019
Well and exhaustively researched biography, mainly detailing Jefferson''s political career. Author writes in loooooong sentences, and you need the OED at hand for some of the words. He never uses a three syllable word if he can find a five syllable one, however obscure....See more
Well and exhaustively researched biography, mainly detailing Jefferson''s political career. Author writes in loooooong sentences, and you need the OED at hand for some of the words. He never uses a three syllable word if he can find a five syllable one, however obscure. Would have liked more of an insight into his highlights as an inventor, scientist, horticulturist and architect of Monticello and other fine buildings
One person found this helpful
Report
Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 22, 2020
Good book
Report
Stephen Spain
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A good comprehensive expose of the subject
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2015
I thought this was a very good book which gave an excellent overall portrait of Jefferrson, although somewhat biased in favour of the subject.Having just finished a biography of Washington it was interesting to note the strong prejudices of both authors.
One person found this helpful
Report
D Eddy Spicer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Intimate account of the development of person and state
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 4, 2014
This is an intimate and well-crafted portrait of the emergence of a state through the life of one of its key founders. I found some of the more psychological interpretations of Jefferson''s motivations, while thoroughly justified with historical sources, unnecessarily...See more
This is an intimate and well-crafted portrait of the emergence of a state through the life of one of its key founders. I found some of the more psychological interpretations of Jefferson''s motivations, while thoroughly justified with historical sources, unnecessarily novelistic. That, however, is one of the features that make this a fascinating and enjoyable account of the conjoined development of state and person.
2 people found this helpful
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Pages with related products.

  • john russo books
  • abraham lincoln
  • new thomas jefferson biographies
  • early america books

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online

Thomas discount Jefferson: The Art wholesale of Power online