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Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Jefferson (Author)

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Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Here is his life in his own words.


One of the most valuable portions of this work to the student of history, as it must be to the student of the personal character of greatness, is the Auto-Biography of Jefferson, which may be considered, though unfinished, as a model of this class of composition, by every public man who may consider the events with which he has been linked to possess of themselves sufficient public interest to justify him in thus appealing to posterity. His style is scrupulously curt and inornate. It dwells upon public events as they were connected with himself, and consequently with the legislative portion of the history of the Revolution, and our primary existence as an independent nation. Consequently, but little is here exhibited by his pen which may attract the attention of the general reader, although much is there that will be gratifying, as well as replete with information, to him who will weigh the facts narrated in it by the judgment of one who, in his youth, had borne an active part in them. Nor only so, but in his age, when passion, impulse, and vanity were well-nigh worn out—for this auto-biography was sketched in by Jefferson when the ripeness of his age touched upon his seven and seventieth year—had taken his pen in his hand to narrate, as barely and succinctly as it was possible, his own share of the great and stirring events in which his youth had borne its part-- from a survey of Jefferson’s writing in the July 1855 issue of The United States Democratic review.

3 out of 5 stars Jefferson's service, September 4, 2006

By C-Spock (Chicago, IL United States)

This review is from: Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Paperback)

I was a bit disappointed in this book. Having read and relished The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I was anxious to read the native narrative of another of the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, where as Franklin's book combines delightful personal details along with perspectives on the man's government service, Jefferson's autobiography is quite dry and seems to be more an official catalog of committee deliberations than a story about his own life. The rear cover of the books states, in addition to other things, that the book "...presents a detailed account of his young life..." and "...his life in retirement." I think that one would be hard pressed to identify more than a couple paragraphs in this 101 page book in which Jefferson describes his youth or his retirement. The book was interesting, though more from the historical and political perspectives than from any insight it offers into the inner philosophy or personal life of the man.

3 out of 5 stars Short, and inside perspective, August 1, 2008

By Joseph Lichter "jlichter" (atlanta, ga) (REAL NAME)  

This review is from: Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Paperback)

Written in 1821, TJ writes very quickly about his parents, childhood, and the time period before the revolution and spends way more time on the declaration of independence, articles of confederation, his presidency and the early 1800s.

He does include an original draft of the declaration of independence which is neat. And his section on the articles of confederation shows the many problems the states had to deal with upon becoming independent.

While Bill Clinton's autobiography was way too long, this autobio was way too short.

But the perspective is one that the history books do not often show you.

4 out of 5 stars Not your typical autobiography -- but fascinating, May 29, 2008

By J. Morton "L.O.A Reader" (USA) (REAL NAME)  

This review is from: Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Paperback)

This brief "autobiography" is not a self-promotion, an expose, or a book designed for the purpose of keeping the reader turning the pages in suspense. In fact, it has very little personal information about Jefferson or his life outside of the political happenings in which he was involved concerning the American and French revolutions. Certainly, there is no mention of his black lover, Sally Hemings, and for that matter little mention of his "real" family. Nonetheless it was to me a gripping tale that kept me reading, as I felt privy to the inner workings of the Continental Congress and the French Revolution from an influential American who was on the spot (and in the midst) of the events as they occurred. Perhaps, as a direct descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, of which Jefferson was the author, I had a natural interest in this book. But I think not, as it had been sitting gathering dust on my shelf as I read lots of classic American fiction that I thought would be more rewarding. Despite (because of?) its dry, blunt, intelligent but factual style, the debates and events are center stage, with Jefferson's occasional but not obtrusive opinions being much appreciated. My great experience reading Jefferson's brief book led me to pick up W.E.B. DuBois' The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, which covers some of the same ground although from a different perspective, and is equally rewarding.

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