Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat by Milton Meltzer.
Franklin Watts: NY, 1991.

Milton Meltzer takes on the challenge of explaining the greatness and ambiguities of Thomas Jefferson. Certainly, Jefferson achieved much, put forth ideas liberal and radical for his generation and class, and pushed for reforms his colleagues feared and rejected. He also did ignore obvious truths, as did his fellow statesmen, and take for granted the labor of others because to truly live by his ideals would mean living a totally different life. A life which would have prevented him from achieving as much as he did.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was the first to state what came to be known worldwide as universally applicable human rights. As one man among the legislators, he could not form the emerging country to fit his beliefs, but he did insert the issue of equality/inequality for all of those coming after to consider and improve upon-not just for the U.S., but the world.

I wonder if Jefferson started in his youth truly hoping for equality for all, but the years of learning the limits of what could be done in his time wore him down. Rather than continue to deal with his painful conscience, did he begin to pretend that equality was not possible or desirable? It is interesting to me also that he did not seem to be bothered by the herding of Native Americans westward.

This is a fairly balanced accounting of Jefferson. To truly understand his motives would require much more reading. However, this book is not a bad start.

related-Declaration of Independence, French Revolution, Governor of Virginia, Monticello, Secretary of State, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, University of Virginia, equality, representation, slavery, freedom, public school

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