The constitutional thought of Thomas Jefferson /
David N. Mayer.
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1994.
xiv, 397 p.
More Details
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1994.
dissertation note
Adaptation of thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Virginia, 1988.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 377-385) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1994-09:
Mayer's book admirably fills a gap left by Caleb Patterson's The Constitutional Principles of Thomas Jefferson (1953). Jefferson himself never wrote a book attempting to cast his political or constitutional thought in a formal system. Mayer (Capital Univ.) has therefore been obliged to survey all of Jefferson's public writings and his vast private correspondence to cull from them the principles that guided Jefferson's action and thought. He begins with Jefferson's rigorous schedule of reading in law and political thought while a student at William and Mary College (1760-1763), and he follows Jefferson chronologically until his death in 1826. In his long life, Jefferson found himself obliged occasionally to modify his opinions in matters of policy, but Mayer shows that Jefferson was remarkably consistent in holding fast to three great principles: the Whig tradition, federalism, and republicanism. Mayer defends Jefferson against Leonard Levy's charges in Jefferson & Civil Liberties (1963) that Jefferson was no friend of freedom of speech or the press. He also rebuts Henry Adams's opinion (in History of the United States of America, 1889) that Jefferson himself, by the Louisiana Purchase, gave a fatal blow to the doctrine of strict construction. This is a first-rate book, soundly researched, well written, and thoughtful. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. J. Z. Rabun; Emory University
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Choice, September 1994
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Main Description
In this comprehensive account of Thomas Jefferson's constitutional thought, David N. Mayer offers a fresh perspective on Jefferson's philosophy of government. Eschewing the "liberalism versus civic republicanism" debate that has so dominated early American scholarship in recent years, Mayer examines Jefferson's thought in Jefferson's own terms- as "whig," "federal," and "republican." In the interrelationships and tensions among these three essential aspects of Jefferson's theory, Mayer explaines Jefferson's response to the particular constitutional issues and problems of his time. In contrast to other studies that view Jefferson as a champion of democracy, Mayer's book emphasizes Jefferson's commitment to liberty and his distrust of government.
Table of Contents
"Bold in the Pursuit of Knowledge": The Education of an American Real Whigp. 1
"Causes Which Have Impelled Us to the Separation": The Logic of the American Revolutionp. 25
"Our Revolution Commenced on More Favorable Ground": The Foundations of Republican Governmentp. 53
"The Interesting Experiment of Self-Government": The Evolution of Republican Constitutionalismp. 89
"We Are All Federalists, We Are All Republicans": The Republican "Revolution" of 1800 and Beyondp. 119
"Certain Fences against Wrong": The Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rightsp. 145
"The True Theory of Our Constitution": Federalism and the Limits of Federal Powerp. 185
"Bound by the Chains of the Constitution": The Presidency and Executive Powerp. 222
"A Solecism in a Republican Government": The Judiciary and Judicial Reviewp. 257
"Hand in Hand with the Progress of the Human Mind": Constitutional Change and the Preservation of Republicanismp. 295
Conclusion: Government "Founded in Jealousy, and Not in Confidence"p. 320
Notesp. 333
Select Bibliographyp. 377
Indexp. 387
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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