Thomas jefferson biography meacham review online
Jefferson was sometimes more sneaky than artful. Jefferson was a husband to Martha Wayles, a father eventually they had six children , a planter, legislator, and thinker. Meacham is a fan and downplays the usual critique of Jefferson as duplicitous and a quiet subversive of his political opponents, John Adams in particular.
Another son, Madison Hemings, in old age told an interviewer that his mother had said that Jefferson was the father of all her children, including one conceived in Paris when Jefferson was minister to France. Not given to psychologizing, Meacham takes us into the overarching motivations and predictable reactions of Jefferson by closely analyzing his pattern of behavior. Thrust into the role of slave-master and man of the family at age 14 when his father died, Jefferson brooked no opposition from his subordinates, but among his political colleagues, he used hospitality to grease the way to his goals.
His aversion to contention became a powerful political tactic. What remains mysterious is how Jefferson acquired the reforming principles that guided his career. What was the source of his faith in ordinary men? He drafted the Declaration of Independence, yet his earliest memory was of a slave handing him down on pillow to ride in a carriage and he never freed the slaves that he owned, even in death.
He trumpeted states' rights, but expanded the scope of the federal government when the opportunity was his. He loved his family dearly, but had no qualms pursuing the married woman of another man and possibly destroying hers. Indeed, this comes to the thesis of Meacham's book, less a biography than a portrait: A benevolent welder of what power he held, Jefferson's overriding description is that of a Renaissance man with boundless interests and whose overriding concern was the "fate of democratic republicanism in America," for to his end he worried about the return of monarchical government, an influence that Meacham found as influential on Jefferson's thinking as the Cold War was on American Presidents from Truman to George H.
The short-comings of Meacham's biography meacham review online are few, and he does not seem interested in hiding them. Setting out to restore Jefferson's image, somewhat tarnished in recent years by revelations of his sexual relationship with Sally Hemings and acclaimed biographies of Jefferson's rivals Hamilton, Adams, and Washington, especially in recent years, Meacham writes with more than a little hero worship, arguing that while there have been many great presidents, none would be as interesting to spend time with as Jefferson, whose career touched on far wider a range than did his contemporary political rivals, or even of other politicians since.
Indeed, he is persuasive, and it's a fascinating picture that is difficult to dismiss. Yes, Jefferson is a slave owner, a pragmatic politician, and an occasional philanderer. But he is also a man who at his heart believed in the justice and goodness of man and who to his last day would welcome the friendship of any man who would accept his hand in fellowship. The Art of Power is an excellent read, and Jon Meacham has written a fascinating and shining portrait of our third president and the lifetime he spent learning to weld, and then using, power.
View all 6 comments. Jul 07, Matt rated it really liked it Shelves: Seeking to continue my trek to better understand the thomas jefferson of America and its Founding Fathers, I tackled Meacham's biography on Thomas Jefferson. Choosing to infuse literary breath into one of the key actors in much of the early creation of the state and its constitutional foundations, Meacham not only offers an over-arching narrative, but delves into the corners of Jefferson's life, allowing the reader to have a better and well-rounded approach to this key historical figure.
While Meacham offers Jefferson's life through nine lenses, dividing his life into smaller and more digestible portions, three significant themes emerge as central arcs to better depict Jefferson's life.
A synthesis of the text sees Jefferson as a committed man, a stalwart politician, and a sharp statesman. These themes emerge throughout the text, even with the firm chronological flow of Meacham's tome. A biography worthy of examination for the reader looking to better understand Jefferson and the rumours swirling around his earlier historical depictions. That Jefferson is a man committed to all he undertakes cannot be denied, based on Meacham's text.
The biography moves forward to show that Jefferson, who came from a well established family, grew up with a strong thirst for knowledge. Jefferson always sought to open his mind to new ideas and to learn from whomever he could. He read and spoke as one would imagine a Greek thinker might have done 2 millennia earlier, always asking questions and building his ideas on those who influenced his life.
From there, Jefferson became a man not only of biography meacham review online, but one who dabbled in thomases jefferson biography meacham areas: His passions extended outside of the esoteric, finding his greatest love in women. While Meacham hints at Jefferson's fondness for the opposite sex, there is little to deter the reader from feeling that Martha Wayles was the love of his young life.
Their marriage, a decade long, was filled with passion and six children, though few survived. Jefferson took her death personally and used his depression to fuel his aforementioned passions. While rumours around his involvement with Sally Hemings, Meacham handles it with the greatest aplomb, addressing it not as a tabloid scandal but presenting its inevitable occurrence. Whether the Jefferson-Hemings interaction was based on an amorous connection or strictly a power relationship cannot be definitively known, though Meacham does mention reports of the strong physical resemblance of Hemings' children to Jefferson and how his time on his estate matched with the pregnancies.
This did not mar Jefferson's life or the high regard in which he was seen. His personal life and interests were strongly supported by Meacham throughout the tome, including his final years at the Monticello estate, where a detailed architectural and design discussion ensues.
Jefferson's connection to his personal beliefs are well-rooted in his final years, as he sought to better understand the emancipation movement and the American move towards the abolition of slavery. Meacham argues throughout the tome that Jefferson was a man like no other, with his own interests that fuelled his mind to the bitter end. Born in Virginia at a time of strong political sentiment and eventual rebellious sentiments towards the British, it is no wonder that Jefferson found himself at the centre of the controversies in his political life.
While he served in the House of Burgesses, where another Virginian named Washington made his mark, Jefferson began to hone his political skills and formulated his deeply-rooted beliefs.
Meacham argues that Jefferson's passion with the written word acted to propel the revolutionary movement forward as he helped to create the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and penned the final document himself.
This authorship saw him gain much favour within the Colonies, but he became a hunted man by the British Red Coats. His political life resurrected itself after the War of Independence when he headed to Philadelphia as a delegate to the Continental Congress, but soon crossed the Atlantic to review online for the new America in Paris.
Jefferson took that review online to critique the constitutional document presented by the Congress and added his concerns. Jefferson saw the intricacies of the new America and sought to individualise it from the British influence so prominent in the Colonies. Jefferson's political side reared its head again after he accepted a position in Washington's Cabinet at Secretary of State, but became more powerful upon his departure from that body. As Jefferson saw himself as a Democratic Republican not the oxymoronic biography meacham review online it would have todayhe realised that there was a need to stand for an independent-minded form of government in America that did not promote a monarchy of some sort, as promoted by the Federalists.
He battled the likes of John Adams on this point and, as Meacham illustrates, sought to ensure that the shackles of British oppression did not seep back in with the appearance of a crowned or hereditary biography meacham in the collective colonial unit. Meacham shows Jefferson's passion for political ideals throughout the narrative and promotes the importance of the first political schism and party politics in Meacham depicts Jefferson's political knowledge on numerous occasions throughout the tome, leaving no doubt about his political importance in early America.
The image of strong statesman seems a foregone conclusion when examining Jefferson's political acumen, though the terms differ greatly. In his time as Secretary of State, Jefferson sought to work effectively with the European allies that helped secure a colonial victory, while also mending fences with the British. Jefferson utilised some of his time in the position to build strong ties and promote the new America, while also ensuring that this new state did not fall prey to those wishing to strike on a weakened and somewhat scattered colonial collective.
Meacham shows that Jefferson's ideas became his ideals, from which he review online not stray. This left him no choice but to leave the role when the Federalists rooted their monarch-centric views within Washington's Cabinet and Jefferson found himself at odds with the likes of John Adams.
However, he hoped to push his republican ideas from the outside and eventually in the vice-presidential role, which clashed thoroughly with the aforementioned Adams. It was this that fuelled the great election ofpitting Federalists against the Republican ideals on which Jefferson stumped so heavily.
This is also the biography meacham review online that required a deadlock breaking in the House of Representatives, as Meacham depicts both in the preface and with more detail within the tome, where discussion of bribery and promises begat the final sway needed to secure victory.
Meacham illustrates that Jefferson sought to push a hands-off approach to the state by positing that there need be thomas jefferson for Americans to find their niche. Jefferson scaled back the military and navy as well, feeling that the revolutionary times were past. Meacham discusses the great embargo with Britain, after a naval clash, and how the president sought to keep war off the table, no matter the public outcry for its use. All this pales in Meacham's great argument surrounding the height of Jefferson's statesman role; the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon.
While this might seem a little awkward, discussing land as the highlight of a presidential career, Meacham presents it in such a way as to show how Jefferson used the new constitution to develop its Living Tree doctrine even though the phrase had not yet been coined in Britain. The treaty for obtaining the land had to be ratified in the Senate, but Jefferson went ahead and made the arrangements. This constitutional see-saw battle helped hone the precedent of executive decision-making and legislative agreement.
It happens all the time with multinational treaties and was, as the history buff will remember, the downfall of Wilson's League of Nations. Meacham utilises this example to show how Jefferson could run an effective state, while not dictating his preconceived notions to ensure success.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Perhaps it was this that helped solidify the biography meacham review movement and helps Meacham argue the position so effectively. It is quite difficult not to play a comparison game when the reader has delved into numerous biographies about actors whose lives intertwined. Length is the first and greatest discrepancy here. Applause to Meacham for succinctly laying out the life and times of Jefferson, while highlighting many important aspects. While Meacham admits he had not sought to write a life and times of the third president, such was the final project, which skims over many of the areas that were of greatest importance.
I would have hoped for more time on the Continental Congress and creation of the constitutional documents, for these were areas of greatest importance to Jefferson in years to come. I would also have loved a further fleshing out of the personal life of Jefferson during his 'down years' and not brief linkages. Had I not read the other two biographies, I would likely not be making these comments, but I cannot unread what I had put in front of me and, like life in general, I bring these experiences to the forefront as I delve deeper in my thomas jefferson of the political and historical actors who shaped the world.
That being said, Meacham is a wonderful wordsmith and weaves a wonderful tale from start to finish. A plethora of sources and first-hand accounts pepper the text and bring the story to life in ways that few could do with such ease. One additional theme from the biography comes from its epilogue and author's note.
Meacham argues that while Jefferson's views were his own, he could garner much support from those around him, both at the time and in the decades centuries to come. Jefferson's views could appeal to those across the political spectrum, for they were rooted not in strict ideology, but in nation building and sovereignty. While America had its share of ups and downs, these political giants all turned to Jefferson's Declaration and subsequent republican sentiments to shape the country in the 21st century. For this, his legacy parallels Washington, though for different reasons.
Meacham for this wonderful biographical piece. Thomas Jefferson came to life in this depiction and for that you deserve the greatest of praise. I look forward to examining more of your work at a future time.
An ever-growing collection of others appears at: Mar 25, Steve rated it liked it. I wanted to devour this book the way I had with bios of the other Founding Fathers, but this one was more of a slog than I anticipated. Meacham does a good job connecting all the big historical touchstones of Jefferson's remarkable life: But what's missing is the literary thomas jefferson biography meacham review online and human drama behind these events, things that David McCullough and Joseph Ellis brought to their subjects with exceptional skills Adams and Washington, respectively.
The Lewis and Clark expedition is barely a footnote here, perhaps because the author knew Stephen Ambrose had already told Jefferson's role in that adventure about as well as any writer could. We don't get a whole lot of new insight into Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings for that thomas jefferson biography meacham review online.
To be fair, the book does pick up some narrative steam when Jefferson finally reaches the White House, but that is so far into the book that it's hard to justify the rest of the story's plodding pace. A big disappointment for me. I loved this book. Really delves into the psyche of Thomas Jefferson, chipping to the core on the things that make him tick.
Meacham spends a lot of time in Virginia laying the groundwork for Jefferson's character - how he loved control but hated conflict. And then he builds the bridge to the presidency - detailing his struggles with the executive powers that Hamilton put upon the presidency during Washington's terms and then how he embraced these very powers in his own Presidency.
We get to kno I loved this book.
We get to review the persona of Jefferson - his love of good food, fine wine and the company of others. His charm and casualness invited his enemies to even enjoy dinner with him and call him cordial. Meacham also tip-toes through the waters of Sally Hemmings and her family. Speaks of Jefferson's faults and foibles slavery and debt. He recounts thomas jefferson biography of the major Jefferson sticking points: Callendar, Hamilton, Maria Cosway, Adams friendship.
It's all there, along with other little tidbits of Jefferson lore. Agree that we really needed a readable one volume Jefferson bio to stand along those of Adams and Washington and Hamilton. This may very well be it. Received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own. Nov 06, Cheri rated it it was amazing. It's rare when this happens. I just finished the prologue to this book. Oh, I'm going to enjoy this book!!! May 06, Steve rated it it was amazing.
Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Andrew Jackson, and has also written about Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as well as the civil rights movement and the influence of religion in American politics. But that is part of the delight of this biography: But happily, such a pace provides the book no opportunity to find itself bogged down in unnecessary detail or to pursue trivial tangents.
Review of “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham
I did not detect this fault, and Meacham seems to harbor no greater sympathy for Jefferson than most biographers do with their subjects. Although Meacham does seem to admire Jefferson, his affection is not without qualification. Others have pointed out that although Meacham seems to have been quite diligent in his preparation for writing this thomas the endnotes and bibliography alone consume over two hundred pagesit contains little that is truly new or revealing.
Rather than describing the controversy which has pervaded this issue for over two hundred years, Meacham treats the topic as fully resolved. Only in the extensive endnotes does the reader find a multi-page note admitting to, and describing, the controversy. I found it easy, entertaining and enjoyable to read.
It required relatively little from me, but offered disproportionately greater reviews. As a serious student of Jefferson, this would not be my first or even second stop on the lengthy journey to understanding Jefferson. However, as an efficient, wonderfully descriptive and generally comprehensive introduction to Thomas Jefferson, I am unaware of better biography. Aug 26, Jay rated it liked it. A good, very readable "popular" biography of Thomas Jefferson that focuses on Jefferson's use of power and influence to achieve his desired ends throughout his life.
Despite pointing out yet somewhat glossing over some of Jefferson's flaws, Meacham's biography is nevertheless a little too hagiographic for me to rate it higher than 3 stars. I enjoyed reading the book, and even gained some new insight into Jefferson, but still came away from it feeling as though Meacham missed the mark a little. I have been a lifelong admirer of Thomas Jefferson, so much so that my dream since childhood was to attend Mr. While still a Jefferson admirer - my library is full of Jeffersonian memorabilia, the bloom has somewhat gone off the rose over the years as I have continued to reassess the man in light of more recent scholarship, as well as in viewing the political turmoil of his time through the lens of the political turmoil of the last 20 years.
Meacham's book sets out to sort of "rehabilitate" Jefferson after a couple of decades of multiple critically acclaimed jeffersons biography meacham review on Jefferson's political adversaries that have, inevitably, painted Jefferson in less than heroic terms.
Meacham accomplishes his goal to some extent, but only at the cost of playing thomas jefferson many of Jefferson's major foibles. An example would be in those instances in which Meacham makes statements along the biographies of some might consider Jefferson a hypocrite, but Or that some might consider Jefferson to have been paranoid about the alleged Federalist scheme to return the United States to monarchy, but Well, yes, some might.
Because, when viewed objectively, Jefferson WAS a hypocrite with respect to a good number of issues and Jefferson WAS paranoid in viewing his opponents in the worst light possible. That doesn't mean that Jefferson wasn't heroic or that he doesn't deserve to continue to be admired.
He was, and he does, and Meacham's book is a good reminder of that. But a more critical treatment of Jefferson's use of the same power for his own ends - power that was often, as admitted by both Jefferson and Meacham, extra-constitutional and perhaps even unconstitutional - that Jefferson condemned when used by others, would have provided a more honest and balanced portrayal.
Meacham's title - The Art of Power - gives away what he is really interested in. This book is a portrait of Jefferson for the political class. For the folks who LOVE power and the exercise thereof. For those who view principle and constitutional limits as unfortunate and unwanted impediments to "getting things done". For those who view "making the deal" as the height of political achievement.
This is a portrait of Jefferson for those who can view the policies and exercises of power of a president from one party as tyrannical and anti-civil liberties, and view the exact same polices and exercises of power - only magnified - when put into practice by a president from the opposing party, as the "art" of getting things done.
There is much to admire about Jefferson.
“Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power By Jon Meacham
For my tastes, however, Meacham appears to admire many of the wrong things and minimizes many of the less savory aspects of Jefferson's character. View all 4 comments.
Mar 04, Susan rated it it was amazing. Meacham thomases jefferson biography Jefferson not only as the idealist and philosopher who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but as a man who learned from experience and compromised throughout his political career. In fact, at the beginning of his Presidency, the Federalists were frightened that the country fail because real democracy was too dangerous and at the end of his Presidency some of the Republicans review online angry that he'd compromised with the Federalists to the extend that he compromised th Excellent book.
In fact, at the beginning of his Presidency, the Federalists were frightened that the country fail because real democracy was too dangerous and at the end of his Presidency some of the Republicans were angry that he'd compromised with the Federalists to the extend that he compromised the who idea of democracy. Only in the extensive endnotes does the reader find a multi-page note admitting to, and describing, the controversy.‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,’ by Jon Meacham
I found it easy, entertaining and enjoyable to read. It required relatively little from me, but offered disproportionately greater rewards. As a serious student of Jefferson, this would not be my first or even second stop on the lengthy journey to understanding Jefferson. However, as an efficient, wonderfully descriptive and generally review online introduction to Thomas Jefferson, I am unaware of better biography. April 30, at 5: Thanks, this is a very thomas and impartial review. April 30, at 7: I do think this book is perfect for someone who is 1 flying to Beijing and needs something other than movies to remain entertained for 14 hours, 2 knows a little about Jefferson but wants to dive deeper without getting too serious or 3 has read one of the lengthier jeffersons biography meacham but would like an easy and thoughtful bio to read.
October 24, at 7: I just purchased two books on Thomas Jefferson. November 17, at I am kind of torn with how I felt about this book. The Souls of Black Folk. Write It When I'm Gone.
Inspired by Your Browsing History. The Art of Power Also Read. Praise Praise for Thomas Jefferson: Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. 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, review online 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,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 reviews online of three slaves who had been ordered to destroy the building.
On another occasion, Peter was said to have uprighted two huge thomases jefferson biography of tobacco that weighed a thousand pounds each—a remarkable, if mythical, achievement.
Everything else about the ancient roots of the paternal clan slipped into the mists, save for this: 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: 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 thomas jefferson biography meacham. 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. When stymied, he learned to press forward. Presented with an unexpected opening, he figured out how to take full advantage.