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FIGURES FROM AMERICAN HISTORY

Each 12mo. $1.50 net

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THOMAS JEFFERSON

By David Saville Muzzey
JEFFERSON DAVIS

By Armistead C. Gordon

Published Later
ALEXANDER HAMILTON

By Henry Ford Jones
ROBERT E. LEE

By Dr. Douglas Southall Freeman

Further volumes will follow at short intervals, the list including WASHINGTON, LINCOLN, WEBSTER, GRANT, CLEVELAND, and others.

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, PUBLISHERS

THOMAS JEFFERSON

BY

DAVID SAVILLE MUZZEY, PH.D.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

NEW YORK

Ab eo libertas a quo spiritus
He that gave us life gave us liberty

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

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PREFACE

The story of illustrious men cannot be too often retold. Like great outstanding mountain-peaks, these men invite description but elude definition; they provoke examination but defy exhaustion. The changing hues of political atmosphere, the shifting perspective of social and economic theories, combine with the peculiar equipment, apperception, penchants, and even (alas !) prejudices of each biographer to make any and every interpretation of his hero only a partial, restricted, and temporary one. We grasp so much of the spirit as we can comprehend-and as there are infinite gradations of comprehension, so there are infinite varieties of portrayal. The wonder is not that there are so many different interpretations of the lives of great men, but rather that there is so large a consensus in the case of a great number of them.

Of this number, however, Thomas Jefferson is not one. Though placed by the common consent of scholars in the first class of American statesmen, with Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Webster, and Lincoln, Jefferson seems far less willing than any of his illustrious compeers to fall into his definitive place of honor. Washington and Lincoln were maligned in life as no other Americans have been; their abuse, like their merit, was superlative. But to-day their merit alone remains, acknowledged by all. No one contests Benjamin Franklin's position as our first great statesman, philosopher, and scientist-the man who raised common sense to the level of genius, and made the name America known and respected in the world. Few to-day, even though they may detest his politics, would deny to Alexander Hamilton the title of the master genius of American finance or refuse to acknowledge the unique contribution of the Federalist to political theory. But Thomas Jefferson is still a subject for acrimonious criticism and chivalrous defense. The campaign controversies of the year 1800 have not yet died down to silence. The perpetuation or the refutation of slanders, objurgations, innuendoes occupies even the latest of Jefferson's biographers. The very men often who acclaim him cannot refrain from sneers; and even his bitter political enemies lean on his authority. A Populist senator of the last generation remarked that “every opinion delivered in the Senate of the United States was backed by a quotation from Thomas Jefferson.” His name is cited more often than any other in our political platforms, his portrait hangs with Washington's and Lincoln's in our convention halls, his principles are appealed to as the creed of every true American. Surely, there is no stranger problem of our political psychology than this mixture of venera

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