Few Americans have had the profound impact on our nation as did Jefferson, and even fewer left such a wealth of sage advice. Jefferson, a talented statesman, architect, musician, and inventor, was also gifted with a pen and the elegant turn of phrase. Even his friend and rival, John Adams, said Jefferson had "the reputation of a masterly pen . . . and a happy talent of composition." Collected here are some of the third president's most memorable passages and most deftly turned expressions.
"The happiest moments my heart knows," Jefferson wrote, "are those in which it is pouring forth its affections to a few esteemed character."
Citizen Jefferson is a beautifully produced collection of quotations from Jefferson's own private correspondence-to family and friends, political allies, and rivals. It is a testament to his position as a man of letters and an American sage.
To his daughter he counseled, "Take more pleasure in giving what is best to another than in having it yourself, and then all the world will love you, and I more than all the world." To a friend, "Man, once surrendering his reason . . . is like a ship without rudder." Or to his country, "I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Carefully chosen and expertly edited by Jefferson scholar Dr. John P. Kaminski, the quotations are organized by key topics for gentle browsing and indexed for quick reference. These passages reflect the best counsel that Jefferson offered his own and future generations. Citizen Jefferson is the perfect companion for those who admire the Sage of Monticello.
John P. Kaminski is director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the University of Wisconsin. He is author and editor of several books on early American history, including Jefferson in Love: The Love Letters Between Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway, Federalists & Antifederalists: The Debate Over the Ratification of the Constitution, George Clinton: Yeoman Politician of the New Republic, and the massive multi-volume Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.