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Jefferson and the Rights of Man (1951)

af Dumas Malone

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500349,949 (3.9)4
The second volume in this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography tells the story of the eventful middle years in the life of Thomas Jefferson: his ministry to France in the years just before the French Revolution and during the early stages of that conflict; his service as secretary of state in President George Washington's first cabinet; the crucial period of his first differences with Alexander Hamilton and the beginnings of his long struggle with the Federalists. .… (mere)
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A well-structured book, divided nearly in half by two important phases of Jefferson's career, first as Franklin's successor as ambassador to France, and then his service as the first secretary of state in the newly-constituted United States. It doesn't, though, cover his entire service in that office, and ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger. Jefferson intended to retire to Monticello at the close of Washington's first term of office, and had privately informed his friends and officially notified the country's envoys. This intention was put off a year, and in the coming months the nation was riven by partisan feelings over the course of the French Revolution. But this is only intimated as Malone closes this volume.
The Paris years are characterized as Jefferson's ripening as a respected political philosopher. Although in this posting he performed valuable service to the newly-independent nation, as well as gaining a grounding in diplomacy that made him the most logical choice to serve at the head of the State Department, it did force his absence from the constitutional convention. He took lively interest in the proceedings, recorded in his correspondence, particularly with Madison, but his contribution was limited by the length of time it took in those days to exchange letters. It interested me to see his keenly felt need for a bill of rights, as well as for term limits on the presidency, pointing to the danger of a leader wildly popular with half of the voters staying in office for life, establishing a democratically-elected dictatorship. He didn't succeed on the latter issue, a constitutional amendment to that effect didn't come until nearly two centuries later, but in the event, Washington at least set a potent precedent by retiring after two terms.
The last fifth or so of the book traces the rising antagonism between Hamilton and Jefferson. Malone is at pains to clear his protagonist of the worst of the charges hurled by the brilliant and ambitious secretary of the treasury, but does this in a reasoned way. As in the first volume of this set, the author has researched meticulously. The result is an appealing portrait. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
This review applies to the entire series, Jefferson and His Times.
Anyone who wants to understand a fraction of Jefferson, needs to start here. This work is the source that most academicians use. It is thorough and depends upon Jefferson's correspondence, editorials, reports, day books, conversations and memories. What more could you ever need? Heavily footnoted, this series puts to shame all other works on this great American. Some popular authors have written of Jefferson suggesting what he may have thought, or he may have done (Brody, anyone?) Malone is authoritative and needs not speculate. Read the series and then ask yourself, "Is it more likely than not that Jefferson fathered Sally Hemming's children?" I can only conclude that he did not. I remember when Clinton was president and, when incidents arose which questioned his fidelity, suddenly this old rumor became current. Someone interviewed the descendants of Hemmings and guess what? They all believed they were related to him! Isn't that peculiar? NO! What does a reasonable man expect them to say? Is it not more impressive to be part of a family that was sired by one of the greatest Americans or his philandering nephew, Peter Carr. All resurrected in the hope of distracting the American public from a current political scandal. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
1481 Jefferson and the Rights of Man: Jefferson and His Time Volume Two, by Dumas Malone (25 Mar 1978) This volume takes Jefferson up to 1792. It is really well-done, even though very pro-Jefferson. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 16, 2009 |
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This work as a whole is for
ELIZABETH GIFFORD MALONE

This Volume is for
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Home of the greatest edition of Jefferson's papers
and the Alma Mater of my son
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The second volume in this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography tells the story of the eventful middle years in the life of Thomas Jefferson: his ministry to France in the years just before the French Revolution and during the early stages of that conflict; his service as secretary of state in President George Washington's first cabinet; the crucial period of his first differences with Alexander Hamilton and the beginnings of his long struggle with the Federalists. .

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