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Thomas Jefferson – Revolutionary

A Radical's Struggle to Remake America

Although remembered as the third president of the United States and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was also something more: the most successful constructive statesman in American history.

Thomas Jefferson—Revolutionary: A Radical's Struggle to Remake America shows him formulating his radical plans to republicanize America and then working, with remarkable success, to implement them. Born into a monarchical society, Jefferson turned his great intellect and energy to making it highly egalitarian. Much of what we take for granted about America now was originally Jefferson's idea. It is a fascinating story.


"In this lively and clearly written book, Kevin Gutzman makes a compelling case for the broad range and radical ambitions of Thomas Jefferson's commitment to human equality." - Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

"For those who think that everything has been said about Thomas Jefferson, Kevin Gutzman’s remarkable new book proves them wrong. Gutzman offers striking new insights into Jefferson’s views on federalism, the freedom of conscience, race relations, primary and secondary education, and the University of Virginia. Arguing that Jefferson was “the most significant statesman in American history,” Gutzman nonetheless points out what he believes are some of the critical flaws in Jefferson’s thoughts and actions. Written in a clear and direct style, Thomas Jefferson―Revolutionary will be of interest to historians, legal scholars, and students of American political thought." - James W. Ceaser, The University of Virginia

"Perhaps no figure has cast a longer shadow across the American political landscape than Thomas Jefferson; and the political thought and legacy of few figures have been the subject of more debate. In his engaging examination of Jefferson’s public life, Kevin Gutzman takes his readers on a rip-roaring ride through the contests and controversies of the founding era and early republic, inviting readers along the way to challenge conventional interpretations of history and reconsider first principles. Brimming with keen insights, Thomas Jefferson ― Revolutionary focuses on Jefferson’s often radical views on federalism, the rights of conscience, race, slavery, and public education, casting light on the great political controversies that have long roiled the republic." - Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University, and author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State

"No statesman of the United States’ founding years has suffered a more precipitous decline in his reputation than Thomas Jefferson. He has been one of the principal victims of our era’s small-minded rage against the very idea that imperfect men can still be heroes. It is time for a spirited corrective to this folly, and Kevin Gutzman has provided one in this book, reminding us of Jefferson’s astounding range of accomplishments, and his steadfast confidence in the dignity and unrealized potential in the minds and hearts of ordinary people. Whenever we search for the core of what is greatest in the American democratic experiment, we find the towering figure of Jefferson, and the abundant evidence of his influence." - Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma

“When Jefferson wrote the inscription for his tombstone, he ignored the many offices he'd held and instead listed as his signature achievements the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the University of Virginia. Kevin Gutzman's important new book connects the dots between these and other contributions to make a compelling case that Jefferson was neither an enigma nor a paradox. Instead, he was an American Revolutionary with a consistent and coherent agenda to make America a land of liberty and opportunity the likes of which the world had never seen.” - Robert M. S. McDonald, Professor of History, United States Military Academy, author of Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson's Image in His Own Time

"Kevin Gutzman's Thomas Jefferson--Revolutionary offers a provocative and original perspective on the great Virginian's radical vision of America's--and Virginia's--future. Sharply focused, powerfully argued, and engagingly written, Gutzman's book is sure to generate the kind of controversy that will guarantee Jefferson's continuing relevance." - Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, (Monticello), co-author, with Annette Gordon-Reed, of Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

"Kevin Gutzman has written a learned and combative book about one of the central figures in a transatlantic age of democratic revolution. In attempting to fathom the mind of Thomas Jefferson, his fears as well as his aspirations, Gutzman has fresh things to say not only about Jefferson himself, but on an entire period of American history." - Robert L. Paquette, Executive Director, Alexander Hamilton Institute