Thomas Jefferson and American Nationhood

Thomas Jefferson and American Nationhood

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This book emphasises the centrality of nationhood to Thomas Jefferson's thought and politics, envisioning Jefferson as a cultural nationalist whose political project sought the alignment of the American state system with the will and character of the nation. Jefferson believed that America was the one nation on earth able to realise in practice universal ideals to which other peoples could only aspire. He appears in the book as the essential narrator of what he once called the 'American Story': as the historian, the sociologist and the ethnographer; the political theorist of the nation; the most successful practitioner of its politics; and its most enthusiastic champion. The book argues that reorienting Jefferson around the concept of American nationhood recovers an otherwise easily missed coherence to his political career and helps make sense of a number of conundrums in his thought and practice.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 113953436X
  • 9781139534369

Table of contents

1. Introduction: Jefferson's America; 2. American story; 3. American woman; 4. American character; 5. American public; 6. American state; 7. American union; 8. Epilogue: America's Jefferson.
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Review quote

'Steele's Jefferson is much more complicated than a provincial Virginia planter with a cosmopolitan twist; he is the consummate architect of American nationalism precisely because he imagined and articulated a powerful understanding of Americans as a special people - a cultural and political nation - whose unique character transcended region or class and had universal significance.' Drew R. McCoy, Journal of Southern History
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About Brian Steele

Brian Steele is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His work has appeared in the Journal of American History and the Journal of Southern History.
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