Read Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty by Dumas Malone Free Online
Book Title: Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 23.20 MB
v The author of the book: Dumas Malone
Edition: Little, Brown and Company
Date of issue: January 30th 1962
ISBN 13: 9780316544757
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty:Volume III of Malone's exhaustive study of Thomas Jefferson. This book covers his last year as Secretary of State (1793) through his three year retirement to his home in Virginia, then his one term as Vice President (1797-1801) and concluding with his election to his first term as President in 1801 (yes, 1801, not 1800 due to the election being a tie and thus thrown into the House of Representatives to decide). Being that there literally was nothing for the Vice President to do back then other than preside over the Senate, one would think that this volume would be shorter than the others. Not so! As usual, Malone has plenty of things to write about, thanks to an endlessly fascinating subject.
As with the first two books, Malone's bias in favor of Jefferson is apparent. However, it never reaches the point of becoming so blatant as to be ridiculous. In fact, while reading through this series, more and more I am struck by Malone's professionalism and thorough research. Yes, he almost always paints Jefferson in the brightest light possible. But it is done in an intelligent and reasoned manner, and I get the sense that he genuinely believed that Jefferson was an outstanding human being (and he frequently cites examples to show Jefferson's good deeds).
One area where I (and I would suspect, many others) find it difficult to agree with Malone on is his treatment of Jefferson's owning of slaves. Such a hideous practice; how can anyone accept it as being human? Now, to be sure, Malone does not excuse Jefferson for being a slave owner. Nor does he make light of the situation at all. What he does do is to put Jefferson's owning of slaves within the context of the times that he lived. This is proper for a historian to do: the biographical subject must be depicted within the context (political, economic, geographic, social, religious) that he/she lived in. Thus, Jefferson was far from the only slaveholder around. That he was probably more benevolent and considerate than most other slaveholders I do not doubt. But the bottom line is that he still owned human beings! Malone writes that Jefferson abhorred selling or trading slaves, and that he went to great lengths to not break up slave families, and to care for elderly slaves. I do not question this. But no matter how kind he may have been and probably was, he was still a hypocrite for owning slaves yet writing about freedom for men.
Another item - though not nearly as important as the slavery issue - speaks to the kind of person that Jefferson could be. He and George Washington had a falling out - basically from Jefferson making oblique criticisms here and there about Washington's being used and misled by Hamilton and the Federalists, and from Washington having thin skin for criticism and being susceptible to believing everything he heard. As usual with Jefferson, there was no direct confrontation, just a gradual separation culminating in a time where they stopped communicating with each other. I bring this up to note that, when Washington died, Jefferson seemed to go out of his way to avoid any all eulogies and tributes to him, specifically arriving in Philadelphia a few days after the start of the Senate session (although he frequently did this anyway). But he did not pay a visit to Martha Washington until a year later, even though he easily could have done so. And, he made no comment in public or private about someone who trusted him enough to appoint him as the very first Secretary of State. Things such as that do not buttress Malone's claim on page 480 that Jefferson "...was in fact one of the most moral of men...".
Overall, this book - like the first two - is essential reading for anyone interested in learning about Jefferson. It is hard to understand how someone could become an authority on Jefferson without devouring Malone's works. Even though the level of detail can grow cumbersome at times (such as the chapter about Jefferson's complete rebuilding of Monticello and when the roof was/was not on), Malone really gives the reader a sense of what Jefferson was actually doing in his life on an everyday basis. In the end, isn't that what a good biographer is supposed to do?
Read information about the authorDumas Malone, 1892–1986, spent thirty-eight years researching and writing Jefferson and His Time. In 1975 he received the Pulitzer Prize in history for the first five volumes. From 1923 to 1929 he taught at the University of Virginia; he left there to join the Dictionary of American Biography, bringing that work to completion as editor-in-chief. Subsequently, he served for seven years as director of the Harvard University Press. After serving on the faculties of Yale and Columbia, Malone retired to the University of Virginia in 1959 as the Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, a position he held until his retirement in 1962. He remained at the university as biographer-in-residence and finished his Jefferson biography at the University of Virginia, where it was begun.
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