Author Jon Meacham has a new book out on Thomas Jefferson. It is reviewed in the New York Times
: Cultivating Control in a Nation’s Crucible
But this book does not address its principal concern, power, until Jefferson has accrued some. When it comes to the force that he wielded as a slaveholder, Mr. Meacham finds ways to suggest that thoughts of abolition would have been premature; that it was not uncommon for white heads of households to be waited on by slaves who bore family resemblances to their masters; and that since Jefferson treated slavery as a blind spot, the book can too. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Dec 3, 2012 -
Little-Known U.S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America's Government Is Secular
Some people today assert that the United States government came from Christian foundations. They argue that our political system represents a Christian ideal form of government and that Jefferson, Madison, et al, had simply expressed Christian values while framing the Constitution. If this proved true, then we should have a wealth of evidence to support it, yet just the opposite proves the case.
Although, indeed, many of America's colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton's mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 27, 2005 -
Historian H.W. Brands argues in this month's Atlantic
that we over-venerate our Founding Fathers. John Adams and co., he surmises, were no wiser or more virtuous than our current crop of politicians, but their numerous flaws have been rendered invisible through the rosy glasses of time. What today's politicians could learn from their predecessors, he says, is bravado, the courage to take risks. Why not call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite the rules every so often?
, he asks.
posted by grrarrgh00
on Aug 7, 2003 -
The other side of liberty
"At the very moment they were in Philadelphia declaring that all men are created equal, many of America's Founding Fathers were slave owners. Activists are now demanding a fuller accounting at democracy's birthplace."
posted by Postroad
on Jul 6, 2003 -