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Recent biographies of Thomas Jefferson have stressed the sphinxlike puzzles of his character -- famous champion of freedom yet lifelong slaveholder, foe of Miscegenation yet secret lover of a beautiful slave for thirty years, aristocrat yet fervent advocate of government by the people. E. M. Halliday's absorbing, compact, and lucid portrait recognizes these and other puzzles about this great founder, but shows us how understandable they can be in the light of his personal and social circumstances and common human experience.
Here are all the pivotal episodes of Jefferson's life: the writing of the Declaration of Independence, his years in Paris, his feud with Alexander Hamilton, the surprising Louisiana Purchase, and his post presidential reconciliation with John Adams. But Halliday's account takes readers deeper, into Jefferson's personal, private life, exploring his childhood, his literary taste, and his unconventional religious thinking and moral philosophy. Here, too, are his adamant opinions on women, the evolution of his ideas on democracy and freedom of expression, and fresh insights into his long relationship with Sally Heimings.
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