Democracy's Muse

Democracy's Muse

How Thomas Jefferson Became An FDR Liberal, A Reagan Republican, and A Tea Party Fanatic, All the While Being Dead

Book - 2015
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In political speech, Thomas Jefferson is the eternal flame. No other member of the founding generation has served the agendas of both Left and Right with greater vigor. When Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the iconic Jefferson Memorial on the founder's two hundredth birthday, in 1943, he declared the triumph of liberal humanism. Harry Truman claimed Jefferson as his favorite president, too. And yet Ronald Reagan was as great a Jefferson admirer as any Democrat. He had a go-to file of Jefferson's sayings and enshrined him as a small-government conservative. So, who owns Jefferson -- the Left or the Right? The third president has had a tortuous afterlife, and he remains a fixture in today's culture wars. Pained by Jefferson's slaveholding, Democrats still regard him highly. Until recently he was widely considered by many African Americans to be an early abolitionist. Libertarians adore him for his inflexible individualism, and although he formulated the doctrine of separation of church and state, Christian activists have found intense religiosity between the lines in his pronouncements. Andrew Burstein lays out the case for both "Democrat" and "Republican" Jefferson as he interrogates the founder who has inspired perhaps the strongest popular emotions. In this book, Burstein shares insights about politicized Americans and their misappropriations of the past, including the concoction of a "Jeffersonian" stance on issues that Jefferson himself could never have imagined.
Publisher: Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780813937229
Branch Call Number: 320.014 BURSTEIN
Characteristics: xiv, 256 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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