American Sphinx Thomas Jefferson Sparknotes

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“American Sphinx: The character of Thomas Jefferson” A book by Joseph J. Ellis. Copyright 1997 Vintage.            Joseph J. Ellis, a historian who was educated at the College of William and Mary and Yale, is a Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke University. He has written four books on historical topics, centered on the time Jefferson was alive, dealing with issues and personalities Jefferson dealt with firsthand. After authoring a book on a politician such as John Adams, Ellis seems to have felt a need or want to focus on Jefferson, presumably because of his status as founding father and main contributor to the constitution.      Ellis’s …show more content…

This trait in Ellis’s writing and teaching style is what really grabbed me and got me interested in the book. How wise is the person who realizes that as scholarly as they may be, there may always be a better opinion out there? Joseph has presented to me a most noble way to write. He has circumvented my prejudice against authors who insist that their ideas and methods are the only thoughts that exist.      In terms of the presentation of information, Ellis pieced together the life and work of Jefferson according to eras, or phases in the life of Thomas J. Starting with Philadelphia 1775-1776, Jefferson’s story begins as the prominent, educated young man entering a world of radical politicians and commoners striving for their independence. This chapter describes how Jefferson established himself as an excellent literary figure in the developing American insurrection by publishing a pamphlet entitled, “A summary view of the rights of British America.” This document, though never officially accepted as a plan of action was “simple and emphatic, with a dramatic flair that that previewed certain passages in the Declaration of Independence (e.g., “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably thro’ every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery”). [Pg. 34] As the text

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