You are here

Jeffersonian America

This series aims to illuminate the American republic’s formative decades by publishing the best new scholarship in the field. Younger and established scholars address the critical social, cultural, and political issues that faced the founding generations as they sought to establish a nation.

Series Editors: Jan Ellen Lewis, Peter S. Onuf, Andrew O’Shaughnessy 

Advisory Editors: Frank Cogliano, Annette Gordon-Reed, David Konig, James Oakes, Alan Taylor


Confounding Father

Robert M. S. McDonald

Of all the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson stood out as the most controversial and confounding. Loved and hated, revered and reviled, during his lifetime he served as a lightning rod for dispute. Few major figures in American history provoked such a polarization of public opinion. One... More


Jefferson's Body

Maurizio Valsania

What did Thomas Jefferson look like? How did he carry himself? Such questions, reasonable to ask as we look back on a person who lived in an era before photography, are the starting point for this boldly original new work. Maurizio Valsania considers all aspects of Jefferson’s complex... More


Blood from the Sky

Adam Jortner

In the decades following the Revolution, the supernatural exploded across the American landscape—fabulous reports of healings, exorcisms, magic, and angels crossed the nation. Under First Amendment protections, new sects based on such miracles proliferated. At the same time, Enlightenment... More


Pulpit and Nation

Spencer W. McBride

In Pulpit and Nation, Spencer McBride highlights the importance of Protestant clergymen in early American political culture, elucidating the actual role of religion in the founding era. Beginning with colonial precedents for clerical involvement in politics and concluding with false rumors... More


The Haitian Declaration of Independence

Edited by Julia Gaffield

While the Age of Revolution has long been associated with the French and American Revolutions, increasing attention is being paid to the Haitian Revolution as the third great event in the making of the modern world. A product of the only successful slave revolution in history, Haiti’s... More


Citizens of a Common Intellectual Homeland

Armin Mattes

Notions of democracy and nationhood constitute the pivotal legacy of the American Revolution, but to understand their development one must move beyond a purely American context. Citizens of a Common Intellectual Homeland explores the simultaneous emergence of modern concepts of democracy and... More


Between Sovereignty and Anarchy

Edited by Patrick Griffin, Robert G. Ingram, Peter S. Onuf, and Brian Schoen

Between Sovereignty and Anarchy considers the conceptual and political problem of violence in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic, charting an innovative approach to the history of the American Revolution. Its editors and contributors contend that existing scholarship on the Revolution largely... More


Sons of the Father

Edited by Robert M. S. McDonald

Whether acting as a military officer or civilian officeholder, George Washington did not possess a reputation for glad handing, easy confidences, or even much warmth. His greatest attributes as a commander might well have been his firm command over his own emotions and the way in which he... More


Patriotism and Piety

Jonathan J. Den Hartog

In Patriotism and Piety, Jonathan Den Hartog argues that the question of how religion would function in American society was decided in the decades after the Constitution and First Amendment established a legal framework. Den Hartog shows that among the wide array of politicians and public... More


Becoming Men of Some Consequence

John A. Ruddiman

Young Continental soldiers carried a heavy burden in the American Revolution. Their experiences of coming of age during the upheavals of war provide a novel perspective on the Revolutionary era, eliciting questions of gender, family life, economic goals, and politics. "Going for a soldier"... More


Religious Freedom

John Ragosta

For over one hundred years, Thomas Jefferson and his Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom have stood at the center of our understanding of religious liberty and the First Amendment. Jefferson’s expansive vision—including his insistence that political freedom and free thought would be... More


Amelioration and Empire

Christa Dierksheide

Christa Dierksheide argues that "enlightened" slaveowners in the British Caribbean and the American South, neither backward reactionaries nor freedom-loving hypocrites, thought of themselves as modern, cosmopolitan men with a powerful alternative vision of progress in the Atlantic world.... More


Tom Paine's America

Seth Cotlar

Tom Paine’s America explores the vibrant, transatlantic traffic in people, ideas, and texts that profoundly shaped American political debate in the 1790s. In 1789, when the Federal Constitution was ratified, "democracy" was a controversial term that very few Americans used to describe their... More


Cosmopolitan Patriots

Philipp Ziesche

This truly transnational history reveals the important role of Americans abroad in the Age of Revolution, as well as providing an early example of the limits of American influence on other nations. From the beginning of the French Revolution to its end at the hands of Napoleon, American... More


Collegiate Republic

Margaret Sumner

Collegiate Republic offers a compellingly different view of the first generation of college communities founded after the American Revolution. Such histories have usually taken the form of the institutional tale, charting the growth of a single institution and the male minds within it.... More


Era of Experimentation

Daniel Peart

In Era of Experimentation, Daniel Peart challenges the pervasive assumption that the present-day political system, organized around two competing parties, represents the logical fulfillment of participatory democracy. Recent accounts of "the rise of American democracy" between the Revolution... More


The Citizenship Revolution

Douglas Bradburn

Most Americans believe that the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 marked the settlement of post-Revolutionary disputes over the meanings of rights, democracy, and sovereignty in the new nation. In The Citizenship Revolution, Douglas Bradburn undercuts this view by showing that the... More


Paine and Jefferson in the Age of Revolutions

Edited by Simon P. Newman and Peter S. Onuf

The enormous popularity of his pamphlet Common Sense made Thomas Paine one of the best-known patriots during the early years of American independence. His subsequent service with the Continental Army, his publication of The American Crisis (1776–83), and his work with Pennsylvania’s... More


The Limits of Optimism

Maurizio Valsania

The Limits of Optimism works to dispel persistent notions about Jefferson’s allegedly paradoxical and sphinx-like quality. Maurizio Valsania shows that Jefferson’s multifaceted character and personality are to a large extent the logical outcome of an anti-metaphysical, enlightened, and... More


State and Citizen

Edited by Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf

Pointing the way to a new history of the transformation of British subjects into American citizens, State and Citizen challenges the presumption that the early American state was weak by exploring the changing legal and political meaning of citizenship. The volume’s distinguished... More


Nature's Man

Maurizio Valsania

Although scholars have adequately covered Thomas Jefferson’s general ideas about human nature and race, this is the first book to examine what Maurizio Valsania terms Jefferson’s "philosophical anthropology"—philosophical in the sense that he concerned himself not with describing how humans... More


Culture and Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution

Michal Jan Rozbicki

In his new book, Michal Jan Rozbicki undertakes to bridge the gap between the political and the cultural histories of the American Revolution. Through a careful examination of liberty as both the ideological axis and the central metaphor of the age, he is able to offer a fresh model for... More


Thomas Jefferson, the Classical World, and Early America

Edited by Peter S. Onuf and Nicholas P. Cole

Thomas Jefferson read Latin and Greek authors throughout his life and wrote movingly about his love of the ancient texts, which he thought should be at the core of America's curriculum. Yet at the same time, Jefferson warned his countrymen not to look to the ancient world for modern lessons... More


Unnatural Rebellion

Ruma Chopra

Thousands of British American mainland colonists rejected the War for American Independence. Shunning rebel violence as unnecessary, unlawful, and unnatural, they emphasized the natural ties of blood, kinship, language, and religion that united the colonies to Britain. They hoped that... More


Contesting Slavery

Edited by John Craig Hammond and Matthew Mason

Recent scholarship on slavery and politics between 1776 and 1840 has wholly revised historians’ understanding of the problem of slavery in American politics. Contesting Slavery builds on the best of that literature to reexamine the politics of slavery in revolutionary America and the early... More


Pages