In this acclaimed work, available here for the first time in paperback, Herbert E. Sloan examines Thomas Jefferson's complex and obsessive relationship to debt—its roles in his life and political career, and in the formation of republican ideology. As party leader in the 1790s, and later as President of the United States, Jefferson led a crusade against public debt, which he felt robbed the people of a future rightly theirs. Yet as a private person, he was plagued by debt, never free of it throughout his life. In this respect, Sloan argues, Jefferson was representative of his social class—most of the Virginia gentry had similar problems with debt, and similar feelings about it.

Taking as the central exposition of Jefferson's political vision his famous letter to James Madison on the rights of the living generation, Sloan explores in detail the events of 1789–90, when Jefferson acceded to Hamilton's plans for the national debt. The consequences of this decision would haunt Jefferson until the day he died.

Eloquently written and exhaustively researched, Principle and Interest provides a unique perspective on a range of topics—revolutionary ideology, political economy, the mechanics of party organization—central to an understanding of the period.

Find a BookFor Our AuthorsRights and PermissionsRotunda Digital ImprintSupport UVA PressCareer OpportunitiesWalker Cowen Memorial PrizePrivacy Policy
P.O. Box 400318 (Postal)
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4318
210 Sprigg Lane (Courier)
Charlottesville, VA 22903-2417
434 924-3468 (main)
1-800-831-3406 (toll-free)
434 982-2655 (fax)
support uva press
Be a part of
the future
of publishing
Support UVA Press
uva logo
aup member
© 2022 UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA PRESS