Instaread Summary, Analysis & Review of Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power
Five out of five stars
The incredible contradictions in the personal and professional life of Thomas Jefferson are enormous and often overlooked. That is not a criticism that can be directed at this summary.
Jefferson is the author of one of the most philosophically significant phrases, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, when Jefferson wrote this, the word “men” referred to landed white men and excluded all females. That is what he meant, even though it sounds far more inclusive.
The summary also mentions the incredible contradiction of the Louisiana Purchase, a presidential action that had no justification in the constitution. Jefferson simply carried out the purchase of what was essentially stolen property. Napoleon had taken it from the Spanish when he invaded and occupied the country.
This is one of the best summaries, as it captures so much of the essence of Thomas Jefferson, including the contradictions. For example, he did speak out against slavery, yet did not hesitate to profit from it in both the economic and sexual senses. If you have any interest in history, this summary will convince you that you need to read the book.