Thomas Jefferson: The Sublime Oxymoron

Celebrating the very American contradictions of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson will ever haunt us. The right eyes him suspiciously as a limousine Jacobin so enamored of revolution that he once suggested we should have one every 20 years. The left disdains him as your basic race hypocrite. And in the popular imagination, inflamed by Hollywood, the man is Mr. Sally Hemings.

All these views wildly miss the mark because no one view can begin to comprehend so large a man. In everything--talent, imagination, writing, indeed, curiosity--Jefferson was prodigious, Continental and, hence, supremely American.

The Library of Congress bicentennial exhibit of Jefferson's books and writings offers a splendid display of...

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