Recent biographies of Thomas Jefferson have stressed the sphinxlike puzzles of his character - famous champion of freedom, yet lifelong slaveholder; foe of miscegenation, yet secret lover of a beautiful slave for 30 years; aristocrat, yet fervent advocate of government by the people. E M Halliday's absorbing, compact, and lucid portrait recognises these and other puzzles about this great founder, but shows us how understandable they can be in the light of his personal and social circumstances and common human experience.
Here are all the pivotal episodes of Jefferson's life: the writing of the Declaration of Independence, his crucial feud with Alexander Hamilton; the surprising Louisiana Purchase; and his postpresidential reconciliation with John Adams. But Halliday's account takes readers deeper, into his personal life, private life. He explores Jefferson's childhood, his literary taste, and his unconventional religious thinking and moral philosophy. Here, too, are his adamant opinions on women, the evolution of ideas on democracy and freedom of expression, and all the latest information about his long relationship with Sally Hemings.