Thomas Jefferson

Notes on the State of Virginia

originally published:
London : Printed for John Stockdale

The title page of the first edition, image derived from Google Books.


  • First Book(1787)
  • Blockson101(1787)

reference info

bio notes:
born: 4/13/1743
died: 7/4/1826
born as: Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson's accomplishment's as a statesman and third President of the United States tend to overshadow his very substantial contributions to American literature. He was the penman of the American Revolution who, more than any other single person, created the characteristic language of the new American experiment in representative democracy. He gave clear, definitive articulation to the concept of natural (as distinguished from civil) rights, to the ideas of both civil and religious liberty, to the concept of minimal government, and to the preference for a rural agricultural citizenry over urban industrialism. Perceiving the need for an educated citizenry if democracy were to work, he advocated an aristocracy of virtue and talent over the "tinsel aristocracy" of inherited wealth and privilege. Jefferson was also an early advocate for the study of Old English, for the acceptance of a changing, adaptive English language, and for the development of a specifically American English. He was a major spokesman in the eighteenth-century revival of the Greek and Roman ethical thought of the Stoic and Epicurean schools, making the ideas and the language of those schools a part of subsequent American values and language. Important as an early writer against a state-established church, he was also a key figure in the late-eighteenth-and early-nineteenth-century revolt against Calvinism, replacing the dogmas of depravity, damnation, and predestination with an enlightenment typology of faith in human nature, and progress through education and free will. - from American Colonial Writers, 1735-1781