Cover image for Thomas Jefferson, a biographical companion
Thomas Jefferson, a biographical companion
Brown, David S. (David Scott), 1966-
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1998]

Physical Description:
xvii, 266 pages : illustrations, 1 map ; 27 cm.
An encyclopedia covering the life of Thomas Jefferson and the key issues, events, and personalities that shaped him.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E332.79 .B76 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Thomas Jefferson advocated a society based on talent and virtue. His belief in the inherent goodness of humankind coupled with his faith in science made him the consummate gentleman-statesman. There was also an ethnocentric side to Jefferson. His agrarian bias led him to combat northern interests that encouraged the expansion of industry, and his legacy lends itself to continual reinterpretation.

Author Notes

David S. Brown , Ph.D., is assistant professor of history at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA, specializing in the history of the early republic.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Most of us venerate Thomas Jefferson for his political leadership and for his role in formulating early American thought, but the wealth of information about him is contradictory and confusing at times. David Brown, a professor of history whose specialty is the period so heavily influenced by Jefferson, has compiled this guide to help readers understand the times in which Jefferson lived and worked and reconcile the images of the enlightened sophisticate and the parochial slaveholder. Arranged alphabetically, the nearly 200 entries present overviews of topics (Anglophobia, impressment, sectionalism), events (elections, the publication of the Mazzei Letter, Shays' Rebellion), and people (the Adams Family, Maria Cosway, John Locke) that affected Thomas Jefferson and vice versa. Although these brief articles probably do not offer the Jefferson scholar new information, the reader less familiar with the subject can learn a great deal in a short time. Simply scanning the illustrations, for example, shows Jefferson's pragmatic "autocopier," his design for a macaroni machine, and an ad he placed after a slave named Sandy ran away with his shoemaker tools and a white horse. Reading the entries on James Callender (a pamphleteer who first "broke" the story of Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings), the Tertium Quid (a divisive faction of the Republican Party), and the Yazoo Lands (a fraudulent land deal) suggests that politics then was no nobler than today. In addition to the brief articles, there are selected primary sources that enhance the understanding of this remarkable man and his times. Included are Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence (with the parts stricken by Congress in italics), letters to friends and family showing many of his interests and concerns, and his first inaugural address. A six-page chronology includes personal and political events, and it, as well as the index and the cross-references, helps direct the reader to relevant articles. The bibliography is extensive, but without annotations; it is probably overwhelming to the nonspecialist audience alluded to in the preface. Its attractive format and easy readability will make this volume useful to anyone who wants to know more about Thomas Jefferson and the republican citizenry he endorsed. Although it is arranged like a reference book, it is one that many will want to peruse at leisure, so some libraries might want circulating copies, too. Recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries, this is the second title in the publisher's Biographical Companions series. The first was published last year and dealt with Benjamin Franklin ($45, 0-87436-931-2).

Library Journal Review

The author of numerous journal articles on the early Republic, Brown (history, Elizabethan Coll.) offers about 200 entries, each roughly a page long, on a wide range of people, places, and events that were directly or indirectly important in the life of Thomas Jefferson. These include topics such as John Locke, Monticello, the War of 1812, and Alexander Hamilton. It is unlikely that specialists will learn anything new about, for instance, the Declaration of Independence or the Enlightenment from such brief articles, but students and general readers should find this book to be a valuable, reliable reference tool. The book's bibliography is thorough, but it would have been a better guide for non-specialists if Brown had annotated it‘for example, to tell readers that The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (28 volumes to date, Princeton Univ., 1950+) is preferable to the two other editions of Jefferson's writings cited. For public and academic libraries.‘Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.