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Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  929 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 - July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801-1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark E ...more
Kindle Edition, 115 pages
Published (first published 1821)
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Ilyn Ross
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson. I dearly worship Mr. Jefferson. It is exceptionally wonderful to read his own words about his life. As I expected, he treasured his privacy - he said very little about his private life. He lovingly spoke of his wife in one sentence - he said he lived with her in "unchequered happiness".

Mr. Jefferson clearly admired Mr. George Washington and Dr. Benjamin Franklin. I love these:

"I served with General Washington in the legislature of
John Martindale
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
In light of what were taught about about Thomas Jefferson, how he was a racist and a slave holder, I think the following quotes from his autobiography are interesting.

“In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, & continued in that until it was closed by the revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could ex
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the "Memoir" portion of the "Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson" available on project gutenburg.

It is clear that Jefferson was for the emancipation of slaves, he even attempted to put through emancipation prior to the independence as a member of the county legislature where we lived.

"In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, and so continued until it was closed by the Revolu
Once I got used to paragraphs that ran on and on, and no chapters, I got used to Thomas Jefferson, maybe. It may have been nothing more than a Dover edition trying to save money! The book is slim and doesn't talk about Jefferson so much as about the huge events in his life. He discusses his experience drawing together the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and events from the French Revolution. He warns of future problems with out of control judges, or a populace that has abandoned m ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a very good book. Lots of detail into who and how from his years in politics. While it is informative and helpful in understanding the decisions made during that time, it is not what I would call an autobiography. You don't really learn much about the man except that he kept really good notes of everything going on. I would recommend this book but will see if I can't find a better biography to fill in what this one lacks.
Matthew Stanfill
Very short, He grew bored quickly writing about himself. If you want to learn more about Jefferson read all of his correspondence, which you can find in public domain.
Lonnieandmelanie Wibberding
Not much personal information. It is more about decisions and processes of building a nation. Of course this is invaluable historically, but one does wish for more self-revealing information.
Jeremy Perron
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, is one of the most important men in the history of the world and one of the most hard to study. James Madison, Jefferson's secretary of state and successor as president, warned future scholars who would try to study the author of the Declaration of Independence that he was a man of many contradictions and is extremely hard to nail down*. No one who can be in public life as long as Thomas Jefferson was and do so without some sort of inco ...more
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in: American, French Revolutions; American Constitution; Jefferson's Life
Thomas Jefferson's autobiography reminded me of Einstein's Autobiographical Notes in many respects. Neither book is a conventional autobiography, but rather a concise summary of the respective authors' life's work, with personal facts and figures given only secondary importance (particularly in the case of Einstein's book.) It's also worth noting that both books are written with great humility, despite the considerable achievements and influence of the two writers.

Jefferson begins by bri
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-studies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Jefferson was a remarkable man...intelligent and articulate. His attempt at autobiogrphy, however, falls a bit short. So why 4 stars? It's because this book is more like reading a bit of someone's diary, with a brief personal introduction. The topics covered, the birth of our nation and the unraveling of France in 1789 contain his thoughts and impressions about the difficulties of gaining consensus and agreements in the fledgling 13 states as well as the role he played in trying to find m ...more
Jackson Cyril
"Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu filled up by free white laborers. If on the contr ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do I write a review about the autobiography one of the most influential politicians of the American Revolution when I was mostly bored and only understood about 50% of it? Jefferson's autobiography is nothing compared to Ben Franklin's. There are no chapters so the pacing is just one continuous stream of "I was here and we talked about this, but so-in-so didn't like that idea, so we tried to ratify anyway..." There are two really cool parts that I think everyone should read and they were the ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dry and impersonal. But after reading Hitchens' short book on Jefferson, felt the need to go read some of his own writing. As Henry Adams points out, this is a man who lived through *2* revolutions. And most of the last part of this short autobio (a bit over 100 pp) is given over to his involvement (or lack thereof) with the early days of the French Revolution. Written late in life, and supposedly as a guide for his family to his life's achievements, it ends with Washington naming him Sect of St ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: College goers
Recommended to MarcusLaub by: No one
Category: Autbiography
This is Book is really difficult because it had so much information and it was so detail. I'm going to jump to where he was going to college. The college he attend was the college of William and Mary. He was going into law his Biography the goes through the war period( I fell asleep a couple times during this part) he drafted the Declaration of Independence he also went to France with Benjamin Franklin, and took observations of the French Revolution. All this
Al Lock
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting autobiography, which only covers until Jefferson heads back from France as the French Revolution is about to erupt, but which doesn't cover his own service as Vice-President or President, only briefly notes his reaction to the US Constitution - and yet was clearly written after 1825 (he mentions 4 Presidents having established a limit of 8 years on the Presidency). There are a number of factual mistakes which are pointed out by the editor, and there are some corrections that Jeffe ...more
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. I enjoyed reading it although the grammer constructs were a little difficult to understand and required me to reread passages and sections of the book several times before I fully understood what Jefferson specifically meant. Still, it provided me a good insight into some of Jefferson's positions on many things. I highly recommend this book as a starting point to learn more and more about Jefferson and some of his public and private opinions.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is fascinating to see the late 18th century through the eyes of one of the most intelligent men of the day, a man who was in on the "invention" of America. Endless discussion of political topics was sometimes a yawner, but politics were a vital part of the story, and Jefferson's astute and fascinating insights into people and events kept me going. While the book covers his life from childhood through 1790, he focuses on the years from about 1774 on.
Nicholas Maulucci
tough read. tough to follow the events, the people, his thinking. had high points in book. Jefferson had strong ties with France and would have stayed there except for being asked personally by Washington to come back to Monticello. also he met with Franklin a couple weeks before his death - an interesting story. recommended for a history class for seniors in high school or college age youngsters. I love America.
Miles Smith
One of the two consequential autobiographies of the revolutionary generation, Jefferson's tome reaffirms the mysteries surrounding the third president. The book also displays every quirk now associated with Jefferson. His hatred of Great Britain and the Netherlands, and his love of revolutionary France, ore obvious. So too is his abiding belief in an innately moral human ontology. Jefferson is wordy, and sometimes dwells on minutiae.
This book contains quotes, passages and statements by Thomas Jefferson that he wrote in letters, books and journals during his lifetime. These statements provide more insight into the mind of Thomas Jefferson. He was a man before his time, well-rounded, well-versed and often contradictory. This book would be great for a writer to have on hand should he/she want to use quotes by Jefferson. An American History teacher would appreciate this book, as well.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, classics
It would be hard to overestimate the importance of Thomas Jefferson in American history. As I have always been a great admirer - though more a federalist by philosophy - and enjoyed every word of this book,
although not a true autobiography. I have also read several good biographies over the years, but this was the first time I have read Jefferson's own words about his life. He was, as is often noted, a man of many and great contradictions but of towering intellect and achievement.
Matt Pitts
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was quite interesting to read Jefferson's take on elements of the revolutions in America and France in his own words. This work was never intended for publication (or if it was it was never completed), but if it had never been written we would be much the poorer.

*I read this in the Library of America edition of Jefferson's writings.
Jeremy Egerer
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely essential overview of Jefferson's career in the US, the founding of America, and a good (and brief) overview of the French Revolution. This short work made me very aware that the Thomas Jefferson claimed today by many people is not the Thomas Jefferson of history, but a figment of political imagination. A must-read.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not comprehensive, by any means, but also a very readable length. Does not get into some of the later work in administrations that some blurbs allege. OTOH, hard to beat Thomas Jefferson for the occasional inside-baseball nugget on the formation of this or that document. Also, some particularly interesting observations about the French Revolution since he was there at the start.
Brenda Morris
I didn't get to completely finish this book but I hope to go back to it the next time some of my students choose to read it. What I read was really interesting and helped me understand Jefferson's ideals much better. However, someday I hope to have time to read a biography of Jefferson, too, to fill in the details he has glossed over, since his focus is not a comprehensive story of his own life.
Nathan Beck
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I came to read this book knowing very little of his life, and I leave it knowing only slightly more. It seems he spends a lot of time talking about the French Revolution and only some of the time speaking of the American one. I had hoped that he would talk more of himself, but I am still happy that I read it.
Kirsten Keefe
All Presidents are flawed because they are human. But to compare the kind and impact of the flaws of Thomas Jefferson to this current president is a painful exercise. I loved reading about the debate to determine how the vote would be apportioned among these new Americans, and the recounting of events leading up to and during the French Revolution to which Mr Jefferson was privy.
Joey Troy
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, was short and sweet and learned a lot of things about Jefferson I didn't know. I was looking at other titles but choose this one as it was much shorter than other books I saw on Jefferson.
Jay Wright
Incomplete, yet interesting. I expected it to be a little more in depth. It gave some interesting insights about some of the players. It definitely gave you insght into his beliefs. His visit with Franklin on his death bed was interesting.
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More than a mere renaissance man, Jefferson may actually have been a new kind of man. He was fluent in five languages and able to read two others. He wrote, over the course of his life, over sixteen thousand letters. He was acquainted with nearly every influential person in America, and a great many in Europe as well. He was a lawyer, agronomist, musician, scientist, philosopher, author, architect ...more
“So inscrutable is the arrangement of causes and consequences in this world, that a two-penny duty on tea, unjustly imposed in a sequestered part of it, changes the condition of all its inhabitants.” 16 likes
“Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.” 9 likes
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