Thomas Jefferson A Biography of Spirit and Flesh Thomas S. Kidd

Publication date:
28 Jun 2022
Yale University Press
328 pages: 235 x 156mm
20 b-w illus.
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A revelatory new biography of Thomas Jefferson, focusing on his ethical and spiritual life

Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus radical skepticism.
In this book Thomas S. Kidd tells the story of Jefferson’s ethical life through the lens of these tensions, including an unapologetic focus on the issue where Jefferson’s idealistic philosophy and lived reality clashed most obviously: his sexual relationship with his enslaved woman Sally Hemings. In doing so, he offers a unique perspective on one of American history’s most studied figures.

Thomas S. Kidd is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University. His books include Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father and Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis. He lives in Woodway, Texas.

"In this long-awaited book, Thomas Kidd, one of the world's most respected historians, portrays a compellingly complicated human being."—Russell Moore, Chair of Theology, Christianity Today

“Kidd has written a unique work—'a narrative of Jefferson’s moral universe’—that will make an outstanding contribution to scholarship on Jefferson.”—James Byrd, Vanderbilt Divinity School