Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson



>         I have been assigned an annotated Bibliography for my American History
> class. I have chosen Thomas Jefferson's agricultural accomplishments as
> my subject. Could you reccomend a few good journals that would help me
> with my studies, even a book or two would be a tremendous help. Any help
> you could give me would be greatly appreciated

My own focus has been Jefferson writings in politics and government,
therefore my acquaintance with his agricultural accomplishments has only
been incidental to that emphasis, and I am not personally acquainted with
the kinds of materials you are seeking.  I could make some general
recommendations that might be of help, however.

Besides the obvious sources, such as the library catalog of the
University of Virginia (which is accessible on the Internet) and the
Library of Congress, the standard periodical indexes covering history and
agricultural subjects generally, and even the bibliographies in the
standard encyclopedias (Britannica, Americana), you might check the
indexes and bibliographies of biographies of Thomas Jefferson.  The
standard, most detailed biography is that of Dumas Malone, "Jefferson and
His Time," (6 vols.) and it has several entries in the index to most
volumes related to agriculture.  The index volume (vol. 20) of "The
Writings of Thomas Jefferson," TJ Memorial Association, 1903 (Lipscomb
and Bergh, editors) has a large bibliography of 19th century publications
in the back, and it probably has some listings of materials in your area
of interest, though they might be difficult to get copies of.

As I say, I am not personally acquainted with publications related to
Jefferson's agricultural contributions, but I am sure that there are
many.  Jefferson conducted experiments in agriculture all during his life
and introduced many new plants and techniques into America, so you should
run into no scarcity of material in this area.  Even during his stay in
France, he was constantly looking for varieties of plants that might be
cultured in America.  In fact, he smuggled some rice seeds out of France
when supposedly the penalty for doing so was death!

I'm sorry not to be able to give you a more precise listing of sources,
but that might give you a few hints as to the scope of what is available.
You will need to go through a lot of general listings of materials
related to Jefferson and pick out those in the agricultural agrea.  I
don't think you will have much trouble finding things once you get into

> I would much appreciate it if you could give me a definition of > Jeffersonian Agrarianism. We are reading The Grapes of Wrath in > my high school english class, and we need that information for > an assignment. Any response would be much appreciated. Thanks for writing, and I'll try to help you as much as I can. The truth is, the question you raise is getting just a little bit out of my area of expertise. You see, I am an ex-librarian and have spent a lot of time working on the writings of Thomas Jefferson. But I am not an historical scholar. The question you ask--regarding "Jeffersonian Agrarianism"--is more of a question of interpretation than it is of merely citing what Jefferson said in his various writings, which is where I come in. Nevertheless, I will try to help you as much as I can. First, I would suggest that you go to my website devoted to Jefferson's writings at: Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government Section 30. Commerce & Agriculture Scroll down, and you will find some of the essential writings of Jefferson on the subject. Remember: if you are discussing Jefferson's position on a question like agriculture, there is nothing more powerful than being able to actually quote something he said on the subject. Next, I will say just a few words about my impressions, which are far less valuable than his actual writings. Jefferson believed that agriculture should be the back-bone of our nation's economy, especially early on. Later--with the War of 1812--he realized that the nation had to be self-sufficient in manufactures, so he altered his position somewhat. But he always felt that agriculture produced a better, more solid citizenry, that the cities were like pestulant sores on the body politic. It was the "virtues" of agriculture that attracted him, especially the self-sufficiency and independent thinking that it instilled. Before the 1800's, he was against manufacturing. He thought we should only grow food stuffs and trade them for manufactured items made in Europe. But later, he realized that this was not practicable. But he never abandoned an idealistic attitude toward agriculture.


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