The Jefferson Image in the American Mind: Problems and Perspectives Since 1960
Reeves, Scot J.
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Thomas Jefferson still survives, a.side from the historical interpretations, in the form of the Jefferson Memorial and the Jefferson Home, Monticello. Rather than representing the particular achievements of Thomas Jefferson, these landmarks have assumed new meanings. They stand as cultural symbols which represent the odd mixture of American pragmatism and utopian vision Jefferson has come to symbolize. The historical Jefferson does not stand as a symbol of Virginia or the former American Colonies, but rather as a symbol of the Revolution's end result: The United States. This image of Jefferson, as Merrill D. Peterson calls it, becomes just as important as the man, because both affect historians and their interpretations. Historians will never know Jefferson or understand him while they are side-tracked by his image. It is this image of Jefferson that I intend to discuss.