Fellows Forum: Republican Constitutionalism in Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia
Join ICJS Fellow Dustin Gish, Visiting Assistant Professor, The Center for American Studies, Christopher Newport University, for a talk on his research on Republican Constitutionalism in Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.
Notes on the State of Virginia is Thomas Jefferson's only book, and from its first appearance in print, it won acclaim as an American masterpiece, a tour de force of Enlightenment erudition mediated by an intense curiosity and profound concern with the natural wonders and political history of the New World. But the book has proven enigmatic for both casual readers and scholars, who have found it difficult to grasp the Notes as a coherent whole. This forum discussion addresses some of the causes for this perception, based on a new thorough study of the composition and publication history of the book, and shows how a sustained reading of the Notes as a unified work of political literature articulates Jefferson's mature vision for a genuinely republican political order rooted in nature and framed by a democratic constitution.