November 17, 2016

Matthew Crow's New Book on Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection

Matthew Crow, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, is publishing Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Here is a description of the book's contents from the publisher's website.
In this innovative book, historian Matthew Crow unpacks the legal and political thought of Thomas Jefferson as a tool for thinking about constitutional transformation, settler colonialism, and race and civic identity in the era of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's practices of reading, writing, and collecting legal history grew out of broader histories of early modern empire and political thought. As a result of the peculiar ways in which he theorized and experienced the imperial crisis and revolutionary constitutionalism, Jefferson came to understand a republican constitution as requiring a textual, material culture of law shared by citizens with the cultivated capacity to participate in such a culture. At the center of the story in Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Crow concludes, we find legal history as a mode of organizing and governing collective memory, and as a way of instituting a particular form of legal subjectivity.

Sheds new light on Jefferson's thinking through original archival research and situates Jefferson's intellectual practice in a variety of contexts such as legal history and colonialism

Focuses on a single figure while showing the historical and theoretical relationships between legal, political, and historical thought in the early modern Atlantic world and the founding of the United States

Expands our understanding of the history and politics of historical thought by putting Jefferson's use of history in dialogue with the present

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