Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Peter Onuf’s Jefferson

A review of Jefferson and the Virginians: Democracy, Constitutions, and Empire (LSU Press, 2018) by Peter Onuf

Historian Peter S. Onuf first saw the light as a Connecticut Yankee. Powerful of intellect even in his teens, he met the American Revolution as the subject of serious study in a Johns Hopkins graduate seminar (in which he was the sole undergraduate) taught by the greatest scholar of colonial America, Jack P. Greene.

Onuf’s earliest work focused on the kinds of legal/constitutional topics Greene has explored best. Students interested in “independent” Vermont, the Northwest Ordinance, or any of the several other subjects on which Onuf published his early books and articles find themselves starting, and most often finishing, with what he said about them.

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