FOR JEFFERSON AND LIBERTY: The United States in War and Peace, 1800-1815 by Leonard Falkner
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FOR JEFFERSON AND LIBERTY: The United States in War and Peace, 1800-1815

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Again Jefferson's dream of a peaceful agrarian society and its subsequent disintegration is under discussion. Falkner, however, devotes less attention to Jefferson himself and his philosophy, focusing instead on the large and small events of those fifteen years of America's burgeoning growth and conflict which best reveal why agrarian republicanism was ultimately unrealized. In keeping with the objectives of the series, the America of Jeffersonian democracy, westward expansion, and the War of 1812 is chronicled by original source materials chosen wisely for clarity, liveliness, and sheer delight. Excerpts from the carefully detailed diary of an Irish gentleman, Isaac Weld, who traveled through America in 1800, establish the setting. His impressions of the cities, countryside, and means of transportation are vivid and effective in placing the reader's mindset in the environment of an America of five million people. The account of the experiences of these five million undergoing rapid social change follows in chapters interspersed with verses from popular songs, excerpts from letters, newspapers, documents, etc. (Even one who loathes military history will find battles fascinating when reading of the frightened foot soldier's sensations.) And although the book is often amusing, serious issues are not skirted. The American Indian's plight and the slavery situation are considered in the context of economic growth and its accompanying human oppression. This is not a substitute for a well researched biography of Jefferson such as Wibberly's 1968 work, nor is it a complete account of the Jeffersonian era. It is unique, however, in that it offers something new to both the uninformed and those familiar with this time in America's past.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Knopf