Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Course Leader(s)
Day of Week: Wednesday
Course Length: 10 weeks
Starting: 09/13/2023
Ending: 11/29/2023
Period of Day: Period 2 Zoom
Time: 11:30 - 1:00
Course Fee: $100

Course Description:

In this course, we will read Thomas Jefferson’s biography and learn more about the man who was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and the third president. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, the first U.S. Secretary of State under George Washington, and second vice-president under John Adams. Jefferson’s writings and advocacy for human rights, including freedom of thought, speech, and religion, were a leading inspiration in the American Revolution.

As a lawyer, a member of colonial Virginia’s House of Burgesses, and a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, he wanted the national government to have a limited role in citizens’ lives. Although Jefferson promoted individual liberty, he had over 600 slaves during his life. He succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. minister to France. He then became the first secretary of state and clashed with U.S. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton over foreign policy and differing interpretations of U.S. Constitution. Jefferson favored strong state and local government, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose Hamilton’s Federalist Party, which advocated strong national government with broad powers over the economy. Jefferson’s first administration purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and commissioned explorers Lewis and Clark to explore new acquisitions. After leaving office, he retired and helped found the University of Virginia.  He spent his post-presidential years at Monticello, pursuing his many interests. Due to significant debt accumulated during his life, his mansion, furnishings, and slaves were sold at auction following his death.

The class will consist of presentations by the Course Leader and discussion.  Weekly preparation time should be 2-3 hours.

Books and Other Resources:

Meacham, Jon.  Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Random House

Fawn Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, An Intimate History  (optional)

Course Leader Bio(s)

Marvin Snider

I have a PhD in psychology and have practiced both as a clinician and an organizational consultant. I have led many courses on diverse topics at the Harvard Life Learning Program, including courses on International Hotspots, Innovators of Political Thought, Cults, and Elections. At LLAIC, I have led courses on George Washington, Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt, Hamilton, Truman, Johnson, FDR, Nixon, JFK, Meir, Albright, Brandeis, and Einstein. These courses on presidents and other accomplished people are approached with emphasis on understanding their personality and accomplishments, why they did what they did, and the impact they had.