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Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Powerby Garry Wills
Synopses & Reviews
In Negro President, the best-selling historian Garry Wills explores a controversial and neglected aspect of Thomas Jefferson's presidency: it was achieved by virtue of slave "representation", and conducted to preserve that advantage.
Wills goes far beyond the recent revisionist debate over Jefferson's own slaves and his relationship with Sally Heming to look at the political relationship between the president and slavery. Jefferson won the election of 1800 with Electoral College votes derived from th three-fifths representation of slaves, who could not vote but who were partially counted as citizens. That count was known as "the slave power" granted to southern states, and it made some Federalists call Jefferson the Negro President — one elected only by the slave count's margin.
Probing the heart of Jefferson's presidency, Wills reveals how the might of the slave states was a concern behind Jefferson's most important decisions and policies, including his strategy to expand the nation west. But the president met with resistance: Timothy Pickering, now largely forgotten, was elected to Congress to wage a fight against Jefferson and the institutions that supported him. Wills restores Pickering and his allies' dramatic struggle to our understanding of Jefferson and the creation of the new nation.
In Negro President, Wills offers a bold rethinking of one of American history's greatest icons.
"An eye-opening, carefully argued expose of...one of the big sleeper issues in American political history." Kirkus Reviews
"Wills's book superbly narrates the issues for laypersons and scholars to follow effortlessly in understanding how slavery shaped America. Strongly recommended for academic and public libraries." Library Journal
"An eye-opening, carefully argued exposé of what the author justifiably considers to be one of the big sleeper issues in American political history." Andrew Wylie, Kirkus Reviews
"...an impressive reminder of how the first modern experiment in representative democracy failed — thus requiring a second and far bloodier American revolution, more often called the Civil War." Scott McLemee, Newsday
"Like a prosecuting attorney in a courtroom, Wills makes the best case he can at every crucial point of his argument." The New York Times
In Negro President” the Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Garry Wills explores a pivotal moment in American history through the lens of Thomas Jefferson and the now largely forgotten Timothy Pickering, and prods readers to appreciate essential aspects of our distressed but well-intentioned representative democracy” (Chicago Tribune).
In 1800 Jefferson won the presidential election with Electoral College votes derived from the three-fifths representation of slaves — slaves who could not vote but were still partially counted as citizens. Moving beyond the recent revisionist debate over Jeffersons own slaves and his relationship with Sally Hemings, Wills instead probes the heart of Jeffersons presidency and political life, revealing how the might of the slave states remained a concern behind his most important policies and decisions.
In an eye-opening, ingeniously argued exposé, Wills restores Timothy Pickering and the Federalists dramatic struggle to our understanding of Jefferson, the creation of the new nation, and the evolution of our representative democracy.
Garry Wills is a thinker of first rate. He combines the vigor of the social critic with the depth of the historian, and to these he adds the even rarer gifts of the philosopher.” — New Republic
A thorough political analysis of another founding fathers involvement in slavery.” — San Francisco Chronicle
Garry Wills, a distinguished historian and critic, is the author of numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prizewinning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Saint Augustine, the best-selling Why I Am a Catholic, and Henry Adams and the Making of America.
In "Negro President," the bestselling historian Wills explores a controversial and neglected aspect of Thomas Jefferson's presidency: it was achieved by virtue of slave "representation," and conducted to preserve that advantage.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -258) and index.
About the Author
Garry Wills is the author of numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prize?winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Nixon Agonistes, Reagan?s America, Saint Augustine, Papal Sin, and most recently Negro President. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he has won many awards, among them two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 1998 National Medal for the Humanities. He is an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University.
Table of Contents
Contents Key to Brief Citations xi Prologue: Coming to Terms with Jefferson xii Introduction: The Three-Fifths Clause 1 I. Before 1800 15 1. Pickering vs. Jefferson: The Northwest 18 2. Pickering vs. Jefferson: Toussaint 33 II. Second Revolution” 47 3. 1800:Why Were Slaves Counted? 50 4. 1800: The Negro-Burr Election 62 5. 1801: Jefferson or Burr? 73 6. 1801 Aftermath: Turning Out the Federalists 90 III. Pickering in Congress 103 7. 1803: The Twelfth Amendment 106 8. 1803: Louisiana 114 9. 1804: Pickering and Burr 127 10. 18041805: Impeachments 140 11. 1808: Embargo 147 12. 1808: Pickering and Governor Sullivan 159 13. 1808: Pickering and J. Q. Adams 171 14. 18091815: Pickering and Madison 182 IV. The Pickering Legacy 195 15. J. Q. Adams: The Federal (Slave) District 200 16. J. Q. Adams: Petition Battles 214 Epilogue: Farewell to Pickering 226 Notes 233 Acknowledgments 259 Index 260
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