Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy

By Francis D. Cogliano | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4


It is impossible to study the development of Thomas Jefferson's reputation since World War II without reference to the two institutions that have shaped and continue to dominate our understanding of Jefferson: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Under the direction of Julian P. Boyd and his successors, the Princeton edition of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson has evolved into a sizeable, long-lived and immensely important entity. The Papers, along with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, have been the driving forces behind the study of Jefferson since the mid-twentieth century. While thePapers have transformed Jefferson scholarship, presenting, albeit slowly, definitive texts of all Jefferson and Jefferson-related documents, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns Jefferson's home at Monticello, has been at the forefront of interpreting and presenting Jefferson to the public, while also engaging in and promoting the scholarly study of Jefferson. Either directly or indirectly these two institutions have contributed most to the burgeoning of Jefferson scholarship over the past half-century.

In 2004 and 2005 the United States Mint unveiled four new five-cent coins. Since 1938 the nickel featured a profile of Thomas Jefferson on its front and an image of his home, Monticello, on its reverse side. To mark the bicentenary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Congress authorized the Mint to issue commemorative nickels. In March 2004 the Mint issued new coins that feature the traditional, left-facing profile of Jefferson on their obverse side. The reverse side of the new nickels for 2004 features either a facsimile of the 'Jefferson Peace Medal' that Lewis and Clark gave to Native American leaders on their westward journey, or an image of one of the keelboats that Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery used on its journey up the Missouri River. In September the Mint introduced new designs for 2005 nickels that feature a new image of Jefferson, facing right in a close-up three-quarters profile, accompanied by a reproduction of the word 'Liberty' in his handwriting. The reverse of the 2005 coins depicts


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