Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson

By Edwin S. Gaustad | Go to book overview
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Foreword

Unlike those of all but a small handful of his fellow Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson's name has not faded into the mists of time. When the producers of a recent film, Jefferson in Paris, chose to play fast and loose with his character and what he had done in his years as the new American ambassador to France, discomfited pundits joined angry scholars in vigorous protest. A phrase from one of Jefferson's letters concerning a "wall of separation" between church and state has been for the past fifty years at the forefront of constitutional discussion on sensitive questions about the proper place of religion in public life. (Nor is it irrelevant to note that reader demand prompts new editions of his many and always interesting letters.) Jefferson's words in many significant documents especially the Declaration of Independence remain a focus for diligent historical research into the moral as well as political world in which the United States came into existence. His presence on the nickel, as a revered icon for Democratic politicians at Jefferson-Jackson dinners, and more recently as an inspiration for Republican

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