In her foreword, Judson details her fascination with Monticello and Jefferson and describes how the “urge to bring his philosophy of government, his ideal of freedom, his faith in man, to young Americans became a driving force” until this book was finished. Jefferson’s ideals and beliefs have become a vital part of American heritage, and thus his life should be worthy of emulation by young adults. Jefferson was a complex figure who was influenced by many things: “Hardy frontiersmen brought out a sturdy boldness; from gentlemen in the palace drawing rooms he had learned social graces and the art of conversation. A deep love of nature gave him an eagerness to know sciences; and a joy in reading, fostered by his father, made long hours of study a satisfaction.”
Jefferson is depicted as a planner. When not actively involved in a matter, he was corresponding his ideas to those who were. This aspect of his life is evident when Virginia’s laws were examined. As Judson states, “While other men were fighting for freedom, he was looking beyond victory, hoping to have laws ready so that freedom gained by the war could be turned to good use and made safe.”
Jefferson never found anything that he could not accomplish. According to Judson, his advice to Patsy, his daughter, was that we “can always do what we resolve to do.” For example, he resolved to write the Declaration of Independence, to build his home on a little mountain with a big...
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Jefferson’s career is a topic in all textbooks on the history of the United States. Unfortunately, most of them only cover his life as a politician and statesman, thus omitting his other skills. Judson terms Jefferson “the greatest creative genius of his time.” In the course of her book, Judson mentions several of Jefferson’s accomplishments in agriculture, his musical ability, his study of plants, his care in designing Monticello and the campus of the University of Virginia, and his constant study of all subjects. Several of his inventions are also included: the dumb waiter, the letter press, a polygraph and drawing table, a bed that pulled up out of the way in the daytime, and the great clock over his front door. Because of the many facets of Jefferson’s life, students need more material than what can be found in textbooks.
Judson became a well-known writer of biographies for young adults, generally profiling notable American leaders in politics, business, and science. She focused on individuals from all eras of American history, from Colonial times in George Washington, Leader of the People (1951) to the nineteenth century in Soldier Doctor: The Story of William Gorgas (1942) and Andrew Carnegie (1964). All of her subjects have shared the common traits of confidence, perseverance, and genius in one or more fields of endeavor. Thomas Jefferson, Champion of the People is no exception to this trend in Judson’s prolific literary career. Jefferson’s constant quest for new knowledge and his talents at organization may inspire young readers to further their education and to develop effective study skills.