Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

InThomas Jefferson, Champion of the People, Clara Ingram Judson has presented the biography of an American president as well as a history of the United States during his lifetime. Because of Jefferson’s dramatic and critical impact on the United States, it is necessary to view him against this historical background. The story is presented in eighteen descriptively titled chapters and is attractively illustrated with one full-color portrait and numerous pen-and-ink drawings by Robert Frankenberg. The decorative endpapers help to show the relationship of Albemarle, Louisa, and Fairfax counties in Virginia during Jefferson’s life. The area is known as the Tidewater because of the four great rivers—Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James—that were the main means of transportation in that period.

Judson begins her biography when Jefferson was seven years of age. His father, Peter Jefferson, is portrayed as a strong and caring man who greatly influenced his son, even though he died when Jefferson was fourteen. Judson devotes two chapters to Jefferson as a child. The next two chapters show Jefferson as a student at the College of William and Mary and as a law student under George Wythe. His insatiable search for knowledge and his organizational skills are demonstrated as he pursued his studies; these traits became permanent and integral parts of Jefferson’s life. The next several chapters depict his career as a young attorney and politician: a...

(The entire section is 457 words.)