Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Young Man from the Piedmont: The Youth of Thomas Jefferson, Leonard Wibberley tells the story of the first thirty-three years of Jefferson’s long life, emphasizing the events and attitudes that influenced the young patriot as he grew from a Colonial child to an American who was prepared to write the Declaration of Independence. The book’s fourteen chapters divide the events of Jefferson’s early life into a set of anecdotes that show how Jefferson came to understand the needs of his time and to prepare himself to help provide for those needs.

An author’s note after the last chapter tells readers of Wibberley’s attitude toward his task and offers a short and highly selective bibliography. Young Man from the Piedmont is the first volume of Wibberley’s four-volume biography of Jefferson.

Wibberley opens his account with Peter Jefferson’s happy reaction to the birth of his first son, Thomas. The Jeffersons lived in the Piedmont region of Virginia, and the book shows the difficulty of starting a farm there in those early years. Peter Jefferson did so quite successfully, but he maintained close relations with the wealthy Randolph family in the more prosperous Tidewater region. Wibberley makes it clear that young Thomas grew up to understand well how the social system of rural Virginia worked and that the Piedmont settlers were already curious about the lands to the west.

When Jefferson had learned what...

(The entire section is 494 words.)