Thomas Jefferson is often invoked as an advocate of limited government and a defender of individual rights. This article argues that rights were Jefferson’s starting place. Jefferson also believed that American citizens should have opportunities to develop the capabilities necessary to enjoy the full use of their rights. Rather than thinking about Jefferson as progovernment or antigovernment, this article concludes that we must understand the particular kind of government Jefferson desired, the ends he had in mind, and why and how those ends differed from his Federalist predecessors. A better understanding of Jefferson’s statecraft not only offers a new perspective on the relationship between government and rights in Jefferson’s thought but also how and why Jeffersonians in power used the state to promote individual freedom.
Studies in American Political Development
Required Publisher's Statement
Neem, Johann N., "Developing Freedom: Thomas Jefferson, the State, and Human Capability" (2013). History Faculty and Staff Publications. 16.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Civil rights--Unites States--History; Social values--United States--History
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826--Political and social views; Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826--Philosophy
United States--Politics and government--1775-1783