Jefferson the revolutionary liberal or Jefferson the Virginia conservative?

17 Jul

This has confused me for some time.  Here is Clyde Wilson’s take (he’s a Virginia conservative).

To one group of American conservatives who were bred to regard Thomas Jefferson as the paramount hero of states rights and constitutionalism, it is shocking to encounter the virulence with which another group of American conservatives attacks Jefferson as the archdemocrat. It is true that as a thinker Jefferson was free-ranging. But one is hard put to find genuinely radical acts of Jefferson the statesman. He favored some experimentation with the legal forms of society, but almost entirely in subordinate matters. I would be prepared to maintain in a forum where there is adequate space that none of the tinkering Jefferson did was as fundamental or as harmful as that of John Adams in riding his hobbyhorse of checks and balances. Certainly Jefferson was a more truly conservative statesman than that rash innovator, Alexander Hamilton, whom Russell Kirk has rightly described as not qualifying as a conservative.

Full article 

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