Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crow, "Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection"

A fitting announcement on Thomas Jefferson's birthday: Cambridge University Press has released Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection (March 2017), by Matthew Crow (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). Here's a description from the Press:
In this innovative book, historian Matthew Crow unpacks the legal and political thought of Thomas Jefferson as a tool for thinking about constitutional transformation, settler colonialism, and race and civic identity in the era of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's practices of reading, writing, and collecting legal history grew out of broader histories of early modern empire and political thought. As a result of the peculiar ways in which he theorized and experienced the imperial crisis and revolutionary constitutionalism, Jefferson came to understand a republican constitution as requiring a textual, material culture of law shared by citizens with the cultivated capacity to participate in such a culture. At the center of the story in Thomas Jefferson, Legal History, and the Art of Recollection, Crow concludes, we find legal history as a mode of organizing and governing collective memory, and as a way of instituting a particular form of legal subjectivity.
A few blurbs:
'Matthew Crow's book is a dazzling achievement, deepening and expanding our understanding of Jefferson's conception of the meaning of his (and his nation's) past. Not only does it place his struggles with slavery and nationhood in his own time and place, but it provides the present with a cautionary guide to the self-reflection required of all citizens.' -- David Konig
'Matthew Crow’s new book is a beautiful exploration of the shifts in Thomas Jefferson’s thought. Crow gives not only a powerful account of Jefferson’s philosophical understanding of civic membership but also the psychology of his republicanism. This is a remarkable effort of intellectual reconstruction and an essential contribution to scholarship on the early American republic.' -- Aziz Rana
More information is available here.