The Age of Thomas Jefferson spanned the years roughly 1770 to 1820, some of the most exciting and tumultuous in American and European history. During this half century, such world-changing events as the American and French Revolutions and the transatlantic Enlightenment stretched people's thinking into many new and unexpected directions.
This course will examine a few of these new ideas in the Age of Jefferson. Though we'll be using Jefferson's life, travels, and writings as a base, we'll range far afield to look at how he and famous contemporaries such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hume thought about their world. We'll frame our discussions around a series of questions that Jefferson and his contemporaries fiercely debated.