- Gordon S. Wood has written many magnificent books on the American Revolution, including The Radicalism of the American Revolution and The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (called "One of the half dozen most important books ever written about the American Revolution"). His new book is outside the boundaries of this site, but nonetheless, for anyone who wants to know how colonial ideals became American democracy, read Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815. It has received superlative reviews.
More Creation — The Empire of Liberty
I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. This, with its echo of the Declaration (
self-evident) was Jefferson at his most terse. Except for the phrase
in usufruct — a legalism meaning the right to use property for a certain time — Jefferson’s words could be chiseled in stone, or shouted on the hustings.