Introduction: The Pastoral Ideal of Thomas Jefferson
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The introduction to this volume establishes a connection between key elements of Jefferson’s political thinking and the European literary mode of the pastoral. After defining key terms such as pastoral and romance, Templeton draws attention to the significance of such literary conventions in the political value of the Virginian (and broader American) landscape, and to the important role that older European political and literary traditions have on the central figure in the Jeffersonian landscape—the yeoman farmer. The introduction concludes with an analysis of how race and slavery interact with these concepts.