Jefferson’s Cosmopolitan Nature in Notes on the State of Virginia

  • Chiara Cillerai
Part of the The New Urban Atlantic book series (NUA)


In this chapter, Cillerai shows how Thomas Jefferson’s employment of cosmopolitan imagery is an example of eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism’s origins in British colonialism and imperial expansionism. The post-independence cosmopolitan American landscape that Jefferson presents in his only published book Notes on the State of Virginia is a belletristic exercise. Jefferson’s representation produces a powerful image of exceptionalism that contains traits of a narrative that will characterize future representations of America. Cillerai argues that for Jefferson the American cosmopolis exists because it is a part of the eighteenth-century republic of letters, yet within this larger entity, America stands out for its exceptional characteristics. The cosmopolis Jefferson places at the foundation of his idea of America is a reflection of the imperial connections that made the world he lives in possible.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. John’s UniversityStaten IslandUSA

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