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

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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