Chapter

The Jefferson Memorial

Jeffrey F. Meyer

in Myths in Stone

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520214811
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520214811.003.0007
The Jefferson Memorial

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The Thomas Jefferson is unique among all the Washington memorials because it is immediately comprehensible to the viewer. It is important due to its site in Washington, which most clearly expresses the meaning of the Revolutionary period. The statue of Jefferson stands inside and light pours in through the colonnades, contact is established with the natural world outside. Jefferson was specifically criticized for basing his philosophy on “nature,” especially by conservative Christian ministers. His political principles were based on natural law, which he believed was implanted in the world by the Creator. The Jefferson Memorial serves as reminder of the rediscovery of ancient and pure sources of human culture. Jefferson reflected on two evils resulting from the institution of slavery. He possibly kept his own slaves for reasons of simple economy: his expensive European purchases and his inability to economically manage his own estate.

Keywords: Thomas Jefferson; Washington memorials; Revolutionary period; Christian ministers; natural law; slavery

Chapter.  11008 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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