Kinder Institute: Thomas Jefferson’s Life of Learning and Law


Kinder Institute: “Thomas Jefferson: A Life of Learning and a Life of Law”


The Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri, a JMC partner program, will host David Konig for a lecture on Jefferson’s vision of a life of learning—as well as Jefferson’s own education—with particular emphasis on his recent research into the Virginia statesman’s study of law.

The world may be singing along with Alexander Hamilton these days, but Professor Konig argues that Thomas Jefferson is still more interesting and illuminating—the most multidimensional of all the Founders and more complex and nuanced in his thinking than Hamilton. Jefferson poses more difficult and thus more rewarding questions. He wrote and did so much over such a long life that it is easy to find apparent inconsistencies and accuse him of contradiction and hypocrisy. But a good education—a Jeffersonian education—should be a series of lessons in the nuance, and even the contradiction, of human ideas and actions, and a process of discovering that complexity is its own enduring reward. There is no better subject to study in such an enterprise than Thomas Jefferson, especially his own education and his preparation to study law. Ultimately, Jefferson teaches us how to think, not what to think, which is why he established the nation’s first professorship of law and then founded a university to advance his vision of a life of learning.

Friday, August 23, 2019 • 3:30 PM
Jesse Hall, Room 410 • University of Missouri

Free and open to the public

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David KonigDavid Konig is currently Professor of Law and Emeritus Professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a leading authority on Thomas Jefferson and Anglo-American legal history, with particular expertise in property law, the Second Amendment, the law of freedom and slavery, and the development of law in colonial, Revolutionary, and early national America. Professor Konig is the author of countless articles and books, and most recently was co-author and editor for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Series 2: The Legal Commonplace Book of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton University Press, 2019). He is also a Senior Research Fellow with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and has contributed to amicus briefs in Second Amendment cases heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.

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The Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri is an interdisciplinary, signature academic center on the Columbia campus, jointly operated by faculty from the Political Science and History Departments, in cooperation with other scholars across campus. It is dedicated to excellence in research, teaching, and community engagement on the subjects of American political thought, history, and institutions, with a particular emphasis on the ideas and events of the American Founding and their continued global impact and relevance today. It was created in 2015 by a generous gift from the Kinder Foundation, a family philanthropic foundation started by Rich and Nancy Kinder of Houston, Texas.

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