Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh
By Thomas S. Kidd
JMC fellow Thomas Kidd has written a book, Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh, which examines Jefferson’s ethical and spiritual life:
Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus skepticism about Christianity.
In this book Thomas S. Kidd tells the story of Jefferson’s ethical life through the lens of these tensions, including an unapologetic focus on the issue where Jefferson’s idealistic philosophy and lived reality clashed most obviously: his sexual relationship with his enslaved woman Sally Hemings. In doing so, he offers a unique perspective on one of American history’s most studied figures.
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Thomas Kidd is the Associate Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion, and James Vardaman Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University. His books include Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh (Yale University Press, 2022); Who is an Evangelical?: A History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale University Press, 2019); Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2017), American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths (Yale University Press, 2016), Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press, 2015), George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2014), Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (Basic Books, 2011), God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2010), American Christians and Islam (Princeton University Press, 2008), and The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America(Yale University Press, 2007). He has written for outlets including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Kidd blogs at “Evangelical History,” at The Gospel Coalition website.
Kidd teaches courses on colonial America, the American Revolution, and American religious history. He won a 2006-07 NEH Fellowship, and won a 2004 NEH Summer Stipend. Kidd came to Baylor University in 2002 after completing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Notre Dame, where he worked with the historian of religion George Marsden. He received a B.A. and M.A. at Clemson University. He and his wife Ruby have two sons, Jonathan and Joshua.
Professor Kidd is a JMC fellow.
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