Summary: What does the preservation of our republican institutions require of citizen and statesmen? More than any other Founder, Thomas Jefferson was convinced that republican government depends less on institutional arrangements and more on cultivating a certain kind of spirit in the people. What does Jefferson mean by spirit and how does he propose to cultivate it? What is the task of republican statesmen in preserving the spirit of republicanism? What lessons can we draw from Jefferson’s understanding of civic virtue for our own times?
Jean M. Yarbrough is Gary Pendy Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Government at Bowdoin College where she teaches political philosophy and American political thought. She is the author of American Virtues—Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People (University Press of Kansas, 1998) and numerous articles and reviews in the Review of Politics, Polity, Publius, the Journal of Politics, the American Scholar, City Journal, and the Claremont Review of Books. She is currently at work on a study of the Progressive Critique of the Founders.