About the Author: James C. Thompson, II
Jim Thompson studied Philosophy at Mr. Jefferson’s University in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a graduate student, Jim lived across the Rivanna River from Monticello on the farm of Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter. During his four years there he came to know all the hills and hollows in Jefferson Country.
Jim developed an interest in the History of Ideas while teaching courses in Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics and Western Civilization at Strayer University in Alexandria, Virginia. Acting on this interest, Jim wrote Beyond the Veil of Reason, Thomas Jefferson's Early Political Initiatives, which he completed as a Batten Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson Center for International Studies at Monticello.
As he reconstructed the motives and maneuvers of Jefferson's private rebellions against the Monarchy of England and the "pseudo-aristocracy" of his own state, Jim discovered that neither of these early initiatives was rooted in the intellectual revolution that had spread through Europe during the previous one hundred years. That is to say, brilliant though Jefferson was, in 1776 he knew virtually nothing of the theological debate in England where Latitudinarian appeals for toleration in matters of religion had given rise to Deism, Pantheism and Atheism. He had no clear understanding of the debate in Scotland where Moral Philosophy had supplanted Moral Theology in discussions of right behavior. He knew nothing at all about the situation in France where post-enlightened ideologues were replacing the philosophes who had brought the Eclairissement to France fifty years before.
Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment continues the story Jim began in his first book. In this second book, Jim accompanies Jefferson on eight excursions through Paris and its surrounding areas. During these divertissements, Jim takes notes as Pierre Cabanis introduces Jefferson to the French capital and the intellectual currents that made it the center of the enlightened world.
Jim is an artist as well as an intellectual tourist and author. He grew up in Wilmington, Delaware where he took art classes at the Delaware Art Center. He has studied the work of Howard Pyle and many of the brilliant illustrators Pyle trained and has been applying this knowledge for the past forty years illustrating The Adventures of Ragmore Nightshade. Jim and Lydia travel a lot when he is not writing or painting. They spend a good deal of time visiting friends in the 18th century. Otherwise they are usually somewhere in Maine, Delaware, or Virginia.