A Revolutionary Act

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." —Thomas Jefferson, 1787

The last spread of the Jefferson Bible
Last Page

To Jefferson, no tradition was so sacred as to escape reconsideration in the light of new discoveries and the progress of knowledge. Jefferson viewed the Gospels through the lens of the Enlightenment, a flowering of scientific experiment and rational enquiry in the 18th century.

Reworking parts of the New Testament was an extension of his revolutionary spirit. Jefferson had challenged the authority of the monarchy, questioned the sovereignty of Parliament, and opposed aristocratic privilege in American society. He had drafted the Declaration of Independence, taken part in revisiting the laws of Virginia, and helped establish new legal principles and education institutions. In religion as in politics, he imagined liberating contemporary minds from inherited misconceptions and superstitions.


Conservation Blog Post: Disbinding Blog Post

It is difficult to describe how one faces the prospect of taking apart a national treasure. Of course, in order to reach the level of craftsmanship required, there are years of education and practice required, but that doesn't begin to fully describe it.

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All About Stubs Video

Book conservators always want to know how a book was bound. Before you can even think about how to fix something, you first have to know how it was made.

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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson
"I am of a sect by myself, as far
as I know." — Thomas Jefferson, 1819


Separating pages
Removing the stubs

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The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition, is a full-color facsimile created from high-resolution digital photographs of recently conserved and rebound pages.

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