"The Mind of a Patriot" presents an intellectual life of a
major figure who has traditionally been seen as an
anti-intellectual "child of nature." This was the view of Patrick
Henry that William Wirt presented in his "Life of Henry, " and it
has pervaded every biography since. Hayes presents a very different
view of Henry. Starting with neglected pieces of evidence-the
inventory of Henry's library-Hayes's unique perspective allows him
to position Henry's life within the intellectual currents of the
day. After the opening chapter, which shows how Thomas Jefferson's
opinions of Henry influenced Wirt's depiction of him, the author
traces Henry's life through his relationship with the world of
books. Individual chapters examine Henry's education; his legal
career; his use of books to improve his speaking style; his
relationship to the antislavery movement; his use of books as a
legislator, a farmer, and a father; and, ultimately, the place of
books in his life during his waning years. In a lengthy appendix,
Hayes reconstructs Henry's library, presenting a detailed catalogue
of its contents.
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