Jefferson Book Club

Open to all MU undergraduates, the Jefferson Book Club is an extracurricular reading group that examines great books in the western tradition with a particular focus on classical liberal thought. The group meets monthly at the Tiger Bistro in Reynolds Alumni Center’s University Club.

In the past, JBC participants have explored topics including the influence of Scottish Enlightenment thinkers on the architects of the United States government and Tocqueville and James Fenimore Cooper’s 19th-century visions of the future of the American republic, and they have looked at specific works ranging from Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments to Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.

During Fall 2018, participants will focus on how the term “liberty” has been used throughout American history, beginning with selections from a newly published anthology of colonial era documents that speak to the meaning and exercise of liberty (Exploring the Bounds of Liberty: Political Writings of Colonial British America from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution, Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush (eds.), Liberty Fund Press, 2018). This first round of readings will include writings by William Penn, Benjamin Harrison, and John Dickenson (pictured above). From here, the group will move into the 19th century, through an examination of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and selections from the writings of William Leggett, an influential Jacksonian-Era writer who defended laissez-faire approaches to liberty and property, and whose widely-circulated essays appeared in the New York Post and deeply influenced both contemporaries and subsequent generations. JBC participants will conclude the semester in the 20th century by reading Milton and Rose Friedman’s Free to Choose.

The first (organizational) meeting of the 2018-19 school year is scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, from 5:00-7:00pm, and subsequent Fall 2018 meetings will take place on the second Wednesday of each month, at the same time and place. One does not have to be a member of the University Club to participate, and the JBC is pleased to provide drinks and appetizers for all participants.

For more information about 2018-19 meetings of the Jefferson Book Club, please contact Professor of Political Science and JBC Coordinator Jay Dow, at