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Selection of Books from Thomas Jefferson’s Library

M. David Ramsay, Histoire de la Revolution d' Amerique, vol. 1, 1787

Herodotus, Herodoti Historiarum Liber Tetius, Book 3, 1761

John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Vol. 1, 1787

Stefano Arteaga, Le Rivoluzioni del Teatro Musicale Italiano, Vol. 1, 1785

 

Thomas Jefferson had a passion for books and assembled the finest private library in America. After the Capitol burned in 1814, he sold his library to Congress, providing it with a collection that covered a wide range of knowledge, from history to science to the arts.

Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Selection of Books from Thomas Jefferson’s Library Selection of Books from Thomas Jefferson’s Library Selection of Books from Thomas Jefferson’s Library Selection of Books from Thomas Jefferson’s Library

Establishing a Library for Congress - 1

The Library of Congress was established in the act that provided for relocating the federal government to Washington, D.C. That act also authorized purchasing $5,000 worth of books and the “fitting up of a suitable apartment for containing them.” Most of these books were destroyed when British troops burned the Capitol in 1814. To replace them, Thomas Jefferson sold to the government his personal library of over seven thousand volumes. The Library of Congress was housed in the Capitol until 1897, when the Library moved to its own building.