At U-Va., Jefferson Scholar Examined the Links in Liberty’s Legacy

Merrill D. Peterson, 88, a University of Virginia professor whose writings on Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and other figures made him a renowned historian of 19th-century America, died Sept. 23 at a retirement home in Charlottesville. He had pneumonia.

Dr. Peterson was teaching at Brandeis University when he wrote his first book, “The Jefferson Image in the American Mind” (1960), which explored the relatively new field of intellectual history by focusing less on Jefferson’s life than on the wide-ranging influence of his ideas.

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