In this landmark work of history and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Joseph J. Ellis explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals—Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison—confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation. The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers—re-examined here as Founding Brothers—combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes—Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence—Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.
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Founding Brothers is an illuminating, Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic: Adams, Burr, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Washington. During the 1790s these great statesmen came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the future. Ellis focuses on six key 'moments' in this era: Burr and Hamilton's deadly duel; the 'secret dinner' of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison, during which the seat of the nation's capital was determined; Franklin's petition to end slavery, and Madison's efforts to quash it; Washington's farewell address that offered his country some parting advice about US involvement in other nations' affairs; Adams's difficult term as Washington's successor; and Adams and Jefferson's correspondence at the end of their lives, in which they compared their views of the Revolution and its legacy. In a lively and engaging narrative, Ellis shows us the private characters behind the public personas, and argues that the checks and balances that permitted the republic to endure were intensely personal, rooted in the dynamic interaction of these men. Founding Brothers informs our understanding of American politics - then, and now.
From the first shots fired at Lexington to the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, Joseph J. Ellis guides us through the decisive issues of the nation’s founding, and illuminates the emerging philosophies, shifting alliances, and personal and political foibles of our now iconic leaders–Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Adams. He casts an incisive eye on the founders’ achievements, arguing that the American Revolution was, paradoxically, an evolution–and that part of what made it so extraordinary was the gradual pace at which it occurred. He explains how the idea of a strong federal government was eventually embraced by the American people, and details the emergence of the two-party system, which stands as the founders’ most enduring legacy. Ellis is equally incisive about their failures, and he makes clear how their inability to abolish slavery and to reach a just settlement with the Native Americans has played an equally important role in shaping our national character. With eloquence and insight, Ellis strips the mythic veneer of the revolutionary generation to reveal men both human and inspired, possessed of both brilliance and blindness. American Creation is an audiobook that delineates an era of flawed greatness, at a time when understanding our origins is more important than ever.
The award-winning author of Founding Brothers and The Quartet now gives us a deeply insightful examination of the relevance of the views of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams to some of the most divisive issues in America today. The story of history is a ceaseless conversation between past and present, and in American Dialogue Joseph J. Ellis focuses the conversation on the often-asked question "What would the Founding Fathers think?" He examines four of our most seminal historical figures through the prism of particular topics, using the perspective of the present to shed light on their views and, in turn, to make clear how their now centuries-old ideas illuminate the disturbing impasse of today's political conflicts. He discusses Jefferson and the issue of racism, Adams and the specter of economic inequality, Washington and American imperialism, Madison and the doctrine of original intent. Through these juxtapositions--and in his hallmark dramatic and compelling narrative voice--Ellis illuminates the obstacles and pitfalls paralyzing contemporary discussions of these fundamentally important issues.
T. H. Breen introduces us to the ordinary men and women who took responsibility for the course of the American revolution. Far from the actions of the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, they took the reins of power and preserved a political culture based on the rule of law, creating America’s political identity in the process.
- Author : Joseph J. Ellis
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company
- Release Date : 2011-02-14
- Genre : Biography & Autobiography
- Pages : 288
- ISBN : 9780393068276
"Impassioned and erudite.…A captivating portrait of this Massachusetts native as a wonderfully contrary genius possessed of an uncommon moral intelligence and farsighted political wisdom." —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times A fresh look at this astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Award-winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award winning American Sphinx. "The most lovable and most laughable, the warmest and possibly the wisest of the founding fathers, John Adams knew himself as few men do and preserved his knowledge in a voluminous correspondence that still vibrates. Ellis has used it with great skill and perception not only to bring us the man, warts and all, but more importantly to reveal his extraordinary insights into the problems confronting the founders that resonate today in the republic they created." —Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University
Following Thomas Jefferson from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph J. Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. He gives us the slaveholding libertarian who was capable of decrying mescegenation while maintaing an intimate relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings; the enemy of government power who exercisdd it audaciously as president; the visionarty who remained curiously blind to the inconsistencies in his nature. American Sphinx is a marvel of scholarship, a delight to read, and an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.
The award-winning author of The Brother Gardeners presents a tour of the lives of the founding fathers from their perspectives as gardeners, farmers and plantsmen, revealing how a shared passion for agriculture shaped their beliefs and decisions. Reprint.
This informative series gives access to Pulitzer Prize-winning material and a comprehensive, systematic listing of materials and select reprints. Each volume is devoted to one prize category. Chronological coverage includes analyses, provided by the prize administration, of the factors behind awarding each prize.
The Grand Idea follows George Washington in the critical period immediately after the War of Independence. The general had great hopes for his young nation, but also grave fears. He worried that the United States was so fragmented politically and culturally that it would fall apart, and that the "West," beyond the Appalachian mountains, would become a breakaway republic. So he came up with an ambitious scheme: He would transform the Potomac River into the nation's premier commercial artery, binding East and West, bolstering domestic trade, and staving off disunion. This was no armchair notion. Washington saddled up and rode west on a 680-mile trek to the raucous frontier of America. Achenbach captures a Washington rarely seen: rugged frontiersman, real estate speculator, shrewd businessman. Even after his death, Washington's grand ambition inspired heroic engineering feats, including an audacious attempt to build a canal across the mountains to the Ohio River. But the country needed more than commercial arteries to hold together, and in the Civil War, the general's beloved river became a battlefield between North and South. Like such classics as Undaunted Courage and Founding Brothers, Achenbach's riveting portrait of a great man and his grand plan captures the imagination of the new country, the passions of an ambitious people, and the seemingly endless beauty of the American landscape.
"No American living in 1800 would have predicted that Thomas Jefferson's idiosyncratic views on church and state would eclipse those of George Washington - let alone become constitutional dogma. Yet today's Supreme Court guards no doctrine more fiercely than Jefferson's antagonistic "wall or separation" between church and state. Washington's sharply contrasting view, explored in this path-breaking book, returns us to a more reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment, consistent with religion's importance to the strength of a republic." "The most admired man of his age, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention and was president when religious freedom was enshrined in the Bill of Rights. His claim to constitutional authority is considerably more impressive than the brilliant - but eccentric - Jefferson's. Washington considered religion essential for the virtue required of self-governing citizens. Though careful not to favor particular sects, he believed that a republic must not merely accommodate religion but encourage it." "Ross and Smith combine a study of Washington's thought with a copious appendix containing the full texts of his letters, speeches, and official documents on issues of church and state. They present his views chronologically, devoting a chapter to each stage of his career: young regimental officer, colonial legislator, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, head of the Constitutional Convention, and president of the United States. An epilogue explains how Jefferson's separationist perspective achieved its disproportional influence on the modern Supreme Court."--BOOK JACKET.
Profiles the life of John Adams, a major participant in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the second president of the United States who played an important role in the nation's development.