(252)
 
Founding Brothers : The Revolutionary Generation
by Joseph J. Ellis

Overview - An illuminating study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic--John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. During the 1790s, which Ellis calls the most decisive decade in our nation's history, the greatest statesmen of their generation--and perhaps any--came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the coming centuries.  Read more...

 
Hardcover
  • Retail Price: $28.95
  • $25.18
    (Save 13%)

Add to Cart + Add to Wishlist

In Stock. Usually ships within 24 hours.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
Not a member? Join Today!
 
 
New & Used Marketplace 284 copies from $2.99
 
Download

This item is available only to U.S. billing addresses.
 
 
 
 

More About Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
 
 
 
Overview
An illuminating study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic--John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. During the 1790s, which Ellis calls the most decisive decade in our nation's history, the greatest statesmen of their generation--and perhaps any--came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the coming centuries. Ellis focuses on six discrete moments that exemplify the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation: Burr and Hamilton's deadly duel, and what may have really happened; Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison's secret dinner, during which the seat of the permanent capital was determined in exchange for passage of Hamilton's financial plan; Franklin's petition to end the "peculiar institution" of slavery--his last public act--and Madison's efforts to quash it; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address, announcing his retirement from public office and offering his country some final advice; Adams's difficult term as Washington's successor and his alleged scheme to pass the presidency on to his son; and finally, Adams and Jefferson's renewed correspondence at the end of their lives, in which they compared their different views of the Revolution and its legacy.In a lively and engaging narrative, Ellis recounts the sometimes collaborative, sometimes archly antagonistic interactions between these men, and shows us the private characters behind the public personas: Adams, the ever-combative iconoclast, whose closest political collaborator was his wife, Abigail; Burr, crafty, smooth, and one of the most despised public figures of his time; Hamilton, whose audacious manner and deep economic savvy masked his humble origins; Jefferson, renowned for his eloquence, but so reclusive and taciturn that he rarely spoke more than a few sentences in public; Madison, small, sickly, and paralyzingly shy, yet one of the most effective debaters of his generation; and the stiffly formal Washington, the ultimate realist, larger-than-life, and America's only truly indispensable figure.Ellis argues that the checks and balances that permitted the infant American republic to endure were not primarily legal, constitutional, or institutional, but intensely personal, rooted in the dynamic interaction of leaders with quite different visions and values. Revisiting the old-fashioned idea that character matters, Founding Brothers informs our understanding of American politics--then and now--and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780375405440
  • ISBN-10: 0375405445
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Publish Date: October 2000
  • Page Count: 288


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Revolutionary War
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical - General
Books > Political Science > History & Theory - General

 
BookPage Reviews

The crucial political decisions in the young American republic of the late 18th century were made by relatively few leaders. They knew one another personally, and their face-to-face interaction in social settings had a significant impact on the choices they eventually made. In the words of historian Joseph Ellis, these decisions with long-ranging consequences came about "in a sudden spasm of enforced inspiration and makeshift construction."

How this worked is the subject of Ellis' magnificent new study Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. The author knows the terrain well. His American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson received the National Book Award in 1996, and Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams is regarded as one of the best books on our second president.

Ellis eloquently conveys the interconnected personal relationships and overriding issues that set the nation's course. The eight most influential leaders he focuses on are: George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and Abigail and John Adams. The extraordinary mix of such diverse personalities with strongly held opinions helped check each other. Despite their differences, and particularly when contrasted with what was happening in France during the same period, it is noteworthy that the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804 was the only case in "the revolutionary generation when political difference ended in violence and death rather than in ongoing argument."

The author says the Jefferson-Madison relationship "can be considered the most successful political partnership in American history." For many years, Jefferson provided the grand strategy and Madison was an agile tactician. In the 1790s, Madison managed the effort behind the scenes to oppose the policies of Washington and Hamilton and to prepare the way for Jefferson's presidential candidacy.

Ellis contrasts Washington, the realist, and Jefferson, "for whom ideals were the supreme reality and whose inspirational prowess derived from his confidence that the world would eventually come around to fit the picture he had in his head." The author explores Washington's vision as expressed in his last Circular Letter as commander in chief of the army to the states in 1783 and in his Farewell Address as president. It is interesting to note that Washington, in his "Address to the Cherokee Nation," imagined the inclusion of Native Americans in the developing country. And, in contrast to Jefferson, "He tended to regard the condition of the black population as a product of nurture rather than nature - that is, he saw slavery as the culprit, preventing the development of diligence and responsibility that would emerge gradually and naturally after emancipation."

John Adams is one of the author's favorite characters. "His refreshing and often irreverent candor provides the clearest window into the deeper ambitions and clashing vanities that propelled them all." Ellis shows how all other political leaders deserted Adams when he became president and Abigail became his one-woman staff. The author masterfully steers us through the Adams presidency and Abigail and John's reconciliation with Jefferson, which led to their 14-year exchange of letters, now considered the most important correspondence between prominent American statesmen.

This carefully researched, beautifully written overview of the "band of brothers" and Abigail Adams who established our nation should be enjoyed by a wide readership.

Roger Bishop is a regular contributor to BookPage.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

DISCUSSION