review Founding Brothers The Revolutionary Generation 103

10 thoughts on “Founding Brothers The Revolutionary Generation

  1. says:

    While reading the first part of this book I wished Aaron Burr had shot me

  2. says:

    This book was the first book that ever made me cry because it was too hard to read pleasurably I felt like the author took stories we all already know about and locked himself in a dark room with a thesaurus and babelfish and used the LOLZCATZ approach to writing only in historese I frustra cried it was that bad I felt

  3. says:

    You would figure that the history of America’s “Revolutionary Era” would be milked dry by now and the stories of its

  4. says:

    And so while Hamilton and his followers could claim that the compromise permitted the core features of his financial plan to win approval which in turn meant the institutionalization of fiscal reforms with centralizing implications that would prove very difficult to dislodge the permanent residence of the capital on the Potomac institutionalized political values designed to carry the nation in a fundamentally

  5. says:

    What an exciting book Ellis conducts you right into the political chaos of the early republic when the revolutionary fraternity was splintering in feuds faction and duels which are preferable to purges terrors and nights of long knives The very idea of a legitimate opposition did not yet exist in the political culture of the 1790s and the evolution of political parties was proceeding in an environment that continued to regard the word pa

  6. says:

    Ellis gives us six insightful vignettes of leaders of the early American Republic The author reminds us that the founders did not know whether their creation would last They did know that it was historic that it was fragile and that it was a bold experiment We have to judge them and their actions in that context

  7. says:

    Ellis doesn't write bad history and this effort is no exception An effort that illuminates the real men that our founders were

  8. says:

    I picked this up in high school trying to impress myself with how learned I could be I really wasn't prepared for how much I enjoyed this book I didn't think I was going to read than a bit of it Instead I read it cover to cover and did it in less than two weeks Which for a book about revolutionary war history is pretty unusual for me This book deserves all the awards it got It's impressively researched fascinating shows sides to

  9. says:

    Founding Brothers Joseph Ellis' Pulitzer Prize for History from 2001 is an amazing read I remember learning about the American Revolutionary

  10. says:

    I think giving this book five stars actually does a disservice to the author It deserves 20 Joesph Ellis' work Founding Brothers The Revolutionary Generation is a wonderful narrative that immerses the reader in the minds of the founders of the United States of America and explores the conseuences of their actions or inactionsEllis d

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review ✓ eBook or Kindle ePUB ´ Joseph J. Ellis

In retrospect it seems as if the The Revolutionary PDF #8608 American Revolution was inevitable But was it In Founding Brothers Joseph J Ellis reveals that many of those truths we hold to be self evident were actually fiercely contested in the early days of the republic Ellis focuses on six crucial moments in the life of the new nation including a secret dinner at which the seat of the nation's capital was determined in exchange for support of Hamilton's Founding Brothers PDF or financial plan Washington's precedent setting. You would figure that the history of America s Revolutionary Era would be milked dry by now and the stories of its players a stale drama This book represents the effort of a professional historian to forge new insights by looking collectively at the so called Founding Fathers stretching a metaphor for their alliances and conflicts as being emblematic of the very checks and balances that they built into the Constitution in 1787 Through a set of six lively essays he probes the diverse personalities and substantive interactions among these figures in relationship to the major issues that arose in the decade after the new government was formed essentially the 1790s His focus is on Washington John Adams Jefferson and Hamilton with supplemental attention given to Madison Burr and Franklin Because they all knew each other and worked together in collaboration and strife over such a long time Ellis adopts the phrase Founding Brothers for his title In his preface Ellis points out that despite these white dudes being lionized and mythologized by so many for so long each generation sees the launch of the nation a bit differently with different implications for contemporary controversies according to who is looking A golden haze surrounds this period for many Americans but as a contaminated radioactive cloud for those unhappy with what we have become and how we got hereThe draw of this book for me is in the opportunity to understand personalities of these players on history s stage a bit better and to appreciate how their human strengths and flaws came into play in shaping the country s course As an effective way to clarify the impact of personality on amplifying political differences Ellis kicks off his book by examining the pistol duel between Vice President Burr and Hamilton that ended in the senseless death of the latter I have had the pleasure of a satirical dose of the uirks and dark spots in Burr s character from reading Vidal s novel Burr I didn t realize how much Hamilton brought on the challenge from Burr by his campaign of continual gossip and insults of Burr in social situations I pictured Hamilton as an effete snob but learned he came from humble roots Through prior readings I ve gotten to know and admire Adams Washington and Franklin but for Jefferson and Hamilton what little I know makes me somewhat biased against them I came away with some fresh angles on the first three and for the latter two substantially about what made them tick though little to make me love them any better Regardless of personal appeal or distaste their alliances and conflicts moved the country through the bad patchesIn a wonderful chapter called The Collaborators Ellis compares and contrasts the early close collaboration between Adams and Jefferson best seen in their teamwork on the Declaration of Independence with that of Jefferson and Madison a match of strategist with tactician that led to Jefferson beating Adams in his run for a second term In between we get the falling out between Jefferson and Adams during their competition to replace Washington and the full bloom of Adams productive collaboration with his wife Abigail during his presidency I get a kick out of Ellis evocative language in the challenges to the friendship between Adams and Jefferson They were an incongruous pair but everyone seemed to argue that history made them into a pair The incongruities leapt out for all to see Adams the short stout candid to a fault New Englander Jefferson the tall slender elegantly elusive Virginian Adams the highly combustible ever combative mile a minute talker whose favorite form of conversation was an argument Jefferson the always cool and self contained enigma who regarded debate and argument as violations of the natural harmonies he heard inside his own head The list could go on the Yankee and the Cavalier the orator and the writer the bulldog and the greyhound They were the odd couple of the American RevolutionFor Washington and Adams a strong central government was essential to achieve the nation s great opportunity to settle and harness the resources of a continent negotiate beneficial trade agreements with other nations and develop an adeuate defense from threats Adams wrote of the need to retain a monarchical principle of power in the government to get things done as the only pragmatic way to achieve national cohesion over territories so much vaster the Greek city states that first developed a democracy For Jefferson and his prot g Madison any conferral of substantial power at the federal level came to represent a revival of the kind of tyranny for which the revolution was waged When Hamilton and the group of Federalists began machinations to establish a national bank to facilitate economic growth this pushed Jefferson s buttons even as a betrayal of a revolution for individual rights and agrarian values and a return of power to a monied and largely urban elite ie a new aristocracy Thus the all for one and one for all sense of unity that emerged when the Revolutionary War was on soon came to an end and the age of vicious party politics began Forever after party loyalty would threaten to belie the ideal that the elected government was to serve the entire populace Dirty tricks smear campaigns and fake news came out of the woodwork surprisingly early In the election to replace Washington Jefferson is guilty of paying a scandalmonger to do a hatchet job on Adams character in the press and in a pamphlet painting Adams as a hoary headed incendiary who was eually determined on war with France and on declaring himself president for life with John uincy lurking in the background as his successor When Jefferson s role was definitively revealed Jefferson seemed genuinely surprised at the revelation suggesting that for him the deepest secrets were not the ones he kept from his enemies but the ones he kept from himself Another choice uote Jefferson s nearly Herculean powers of self denial also helped keep the cause pure at least in the privacy of his own mind elsewhere Ellis notes that Jefferson could probably pass a lie detector test denying each of his various duplicities After his narrow victory Adams invited Jefferson into his cabinet but party politics and ideology kept Jefferson from acceding to revival of their old collaborative spirit Adams had filled his cabinet with Hamilton and his followers whose manipulations on behalf of their agenda disgusted Adams himself He resorted to using his wife Abigail as his effective cabinet of one for all important help with his deliberations The breach with Jefferson yawned even wider when Adams undermined Jefferson s longstanding goal of an alliance with France by forging a secret agreement with England to secure umbrella protections from their fleet in exchange for a favorable trade status for them More fuel for their personal conflict was added to the fire when Adams acceded to his wife s unfortunate push for the Aliens and Sedition Act to protect him from libelous attacks in the press When the law came to be used as a political weapon selectively against the Republican leaning press the gloves really came off Only much later after Jefferson s term and retirement did the pair take up correspondence and slowly let go of their mutual sense of betrayal Their remarkable correspondence over many years until their deaths on the 50th anniversary of Independence Day reveals a return to true friendship and a great repository of their attempts to make sense of history Ellis coverage of the correspondence makes for a nice complement to the in depth treatment of the rapprochement in McCullough s wonderful biography John Adams Ironically it was Adams that succeeded in achieving a parallel treaty with France to balance out the English one though it came too late in his presidency to affect the election of Jefferson He had been trying to follow Washington s lead on navigating a path of neutrality with respect to the centuries old struggle between England and France for dominance of western Europe However these was not a stable government to negotiate with for a long time and the attempt by Tallyrand to extract a hefty bribe just to get to the table set progress back In turn it was ironic that it was Jefferson who achieved the Louisiana Purchase and thereby unleashed true imperial spirit for taking over the continent And it was he that helped achieve the banning of the slave tradeWith hindsight we can see the raw deal that was being set up for the future for blacks and Indians Mostly the leaders at the time colluded in an active deferral in addressing the slavery issue Too hot to handle The southern colonies wouldn t have joined the Union if slavery was in the lineup for federal interference In an important chapter of this book The Silence it was disturbing to see how a simple petition to Congress by some early uaker abolitionists in 1790 could reveal the terrible instability of the nation Endorsed by Franklin it couldn t be ignored Their presentation of the contradiction between trafficking in human beings and the precept of all men are created eual was clear as was their argument that is was the duty of Congress was to resolve it Despite the consensus buried in the Constitution that no law could be passed restricting the slave trade for 20 years the Pennsylvania petitioners maintained that Congress could still do its constitutional duty of abolishing slavery under its general welfare clause that empowered them to take whatever action it deemed necessary and proper to Countenance the Restoration of Liberty for all Negroes That brought out plenty of tap dancing from the southern delegation about state rights and the practice being okay with God according to certain biblical passages With a few states making threats about seceding the petition was ignoredIn retrospect it s easy to be forgiving that it would take some time to call the bluff of hard core states like South Carolina But Ellis takes a surprising tack by arguing that this point in time was near the end of the period when slavery could be abolished with limited impact The census for 1790 revealed exponential growth of the population of slaves similar to that of whites since 1776 reaching 700000 out of nearly 4 million total non Indian population I was shocked that New York and New Jersey still had 33000 With the added likelihood of new slave states being added to the Union the door was closely uickly on the economic feasibility of a compensated emancipation from the federal coffers None of the Founding Fathers really countenanced a fully bi racial society All imagined shipping the massive number of freed slaves somewhere else to some colony in Africa South America or to some place out West not too different from the mindset during Lincoln s presidency 75 years later Jefferson may have loved his slave Sally Hemings and had children by her but he did not free her and did not conceive of blacks worthy of full citizenship In the case of his fellow Virginian Washington Ellis provides bits of evidence that he did imagine a fully integrated society Some uote shows he believed that low expectations of their capabilities arose from the outcomes of their environment and not intrinsic character Also his will specified that after his wife also died that his Mt Vernon estate be sold and proceeds be used to support opportunities for his freed family slaves and their descendants over a few generations That Washington had an unusually egalitarian streak about the races is also suggested in his Letter to the Cherokee Nation in which he encourages them to seek assimilation into white society as the only solution for all Indians given the inevitable settlement of all their lands by the unstoppable whites Washington acknowledged that he was asking a lot that this path may seem may seem a little difficult to enter because it meant subduing their understandable urge to resist and sacrificing many of their most distinctive and cherished tribal values I appreciate Ellis summary Whatever moral deficiencies and cultural condescensions a modern day audience might find in Washington s advice two salient points are clear First it was in keeping with his relentless realism about the limited choices that history offered and second it projected Indians into the mix of people called AmericansI wonder if in this Age of Trump whether Ellis will feel obliged to change this view of this roller coaster of America s first decade in terms of shrill accusatory rhetoric flamboyant displays of ideological intransigence intense personal rivalries and hyperbolic claims of immanent catastrophe it has no eual in American history

characters Founding Brothers The Revolutionary Generation

Founding Brothers The Revolutionary Generation

Farewell Address and the Hamilton and Burr duel Most interesting perhaps is the debate still dividing scholars today over the meaning of the Revolution In a fascinating chapter on the renewed friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson at the end of their lives Ellis points out the fundamental differences between the Republicans who saw the Revolution as a liberating act and hold the Declaration of Independence most sacred and the Federalists Brothers The Revolutionary Kindle #216 who saw the revolution as a step in. What an exciting book Ellis conducts you right into the political chaos of the early republic when the revolutionary fraternity was splintering in feuds faction and duels which are preferable to purges terrors and nights of long knives The very idea of a legitimate opposition did not yet exist in the political culture of the 1790s and the evolution of political parties was proceeding in an environment that continued to regard the word party as an epithet In effect the leadership of the revolutionary generation lacked a vocabulary adeuate to describe the politics they were inventingLacking a consensus on what the American Revolution had intended and what the Constitution had settled Federalists and Republicans alike were afloat on a sea of mutual accusations and partisan interpretations The center could not hold because it did not existThe old warhorse Washington had offered the semblance of a center but in his second term as president Treasury Secretary Hamilton s fiscal plans and the brokering of a British skewed neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars pushed Washington s fellow Virginians Madison and Jefferson into the opposition Ellis argues that Washington s experience of the army as a social adhesive availed him of a visionary nationalism that non veterans like Madison and Jefferson simply could not comprehend Washington said of the war a century in the ordinary intercourse would not have accomplished what seven years association in arms did Washington s remark echoes in the decision of President Taylor another Virginian general to admit California as a free state in 1850 an act seen as a class betrayal by other Southern slaveholders McPherson writes Forty years in the army had given Old Rough and Ready a national rather than sectional perspective Washington s realistic valuation of the federal government as a social adhesive and the fiscal military organizer of the coming scramble west contrasted with Jefferson s dreamy attachment to a static Encyclop die plate republic founded on the fancied commercial innocence of the American farmer just as Washington s foreign policy which bet shrewdly on Britain as the superpower of the coming century contrasted with Jefferson s romantic mist of Anglophobia Francophily and abiding faith in the Utopian promise of the French Revolution Note the sentimental hysteria the Manichean bravado in what Jefferson wrote a friend about the Reign of Terror The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of that contest and was ever such a prize won with so little blood My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause but rather than it should have failed I would rather have seen half the earth desolated Were there but an Adam and Eve left in every country and left free it would be better than it is now He seems to reach across the years and grasp Sartre and Louis Aragon by the hand In Ellis s portrayal Jefferson s personality is one compartmentalized with a view to containing and denying to himself awareness of his undignified ambitions and behavior And for the American slaveholder the pricer of souls in the land of liberty what reuisite features than compartments and denial Beginning with the first political challenges to slavery in the 1790s to which Ellis devotes an absorbing chapter slaveholders defended the institution by calling it the sole check against race mixing Meanwhile what was observed down on the plantation Rainbow harems and broods of beige bastards This book is the first substantive thing I ve read on John Adams and I like him Ellis writes that his was an iconoclastic and contrarian temperament that relished alienation a temperament destined to become a family pattern great grandson Henry would inherit a nervous brilliance mismatched to his or any time Adams correspondence is full of trenchant deconstructions of the mythic revolutionary narrative then solidifying in the public mind I like his historically informed disabused mercurial style his suspicion of the illusory euality that democracy seems to offer his wariness before the rigidity and abstraction of French Revolutionary ideology And though he like all the Founders save Franklin agreed to an official silence on slavery that powder keg nested in the foundations restless apprehensions gleam through This subject is vast and ominous More than fifty years has it attracted my thoughts and given me much anxiety A folio volume would not contain my lucubration on this subject And at the end of it I should leave the reader and myself as much at a loss what to do with it as at the beginningI could easily trade The Education of Henry Adams with its sour stylistic monotony for that lucubratory folioPurely for his reputation in posterity Alexander Hamilton was lucky to have been killed in that duel Aaron Burr thereby assumes the mantle of Dangerous Man Cataline of the republic and Hamilton s flirtations with Bonapartism fade into the background Hamilton undermined President Adams by manipulating his cabinet behind the scenes and while Adams pursued a peace treaty with the French whose privateers had been seizing American ships in the West Indies Hamilton was agitating for war Adams was following another of Washington s recommendations 20 years minimum of growth and consolidation before we tangle with a European power Hamilton was then Inspector General of the New Army and planned with the outbreak of war to lead a chastising march through Jeffersonian Virginia en route to seize Florida Louisiana and even grandiosely Mexico and Peru Those are big dreams Hamilton wanted to do himself and in one campaign what would take Napoleon in a giving mood Jefferson in a nation building mood Zachary Taylor Winfield Scott Grant Sherman and six subseuent decades to accomplish Adams conclusion of a treaty with France abolished the prospect of such folly Ellis leaves one with so many images Abigail Adams overhears the ex president cursing his enemies as he works in the fields alongside the hired men James Callender the scandalmongering pamphleteer Jefferson hired to smear Adams before the 1800 election languishes accused of libel in a Richmond jail where he hears rumors of Jefferson s slave mistress rumors he publishes once he decides the payment for his hatchet job on Adams is inadeuate Washington gallops along the Potomac sighting the prospects of the capitol to bear his name James Madison at the Constitutional Convention confides to his diary the observation that the States were divided into different interests not by their difference of size but principally from their having or not having slaves It did not lie between the large and small States it lay between the Northern and Southern

review ✓ eBook or Kindle ePUB ´ Joseph J. Ellis

The building of American nationhood and hold the Constitution most dear Throughout the text Ellis explains the personal face to face nature of early American politics and notes that the members of the revolutionary generation were conscious of the fact that they were establishing precedents on which future generations would rely In Founding Brothers Ellis whose American Sphinx won the National Book Award for nonfiction in has written an elegant and engaging narrative sure to become a classic Highly recommended Sunny Delane. Founding Brothers Joseph Ellis Pulitzer Prize for History from 2001 is an amazing read I remember learning about the American Revolutionary War in high school and finding it and most of American history pretty boring I preferred European history class much and so until recently I kind of avoided the subject in my reading Well I have come around on that opinion In an effort to read about real presidents in my disarray about Drumpf and a sort of delayed reaction to Dubya before that I read Dallek s FDF biography and then Ellis His Excellency about George Washington and now plan to read presidential biographies While not a biography per se Founding Brothers is a fascinating look at several of the major players during the period immediately following George Washington s presidency so between about 1795 to about 1805 roughly built around several themes This form of narration draws the readers in and makes them want to know about these titanic actors on the world stage Now that sounds awfully pompous but when you think about what they were doing in creating the world s first elected republic and the fact that it did not devolve as in all previous cases and sadly many many future situations into am autocracy which is what many of us fear is happening now as I write The first story is about the fatal dual between economist and patriot Alexander Hamilton and one of his arch rivals Vice President Aaron Burr Having read the Washington biography I knew a little about how much Washington trusted Hamilton who was on hand during the military campaign and the two terms as president I did not know how far out of normalcy he had gotten by 1804 in terms of extreme Federalist ideals and even creating at considerable cost a sort of private but publicly funded militia Without going into the details because that would spoil your enjoyment of the book the chapter describes Hamilton s verbal and later literal physical duel with Burr which draws a sort of telling parallel to the ideas and principles that made up each of the actors in this dramaThe next chapter talks about a fateful dinner at Thomas Jefferson s house several years earlier where a major compromise was struck between the advocates of the federal government assuming the states accumulated debt versus those that wanted the capital of the newly United States to be located on the Potomac River near George Washington s property at Mount Vernon These issues on the surface appear unrelated but Ellis does a great job explaining in fact how the issues of states rights on the Republican side ominously including slavery and the idea of a strong federal government the Federalist side were actually far divisive and could easily have led to a major outbreak of hostilities between the northern and southern colonies at this critical start of the country At stake also was the legacy of the omnipresent American hero and demigod George Washington who some felt was too monarchal despite his having voluntarily retired after the war and only reluctantly having become the first president There is a chapter about slavery that is extremely enlightening as well There was an unspoken agreement to not talk about slavery lest as I mentioned above the situation degenerate into a civil war There was even an agreement to put off any discussions of the slave trade in Congress until 1808 However in 1798 some uakers put forward motions about emancipation and nullification of slavery which were debated in the House before being suppressed and forgotten in the Senate During these debates however the spectre of white supremacy reared its ugly head uite publicly as South Carolina and Georgia expressed their fears of a dying white race due to miscegenation yes the same argument that Hitler used against Jews homosexuals gypsies and handicapped people to justify the Holocaust and the argument still used by the alt right today to justify White Lives Matter and incidents such as Charlottesville in late 2017 The issues of payment for loss of property to slave owners which would have been the euivalent of 10 20x the GNP at the time and the relocation of the slaves who constituted nearly 30 40% of the population of most of the slave holding southern states were too divisive for any sane debate to take place The real tragedy here is that since many of the Framers Washington Jefferson and Madison among others were slave holders themselves the issue was muddled despite any moral compunctions that it might raise The real missed opportunity here according to the author was having someone as revered and infallible as Washington not jumping in to take the moral high ground and abolish slavery forthwith He could conceivably have done this just with the force of his personality and he did in fact free his slavesbut posthumously but he decided not to act It is interesting to note that ALL of the actors knew that they were just postponing the eventual Civil War by refusing to debate it in the Senate The other chapters deal with the relationships between the various men and in particular the last two chapters talk about the interesting and stormy relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson This was another massive reveal for me that makes me want to read biographies to understand these men their lives and their impact on American history There is also a lot here about the touchy issues of isolationism vs global trade that had major effects on history and were ever changing as the French Revolution became the Directory and later the Empire and as England evolved from American enemy to American trading partnerI think this is a deceptively thin book that actually reuires lots of time to fully appreciate as it is stocked full of anecdotes and contextual information that really makes the Revolutionary Age stand out and feel real and relevant I found it incredible that many of the issues that cleaved the nation in two and threatened to tear it asunder continue in today s USA particularly in the Drumpf era when not unlike towards 1800 when the Federalists and Republicans could not stand to be in the same room together