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.
The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading group's discussion of Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation . We hope they will enrich your experience of this Pulitzer Prize-winning 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.
"The author of the best-selling The Founding Brothers and The Quartet now gives us a deeply insightful examination of the relevance of Jefferson's, Madison's, and Adams's views to some of the most divisive issues in American politics and society today. The story of history is a ceaseless conversation between past and present, and in American Dialogue, Joseph Ellis uses the perspective of the present to shed light on the views of the Founding Fathers. Examining four of the most seminal historical figures through the prism of particular topics, he makes 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"--
"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
Through portraits of four figures--Charles Willson Peale, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, William Dunlap, and Noah Webster--Joseph Ellis provides a unique perspective on the role of culture in post-Revolutionary America, both its high expectations and its frustrations.
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.
Offers a concise biographical dictionary of important early American statesmen and leaders, from "Abigail Adams" to "George Wythe," with additional entries on key issues and events relevant to the formation of the United States.
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.
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.
"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 slaves - 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."--BOOK JACKET.