Tag Archives: 18th century

Jefferson’s Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

An outspoken participant in the civil rights movement, Roger Wilkins served as Assistant Attorney General during the Johnson administration. In 1972 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize along with Bernstein and Herblock for his coverage of Watergate. Yet this black man, who has served the United States so well, feels at times an unwelcome guest here.

In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity.
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The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson

In this classic work by one of America's most distinguished historians, Daniel Boorstin enters into Thomas Jefferson's world of ideas. By analysing writings of 'the Jeffersonian Circle,' Boorstin explores concepts of God, nature, equality, toleration, education and government in order to illuminate their underlying world view. The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson demonstrates why on the 250th anniversary of his birth, this American leader's message has remained relevant to our national crises and grand concerns.

"The volume is too subtle, too rich in ideas for anyone to do justice to it in brief summary, too heavily documented and too carefully wrought for anyone to dismiss its thesis. . . . It is a major contribution not only to Jefferson studies but to American intellectual history. . . . All who work in the history of ideas will find themselves in Mr. Boorstin's debt."—Richard Hofstadter, South Atlantic Monthly

George Washington and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal

No history of racism in America can be considered complete without taking into account the role that George Washington—the principal founding father—played in helping to mold the racist cast of the new nation. Because General Washington—the universally acknowledged hero of the Revolutionary War—in the postwar period uniquely combined the moral authority, personal prestige, and political power to influence significantly the course and the outcome of the slavery debate, his opinions on the subject of slaves and slavery are of crucial importance to understanding how racism succeeded in becoming an integral and official part of the national fabric during its formative stages.

The successful end of the War for Independence in 1783 brought George Washington face-to-face with a fundamental dilemma: how to reconcile the proclaimed ideals of the revolution with the established institution of slavery. So long as black human beings in America could legally be considered the chattel property of whites, the rhetoric of equality and individual freedom was hollow. Progressive voices urged immediate emancipation as the only way to resolve the contradiction; the Southern slaveowners, of course, stood firm for the status quo. Washington was caught squarely in the middle.
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George Washington: A biography in social dance

The dances in this collection commemorate George Washington's life and career. Selected chiefly from 18th-century American sources, they reflect those he may have danced or observed. Directions for each dance have historically accurate figures, suggested steps, and music with chords.

George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779

In late May 1779, British Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton launched an offensive to eliminate the rebellion in New York, wreck the commerce of New England, and destroy General George Washington's Continental Army in battle. A key element of Clinton's offensive was a push to control the Hudson River, the most strategically important, and heavily fortified, river in America at the time. The events that played out over the next three months comprised the little-known campaign of 1779 and typified combat in the middle of the American Revolution – brutal civil war raged in the counties around New York City, the British unleashed devastating raids on the Connecticut coast with methods their commander called "Desolation Warfare," and elite units of American Continental infantry stunned the British with skillfull night bayonet attacks at the fortified posts of Stony Point and Paulus Hook. Through it all, shadowy networks of spies and scouts on both sides fed information to their commanders while they operated in secret, always fearing discovery, trial, and hanging. This book reveals the soldiers, officers, commanders, militiamen, and civilians that fought this under-appreciated campaign, which helped set the stage for America's final victory in the Revolution.

Thomas Jefferson and the Rhetoric of Virtue

Nearly 200 years after his death, Thomas Jefferson continues to fascinate and mystify scholars and the public alike. Recently, it seems that every aspect of his life and career, including a possible relationship with one of his slaves, has been put under the microscope. But Jefferson's interest in rhetoric, or discourse, has always been but a footnote before Jefferson and the Rhetoric of Virtue.
In this volume, James L. Golden and Alan L. Golden undertake the first careful study of Jefferson's rhetorical philosophy and practice. They find that not only did Jefferson take a great interest in classical and modern students of rhetoric, but that he developed his own program for its study. They also discover that Jefferson viewed the study of discourse as a vehicle for upholding virtue. Jefferson's commitment to virtue, the authors argue, helps to explain his interest in rhetoric, just as a study of his rhetorical philosophy leads to a deeper understanding of his commitment to virtue.
Golden and Golden discuss Jefferson's influences and education in rhetoric, how he came to be interested in the field, and the development of his philosophy on discourse. Supplemented by extensive primary source material, Thomas Jefferson and the Rhetoric of Virtue gives readers a first-hand account of Jefferson's understanding of virtue as viewed through his studies in rhetoric.

Washington at Valley Forge

Newbery Award-winning author Russell Freedman offers up this powerful account of the survival of American soldiers while camped at Valley Forge during a crucial period in the American Revolution. George Washington's army almost perished during the winter of 1777-78. Camped at Valley Forge, about twenty miles from Philadelphia, the revolutionaries endured severe hardship because the army's supply system had collapsed and they were without food, clothing, and blankets. The army was at its most vulnerable; but when the harsh winter drew to a close, the soldiers had survived, and marched away from Valley Forge more determined than ever. The British were defeated in 1783, and Washington, for the rest of his life, said that the credit for the Amrican victory belonged to the soldiers who had braved the horrific conditions at Valley Forge.

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

A major new biography of Washington, and the first to explore his engagement with American slavery

When George Washington wrote his will, he made the startling decision to set his slaves free; earlier he had said that holding slaves was his "only unavoidable subject of regret." In this groundbreaking work, Henry Wiencek explores the founding father's engagement with slavery at every stage of his life–as a Virginia planter, soldier, politician, president and statesman.
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George Washington

George Washington defined progressivism and provided the rationale for its constitutional basis in a vision of self-government: a nation dedicated to and capable of sustaining civil and religious liberty, the intertwined ends of politics as he saw it. For Washington, religious liberty was not a side benefit of independence but rather the objective for which independence was sought. Washingtons political philosophyradical for his timewas a commitment to the belief that law can never make just what is in its nature unjust. Before the close of the Revolutionary War, he had conceived of a union based on the progressive principle that the American people would qualify for self-government in the sense of free institutions in proportion to their moral capacity to govern themselves by the light of reason. Washington managed the conflicts over the spoils of victory that threatened to fracture the union. Containing this discord within the walls of the Constitution may be considered his single greatest achievement. This overview traces Washingtons political development through the war years, describes his contributions to the Constitution and the founding of America, debunks misrepresentations of Washingtons relationship to slavery, and touches his presidential administration, including his precedent-setting decision to retire from the presidency after two terms. This book will be useful in courses on the American founding era, American studies, political philosophy and leadership, as well as of interest and value to the general reader.

Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring

Based on remarkable new research, acclaimed historian Alexander Rose brings to life the true story of the spy ring that helped America win the Revolutionary War. For the first time, Rose takes us beyond the battlefront and deep into the shadowy underworld of double agents and triple crosses, covert operations and code breaking, and unmasks the courageous, flawed men who inhabited this wilderness of mirrors—including the spymaster at the heart of it all.

In the summer of 1778, with the war poised to turn in his favor, General George Washington desperately needed to know where the British would strike next. To that end, he unleashed his secret weapon: an unlikely ring of spies in New York charged with discovering the enemy’s battle plans and military strategy.
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