Tag Archives: History: American

What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States

The bitter and protracted struggle between President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall defined the basic constitutional relationship between the executive and judicial branches of government. More than one hundred fifty years later, their clashes still reverberate in constitutional debates and political battles.
In this dramatic and fully accessible account of these titans of the early republic and their fiercely held ideas, James F. Simon brings to life the early history of the nation and sheds new light on the highly charged battle to balance the powers of the federal government and the rights of the states. A fascinating look at two of the nation's greatest statesmen and shrewdest politicians, What Kind of Nation presents a cogent, unbiased assessment of their lasting impact on American government.

Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power

This book examines Thomas Jefferson's attempt to combine respect for a fundamental constitution with the fact that no set of laws can foresee every event. His solution to this problem offers a democratic, yet strong, alternative to the more common, Hamiltonian solution. Jefferson scholars have long written of 'two Jeffersons,' one before he became president and one after he became president. The first was opposed to a strong executive, while the second embraced one out of necessity. This book challenges this account. It presents Jefferson's understanding of executive power, which, though it developed over time, pointed to an executive that was both democratic and powerful.

1776: The Illustrated Edition

With a new introduction by David McCullough, 1776: The Illustrated Edition brings 140 powerful images and 37 removable replicas of source documents to this remarkable drama.

In 1776, David McCullough's bestselling account of a pivotal year in our nation's struggle, readers learned of the greatest defeats, providential fortune, and courageous triumphs of George Washington and his bedraggled army. Now, in 1776: The Illustrated Edition, the efforts of the Continental Army are made even more personal, as an excerpted version of the original book is paired with letters, maps, and seminal artwork. More than three dozen source documents — including a personal letter George Washington penned to Martha about his commission, a note informing the mother of a Continental soldier that her son has been taken prisoner, and a petition signed by Loyalists pledging their allegiance to the King — are re-created in uniquely designed envelopes throughout the book and secured with the congressional seal.
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George Washington’s Mount Vernon : At Home in Revolutionary America

George Washington's Mount Vernon brings together–for the first time–the details of Washington's 45-year endeavor to build and perfect Mount Vernon. In doing so it introduces us to a Washington few of his contemporaries knew, and one little noticed by historians since.
Here we meet the planter/patriot who also genuinely loved building, a man passionately human in his desire to impress on his physical surroundings the stamp of his character and personal beliefs. As chief architect and planner of the countless changes made at Mount Vernon over the years, Washington began by imitating accepted models of fashionable taste, but as time passed he increasingly followed his own ideas. Hence, architecturally, as the authors show, Mount Vernon blends the orthodox and the innovative in surprising ways, just as the new American nation would. Equally interesting is the light the book sheds on the process of building at Mount Vernon, and on the people–slave and free–who did the work. Washington was a demanding master, and in their determination to preserve their own independence his workers often clashed with him. Yet, as the Dalzells argue, that experience played a vital role in shaping his hopes for the future of American society–hope that embraced in full measure the promise of the revolution in which he had led his fellow citizens.
George Washington's Mount Vernon thus compellingly combines the two sides of Washington's life–the public and the private–and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both. Gracefully written, with more than 80 photographs, maps, and engravings, the book tells a fascinating story with memorable insight.

Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency

Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers’ approach to government and this history’s impact on today. Delving into the forgottenand often luridfacts of the Revolutionary War, Logan Beirne focuses on the nation’s first commander in chief, George Washington, as he shaped the very meaning of the United States Constitution in the heat of battle.

Key episodes illustrate how the Founders dealt with thorny wartime issues: Who decides war strategy? When should we use military tribunals over civilian trials? Should we inflict harsh treatment on enemy captives if it means saving American lives? How do we protect citizens’ rights when the nation is struggling to defend itself? Beirne finds evidence in previously-unexplored documents such as General Washington’s letters debating torture, an eyewitness account of the military tribunal that executed a British prisoner, Founders’ letters warning against government debt, and communications pointing to a power struggle between Washington and the Continental Congress.
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Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument

In Here, George Washington Was Born, Seth C. Bruggeman examines the broader history of commemoration in the United States by focusing on the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia's Northern Neck, where contests of public memory have unfolded with particular vigor for nearly eighty years.

Washington left the birthplace with his family at a young age and rarely returned. The house burned in 1779 and would likely have passed from memory but for George Washington Parke Custis, who erected a stone marker on the site in 1815, creating the first birthplace monument in America. Both Virginia and the U.S. War Department later commemorated the site, but neither matched the work of a Virginia ladies association that in 1923 resolved to build a replica of the home. The National Park Service permitted construction of the "replica house" until a shocking archeological discovery sparked protracted battles between the two organizations over the building's appearance, purpose, and claims to historical authenticity.
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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize: “[A] commanding and important book.”—Jill Lepore, The New YorkerThis epic work—named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times—tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.

In the mid-1700s the English captain of a trading ship that made runs between England and the Virginia colony fathered a child by an enslaved woman living near Williamsburg. The woman, whose name is unknown and who is believed to have been born in Africa, was owned by the Eppeses, a prominent Virginia family. The captain, whose surname was Hemings, and the woman had a daughter. They named her Elizabeth.
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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award—winning author of American Sphinx 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.

George Washington’s Enforcers: Policing the Continental Army

A well-disciplined army was vital to win American independence, but policing soldiers during the Revolution presented challenges. George Washington’s Enforcers: Policing the Continental Army examines how justice was left to the overlapping duties of special army personnel and how an improvised police force imposed rules and regulations on the common soldier. Historian Harry M. Ward describes these methods of police enforcement, emphasizing the brutality experienced by the enlisted men who were punished severely for even light transgressions. This volume explores the influences that shaped army practice and the quality of the soldiery, the enforcement of military justice, the use of guards as military police, and the application of punishment.

Washington’s army, which adopted the organization and justice code of the British army, labored under the direction of ill-trained and arrogant officers. Ward relates how the enlisted men, who had a propensity for troublemaking and desertion, not only were victims of the double standard that existed between officers and regular troops but also lacked legal protection in the army. The enforcement of military justice afforded the accused with little due process support.
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Washington and Cornwallis: The Battle for America, 1775-1783

Washington and Cornwallis is a gripping narrative of the defeats and narrow victories that won the States' independence from the English crown. Patterson chronicles the battles waged between General George Washington and Lieutenant General Charles Lord Cornwallis, and examines their methods of command and their controversial military decisions, and ultimately brings into focus the personalities of these two pivotal Revolutionary War generals.