Tag Archives: History

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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The Federalist Papers

"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren … should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." So wrote John Jay, one of the revolutionary authors of The Federalist Papers, arguing that if the United States was truly to be a single nation, its leaders would have to agree on universally binding rules of governance–in short, a constitution. In a brilliant set of essays, Jay and his colleagues Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explored in minute detail the implications of establishing a kind of rule that would engage as many citizens as possible and that would include a system of checks and balances. Their arguments proved successful in the end, and The Federalist Papers stand as key documents in the founding of the United States.

Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War

When Thomas Jefferson wrote his epitaph, he listed as his accomplishments his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia statute of religious freedom, and his founding of the University of Virginia. He did not mention his presidency or that he was second governor of the state of Virginia, in the most trying hours of the Revolution. Dumas Malone, author of the epic six-volume biography, wrote that the events of this time explain Jefferson's "character as a man of action in a serious emergency." Joseph Ellis, author of American Sphinx, focuses on other parts of Jefferson's life but wrote that his actions as governor "toughened him on the inside." It is this period, when Jefferson was literally tested under fire, that Michael Kranish illuminates in Flight from Monticello.

Filled with vivid, precisely observed scenes, this book is a sweeping narrative of clashing armies–of spies, intrigue, desperate moments, and harrowing battles. The story opens with the first murmurs of resistance to Britain, as the colonies struggled under an onerous tax burden and colonial leaders–including Jefferson–fomented opposition to British rule. Kranish captures the tumultuous outbreak of war, the local politics behind Jefferson's actions in the Continental Congress (and his famous Declaration), and his rise to the governorship. Jefferson's life-long belief in the corrupting influence of a powerful executive led him to advocate for a weak governorship, one that lacked the necessary powers to raise an army. Thus, Virginia was woefully unprepared for the invading British troops who sailed up the James under the direction of a recently turned Benedict Arnold. Facing rag-tag resistance, the British force took the colony with very little trouble. The legislature fled the capital, and Jefferson himself narrowly eluded capture twice.
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The Grand Idea: George Washington’s Potomac and the Race to the West

The Grand Idea follows George Washington in the critical period immediately after the War of Independence. The general had great hopes for his young nation, but also grave fears. He worried that the United States was so fragmented politically and culturally that it would fall apart, and that the "West," beyond the Appalachian mountains, would become a breakaway republic. So he came up with an ambitious scheme: He would transform the Potomac River into the nation's premier commercial artery, binding East and West, bolstering domestic trade, and staving off disunion. This was no armchair notion. Washington saddled up and rode west on a 680-mile trek to the raucous frontier of America.
Achenbach captures a Washington rarely seen: rugged frontiersman, real estate speculator, shrewd businessman. Even after his death, Washington's grand ambition inspired heroic engineering feats, including an audacious attempt to build a canal across the mountains to the Ohio River. But the country needed more than commercial arteries to hold together, and in the Civil War, the general's beloved river became a battlefield between North and South.
Like such classics as Undaunted Courage and Founding Brothers, Achenbach's riveting portrait of a great man and his grand plan captures the imagination of the new country, the passions of an ambitious people, and the seemingly endless beauty of the American landscape.

Jefferson’s Poplar Forest: Unearthing a Virginia Plantation

One hundred years in the life of a founding father’s 5,000 acre “retreat”

“Poplar Forest embodies the culmination of Jefferson’s vision of the American agricultural ideal. This highly readable volume introduces us to the people, objects, and landscapes of Poplar Forest in the tumultuous period between the Revolution and the Civil War. Jefferson’s Poplar Forest presents a remarkably multidimensional portrait of the estate as a personal retreat, a designed landscape, a plantation, and a home and workplace for enslaved African American families.”—Lu Ann De Cunzo, University of Delaware
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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.

Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side

In the most controversial analysis ever written of the apostle of American liberty, the distinguished constitutional historian Leonard W. Levy examines Jefferson’s record on civil liberties and finds it strikingly wanting. Clearing away the saintliness that surrounds the hero, Mr. Levy tries to understand why the “unfamiliar” Jefferson supported loyalty oaths; countenanced internment camps for political suspects; drafted a bill of attainder; urged prosecutions for seditious libel; condoned military despotism; used the Army to enforce laws in time of peace; censored reading; chose professors for their political opinions; and endorsed the doctrine that means, however odious, are justified by ends. "Implicitly," Mr. Levy writes, "this book is a study of libertarian leadership in time of power and time of danger…Jefferson should be seen [by his biographers] as a whole man in the perspective of his times, but my task is to determine the validity of his historical reputation as the apostle of liberty." "Blunt words and blunt facts…an indispensable book."—Commentary.

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.

The Wacky Discoveries of George Washington Carver

When George Washington Carver is confronted by angry farmers, he sets out to find a solution for their ever-growing peanut problem. But the stroll to the field takes an unexpected twist when George Washington Carver stumbles upon a bunch of lively peanuts. How will George Washington Carver solve the peanut dilemma?