For most of the twentieth century, the American founding has been presented as a struggle between social classes over issues arising primarily within, rather than outside, the United States. But in recent years, new scholarship has instead turned to the international history of the American union to interpret both the causes and the consequences of the US Constitution. […Learn More]
Following the American Revolution, it was a cliche that the new republic’s future depended on widespread, informed citizenship. However, instead of immediately creating the common schools–accessible, elementary education–that seemed necessary to create such a citizenry, the Federalists in power founded one of the most ubiquitous but forgotten institutions of early American life: academies, privately run but state-chartered secondary schools that offered European-style education primarily for elites. By 1800, academies had become the most widely incorporated institutions besides churches and transportation projects in nearly every state. […Learn More]
Americans revere their Constitution. However, most of us are unaware how tumultuous and improbable the drafting and ratification processes were. As Benjamin Franklin keenly observed, any assembly of men bring with them “all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.” One need not deny that the Framers had good intentions in order to believe that they also had interests. Based on prodigious research and told largely through the voices of the participants, Michael Klarman’s The Framers’ Coup narrates how the Framers’ clashing
interests shaped the Constitution–and American history itself. […Learn More]
“A stunning biography…[A] truly singular account of the American Revolution.” —Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
Through an intimate narrative of the life of painter John Singleton Copley, award-winning historian Jane Kamensky reveals the world of the American Revolution, rife with divided loyalties and tangled sympathies. […Learn More]
A groundbreaking work of history that explicates Thomas Jefferson’s vision of himself, the American Revolution, Christianity, slavery, and race.
Thomas Jefferson is often portrayed as a hopelessly enigmatic figure―a riddle―a man so riven with contradictions that he is almost impossible to know. Lauded as the most articulate voice of American freedom and equality, even as he held people―including his own family―in bondage, Jefferson is variably described as a hypocrite, an atheist, or a simple-minded proponent of limited government who expected all Americans to be farmers forever. […Learn More]
This is George Washington in the surprising role of political strategist.
T.H. Breen introduces us to a George Washington we rarely meet. During his first term as president, he decided that the only way to fulfill the Revolution was to take the new federal government directly to the people. He organized an extraordinary journey carrying him to all thirteen states. It transformed American political culture. […Learn More]
George Washington was an affluent slave owner who believed that republicanism and social hierarchy were vital to the young country’s survival. And yet, he remains largely free of the “elitist” label affixed to his contemporaries, as Washington evolved in public memory during the nineteenth century into a man of the common people, the father of democracy. This memory, we learn in The Property of the Nation, was a deliberately constructed image, shaped and reshaped over time, generally in service of one cause or another. Matthew R. Costello traces this process through the story of Washington’s tomb, whose history and popularity reflect the building of a memory of America’s first president—of, by, and for the American people. […Learn More]
A vivid, insightful, essential new account of the formative years that shaped a callow George Washington into an extraordinary leader, from the Bancroft Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert Middlekauff.
George Washington was famously unknowable, a man of deep passions hidden behind a facade of rigid self-control. Yet before he was a great general and president, Washington was a young man prone to peevishness and a volcanic temper. […Learn More]
A full-scale portrait of the marriage of the father and mother of our country—and of the struggle for independence that he led
The Washingtons’ long union begins in colonial Virginia in 1759, when George Washington woos and weds Martha Dandridge Parke Custis, a pretty, charming, and very rich young widow. The calm early years of their marriage as plantation owners at Mount Vernon and as parents to Martha’s two children, Jacky and Patsy—both of whom present difficult challenges—yield to harsher times. […Learn More]