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American Creation Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic

ISBN-10: 030726369X
ISBN-13: 9780307263698
Edition: 2007
Authors: Joseph J. Ellis
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Description: From the prizewinning author of the best-sellingFounding BrothersandAmerican Sphinx, a masterly and highly ironic examination of the founding years of our country. The last quarter of the eighteenth century remains the most politically creative era  More...

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Book details

List price: $26.95
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Size: 6.75" wide x 9.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.606
Language: English

From the prizewinning author of the best-sellingFounding BrothersandAmerican Sphinx, a masterly and highly ironic examination of the founding years of our country. The last quarter of the eighteenth century remains the most politically creative era in American history, when a dedicated and determined group of men undertook a bold experiment in political ideals. It was a time of triumphs; yet, as Joseph J. Ellis makes clear, it was also a time of tragedies—all of which contributed to the shaping of our burgeoning nation. From the first shots fired at Lexington to the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, 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 shows us why the fact that it was brought about by a group, rather than by a single individual, distinguished it from the bloodier revolutions of other countries, and ultimately played a key role in determining its success. He explains how the idea of a strong federal government, championed by Washington, was eventually embraced by the American people, the majority of whom had to be won over, as they feared an absolute power reminiscent of the British Empire. And he details the emergence of the two-party system—then a political novelty—which today stands as the founders’ most enduring legacy. But 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. He demonstrates how these misjudgments, now so abundantly evident, were not necessarily inevitable. We learn of the negotiations between Henry Knox and Alexander McGillivray, the most talented Indian statesman of his time, which began in good faith and ended in disaster. And we come to understand how a political solution to slavery required the kind of robust federal power that the Jeffersonians viewed as a betrayal of their most deeply held principles. 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 Creationis a book that delineates an era of flawed greatness, at a time when understanding our origins is more important than ever.

Joseph J. Ellis was born in Washington, D.C. on July 18, 1943. He earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1965 and a M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University in 1969. He was an instructor in the department of American studies at Yale University from 1968 to 1969 and an assistant professor in the department of history and social studies at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1969 to 1972. He began his career at Mount Holyoke College as assistant professor in the department of history in 1972 and was made professor in 1979. Ellis was dean of the faculty at Mount Holyoke from 1980 to 1990. He is also a Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. He has published articles, essays, reviews, and opinion pieces in such periodicals as American Heritage, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Civilization. He has appeared on C-SPAN and Fox News and was a participant in the 1997 Ken Burns PBS documentary "Thomas Jefferson." In 1997, Ellis published American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson and in 1998 he co-authored the article in Nature that accompanied the controversial study of the descendants of Jefferson and the slave Sally Hemmings. He has received several awards including the National Book Award in Nonfiction for American Sphinx in 1997 and the Pulitzer Prize for History for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation in 2001. Ellis' other works include Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, Random House, 2013); First Family: Abigail and John Adams, 2010; American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, 2007; His Excellency: George Washington, 2004; After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture; Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, 2000; What Did the Declaration Declare? (Historians at Work), editor and contributor, 1999.

Prologue: The Founding
The Year
The Winter
The Argument
The Treaty
The Conspiracy
The Purchase

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