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 Post subject: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:07 pm 
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Hey!

I've been wanting to pick up some more books on the founding fathers, lately, but I need some help. I want to read about the political philosophy of the founding fathers, and their time as Presidents. I've been kinda worried about wasting my time and money on a book when the author has no idea what they are talking about, so I'm not just going to go to a book store and blindly pick something up. Can any of you guys help me?

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:21 pm 
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I haven't read nearly enough to recommend a "best". But that said, I did read Chernow's Washington: A Life recently, and found it to be pretty good.


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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:21 pm 
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Dan is your best source for ideas on that one.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:50 pm 
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I guess that would make sense, he has said that he has read the founding fathers forward, backward, inside, and out, or something. So, can you offer some insight, Dan? I've heard some good things about The 5000 Year Leap? Is that good?

I have not read the federalist papers yet, but I do want to give those a try when I get some free time.

I just want to clarify, I'm really looking for something that is about their political philosophy. The book I want to read doesn't really have to be about the story of their lives, as much (unless you guys think knowing this information is completely necessary for understanding their political philosophy. I have some sort of abridged version of the Autobiography of Ben Franklin (why would anyone want to take anything out of a book, in the first place) that doesn't really talk about his politics and ends almost 20 years before the Revolution starts). I know I mentioned both in my original post, I just wanted to clarify that.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:38 pm 
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if you are going to read the federalist papers, you have to also read the anti federalist papers.

Quote:
There are many on the other side, who possibly may have been persuaded to the necessity of these measures, which I conceive to be dangerous to your liberty. Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined. I am answered by gentlemen, that, though I might speak of terrors, yet the fact was, that we were surrounded by none of the {46} dangers I apprehended. I conceive this new government to be one of those dangers: it has produced those horrors which distress many of our best citizens.


Quote:
The Confederation, this same despised government, merits, in my opinion, the highest encomium: it carried us through a long and dangerous war; it rendered us victorious in that bloody conflict with a powerful nation; it has secured us a territory greater than any European monarch possesses: and shall a government which has been thus strong and vigorous, be accused of imbecility, and abandoned for want of energy? Consider what you are about to do before you part with the government. Take longer time in reckoning things; revolutions like this have happened in almost every country in Europe; similar examples are to be found in ancient Greece and ancient Rome — instances of the people losing their liberty by their own carelessness and the ambition of a few. We are cautioned by the honorable gentleman, who presides, against faction and turbulence. I acknowledge that licentiousness is dangerous, and that it ought to be provided against: I acknowledge, also, the new form of government may effectually prevent it: yet there is another thing it will as effectually do — it will oppress and ruin the people.


Quote:
My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants. It is urged by some gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength — an army, and the militia of the states. This is an idea extremely ridiculous: gentlemen cannot be earnest. This acquisition {48} will trample on our fallen liberty. Let my beloved Americans guard against that fatal lethargy that has pervaded the universe. Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia, is put into the hands of Congress? The honorable gentleman said that great danger would ensue if the Convention rose without adopting this system. I ask, Where is that danger? I see none. Other gentlemen have told us, within these walls, that the union is gone, or that the union will be gone. Is not this trifling with the judgment of their fellow-citizens? Till they tell us the grounds of their fears, I will consider them as imaginary. I rose to make inquiry where those dangers were; they could make no answer: I believe I never shall have that answer. Is there a disposition in the people of this country to revolt against the dominion of laws? Has there been a single tumult in Virginia? Have not the people of Virginia, when laboring under the severest pressure of accumulated distresses, manifested the most cordial acquiescence in the execution of the laws? What could be more awful than their unanimous acquiescence under general distresses? Is there any revolution in Virginia? Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? It was but yesterday, when our enemies marched in triumph through our country. Yet the people of this country could not be appalled by their pompous armaments: they stopped their carer, and victoriously captured them. Where is the peril, now, compared to that? Some minds are agitated by foreign alarms. Happily for us, there is no real danger from Europe; that country is engaged in more arduous business: from that quarter there is no cause of fear: you may sleep in safety forever for them.


prudent objection and astonishingly accurate predictions.

Quote:
After so recent a triumph over British despots, after such torrents of blood and treasure have been spent, after involving ourselves in the distresses of an arduous war, and incurring such a debt for the express purpose of asserting the rights of humanity; it is truly astonishing that a set of men among ourselves should have the effrontery to attempt the destruction of our liberties. But in this enlightened age to hope to dupe the people by the arts they are practicing is still more extraordinary.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:26 pm 
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Two books I would recommend are a little unusual.

"Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis - A really good study of the relationships and rivalries among the founding fathers.

"What Kind of Nation" by James Simon - Covers the Marshall court and it's ongoing fights with the Jefferson administration as well as the establishment of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government.

Something you'll learn as you read is the "Founding Fathers" consists of some remarkable, even unique, men who were not without flaws (notably egos). Also, you'll learn they were most emphatically NOT united in how they saw the fledgling republic. Someone suggested reading the Anti-Federalist papers, it's a good idea. The Constitution we have today was not without opposition during ratification. Indeed, Jefferson was one of it's early detractors though he wasn't shy about stretching his Presidential powers when he came into office.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:30 am 
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lakepsailor wrote:
Two books I would recommend are a little unusual.

"Founding Brothers" by Joseph Ellis - A really good study of the relationships and rivalries among the founding fathers.

"What Kind of Nation" by James Simon - Covers the Marshall court and it's ongoing fights with the Jefferson administration as well as the establishment of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government.

Something you'll learn as you read is the "Founding Fathers" consists of some remarkable, even unique, men who were not without flaws (notably egos). Also, you'll learn they were most emphatically NOT united in how they saw the fledgling republic. Someone suggested reading the Anti-Federalist papers, it's a good idea. The Constitution we have today was not without opposition during ratification. Indeed, Jefferson was one of it's early detractors though he wasn't shy about stretching his Presidential powers when he came into office.


Thanks for the recommendation! "What Kind of Nation" sounds very interesting! Thanks for pointing it out for me.

I think the fact that the founders did't always agree is one of the most important things that I, at least so far, know about them. I also think it's one of the first things that I really learned about them since I began trying to study them.

I'll be sure to check out the anti-federalist papers, as well

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:11 am 
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Another pair of books well worth reading are by Alexis de Tocqueville called "Democracy in America". Published in 1835/1840 I would say they should be required reading material. They represent an early outsider's view of American culture and made some pretty disturbing and perhaps accurate predictions regarding the direction a democracy would take.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Founding Fathers Biographies?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:59 pm 
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I second the "Founding Brothers" recomendation, it's very good. If you are looking for pure biographies, then the John Adams biography by McCullough is excellent, as is the Hamilton biography by Chernow.


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