November 17, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic

American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic

Joseph J. Ellis

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0307276457

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

National Bestseller

Acclaimed historian Joseph J. Ellis brings his unparalleled talents to this riveting account of the early years of the Republic.

The last quarter of the eighteenth century remains the most politically creative era in American history, when a dedicated group of men undertook a bold experiment in political ideals. It was a time of both triumphs and tragedies—all of which contributed to the shaping of our burgeoning nation. Ellis casts an incisive eye on the gradual pace of the American Revolution and the contributions of such luminaries as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, and brilliantly analyzes the failures of the founders to adequately solve the problems of slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. With accessible prose and stunning eloquence, Ellis delineates in American Creation an era of flawed greatness, at a time when understanding our origins is more important than ever.

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Haven, 1913); Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York, 1996); Carol Berkin, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution (New York, 2002). 33. This is my own synthesis of the specific ingredients in Madison’s political agenda on the eve of the convention, developed over the previous months and documented in notes 25–30 to this chapter. 34. Washington to Jefferson, 30 May 1787, PWCF 5:208. 35. Virginia Plan, 29 May 1787, MP

exclusively economic terms have been discredited by modern scholars. The messy truth is that there was a maddening variety of voting patterns from state to state, and within states from county to county, that defied any single explanation, economic or otherwise. The labels affixed to the two sides also defied logic, for both sides were federalists, meaning that they advocated a confederated republic, but disagreed over the relative power of the states and the central government in the

delegates already committed to ratification.50 What’s more, both Hamilton and Madison were forced by the political exigencies of the moment to frame their argument on behalf of the Constitution around a core idea that they had both strenuously opposed at the Philadelphia Convention. As we have seen, Madison had argued for the clear supremacy of the federal government and for the resolution of the sovereignty question at the national rather than state level. If anything, Hamilton was more of an

recognize from the start that they lacked the resources to enforce their treaty obligations? How could they not realize that they were making promises they could not keep? Part of the answer is that both Knox and Washington, and in a different way Jefferson as well, saw themselves as custodians of the true meaning of the American Revolution. And they harbored no doubts that the peaceful coexistence of Indians and whites on the North American continent was in keeping with revolutionary

government was to stay out of the way and allow the wave to roll westward.10 The second assumption was that the only European power with a substantial presence on the North American continent would be Spain. A map of the Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere in 1800 made Spain’s colonial empire appear gigantic, including Florida, the Gulf Coast, and all the land west of the Mississippi to the Pacific, not to mention Mexico and much of South America. But the map was deceptive in its grandeur

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