[download Reading] American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the RepublicAuthor Joseph J. Ellis – 91videos.co

An Ironic Examination Of The Founding Years Of The United States Of America Historian Ellis Guides Readers Thru The Decisive Issues Of The Nation S Founding, And Illuminates The Emerging Philosophies, Shifting Alliances, And Personal And Political Foibles Of Now Iconic Leaders 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 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, Making 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 Ellis Strips The Mythic Veneer Of The Revolutionary Generation To Reveal Men Possessed Of Both Brilliance And Blindness


10 thoughts on “American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic

  1. says:

    In this little gem of a book, Joseph J Ellis argues that one venerable interpretation of the founding of the United States, namely that it was a clash between democracy and aristocracy, is flawed None of the Founders, even Jefferson, regarded democracy as a goal All of the Founders were what we would call elitists In fact, the term democracy was considered an epithet The core question was rather how to create a viable nation state The clash was between those who favored a wholly sovereign national government the Federalists like Washington and John Adams and those who wanted to preserve state sovereignty over all domestic issues the Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson.Ellis asserts that the founding generation was very successful in at least five respects, but woefully inadequate in at least two First the good news the Founders 1 waged the first successful war for colonial independence in the modern era 2 established the first nation sized republic 3 created a wholly secular state, with genuine freedom of religion 4 rejected Aristotle s concept that sovereignty had to reside in a single place and 5 created political parties as institutionalized channels for ongoing debate The bad news was that they failed miserably 1 in handling Native Americans and 2 in dealing with the institution of slavery.Rather than tackling the entire founding era which Ellis defines as 1775 1803 , Ellis describes only a few distinct and seminal events, almost like short stories, to illustrate themes that run through the entire period In a chapter entitled The Year, we see how the revolution was of an evolution, in which the nature of the opposition changed from a group of King George s loyal subjects who just didn t want to be taxed, to a group of increasingly audacious statesmen who desired complete independence In another chapter, Ellis explores how Washington perforce changed strategy from direct military confrontation to modified guerrilla warfare, using America s extensive space to avoid pitched battles where possible and to wear down his British adversaries.Ellis does an impressive job of analyzing the debate about the adoption of the Constitution and the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation The struggle lay in determining the relative power of the new federal government vis vis the states Ellis describes the resolution of the issue as The Great Compromise, which essentially declared the theoretical question of state versus federal sovereignty politically unresolvable except by a split the difference structure that neither camp found satisfactory The only workable solution was to leave the sovereignty question unclear With victory over the British came the thorny problem of how to deal with the many Native Americans who lived between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River Despite the somewhat good intentions of George Washington and John Adams, the government was never able to adopt a satisfactory strategy or negotiate an equitable treaty with the various tribes Instead, the inexorable pressures of a rapidly increasing white population and desire for cheap western land resulted in the driving of the tribes from their historic homes and the near extinction of them as a people.Ellis s treatment of the Louisiana Purchase is particularly well wrought Napoleon Bonaparte was frustrated in his efforts to prevent Haiti from winning its independence from France Moreover, his troops both in Haiti and on the mainland were being decimated by yellow fever and malaria Napoleon s disgust with the whole enterprise presented the young American government with an opportunity to double the size of its realm at a very low price In fact, the purchase could be financed entirely with the sale of land in the new territory to eager American buyers The problem for then President Thomas Jefferson was that the Constitution did not specifically authorize the president or anyone else to take such dramatic measures Jefferson had based his entire political career on limiting the power of the federal government In the event, Jefferson ignored his Republican scruples because he just could not pass up the opportunity to increase the size of the republic Ellis says, there was no getting around the blatant fact that it was a violation of his political creed, in effect a sin But, as Ellis added, without the capacity to enlarge presidential power toward monarchial levels of authority, it is difficult to understand how republican government could effectively respond to any genuine crisis While there were numerous positive results of the Louisiana Purchase, it sealed the doom of Indians east of the Mississippi by providing a place where Eastern tribes could be relocated Many died during the forced relocations, or shared the fate of the tribes in the West by being annihilated or placed in reservations on the land the whites didn t want, i.e., the most economically unviable Another theme that resonates through the book is the attitude of many of the Founders to the institution of slavery Many followed Jefferson s Virginia Compromise, by simply ignoring the issue, as if the mere discussion of it amounted to a form of treason Most of the Founders thought the problem was insolvable at least while they were alive the idea of emancipation evoked the unsavory prospect giving up their own slaves Very few of them could imagine a bi racial society Even most of the most liberal thought the solution would require the relocation of blacks to another country, either in Liberia or the Caribbean Ellis shows how the Louisiana Purchase exacerbated this problem by adding a large new territory where there was no agreement about the reach of slavery.Evaluation This book does not add much to what was already known about the Founding period or the Founding Fathers, but it does present it in a well organized and very readable style I highly recommend this intelligent and perceptive analysis of the Founding Era as an addition to your Early American History library.


  2. says:

    A great telling of 1776 to the Louisiana Purchase Very detailed analysis of the events and the positions of the major players This would be an excellent text book for the period, in part because it is so readable and told so understandably.


  3. says:

    Ellis is an incredibly eloquent writer I like how he doesn t attempt to write the definitive history of a period or person He picks several significant events and explores them thoroughly, making you see them differently than your education and assumptions have led you to believe.


  4. says:

    This book was very easy to read and really got me psyched up about the era of the American Revolution The author simultaneously points out the genius as well as the personal ambitions failings quirks of the founders It s refreshing to read an account of history that isn t putting a sugar coat on everything, but also isn t bashing our beloved founding fathers This book prompted me to start reading Undaunted Courage, because he does a grat job pointing out the importance of the Louisiana Purchase to our country s history.


  5. says:

    So even though I m not a 5th grade teacher any , I can t shake the early American history addiction This book holds a nice sweeping portrayal of the founding years and ties a lot of things together It makes me want to read about Thomas Jefferson There were many issues presented that were new to me such as the importance of the constant argument between states rights and federal power, and the impetus behind the Louisiana Purchase I agree with most of what the author postulates in this book except for 2 ideas One is that the two party system is an integral and inevitable part of any republic that is going to function properly, and that it is a good thing that the founders stumbled across it, however unwillingly I think the two party system sucks It puts the power in the hands of the minority over the majority, it makes it so that most votes don t count, and it makes sure that no honest, independent person will ever become president I guess this country kind of got off on the wrong foot as far as honest presidents go, since the first one was complicit in the race based trafficking of human flesh on his own property, but it would be kind of nice to have a decent person as president for once The other thing I don t agree with is the author s insistence that Washington really cared that much about finding an alternative to exterminating the Native American population Of course Washington cared quite a bit about them than the next dozen presidents would, but to say that he honestly believed that he was making promises to the Indians that he was actually planning on keeping is just showing that this author still sees Washington with glasses shrouded in the mist of heroism Washington is still somewhat godlike for this author, which is interesting because he has no qualms about totally defaming the other founders and facing head on the uncomfortable elephants in the room Unfortunately one elephant he never even mentions is the fact that Jefferson and Washington never freed very many of their own personal slaves during their lives I think Jefferson only freed 5, and after his death his family auctioned off 130 people, including the family members of one of the only two slaves he freed in his will None of this is mentioned in the book To me this fact renders absolutely ridiculous and irrelevant anything good they might have done It s like trying to find some good side to Hitler I m sure Hitler did some good things, but it would be blasphemous to number them as if they justified the holocaust Was not slavery a cultural holocaust, and did not Jefferson and Washington have the power to end it at least on their own property No, they were justified because they would have suffered financially and there was actually a law against freeing one s own slaves Poor babies, they would have had to break a diabolical law and go without their foreign wines and cheeses Yet they did sacrifice so much during the revolutionary years, and they broke so many laws that they were guilty of treason If they truly believed in those revolutionary principles, they would have made one revolutionary sacrifice and freed their slaves I am sick of historians appologizing for them.


  6. says:

    I really enjoyed this book and found it to be refreshing, especially as a read during an major election I feel a bit better about the constant partisan arguments, lies and exaggerations, posturing, etc The debate is part of the point of how our democracy is set up and our beloved founding fathers engaged in the same partisan lies and exaggerations that parties engage in today I m not saying it s right I m only saying there is a bit of relief in knowing we ve made it through before and we can make it through again.Anyway specifically about the book Ellis organized the sequence of events and chose nice examples for the story he was telling His argument and evidence was clearly and persuasively laid out Even having listened to the book on audio, in snippets in the car, I could follow the case he was making His writing is clear, concise, and interesting.The reader was also good I d listened to the same reader narrate a Baldacci book and I d really disliked how the narrator read female voices However, with no female voices to narrate, his reading was smooth and added rather than detracted from the story.I had gotten some other Ellis books from the library to listen to and am looking forward to them, though I think I need a break from the American Revolution and politics for a bit.


  7. says:

    Easily the worst book I have ever had to read for school.The writing is dry and the passages are boring While Ellis s use of language employed a variety of words and high level English skills, it turned me off and made the book difficult to understand However, Ellis s work does the job of providing a detailed account on the founding of the country He takes the reader through the critical events that led to the basis of America These occurrences are then linked together to form a highly historically accurate story.Inserted documents and quotes give the reader a variety of viewpoints to experience.Put simply, the main problem I had was that the book was plain overwritten It also seemed like each chapter was an independent story and not as cohesive as I would have liked I would recommend this book to someone who already had SOME prior knowledge of American history whom is also interested in the events that led up to the nation s founding.Though complicated, Ellis has written up a thorough examination of the country s beginnings in a dramatic manner.


  8. says:

    Covers quite a bit of ground in bite sized portions Ellis offers an intriguing take on the American founding through a few key moments from 1775 1803 I don t agree with all of his conclusions, but he does a good job outlining all the complexities of the various situations, especially excelling with the Continental Army s time at Valley Forge and the writing and ratification of the Constitution He gets a bit overly rhapsodic when it comes to pushing his triumphs tragedies theme sometimes, but his secondary themes regarding time, space, the excellence but also imperfections of the founders, and the argumentative nature of the Constitution are quite perspicacious.


  9. says:

    Although difficult to enjoy at first due to the author s extremely intellectual and impressive use of the English language and quoted passages, when focused on specific topics in our nation s founding, like failed federal Indian policy preservation and the origins of our two party political system, this book was very enjoyable and interesting.


  10. says:

    There are some good bits to this book, and some things I learned, but the author took a loose theme triumphs and tragedies and shoved it down the reader s throat The essay format works nicely, but only when it s not overdone.