Thomas Paul's Reviews > Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood
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Nov 18, 11

A lot of us think we know about our founding fathers and what they planned for America. But did you know that a lot of our founding fathers intended for the US to be a monarchy? That the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans despised each other so much that it makes the political parties of today look like a love-fest? That the Washington administration built a very strong federal government that taxed and spent their way to a prosperous nation? That our founding fathers had very little interest in religion and one of the most popular books written during this period was an anti-religious tome? No? Then this book will truly shock you.

Gordon Wood has done a great job with this book. It is very well written and keeps moving but you will want to put it down to think about what you have read. It does a fantastic job of covering each of the administrations of our first few presidents especially that Washington and Adams administrations. Wood does an excellent job of showing how the Federalist party collapsed under the disagreements of Adams and Alexander Hamilton leading to the Democratic-Republicans becoming the leading party at the beginning of the 19th century. These administrations are dealt with a little too easily. Jefferson despised the concept of a strong federal government and his policies hurt the developing nation but the author tends to overlook these issues. Especially on the issue of slavery the author could have done a better job.

Wood is both a wonderful writer and a superb scholar. Overall this is an excellent book and you will learn a huge amount about our founding fathers that will surprise you. Unlike so may other historical books, this one flows very well and Wood writes like a writer not a history professor trying to impress his dean. I highly recommend this book for anyone with interest in the first 25 years of the United States.
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