Cynda's Reviews > Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-2019, reading-mostly-nonfiction-2019, history-north-american-and-usa, political

Joseph J Ellis describes the backstory to several topics people interested in the Revolutionary Period are often interested in. Invariably the Historical Participants were worried about worldvkew, character, honor and possibilities until a certain level of inevitability happened.

1. About Hamilton-Burr Duel.

2. About the Federal Capital Compromise.

3. About the Silence about Slavery Question.

4. About Washington's Farewell Address.

5. About Political-Personal Relationships among the main political actors of the Revolutionary Period.

6. About the Adams-Jefferson Political-Personal Relationship.

Ellis proposes that telling the story backwards--stating the topic and then saying what informed the main event--lends itself new awareness on a topic in a new way. As continue to read what happened before and after the Revolutionary Period, I find myself relying on these new awareness.

I am glad I took this book off of my physical bookcase.
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Quotes Cynda Liked

Joseph J. Ellis
“Like the classic it has become, the Farewell Address has demonstrated the capacity to assume different shapes in different eras, to change color, if you will, in varying shades of light.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“In a very real sense, we are complicitous in their achievement, since we are the audience for which they were performing; knowing we would be watching helped to keep them on their best behavior.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“The term American, like the term democrat, began as an epithet, the former referring to an inferior, provincial creature, the latter to one who panders to the crude and mindless whims of the masses.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“Lamentations about the tribulations of public life, followed by celebrations of the bucolic splendor of retirement to rural solitude, had become a familiar, even formulaic, posture within the leadership class of the revolutionary generation, especially within the Virginia dynasty. Everyone knew the classical models of latter-day seclusion represented by Cincinnatus and described by Cicero and Virgil. Declarations of principled withdrawal from the hurly-burly of politics to the natural rhythms of one’s fields or farms had become rhetorical rituals. If Washington’s retirement hymn featured the “vine and fig tree,” Jefferson’s idolized “my family, my farm, and my books.” The motif had become so commonplace that John Adams, an aspiring Cicero himself, claimed that the Virginians had worn out the entire Ciceronian syndrome: “It seems the Mode of becoming great is to retire,” he wrote Abigail in 1796. “It is marvellous how political Plants grow in the shade.” Washington”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“Perhaps, in that eerily instinctive way in which he always grasped the difference between the essential and the peripheral, he literally felt in his bones that another term as president meant that he would die in office. By retiring when he did, he avoided that fate, which would have established a precedent that smacked of monarchical longevity by permitting biology to set the terminus of his tenure. Our obsession with the two-term precedent obscures the more elemental principle established by Washington’s voluntary retirement—namely, that the office would routinely outlive the occupant, that the American presidency was fundamentally different from a European monarchy, that presidents, no matter how indispensable, were inherently disposable.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“Taking on Washington was the fastest way to commit political suicide in the revolutionary era.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“First, it is crucial to recognize that Washington’s extraordinary reputation rested less on his prudent exercise of power than on his dramatic flair at surrendering it. He was, in fact, a veritable virtuoso of exits.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“Though many historians have taken a compromise or split-the-different position over the ensuing years, the basic choice has remained constant, as historians have declared themselves Jeffersonian or Hamiltonians, committed individualists or dedicated nationalists, liberals or conservatives”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis
“[T]he revolutionary generation found a way to contain the explosive energies of the debate in the form of an ongoing argument or dialogue that was eventually institutionalized and rendered safe by the creation of political parties.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation


Reading Progress

July 1, 2019 – Started Reading
July 1, 2019 – Shelved
July 1, 2019 –
page 51
17.59%
July 2, 2019 –
page 120
41.38%
July 5, 2019 –
page 134
46.21%
July 6, 2019 –
page 162
55.86%
July 13, 2019 –
page 206
71.03%
July 13, 2019 –
page 206
71.03%
July 13, 2019 –
page 212
73.1%
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: reading-mostly-nonfiction-2019
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: history-north-american-and-usa
July 13, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 16, 2019 – Shelved as: political

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