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Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 11. BLOOD OF TYRANTS ~ October 21st ~ October 27th ~~ CHAPTERS 33 - Epilogue ~ (290 - 319) No-Spoilers

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Bryan Craig Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Chapter Thirty Three: Wining the Peace


After Yorktown, Lord North resigned as prime minister. The Americans had to negotiate a peace treaty, but Washington was not a part of it. Ben Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay went to negotiate.

Jay was suspicious of French motives in the peace process. The country was using Spain to block American territorial expansion. The French King wanted the Americans linked to a peace treaty, but the Americans balked and negotiated alone.

British wanted a quick peace and they were happy to drive a wedge between France and America.

Chapter Thirty Four: Spectacles & Speculation

Washington moved his army up north after the surrender. Some people saw Washington as a threat, but there was a threat from within. The army was not paid and hungry. There was a circular going around to march on the Congress to demand pay as troops became restless.

Washington met his officers on March 15, 1783 and he read an address, but it wasn't working. The general took out his glasses, a show of vulnerability, and that helped win over the officers. The men did get pay later on. The war officially ended when the treaty was signed on September 3, 1783.

Chapter Thirty Five: The Greatest Man in the World

Washington said good-bye to his men. It was emotional, and then Washington went to address Congress at Annapolis, Maryland. He retired from the army to return to Mt. Vernon, a decision that was very popular as his fame grew to a point that he could have become king of America. However, he would be elected the country's first president.

Epilogue: Governing from the Grave

Washington faced the same issues we do today. Regarding the constitution, judges look to the Founding Fathers, the Originalism school of thought. It can be found in the 2008 D.C. vs. Heller case. Another school of thought sees the Constitution as a living document, reflecting today, but the Founders remain important to understand the Constitution. A great example was the fact that Washington set precedents as commander in chief.


Bryan Craig When I read that GW was not part of the negotiation team, I had to ask why? Could GW change the outcome of the treaty, I wonder...


Donna (drspoon) Bryan wrote: "When I read that GW was not part of the negotiation team, I had to ask why? Could GW change the outcome of the treaty, I wonder..."

I don't know but in the negotiations process the French certainly underestimated the Americans.


Katy (kathy_h) I loved the story about Washington taking out his glasses to read and the result with the troops. It not only made the officers realize that he was human, it always adds human traits to the hero we have known through history.


Bryan Craig Indeed, Kathy, it is a shame someone stolen them. I like looking at Jefferson's eye glasses at Monticello. You get to see something he touched and had on his face, which is pretty cool.


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Friends, I cannot believe we are finishing. You have all been such a tremendous part of my book launch experience - I feel like we were all in it together! I could not imagine a better group of people to share it with.

Your fascinating thoughts have wowed me throughout and I feel humbled by your words. I appreciate your very kind reviews - all those stars make the hard work that went into this book worth it and I especially love your insights. I feel a bond with each of you and encourage you to friend me here, so that we can continue to keep in touch.

I am traveling the country and would love to meet everyone who participated in our discussions - I am in the middle of a Kentucky/Tennessee/Virginia trip now and then will be in New York later this week, Connecticut next week, then North and South Carolina (see you soon John!) in November. I am also putting together trips to speak in Utah and Massachusetts and would love to meet each of you as I add other locations. Please let me know where we are.

Thank you, my new friends, I share your love of history and appreciate your help spreading the word about Blood of Tyrants. Please reach out with any idea! I would love to hear from you.

A huge thank you to Bentley for making this all happen! The History Book club is a treasure and your efforts are so greatly appreciated.

And a very warm thank you to Bryan, Christopher, and Jerome for your tremendous moderation and insights. I feel blown away by your knowledge of the era and hope for the chance to work with you more in the future. I am sending you personal messages and we will definitely remain in touch.


Bryan Craig Thanks Logan for keeping us engaged, a first rate effort.


Todd (todsisson) | 18 comments Logan, I can't tell you how cool it has been to be able to talk with you through this club. My mom was so impressed with your availability through goodreads that she created her own account.

These last few chapters were some of my favorite from the whole book. I feel like Washington's humanity screamed from the pages. The scene of his last dinner with his officers left me with a lasting picture of the relationships he forged with these men throughout the whole war.

No, Washington wasn't perfect. Some of the ideas he had were even somewhat scary. He may not have been the best tactician either, but after reading this book it's apparent that he was the perfect man to be the first commander in chief. Early on, it was impressive to see how Washington united the colonies, and I can't believe that all 100 electors voted for him!

Logan, I sure hope there will be more where this came from! You've got the gift for dealing with concepts within narrative. I enjoyed the whole thing.


Katy (kathy_h) Todd, I agree! It has been so nice to have Logan available and to read his extra insights.

I enjoyed getting to know Washington as a human while he still remained a hero for me.


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I agree completely. Thanks to Logan for his additional insights which weren't in the book, but which he included in the various threads. It really added to my appreciation of his comparative themes.


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments But, with regard to this section, I have to say that even though I knew about the quasi war with France, this book showed, in a very few sentences, the back story of how it came about and Franklins rather cunning diplomatic attempts to soothe the bristling back of the French.

Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin


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Mark (mwl1) Thanks Logan, I agree that your involvement in the discussions has been great as we have read through the book.

I thought these last few chapters wrapped up the topic exceptionally well. I thought the focus on Washington's character and discussing how he gracefully exited the public stage really added emphasis to the significance of his precedent. Knowing that Washington was determined to get the job done right while not lusting for power helps drive home the point that he was the model that they were looking at for "Commander in Chief."


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Bryan Craig G wrote: "But, with regard to this section, I have to say that even though I knew about the quasi war with France, this book showed, in a very few sentences, the back story of how it came about and Franklins..."

Good observation, G. I think some of the seeds were planted at that time. Another seed was John Jay and the treaty he constructed with Great Britain when GW was president.

John Jay John Jay

(no image) The Quasi-War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France, 1797-1801 by Alexander Deconde (no photo)


Bryan Craig Mark wrote: "Thanks Logan, I agree that your involvement in the discussions has been great as we have read through the book.

I thought these last few chapters wrapped up the topic exceptionally well. I though..."


Indeed, Mark, and the Founders had to build a strong checks and balances around the commander in chief.


Bryan Craig G, I love the fact that Benjamin Franklin responded to the French about negotiating a separate treaty that we are sorry, we are novices at this whole diplomacy thing...

Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin


Bryan Craig DonnaR wrote: I don't know but in the negotiations process the French certainly underestimated the Americans..."

I agree, Donna, well said.


David (nusandman) | 111 comments Thank you Logan, you have written a most enjoyable book. It was very difficult for me not to forge ahead and finish it a while ago it was so interesting but I didn't want to "spoil" the conversations. And thank you to the mods here as well for keeping the conversation flowing.


Bryan Craig David wrote: "Thank you Logan, you have written a most enjoyable book. It was very difficult for me not to forge ahead and finish it a while ago it was so interesting but I didn't want to "spoil" the conversati..."

I know for many it is hard not to read ahead, so I appreciate it that you kept to rule of non-spoiler threads.

I'm glad you enjoyed the book :-)


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Teri (teriboop) I enjoyed these ending chapters and the way Logan wrapped up this look into Washington. This book has become the modern day equivalent of the "glasses" that GW wore in 1783. It has allowed us to see the human side of GW, flaws and all while still capturing the essence of the larger than life character we have known him to be. I didn't expect him to bet he type to be so emotional as he said good-bye to his troops.

This book definitely gives one reason to think about where our government started and where we are today. I believe our founding fathers tried to anticipate growth in the country and I think those original principles are what all Americans want to see continue, to be "...completely free and happy" (p. 319). We definitely have interesting times ahead of us, just as we had interesting times before.


Bryan Craig I agree, Teri, you do see a human side of GW in this moment. I expect his family saw it, maybe his closest friends, I suppose, but it is hard to imagine.


Phillip (philbertk) | 55 comments Very interesting journey with all of you. I learned as much from your comments as I did from the book.


Bryan Craig And thank you Phillip.


Bryan Craig Did Washington deserve the designation as "the greatest man in the world?"


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Todd wrote: "Logan, I can't tell you how cool it has been to be able to talk with you through this club. My mom was so impressed with your availability through goodreads that she created her own account.

Thes..."


Todd, I love it! Please ask her to friend me. I greatly appreciate your kind words and have enjoyed your comments throughout. I look forward to keeping in touch!


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Bryan wrote: "Did Washington deserve the designation as "the greatest man in the world?""

Yes, but I am biased.


Phillip (philbertk) | 55 comments I think if you survey the fate of revolutions throughout history few if any can be considered successful. More frequently revolutions descend into anarchy or tyranny. Washington deserves a huge amount of credit for this not occurring in the American revolution. What is most amazing is that he accomplished this through his example rather than by force or coercion.


Logan Beirne | 140 comments G wrote: "I agree completely. Thanks to Logan for his additional insights which weren't in the book, but which he included in the various threads. It really added to my appreciation of his comparative themes."

Thank you G! There were many additional points I had in the book but had to remove. Particularly, I compared the history to today more directly in certain parts but had to cut that because the modern issues change so rapidly that the publisher (rightfully - now that I think about it) did not want the book to become outdated before the printing presses cooled. By stepping back and letting the reader make his/her own connections, we ended up making a more timeless book.


Bryan Craig It makes sense, Logan, the publisher made a good call.


Bryan Craig You have a lot of good arguments for making GW the greatest, or least one of the greats.

As Phillip says, his actions spoke volumes, very impressive.


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John | 167 comments As I wrapped up reading the book, what was interesting to me is how each of the sections stand out as mini-books on their own. They could have been easily assembled into a multi-part documentary series on the History channel or a lecture series all with a focus on how Washington helped to mold the presidency and how "modern" issues were dealt with in his day and what we can learn from them.
In the History class I teach for a local campus of a university, I used parts of his book in class, and found it well suited for use in that way- reading assignments, sections, etc. What I did was have students read sections of Washington's Farewell address and we read the epilogue of Blood of Tyrants and talked about how much Washington's warnings apply today. It was a fascinating discussion with students.

As a reader, I think the epilogue really brought things together and reiterated Logan's thesis and purpose, but brought it back into a full modern day context (esp. with Supreme Court quotes and comments).
Well done, sir, and thank you for joining us in the threads and for all the addtional insights and comments.
George Washington's Farewell Address by George Washington George Washington George Washington


Bryan Craig Thanks John for joining us.


Bryan Craig GW has an interesting quote at the end. What do you think Washington meant by it?

"The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period...At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." (p. 319)


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John | 167 comments I think he was looking towards the future for sure. It's funny how many of the Founders expressed concern over how long the Republic would stand.
In the end, we have but ourselves to blame if we allow the nation to slide into tyranny. It's somewhat akin to Franklin's answer to the lady if they had created a monarchy or republic: "A republic if you can keep it."
The Constitution recognized and laid the power of sovereignty with the people and laid out checks and balances and provisions to be able to combat corruption. It's not that the Founders felt they had prevented corruption and tyranny through the Constitution- rather they well understood human nature and power, and created a means to try and minimize it's affects on governance and help the people to fight it and govern themselves.
In the end, the Founders had fought hard for freedom- and the Constitution became the product of that fight. If the citizens become unfree, unhappy and find themselves in dire straits- it will be because they did not act upon their own sovereignty or have slide into apathy and allow others to reign upon them.


Bryan Craig Well said, John. It took just a generation for the U.S. to break down new barriers. This might be a good guide:

Inheriting the Revolution The First Generation of Americans by Joyce Appleby by Joyce Appleby Joyce Appleby


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John | 167 comments Agreed Bryan- I think that Gordon Wood comments in The Radicalism of the American Revolution, that we go from a "Republic", a la the vision of the Founders, to a democracy or democratic republic more in today's thinking by the time of Andrew Jackson's Presidency which is about Appleby's timeline-I think she goes to about 1830 if I remember right (it's been awhile since I read Inheriting...) By the way, I like Wood's Empire of Liberty to add to this list.

It seems to me that even starting with Adams up through John Quincy, we step bit by bit towards applying the ideals, etc to new arenas and problems and still trying to establish ourselves apart from the old world in Europe and stand as an equal among nations - Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase, Madison and the British, etc. Then when Jackson wins over JQ- it is a new era- for better or worse.

As Logan so aptly defends in his book, we still have much to learn from Washington in today's world, even if we are somewhat different. And curious as to what Logan thinks as well, could we apply the same thesis to the "Founding era" Presidency's of Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Adams?

The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood by Gordon S. Wood Gordon S. Wood

Inheriting the Revolution The First Generation of Americans by Joyce Appleby by Joyce Appleby Joyce Appleby

Empire of Liberty A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood by Gordon S. Wood Gordon S. Wood


Logan Beirne | 140 comments John wrote: "Agreed Bryan- I think that Gordon Wood comments in The Radicalism of the American Revolution, that we go from a "Republic", a la the vision of the Founders, to a democracy or democratic republic mo..."

Great question, John. I think we can (and should) look to the other founders. We can learn a lot from them about our founding principles and the intentions of the Constitution. These were brilliant men dealing with fundamental questions we are still trying to answer.

Constitutionally speaking, I think Washington is special though. He embodied what it meant to be the American Commander-in-Chief specifically, as well as President, more generally speaking. No other founder so clearly defined the meaning of the Constitution with their precedents. That said, I think the others are fascinating and should still be studied . . . perhaps my next book! Stay tuned!


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Phillip wrote: "I think if you survey the fate of revolutions throughout history few if any can be considered successful. More frequently revolutions descend into anarchy or tyranny. Washington deserves a huge a..."

Wow, Phillip. Did you have a chance to check out the Epilogue? The point is that this history has a very direct impact on modern law - whether we think it should or not. The Justices in their opinions tie this history directly to modern decisions (and they are not at all subtle about it!). I was eager to be more nuanced regarding the connections to allow the reader to make his or her own decisions rather than hitting the reader over the head with it. I could have been a lot less subtle like the Justices are, but that would be less respectful of the reader.

Based on the comments, you and others seemed to very much enjoy connecting the history to today. I am happy to bring forth the relevance to our era. To often people think history is dead and gone, but it still impacts us today.


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Teri wrote: "I enjoyed these ending chapters and the way Logan wrapped up this look into Washington. This book has become the modern day equivalent of the "glasses" that GW wore in 1783. It has allowed us to ..."

Teri, that analogy of the book being the modern glasses is very much appreciated! It means so much that all of the effort that went into this book helped to clarify our history. I see Washington's quote at the end as a direct challenge to each and every one of us to help steer our country toward a better future. Thank you, Teri, I look forward to speaking with you more.


Bryan Craig I am biased when it comes to history myself. I think it is hard to figure out the intention of the Founders because you cannot talk to them personally. They also might disagree with one another, lol. What a great oral history that would have been.

But I think it is important to get the original intent, but I have to say, I also believe the Constitution is a living document and should reflect the times. Jefferson believed in that.


Robyn (rplouse) | 73 comments I'm so sorry to see the book come to an end! Logan, how long to we have to wait for the sequels, one about GW's presidency and one about the Constitution, or one about both? I find myself craving the next part of the story, and I hope you'll oblige.


Mary Ellen | 184 comments This has been fascinating. Thanks, Logan, for your openness to participating in this discussion & answering our questions! (I am in New Haven: is there someplace where your tour stops are listed? I'd love to have the chance to say hello!)

As for this last section: both the glasses incident and the last dinner with Washington's men are just priceless stories and, as others had noted, gave us a view of a very "human" Washington - even as the stories themselves contribute to his legend! That last dinner story was my favorite - picturing him having such a physical, personal good-bye to each of his officers is such a contrast to the man who had resented Stuart's questions while painting his portrait!

I am not too super-originalist in my approach to the Constitution (note how both sides of the Heller Court invoked original intent to bolster their arguments!). But of course agree that, to the extent we can identify the varied "intents" of the multifaceted founding generation, they are touchstones for our understanding the Constitution.

Thanks again, Logan & our intrepid moderators!


Bryan Craig Thank you Robun and Mary Ellen


Sarah | 28 comments Thank you Logan and moderators for such a great read and thought provoking discussions. I am looking forward to Logan's next book!


Craig (twinstuff) Although I haven't posted in some of these threads over the past few weeks, I did want to pop back in and also thank Logan and the mods here for such a rewarding experience. What this book has done for me more than anything is elevate Washington back up to the top of my list of all-time favorite presidents. Sorry, Abe, but until I read another biography that can change my mind again, you're now #2 behind GW.


Bryan Craig Thanks Sarah and Craig. Thank you for participating.


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Thank you Logan and Bryan for your time and for making this whole experience educational and fun!! Fabulous book Logan, looking forward to your next endeavor. So happy I was a part of the experience :D


Bryan Craig And thank you Mal for your great comments. I hope to see you around for another discussion.


David Thomas (phillydave82) | 18 comments The part about the American representatives (Franklin, Adams and Jay) essentially double-crossing the French when they realized the French were in it for themselves more to cripple the British than to help the Americans. They were in it for the glory and spoils and were perfectly willing to throw the Americans to the wolves. It truly was an alliance of convenience and certainly proved the old saying of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". The French looked at the naive Americans and said "let us handle this we've been around longer and are better at this" and the Americans basically said "we'll handle it ourselves". Just because Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 did not mean the fight was over. Even when Washington met with his officers at Newburgh in 1783 things still were not finished and not until the Constitution was ratified could one chapter end and another begin.


Bryan Craig Indeed, and Franklin and Jefferson did pretty well in restoring some decent relations after the war. It was difficult to be in the middle of these great powers.


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Jerome | 4301 comments Mod
This part was interesting. The British tried to conclude the negotiations without explicitly recognizing America as an independent nation.

The Americans also violated their own instructions in not consulting the French, but did not violate their treaty obligations to France, because the agreement wouldn't go into effect until Britain and France agreed to a peace.


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