The novel, Founding Brothers, written by Joseph Ellis is a thought provoking novel on the intertwined lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and Ben Franklin. Ellis calls the 1790’s the most decisive decade in our country. The author exemplifies three major points in our nation’s history: George Washington and his prominent legacy; the collaborative yet antagonistic relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams; and the many problems of the young union during its revolutionary era.
George Washington was a monumental character and played a vital role in the molding of our country. Although, his reputation was nearly impeccable, he was great in stature, standing at six foot four. The farewell address was a key element to Washington’s legacy. In this he displayed how grateful he was to have such a remarkable opportunity to serve his country, although this only was the beginning part of his speech. Secondly he decided to stress the importance of the union. But it started in 1776 when Washington was being described as “Father of our Country” prematurely.
Even Ben Franklin acknowledged Washington’s supremacy. In the 1790’s Washington was well known, he was the presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention and the chief executive of the federal government. “Washington was the core of gravity that prevented the American Revolution from flying off into random orbits, the stable center around which the revolutionary energies formed” (Ellis 121). He impacted the government tremendously with his way of thinking and his attitude toward the need for national unity. He talked about independence from foreign nations; he devoted several paragraphs to this in his in his address.
Washington always made the well- being of the country first. For example, when Continental Congress wanted help the French with an invasion of Canada, Washington opposed. He feared that that putting the France in possession of that capital that they would become greedy, and doubted that they would withdraw once they were ensconced in Canada. I think that he may have felt that also, America was young and still growing as a country. He was criticized for this decision. In closing on Washington’s legacy, I feel that there were many reasons why he retired.
In short, he was just getting old and probably couldn’t take the political pressure. He was also going through a physical decline. Washington intended for his farewell address to be advice to his countrymen. He wanted them to sustain without, and without a king. Adams and Jefferson were indeed friends but had different agendas on how the country should be run. Their relationship was unique; they were great friends but even better competitors. The presidency drove them apart. Adams was a federalist, and Jefferson was a democratic republican so to speak.
Through the Continental congress and diplomatic missions they became close friends. As they worked more together Adams developed more respect Jefferson, although he was less effusive. The low point of their relationship was definitely after the election in 1800. After this their relationship became more antagonistic. As politicians and colleagues they went through many phases. After the election they did not speak for a long 12 years. Adams felt that Jefferson had betrayed their friendship. After the death of Jefferson daughter, Abigail Adams began to exchange letters of condolences.
Jefferson confused it as an invitation to reconcile with Adams family. The two disputed briefly, John didn’t find out until several months later. Finally in January of 1812, Adams sent a letter from Quincy to Monticello. “Why then, did Adams take the fateful step, which led to a fourteen year exchange of 158 letters, a correspondence that is generally regarded as the intellectual capstone to the revolutionary generation and the most impressive correspondence between prominent states in all of American history” (Ellis 223)?
For the last 15 years of their lives they contacted each other through letters and rebuilt their friendship. On the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of the Independence, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within hours of each other. They will never be forgotten for the inevitable and timely contributions to our young country. In the introduction Ellis describes the American Revolution perfectly with the statement “No event in American history which was so improbable at the time has seemed as inevitable in retrospect as the American Revolution”.
America’s victory seemed beyond improbable seeing as how England had the greatest army of the Revolutionary era. The young colonists chose to seek out alliances with the French, Dutch, and Spanish due to their lack of monetary resources, experience or even the pure man power. British beforehand, even tried attacking the colonists politically which had their in leading to an inevitable rebellion. They initiated taxes, and other events such as the Boston Massacre took place that ignited the young colonists to take stand against Great Britain.
Though faith, inspiration and prosperity the Americans shocked the world, defeated the odds and took the victory in 1783, securing their new independent world. This victory inspired countries worldwide to rebel against the tyrannical empires that were controlling them. This victory is evident in today’s society as America thrives as country that influences others and still is, independent. Founding Brothers truly exposes a much more personal point of view of our founding fathers and their irrefutable destiny.
Joseph Ellis targets critical elements of their and what they thought was best for the young country of America. They molded something bigger than themselves during this revolutionary era. The author really brings to life the intricate detail of Washington’s legacy and the partnership between two great leaders Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Joseph Ellis’ statement was more than valid; it justifies American in a few short words.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 October 2016
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