They began their existence as everyday objects, but in the hands of award-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, fourteen domestic items from preindustrial America-ranging from a linen tablecloth to an unfinished sock-relinquish their stories and offer profound insights into our history.In an age when even meals are rarely made from scratch, homespun easily acquires the glow of nostalgia. The objects Ulrich investigates unravel those simplified illusions, revealing important clues to the culture and people who made them. Ulrich uses an Indian basket to explore the uneasy coexistence of native and colonial Americans. A piece of silk embroidery reveals racial and class distinctions, and two old spinning wheels illuminate the connections between colonial cloth-making and war. Pulling these divergent threads together, Ulrich demonstrates how early Americans made, used, sold, and saved textiles in order to assert their identities, shape relationships, and create history.
Famous as a scientist, statesman, philosopher, businessman, and civic leader, Benjamin Franklin was also one of the most powerful and controversial American writers of his time, and has been a subject of intense debate ever since: to Matthew Arnold, he exemplified "victorious good sense"; to D.H. Lawrence, he was "the first dummy American." Franklin's classic Autobiography is his last word on his greatest literary creation -- his own invented persona, the original incarnation of the American success story.
For the first time, the authoritative editions of works by major American novelists, poets, scholars, and essayists collected in the hardcover volumes of The Library of America are being published singly in a series of handsome and durable paperback books. A distinguished author has contributed an introduction for each volume, which also includes a detailed chronology of the author's life and career, an essay on the choice of the text, and notes.
The author of seven highly acclaimed books, Joseph J. Ellis has crafted a landmark biography that brings to life in all his complexity the most important and perhaps least understood figure in American history, George Washington. With his careful attention to detail and his lyrical prose, Ellis has set a new standard for biography.Drawing from the newly catalogued Washington papers at the University of Virginia, Joseph Ellis paints a full portrait of George Washington's life and career-from his military years through his two terms as president. Ellis illuminates the difficulties the first executive confronted as he worked to keep the emerging country united in the face of adversarial factions. He richly details Washington's private life and illustrates the ways in which it influenced his public persona. Through Ellis's artful narration, we look inside Washington's marriage and his subsequent entrance into the upper echelons of Virginia's plantation society. We come to understand that it was by managing his own large debts to British merchants that he experienced firsthand the imperiousness of the British Empire. And we watch the evolution of his attitude toward slavery, which led to his emancipating his own slaves in his will. Throughout, Ellis peels back the layers of myth and uncovers for us Washington in the context of eighteenth-century America, allowing us to comprehend the magnitude of his accomplishments and the character of his spirit and mind.
When Washington died in 1799, Ellis tells us, he was eulogized as "first in the hearts of his countrymen." Since then, however, his image has been chisled onto Mount Rushmore and printed on the dollar bill. He is on our landscape and in our wallets but not, Ellis argues, in our hearts. Ellis strips away the ivy and legend that have grown up over the Washington statue and recovers the flesh-and-blood man in all his passionate and fully human prowess. In the pantheon of our republic's founders, there were many outstanding individuals. And yet each of them-Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison- acknowledged Washington to be his superior, the only indispensable figure, the one and only "His Excellency." Both physically and politically, Washington towered over his peers for reasons this book elucidates. His Excellency is a full, glorious, and multifaceted portrait of the man behind our country's genesis, sure to become the authoritative biography of George Washington for many decades.
In this landmark work of history and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Joseph J. Ellis explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals--Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison--confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers--re-examined here as Founding Brothers--combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes--Hamilton and Burr's deadly duel, Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams' administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin's attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison's attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams' famous correspondence--Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation's history.
An intellectual dialogue of the highest plane achieved in America, the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spanned half a century and embraced government, philosophy, religion, quotidiana, and family griefs and joys. First meeting as delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775, they initiated correspondence in 1777, negotiated jointly as ministers in Europe in the 1780s, and served the early Republic--each, ultimately, in its highest office. At Jefferson's defeat of Adams for the presidency in 1800, they became estranged, and the correspondence lapses from 1801 to 1812, then is renewed until the death of both in 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.
Lester J. Cappon's edition, first published in 1959 in two volumes, provides the complete correspondence between these two men and includes the correspondence between Abigail Adams and Jefferson. Many of these letters have been published in no other modern edition, nor does any other edition devote itself exclusively to the exchange between Jefferson and the Adamses. Introduction, headnotes, and footnotes inform the reader without interrupting the speakers. This reissue of The Adams-Jefferson Letters in a one-volume unabridged edition brings to a broader audience one of the monuments of American scholarship and, to quote C. Vann Woodward, 'a major treasure of national literature.'
From the author who Nick Hornby calls smart, funny, soulful, and even educational--a smart, funny, soulful, and even educational collection of first-person experiences about life in America. Vowell captures the hilarious and moving things that happen when she confronts history.
America Afire is the powerful story of the election of 1800, arguably the most important election in America's history and certainly one of the most hotly disputed. Former allies Adams and Jefferson, president versus vice president, Federalist versus Republican, squared off in a vicious contest that resulted in broken friendships, scandals, riots, slander, and jailings in the fourth presidential election under the Constitution.
The election of 1800 (not unlike that of 2000) was a tumultuous one, replete with an attempt to steal the victory from a controversial winner; deadlocked parties hell-bent on success; and a nation divided. Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams--one of the most slanderous campaigns in the history of the nation. Added to that were backroom connivings and threatened riots serious enough to badly bend a young and shaky electoral system.
The election ended in a tie--between the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. After 7 straight days of voting in the Congress, Jefferson finally became president. America Afire is a timely tale that not only enlightens and entertains, but reassures us of the continuity and durability of our institutions.
Everybody knows the legend of Captain Kidd, America's most ruthless buccanneer. Few people realize that the facts of his life make for a much better tale. Kidd was actually a tough New York sea captain hired to chase pirates, a married war hero whose secret mission took a spectacularly bad turn. This harrowing tale traces Kidd's voyages in the 1690s from his home near Wall Street to Whitehall Palace in London, from the ports of the Caribbean to a secret pirate paradise off Madagascar. Author Richard Zacks, during his research, also unearthed the story of a long forgotten rogue named Robert Culliford, who dogged Kidd and led Kidd's crew to mutiny not once but twice. The lives of Kidd and Culliford play out like an unscripted duel: one man would hang in the harbor, the other would walk away with the treasure. Filled with superb writing and impeccable research, The Pirate Hunter is both a masterpiece of historical detective work and a ripping good yarn, and it delivers something rare: an authentic pirate story for grown-ups.
Drawing on previously unpublished letters and a host of other sources, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands has written a thoroughly engaging biography of the eighteenth-century genius. A much needed reminder of Franklin's greatness and humanity, The First American is a work of meticulous scholarship that provides a magnificent tour of a legendary historical figure, a vital era in American life, and the countless arenas in which the protean Franklin left his legacy.