Internet is back up! Whew.
1. The author of this book looks a little bit like Gerald Ford and a little bit like Jimmy Carter.
2. Founding Brothers won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2001.
3. Joseph Ellis got into trouble right after he won the Pulitzer for exaggerating his participation in the Vietnam War (he was in uniform but served in America, not Vietnam as he claimed to students and media), and as a result was suspended from teaching history for a year among other punitive actions. Rather ironic.
4. Washington and his vice-president, John Adams, considered the vice-presidency as a legislative office based in the Senate.
In my opinion, the central events and achievements of the revolutionary era and the early republic were political. These events and achievements are historically significant because they shaped the subsequent history of the United States, including our own time. The central players in the drama were not the marginal or peripheral figures, whose lives are more typical, but rather the political leaders at the center of the national story who wielded power.
[Jefferson’s] conduct in providing clandestine instructions to Adams’s cabinet undermined the constitutional authority of the executive branch in ways that would have landed him in jail in modern times.
[This] uniquely Jeffersonian message…was inherently rhetorical in character—that is, it framed the issues at a rarefied altitude, where all answers were self-evident and no real choices had to be made. And that was the ultimate source of its beguiling charm. The Jeffersonian vision floated. It functioned at inspirational levels above the bedeviling particularities, like a big bang theory of the American Revolution…
Adams claimed to be fascinated by the new word “upon the Common Principle of delight in every Thing We cannot understand.” What was an “ideology”? he asked playfully: “Does it mean Idiotism? The Science of Non Compos Menticism. The Science of Lunacy? The Theory of Delerium? [sic]” As Adams explained it, the French philosophes had invented the word, which became a central part of their utopian style of thinking and a major tenet in their “school of folly.” It referred to a set of ideals and hopes, like human perfection or social equality, that philosophers mistakenly believed could be implemented in the world because it existed in their heads. Jefferson himself thought in this French fashion, Adams claimed, confusing the seductive prospects envisioned in his imagination with the more limited possibilities history permitted.
“In the present situation of the United States, divided as they are between two parties, which mutually accuse each other of perfidy and treason…this exalted station [the presidency] is surrounded with dangerous rocks, and the most eminent abilities will not be sufficient to steer clear of them all.” Whereas Washington had been able to levitate above the partisan factions, “the next president of the United States will only be the president of a party.”
…By 1778 he had reached an elemental understanding…namely, that captured ground—what he termed “a war of posts” –was virtually meaningless. The strategic key was the Continental Army. If it remained intact as an effective fighting force, the American Revolution remained alive. The British army could occupy Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, and it did. The British navy could blockade and bombard American seaports with impunity, and it did. The Continental Congress could be driven from one location to another like a covey of pigeons, and it was. But as long as Washington held the Continental Army together, the British could not win the war, which in turn meant that they would eventually lose it.