The book presents the history of the US through a different perspective in comparison to other literature on the subject. Joseph Ellis uses his book, Founding Brothers, to illustrate the history of the US in the post-revolution era. The book presents a non-fiction history of the formation of the first American government after independence. Specifically, the book examines how the relationships between the leaders at the time influenced their leadership. These leaders, commonly known as the founding fathers, played a vital role in shaping the history and destiny of the US. The founding fathers went through several challenges but managed to drive important government agenda forward. Ellis also points out that they had different personalities and traits, which often played out when it came to making crucial decisions. On many occasions, they adopted different stands on some matters. Nevertheless, they did not let their differences break their unity and their desire to create a strong nation.
Chapter four of the book discusses President Washington’s Farewell Address. Ellis analyzes the President’s Farewell Address in terms of the circumstances surrounding Washington’s decision. He also evaluates the perception of the public at the time and the consequences of that crucial decision. He notes that while the decision of the president to retire was unexpected among the public, many insiders in the government had prior knowledge it would happen.
In chapter five, Ellis focuses on the period under the leadership of the country’s second president. This chapter analyzes different relationships and their impact on the leadership at the time. President Adams’ relationship with Abigail and that between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are among the most important ones in US political history. Notably, these relationships helped to forge some of the greatest collaborations in the history of American politics. Of great significance, however, is the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both of whom had a significant role to play in the revolution.
In chapter six, Ellis focuses on the revival of friendship between Adams and Jefferson. The two leaders of the revolution had been great friends for several years. However, political differences, which led to them competing against each other twice for the presidency, had broken down their relationship. When Jefferson ascended the presidency, he initiated contact with Adams as they sort to reignite their friendship.
Critique of the arguments
Joseph Ellis’ arguments in the three chapters are well elaborated. The author manages to achieve his objective of telling the history of the US from a different perspective. He provides the finer details of each issue he addresses. For example in chapter four, he explores Washington’s Farewell Address from multiple perspectives. He analyzes the address from the perspective of the citizens, political leaders, and those around the presidents. In chapters five and six, he manages to illustrate how the personalities of Adams and Jefferson helped shape their leadership and their personal friendship.
In conclusion, there are several factors that contribute to the success of the founding fathers. Ellis narrows these factors down to personality differences and friendship. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the founding fathers went through many challenges and turbulent times in spite of their success. After reading these chapters, one can’t help but ponder on the question, how would the founding fathers fare in a politically divided environment of America today?
Carey, George W., and Greg Weiner. “The founding fathers.” Modern Age 56, no.1 (2014): 29-41.
Ellis, Joseph. Founding brothers: The revolutionary generation. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2002.