What I learned reading Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis: I didn’t know this: John Adams was adamant that the new nation needed a strong central government. Thomas Jefferson was adamant that the new government did not swallow up the perquisites of the states. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Obama vs. Boehner. (Hope that’s spelled right because I don’t want to look it up.) Democrats vs. Republicans. Most everybody vs. Tea Partiers.
Ellis talks about other issues as well as personalities during the Revolutionary Era and the years following the war. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, Burr. Ellis did seem to assume I understood the difference between Tories and Whigs, and by the end of the book, I did. John Adams, Pres #2, is very real to me now. I would love to sit down and have a chat with him. Likewise Jefferson, though I expect I would be intimated by him. He is not quite the perfect being I’d always imagined and which the folks giving tours at Monticello would have us think, but he was still a fascinating man. What these folks accomplished! And I can hardly get the laundry done because I keep forgetting about it between one load and the next.
Ellis also wrote American Sphinx, an acclaimed bio of Jefferson. I’ll get around to reading that, too. Right now I’m pretty intrigued by the Plantagenets.