Throughout its 95-year history, The New Republic has featured the work of countless renowned historians on America's founding fathers. For the Fourth of July, we dug up our best book reviews, historical essays, and mini-biographies on the founders. Here are some of the highlights:
Charles A. Beard, November 14, 1914: "Jefferson and the New Freedom"
Beard writes about the influence of Jefferson's political philosophy on the Wilson administration's "New Freedom" agenda.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., January 1, 1962: "The War Between Adams and Hamilton"
Schlesinger explains why Hamilton's elitism won out over Adams' contempt for aristocracies, and how, paradoxically, Hamilton's philosophy helped the common man.
Gordon S. Wood, February 1, 1993: "The Father of Spin Control"
Wood reviews two biographies of George Washington, and reviews the life of a reluctant politician turned secular saint.
Joseph J. Ellis, January 30, 1995: "Founding Brothers"
Ellis considers the edited correspondence of Jefferson and James Madison, and examines the effect the founders' friendships with each other had on America.
Sean Wilentz, April 24, 1995: "The Air Around Tom Paine"
Wilentz reviews three books on the newly popular Paine, and emphasizes the radicalism of his writing, including his avowed anti-clericism.
Sean Wilentz, March 10, 1997: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Thomas Jefferson"
In light of revelations about his relationship with Sally Hemings, Wilentz considers the contradictions of a slaveholder who believed passionately in equality.
Sean Wilentz, November 30, 1998: "Hemings Hawing"
Wilentz laments the partisan nature of the public response to revelations about Jefferson and Hemings.
Gordon S. Wood, December 6, 1999: "Impartiality In America"
Wood praises the rehabilitation of Madison among historians and the wider public, and argues that he should be defined by more than his failures during the war of 1812.
Sean Wilentz, July 2, 2001: "American Made Easy"
Wilentz reviews David McCullough's John Adams, and frets about the abysmal state of popular histories.
Gordon S. Wood, October 15, 2001: "The Statist"
Wood reviews Hamilton's edited writings, noting how the first Secretary of the Treasury eludes modern political classification.
Sean Wilentz, March 29, 2004: "The Details of Greatness"
Wilentz reviews a biography of Washington and another of Jefferson, both focusing on the men's relationship to slavery.
Gordon S. Wood, October 22, 2008: "American Unions"
Wood reviews Annette Gordon-Reed's latest book on Jefferson and Hemings, which he believes conclusively proves that the latter was the third president's mistress.
Saul K. Padover, February 2, 1948: "Benjamin Banneker: Unschooled Wizard"
Though we know he was not a founding father, Padover wrote a mini-biography of the African-American scientific polymath who served in the Washington administration and won the admiration of Thomas Jefferson.