Throughout is clearly evident today, many don’t

Throughout the country, students everyday are taught the triumphs and tragedies of our Founding Fathers who have helped create such a rich and powerful nation known as The United States of America. Although the success of America is clearly evident today, many don’t recognize the failures and tactics used to climb this nation to the top. In the book American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis, the triumphs of America are equally reflected onto the failures, which tend to be hidden away or simply not acknowledged. Ellis targets the 28 year period between the start of the War for Independence, all the way up to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. This quarter of the eighteenth century is reflected upon today as the most politically creative era in American history. Structured episodically, the book is divided into six turning points, chapters,  in the early history of the United States. Beginning as The writing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s winter at Valley Forge, James Madison’s debate with Patrick Henry over Constitutional ratification, Washington’s treaty with Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s founding of the Democratic-Republican Party, and the Louisiana Purchase. Joseph Ellis is an American historian, professor, and well known author. Ellis’ written books dive deep into the Founding Fathers of our country, and the nation they have successfully formed. Ellis received the Pulitzer Prize for his book Founding Brothers, and the National Book Award for his portrait of Thomas Jefferson known as, American Sphinx. Ellis now resides in Massachusetts with his wife, and son Alex. Currently, he is a Ford Foundation professor of History at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. In American Creation Ellis argues that the success of our leaders was implemented as a result of their ideologies and diversity to think. Ellis recognizes the “stunning achievement” of the Founders in creating a nation that modern day is “the accepted global formula for national success”. Simply putting forth the question Ellis wanted to be answered, “What besides dumb luck can account for the achievement that was the American founding?”. Diligence of our founders actions was virtue as many of them didnt want to act on something without being cautious on it prior. Many scholars may focus on the emphasis on their failure rather than success. His intention are to balance the portrayal between the acknowledging their success, and as well as their failures.  Primarily spoken about, and arguably most important, was the failure to cease slavery and settle peacefully among the rightful owners of the land, Native Americans.  He also states that the confinement of democracy and aristocracy is severely flawed. In the first chapter, labeled at “The Year”, Ellis focuses in on the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary war. Lexington and Concord being the start of this war, and one of the monumental moments in American history. The Declaration was a good stepping stone in the long-term run of good virtue for the country. It may at the time not have meant as much as it does today, but the Founders had created a document that would control the way we run our country to this day. This Declaration outlined the countries first ideals and goals they had wished to push it to. It symbolic as a document of freedom to all Americans. The second chapter, “The Winter”, discusses General George Washington’s achievement in holding the Continental Army together during a hard winter at Valley Forge. The confidence Washington had was skyrocketed, as he believed that time and space were on Americans side, adn the only way to truly win was to simply take it easy. Ellis reconstructs the idea throughout the entire book that Amira was made to reconstruct arguments, not settle them. He also references the fact that America’s good fortune today may lead Americans to not have a keen appreciating factor towards the country they call home. He speaks on each war and topic almost as a short story, to help better illustrate to the readers the understanding in how each war and action made by our founders have affected the U.S today. The last chapter of the book speaks on the Louisiana Purchase. This was a treaty that had  been signed between the Ministers Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of the United States and the Minister plenipotentiary of the French government that the United States now had full rights over New Orleans, and the whole of Louisiana. This new acquisition would double the size of America, and give Americans more freedom to access of trade routes. Thomas Jefferson, who was the president of the United States at the time believed that purchasing the land was necessary for the countries growing population, as it was nourished with resources for farming and trade routes. With much more land to grow on, more plantations arose with many more goods being grown. Despite many of the benefits this glorious land had in store for the good of the country, many believe that the purchase was unconstitutional, as it was not stated that the government could buy foreign land. Jefferson had felt this was important, as America’s Population was increasing alarmingly quick, and their wouldn’t have been enough resources to support the country.  Without it, America arguably would never be as advanced as it had become in modern day, nor will it be one of the most powerful nations in the world. In the Constitution there is no specific language that authorized the government to make these acquisitions on foreign treaty. With that being said, many thought it was hypocritical that Jefferson had spent his entire presidency speaking on the bounds of the constitution and not to overstep those, to purchase a territory unconstitutionally. Ellis touches bases on this by stating the reaction given by Jefferson was a sin, and essentially, if they don’t learn how to react during these situations, then they never will in crisis. This is really important that he had mentioned this because many people believe that if someone is president, they must understand all the laws, and way they go about things. The argument with Jefferson here clearly shows that many may question their presidents, and it’s fully justifiable. It helps create a sense of doubt for the reader, to set forth his idea in the book that negative actions did take place under the name of our county. It makes this book more interesting to read as I was shocked as some of the things I read. A very strong topic in this book is the argument of slavery. He lists this as a direct failure because the founders failed to end alavert and create a equal place for a biracial community. Slavery has affected the country today, with injustice still being done towards the African-American community. Ellis felt like it was the actions done by Jefferson and Lincoln that limited citizens of the United States to not be open-minded and look at African-Americans as simply what they were, people. Ellis states that if you look back to John Adams on his thirty years in congress, many encounters recount for the public behavior and his actions. Adams has always believed that the truth should always triumph modesty. He explained that so many of congress topics were discussed “out of door”, such as others houses, restaurants, etc. He also explains that we are taught the clean looking side of history, with no bumps in the road. The way Ellis was able to structure this book truly helped in understand the order in his thought. If he hasn’t divided his ideas into sections the way he did, understanding why he was thinking this way wouldn’t have made any sense. It was also very shocking to hear that Jefferson has possibly committed an act against the constitution. as his purchase of the Louisiana couldn’t have been ethical. At the same time, without it America wouldn’t have been able to nearly flourish as much as it has today. America owes all its success to our fathers who have put their collective effort in together to create a safe and justifiable place. The free market with was brutally fought for is a privilege to have as an American citizen. The freedoms to provide for our families and be able to have equal opportunity under the eyes of law. These powerful men fought for our independence for us to live in such a united, and powerful nation. It’s important to recognize the actions as a sacrifice made for us, the citizens of the United States.


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