Biographies from Early America
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John Adams by David McCullough
"He was John Adams of Braintree and he loved to talk. He was a known talker. There were some, even among his admirers, who wished he talked less. He himself wished he talked less, and he had particular regard for those, like General Washington, who somehow managed great reserve under almost any circumstance."
Left to his own devices, John Adams might have lived out his days as a Massachusetts country lawyer, devoted to his family and friends. As it was, events swiftly overtook him, and Adams--who, David McCullough writes, was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics--came to greatness as the second president of the United States, and one of the most distinguished of a generation of revolutionary leaders.
The First American : The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H. W. Brands
Benjamin Franklin's life was so sweeping that this comprehensive biography by H.W. Brands at times reads like a history of the United States during the 18th century. Franklin was at the center of America's transition from British colony to new nation, and was a kind of Founding Grandfather to the Founding Fathers; he was a full generation older than George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, and they all viewed him with deep respect. "Of those patriots who made independence possible, none mattered more than Franklin, and only Washington mattered as much," writes Brands.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
From runaway apprentice (see Signpost #5) to legislator to diplomat, this self-taught man helped found a country and made an impact in virtually every aspect of life. He was a printer, writer and publisher (Signpost #11), a politician and diplomat, a scientist and an inventor. He helped found fire departments and public libraries in Philadelphia, and an academy that would become the University of Pennsylvania. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Here is his life in his own words, and a glimpse into life in early America. Also available in paperback.
Founding Father : Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser
In this thought-provoking look at George Washington as soldier and statesman, Richard Brookhiser traces the astonishing achievements of Washington's career and illuminates how his character and his values shaped the beginnings of American politics. "...his example wasn't held high for children and adults alike for 150 years for no reason."
Jefferson, the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol 1) by Dumas Malone
The first of a six volume biography, this book covers Jefferon's education at William and Mary, his law practice, his beginning the construction of Monticello, his terms in the Virginia House of Burgesses, his writing of the Declaration of Independence, and his controversial governorship. It ends with his appointment as an American ambassador to France
Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser
The man on the $10 bill is probably the most overlooked Founding Father. This book -- not a names-and-dates biography, but an appreciation and assessment in the tradition of Plutarch -- should help change that.... A signer of the Constitution and author of roughly two-thirds of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton became the first secretary of the treasury at the age of 32.... he survived personal scandal but was shot down by Aaron Burr in an 1804 duel....
James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic by Jack N. Rakove
In this biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack Rakove examines the life of James Madison. This book explores the life and experiences of James Madison, one of the founding fathers of the United States, with a capstone chapter that looks back at Madison's legacy in modern America. For anyone interested in early American History or the life of James Madison.
Diary of an Early American Boy, Noah Blake by Eric Sloane
In part the diary of Noah Blake, who was 15 in 1805, and part a re-creation of the life that a boy in his circumstances would have lived, this book is a loving tribute to a vanished way of life. Profusely illustrated, it will give its readers a sense of participation in the past that is all too rare in conventional histories.
A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812
by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
...the indomitable personality of Martha Ballard herself is the guiding force behind this history. The editor writes, "it is in the very dailiness, the exhaustive repetitious dailiness, that the real power of Martha Ballard's book lies...For her, living was to be measured in doing. Nothing was trivial."

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