Enjoy these biographies of well-known and not so well known people from the founding of our country.Compiled by the Adults Services Staff at Monroe Public Library
1. John Jay: Founding Father by Walter Stahr
John Jay was a central figure in the early history of the American Republic. A New York lawyer, born in 1745, Jay served his country with the greatest distinction and was one of the most influential of its Founding Fathers. In the first full-length biography in almost seventy years, Walter Stahr brings Jay vividly to life, setting his astonishing career against the background of the American Revolution.
2. James & Dolley Madison : America’s First Power Couple by Bruce Chadwick
This revealing new portrait of James and Dolley Madison introduces the reader to America’s first power couple. Using recently uncovered troves of letters at the University of Virginia, among other sources, historian Bruce Chadwick has been able to reconstruct the details of the Madisons’ personal and political lives.
3. George Washington and Benedict Arnold: a Tale of Two Patriots by Dave Richard Palmer
From 1775 through 1777, George Washington and Benedict Arnold were America’s two most celebrated warriors. Their earlier lives had surprisingly parallel paths. They were strong leaders in combat, they admired and respected each other, and they even shared common enemies. Yet one became our greatest hero and the other our most notorious traitor. Why?
4. Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution by Charles Rappleye
Morris started life in the colonies as an apprentice in a counting house. By the time of the Revolution he was a rich man, a commercial and social leader in Philadelphia. He organized a clandestine trading network to arm the American rebels, joined the Second Continental Congress, and financed George Washington’s two crucial victories: Valley Forge and the culminating battle at Yorktown that defeated Cornwallis and ended the war.
5. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.
6. John Adams by David G. McCullough
In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as out of his senses; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history.
7. Benjamin Franklin: an American Life by Walter Isaacson
In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the spunky runaway apprentice who became, during his 84-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.
8. Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution by David A. Clary
They were unlikely comrades-in-arms. One was a self-taught, middle-aged Virginia planter in charge of a ragtag army of revolutionaries, the other a rich, glory-seeking teenage French aristocrat. But the childless Washington and the orphaned Lafayette forged a bond between them as strong as any between father and son. It was an unbreakable trust that saw them through betrayals, shifting political alliances, and the trials of war.
9. The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendall
Noah Webster’s name is now synonymous with the dictionary he created, but his story is not nearly so ubiquitous. Now acclaimed author of The Man Who Made Lists, Joshua Kendall sheds new light on Webster’s life, and his far-reaching influence in establishing the American nation.
10. James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin Raeder Gutzman
In James Madison and the Making of America, historian Kevin Gutzman looks beyond the way James Madison is traditionally seen — as The Father of the Constitution — to find a more complex and sometimes contradictory portrait of this influential Founding Father and the ways in which he influenced the spirit of today’s United States. Instead of an idealized portrait of Madison, Gutzman treats readers to the flesh-and-blood story of a man who often performed his founding deeds in spite of himself: Madison’s fame rests on his participation in the writing of The Federalist Papers and his role in drafting the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Today, his contribution to those documents is largely misunderstood. He thought that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and insisted that it not be included in the Constitution, a document he found entirely inadequate and predicted would soon fail. Madison helped to create the first American political party, the first party to call itself Republican, but only after he had argued that political parties, in general, were harmful. Madison served as Secretary of State and then as President during the early years of the United States and the War of 1812; however, the American foreign policy he implemented in 1801–1817 ultimately resulted in the British burning down the Capitol and the White House. In so many ways, the contradictions both in Madison’s thinking and in the way he governed foreshadowed the conflicted state of our Union now. His greatest legacy the disestablishment of Virginia’s state church and adoption of the libertarian Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is often omitted from discussion of his career. Yet, understanding the way in which Madison saw the relationship between the church and state is key to understanding the real man.
11. Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Band of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War by Les Standiford
A groundbreaking narrative, a historical political thriller, that explores the role of the Sons of Liberty in the American Revolution. More than two hundred years ago, a group of British colonists in America decided that the conditions under which they were governed had become intolerable. Angry and frustrated that King George III and the British Parliament had ignored their lawful complaints and petitions, they decided to take action. In this gripping narrative, Les Standiford reveals how this group of intelligent, committed men, motivated by economics and political belief, began a careful campaign of interlocking events that would channel feelings of vague injustice into an armed rebellion of common cause, which would defeat an empire and give birth to a radical political experiment — a new nation known as the United States.
12. Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution by Mark Puls
Samuel Adams is perhaps the most unheralded and overshadowed of the founding fathers, yet without him there would have been no American Revolution. A genius at devising civil protests and political maneuvers that became a trademark of American politics, Adams astutely forced Britain into coercive military measures that ultimately led to the irreversible split in the empire. His remarkable political career addresses all the major issues concerning America’s decision to become a nation — from the notion of taxation without representation to the Declaration of Independence. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all acknowledged that they built our nation on Samuel Adams’ foundations. Now, in this riveting biography, his story is finally told and his crucial place in American history is fully recognized.
13. Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence by Carol Berkin
The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed, and danger into the life of every American. In this groundbreaking history, Carol Berkin shows us how women played a vital role throughout the conflict. The women of the Revolution were most active at home, organizing boycotts of British goods, raising funds for the fledgling nation, and managing the family business while struggling to maintain a modicum of normalcy as husbands, brothers and fathers died. Yet Berkin also reveals that it was not just the men who fought on the front lines, as in the story of Margaret Corbin, who was crippled for life when she took her husband’s place beside a cannon at Fort Monmouth. This incisive and comprehensive history illuminates a fascinating and unknown side of the struggle for American independence.
14. His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
To this landmark biography of our first president, Joseph J. Ellis brings the exacting scholarship, shrewd analysis, and lyric prose that have made him one of the premier historians of the Revolutionary era. Training his lens on a figure who sometimes seems as remote as his effigy on Mount Rushmore, Ellis assesses George Washington as a military and political leader and a man whose statue-like solidity concealed volcanic energies and emotions.
15. Nathanael Greene: a Biography of the American Revolution by Gerald M. Carbone
When the Revolutionary War began, Nathanael Greene was a private in the militia, the lowest rank possible, yet he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington’s most gifted and dependable officer — celebrated as one of the war’s three most important generals. Upon taking command of America’s Southern Army in 1780, Nathanael Greene was handed troops that consisted of 1,500 starving, nearly naked men. Gerald Carbone explains how, within a year, the small worn-out army ran the British troops out of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina and into the final trap at Yorktown. Despite his huge military successes and tactical genius Greene’s story has a dark side. Gerald Carbone drew on 25 years of reporting and researching experience to create his chronicle of Greene’s unlikely rise to success and his fall into debt and anonymity.