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Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries Hardcover – September 30, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“With an inventive twist on the 'founding fathers' moniker historian Glover probes the link between family and politics. . . . A sophisticated history peppered with tidbits from the private sphere.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“With a deft touch, Lorri Glover captures the domestic life and concerns of Virginia’s Founders as they pass from colonial protesters to scions of the first families of the new nation’s most important state. Wives and children share the spotlight in this excellently conceived study.”—Joyce Appleby, author of Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination
(Joyce Appleby)

“A lively, highly readable account of the competing loyalties of Virginia’s founding fathers. George Mason, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison come alive as fathers of families and stewards of estates, struggling to balance their domestic responsibilities with the political demands of war, revolution, and national formation.”—Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania
(Kathleen M. Brown)

“By exploring how the political careers and patriarchal roles of Virginia’s Revolutionary leaders were inextricably linked, Lorri Glover tells a profoundly human story about the nation’s beginnings.”—Virginia DeJohn Anderson, author of Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America
(Virginia DeJohn Anderson)

"With an inventive twist on the 'founding fathers' moniker historian Glover probes the link between family and politics. . . . It’s a sophisticated history peppered with tidbits from the private sphere. . . . Fans of these influential men should delight in this inventive addition to the historical literature."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“A superb new perspective on America’s Founding Fathers. . . .Well-written and immensely rewarding, this important book will appeal to both scholars and general readers.”—Kirkus Review
(Kirkus Reviews)

“Elegantly written and sparkling with keen insights, Lorri Glover's splendid book recasts our understanding of the American Revolution by revealing the surprising world in which the sons of liberty were fathers before they were founders—repeatedly forced to balance their deeply held responsibilities as parents with calls to lean in for independence and a new republic.”—Jon Kukla, author of Mr. Jefferson’s Women and A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America
(Jon Kukla)

From the Author

Q: How great was the sacrifice of the Virginia revolutionaries?
A: It is hard to remember now how dangerous and audacious it was in the eighteenth century for men like Jefferson and Washington to announce that they, upstart farmers living on the far periphery of the English empire, knew better how to govern than King George himself. On paper, the Continental Army had virtually no chance of beating the greatest military in the western world. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged away their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Seeing that through took lifetimes of sacrifice and resolve.
Q: What values did the founders share?
A: Though several became bitter rivals who carried their enmity to the grave, they did share many foundational values: they idealized education, civic virtue, financial independence, rationalism, self-determination, and seeking the common good in civic life. Perhaps most fatefully, though, they all remained unshakably committed to racial slavery, which made their families wealthy, white citizens in their Republic free and equal, and their Revolution fatally flawed. 
Q: Did the children of these men tend to follow their fathers into public life?
A: That varied wildly. The Jefferson grandchildren devoted themselves to cleaning up his image for history. They, as well as Dolley Madison, worked to make these men’s writings available to the public. Several of Patrick Henry's and George Mason’s sons served admirably in government and ran successful businesses. But no matter how much they achieved, they could never get out of the shadow of their fathers, the founders. Even the obituaries of the most successful of the founders’ children focused on their famous ancestors.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press (September 30, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 344 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300178603
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300178609
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.42 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.13 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

About the author

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Lorri Glover teaches at Saint Louis University, where she holds the John Francis Bannon endowed chair in history. She has written extensively about early America, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. Her most recent works include Eliza Lucas Pinckney: An Independent Woman in the Age of Revolution, and, with Craig Thompson Friend, Reinterpreting Southern Histories.

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