founding fathers

It is 18 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and some 12,000 members of America’s beleaguered Continental Army stagger into a small Pennsylvania encampment 23 miles northwest of British-occupied Philadelphia. The starving and half-naked force is reeling from a string of demoralizing defeats at the hands of King George III’s army, and are barely equipped to survive the coming winter. Their commander in chief, the focused and forceful George Washington, is at the lowest ebb of his military career. The Continental Congress is in exile and the American Revolution appears to be lost. Yet a spark remains.

"Valley Forge" is the story of how that metamorphosis occurred. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the team behind such bestsellers as "The Heart of Everything That Is," "The Last Stand of Fox Company," and "Halsey’s Typhoon," show us how this miracle was accomplished despite thousands of American soldiers succumbing to disease, starvation, and the elements.

A new, single volume of history sets out to explore the experiment in government that is the United States. Award-winning Harvard historian Jill Lepore, author of “These Truths: A History of the United States,” looks to explore how we now understand the role of women and people of color in our political heritage, and how to put today’s politics of division in proportion.

Kevin R. C. Gutzman is the New York Times best-selling author of five books, including his latest, Thomas Jefferson—Revolutionary: A Radical’s Struggle to Remake America.

Although remembered as the third president of the United States and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was also something more: the most successful constructive statesman in American history.

Thomas Jefferson—Revolutionary: A Radical's Struggle to Remake Americashows him formulating his radical plans to republicanize America and then working, with remarkable success, to implement them. Born into a monarchical society, Jefferson turned his great intellect and energy to making it highly egalitarian. Much of what we take for granted about America now was originally Jefferson's idea. It is a fascinating story.

Did you know that many of America’s Founding Fathers― who fought for liberty and justice for all ― were slave owners?

Through the powerful stories of five enslaved people who were “owned” by four of our greatest presidents, Kenneth Davis’ new book, In the Shadow of Liberty, helps set the record straight about the role slavery played in the founding of America.

From Billy Lee, valet to George Washington, to Alfred Jackson, faithful servant of Andrew Jackson, these dramatic narratives explore our country’s great tragedy―that a nation “conceived in liberty” was also born in shackles.

Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, which gave rise to the "Don’t Know Much About" series of books for adults and children. 

  John Quincy Adams was the last of his kind—a Puritan from the age of the Founders who despised party and compromise, yet dedicated himself to politics and government. The son of John Adams, he was a brilliant ambassador and secretary of state, a frustrated president at a historic turning point in American politics, and a dedicated congressman who literally died in office—at the age of 80, in the House of Representatives, in the midst of an impassioned political debate.

In John Quincy Adams, scholar and journalist James Traub draws on Adams’ diary, letters, and writings to evoke a diplomat and president whose ideas remain with us today.

  By now, it’s pretty likely you’ve heard or read something about a little musical about a "ten-dollar Founding Father without a father" played or transcribed somewhere (everywhere).

Hamilton: An American Musical is ubiquitous and its reach far exceeds the confines of Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. The excitement created by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterwork bursts the fandom of the musical into a genuine interest in American History for many people.

So, if you were a museum in Albany, New York - a city where the Founding Father and first Treasury Secretary spent more than a little time -- what would you do?

If you answered put together a show about General George Washington's aide-de-camp and right-hand-man, you’d have had the same thought as The Albany Institute of History and Art.

A small exhibition exploring Alexander Hamilton’s time in Albany is currently on display. Curator, Diane Shewchuck, joins us to tell us more.

  Juan Williams is a top political analyst for Fox News Channel and will be with us this morning to discuss his new book, We the People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers' Vision of America.

In the book, Williams tells us who would be on his modern day Mount Rushmore.

  In the summer of 1804, two of America's most eminent statesmen squared off, pistols raised, on a bluff along the Hudson River. That two such men would risk not only their lives but the stability of the young country they helped forge is almost beyond comprehension. Yet we know that it happened. The question is why.

    When the United States government passed the Bill of Rights in 1791, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had ever seen before. But by 1798, the once-dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods and men on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent as its own democratic revolution deteriorated into terror. Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical.

So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. In Liberty’s First Crisis, writer Charles Slack tells the story of the 1798 Sedition Act, the crucial moment when high ideals met real-world politics and the country’s future hung in the balance.

  Former 2nd Lady of the United States, Lynne Cheney, has spent decades studying the nation's fourth president, James Madison. The result of that labor is the new 564-page book, James Madison: A Life Reconsidered.

Father of the Constitution, principle author of the Bill of Rights, founder of the first opposition party, Secretary of State and fourth President was a masterful politician who Cheney believes, despite all his accomplishments, has been overshadowed by other founders.

Lynne Cheney is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and is the author of 12 books, several on American history.

Across four decades of public life, from 1776 until he left the presidency in 1817, James Madison made extraordinary contributions to the American republic. Yet, according to historian David O. Stewart, too often he is consigned to the shadows of history and concealed by his more heroic contemporaries.

In Stewart's new book Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America, he looks to restore Madison to a proper place and explores the relations he forged which contributed to his success.

    

A prideful and unchanged narrative of the American Revolution pervades U.S. history. Serving as the event which established the nation’s sovereignty, naturally, the popular account of the American Revolution has carried with it patriotic myths which exalt select figures and influence the public spirit of Americans.

Still, according to Andrew Schocket, director of American culture studies and associate professor of History and American culture studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the prominent narratives surrounding the prideful event are oftentimes incomplete. In his new book, Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution, Schocket explores how politicians, screen writers, activists, biographers, jurist, museum professionals, and reenactors portray the American Revolution and how our angled perception of the past could influence America’s future.