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Oxford University Press
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

by Gordon S. Wood
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199832460
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2011
Series: Oxford History of the United States Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 800
Sales rank: 88,252
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.10(d)

About the Author

Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. His books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution, the Bancroft Prize-winning The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, and The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. He writes frequently for The New York Review of Books and The New Republic.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rip Van Winkle's America
1. Experiment in Republicanism
2. The Monarchical Republic
3. The Federalist Program
4. The Emergence of the Jeffersonian Republican Party
5. The French Revolution in America
6. John Adams and the Few and the Many
7. The Crisis of 1798-1799
8. The Jeffersonian Revolution of 1800
9. Republican Society
10. The Jeffersonian West
11. Law and an Independent Judiciary
12. Chief Justice John Marshall and the Origins of Judicial Review
13. Republican Reforms
14. Between Slavery and Freedom
15. The Rising Glory of America
16. Republican Religion
17. Republican Diplomacy
18. The War of 1812
19. A World within Themselves
Bibliographic Essay

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Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be quite revealing of the early history of America on all levels. The early politics and the growth of government institutions was in depth and complete with all of the whys,wherefores abd significant players duly noted. The sociological elements were well researched and provided great insight as to how we got to where we are today. This book provided more information about this era than any other I've read and I have gone through a few. I highly recommend it if you want more than just a high school history of the late 1700's and the early 1800's. It puts our current political divisions in context with our history since not much seems to have changed from then to now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gordon Wood has made a truly important addition to the Oxford History series with his masterful Empire of Liberty. Meticulously researched, comprehensive in its scope, and well written, this is history as it should be -- educational, thought-provoking, and entertaining. For anyone interested in better understanding America's early national period and the lasting foundations that were laid in the years just after the American Revolution, Empire of Liberty is an absolute must-read.
Sybil625 More than 1 year ago
Really flows. Covers everything - not just politics and war, but also social and religious development. And its interesting - not at all like the dreaded "textbook" quality. I got so caught up that I've now started the next volume in the Oxford History of the US, and I'm looking for more since they are son-in-law endorsed. This is the kind of history I wish our kids could read in school instead of ...... (fill in the blank).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thorough insight into American History from Pre-Revolutionary America through the end of the War of 1812. This book describes American idealism from the start of the revolution. It describes attitudes of the founding fathers, often in their own words, and the growth of a diverse society. It presents the ideas of aristocracy which directed the development of the new government. Where this book excels over others is its presentation of American History within a world setting. The importance and influence of the French Revolution on the developing American landscape is discussed in detail, as are American relationships with Great Britain and differing opinions within the new American states which caused continual conflict and threats of succession. Attitudes and behaviors of post-revolutionary Americans are presented in a fairly unbiased manner. Sources are heavily referenced on each page. It also provides a fair assessment of the events leading up to the War of 1812. It sets forth the conflicts in American politics as they affected America's preparation for the war, or lack thereof. It shows a torn nation with republican ideals, in stark contrast to the war that it would inevitably have to fight. It addresses the influence of continuing conflict between Great Britain and France on the landscape of American politics. This book does not portray the War of 1812 as an American victory, as many well do. It provides objective evidence of the events as they occurred and as they were revealed to Americans at home. The reader is left to access the events as presented and draw conclusions based on the facts presented, which are well documented. Empire concludes as the nation emerges from the war and the enlightenment a more conflicted nation but a stronger nation. All in all, I would recommend this book for those seriously interested in a thorough discussion of early America from a world perspective. Innumerable sources are listed for further research. Be prepared for a very long, but very interesting, read.
annbury on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book provides a close look at a critical period in U.S. history, from 1789 to the 1815. The growth of the institutions of American government, and the disagreements around that growth, are brought to the forefront. It was in this period that the mechanisms set up by the constitution came into practice, and a discussion of that process has a great deal to say, I think, to current constitutional interpretation. I did not find it quite so gripping as the next two volumes of the Oxford series -- "What Hath God Wrought?" and "The Battle Cry of Freedom", but that relates to the subject matter. All in all, a key discussion of an important, if often ignored, period in our history.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing 8 months ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)It's hard to beat Oxford University Press when it comes to authoritative yet lively looks at highly detailed periods in history; and here's their latest in their modern series about the history of America, written by former Pulitzer winner Gordon S. Wood and in this case covering just the years 1789 (when our modern Constitution was written) to 1815 (the end of the War of 1812, essentially a stalemate but the conflict that proved that Europe could no longer bully the US around). And indeed, this is one of the more fascinating periods of US history to look at, precisely because most Americans know so little about it; a quiet and inconsequential span at first glance (known conventionally as the years when America simply recovered from the Revolution), in actuality it was the 25-year period that saw the formation of the first political "parties" in human history, the collapse of the country's first attempt at federal administration (the "Articles of Confederation," which at first set up the US more like the current European Union, and was a complete disaster), and the quiet campaign to purge the new national government of the very radicals who helped the revolution succeed in the first place, whether radically liberal in nature (like Thomas Paine and his French-Revolution-loving pals, who wanted to do away with capitalism and the upper-class altogether) or radically conservative (such as Alexander Hamilton and his Federalist buddies, who promptly attempted to create a nobility-based "American ruling class" the moment the revolution was over, and were eventually shunned out of existence because of traitorous activity during the War of 1812).Along the way, then, Wood shows us in glorious detail how this was also the period that first established the myth of the "Protestant work ethic," that first exalted the middle-class into the most important slice of American society, and that incidentally first established the rift between the industrial, everyman North and the agricultural, aristocratic South that would eventually explode into the Civil War, and that still heavily defines regional relationships to this very day, all of it told through a wealth of anecdotes and literally hundreds of pieces of trivia about early American history that I never knew. It's a doorstop of a book, don't get me wrong, but well worth the armchair historian's time, and I'm now thinking seriously about tackling all the rest of the volumes in this massive series as well.Out of 10: 9.8
Doondeck on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A spectacular survey of this period in American History. Political and sociological aspects are put in perspective and bring that period alive.
Chris469 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
At 700 plus pages not for the faint-of-heart. At first I thought 26 years was such a short period of time that how could a book about the history of one nation occupy so many pages, but the events of the Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison Administrations were momentous, and important evolutionary developments in our young republic cemented themselves into place that are still with us today, such as the development of an independent judiciary as a co-equal branch of government and the doctrine of judicial review. There's too much material to be covered for the book to have a perfectly harmonious interwoven narrative flow, so sometimes it reads like an edited book of articles by multiple authors, but that's probably the curse of any book covering everything significant that occured during this important time. Certain key themes do run through the book, such as the passing of leadership FROM a well-to-do class of well-educated gentlemen of the Englightenment (the Founders) who misguidedly assumed that they and their ilk would forever be deferred to when it came to wielding political power TO the "middling" sorts of commercial entrepreneurs and inventors who eschewed the powdered-wig types and took as their favorite founder the "self-made man" Benjamin Franklin. The troubling undercurrent of slavery - the problem that would not go away - is the other thematic continuity in the book. Some reviewers see this book as a "love letter" to Thomas Jefferson but I don't see it that way at all. If anything, it reaffirms for me some of the idealistic silliness of the man and how wrong he was about how the US would evolve. That said, he was a very significant individual for US historical and political development. If you have the time and interest in this period, defintely read the book. Especially if you are a Tea Party adherent - it may change your thinking about the Founders. For one thing, most Founders wouldn't want to be in the same room as an ill-educated, bumpkinish, anti-intellectual, sloganeering politician. For another, it becomes obvious that the Constitution was not handed down from God on stone tablets - it represented a set of political compromises. The Bill of Rights itself was a politically-motivated document designed by Congressman James Madison to get critics of the new Constituion to shut up and to stave off a second Constitutional Convention. According to author Wood, no one (including the Supreme Court) paid much attention to the Bill of Rights for over 100 years after its adoption.
stringsn88keys on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Long and detailed history of a 26 year period, but I appreciated the book in that it neither struck a heavily patriotic or apologetic tone as a U.S. history book.This is part of an Oxford Series on U.S. History. I will definitely be seeking out the books covering other periods.
wildbill on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is well written and the author shows good command of all of the sources available. At least one-third of the cited sources are from letters emphasizing how important letters were as a form of communication in that era. This period of American history does not receive as much attention as the Revolution or the Civil War. However, the author highlights developments that were critical in the forming of the American Republic. It is important to remember that during this time, except in France for a few years, America was the only republican government in the group of countries that formed the European world. At the beginning of this period America was still very much England without a king or aristocracy. The elite was very similar to the English gentry and they ruled the country as if it was their right and duty to do so. The 55 men that wrote the constitution were all wealthy men who possessed the leisure to tend to the affairs of government, except for one delegate from Georgia.The Federalist administrations of Washington and Adams continued this trend. One of the first items of business in the Washington administration was the selecting of titles for the different officers of the government. John Adams proposed to call the President "His Most Benign Highness". Washington adopted a weekly practice called a levee (an English term for the King's receptions). He would invite a number of people over to the White House and one by one he would go over and speak with them. John Adams referred to Washington as "the best actor of the presidency we have ever had". The author weaves a living tapestry of the period with a myriad of these types of details.The strong point of the book is the analysis of the trends that developed as the country became a different place in 1815. One of the most significant trends was the rise of the "middling men". Middling men worked for a living and did not have the education of the original founders. They rose into positions of leadership as part of the rise of Jeffersonian republicanism. They began to coalesce with the formation of Democratic-Republican societies during the first days of the French Revolution. Many wore the French cockades to identify themselves.In the early republic there was a fear that the country would adopt monarchical ways. Jeffersonian ideas and the rise of the middling men brought about the rise of republicanism. This trend continued throughout this period until the influence of the Federalists disappeared.With the rise of the middling men the country became a nation of traders. Many farmers began to engage in small scale manufactures. These goods were produced for home consumption. As the country grew the home market expanded until it would support this type of industry. The lawyers and doctors were no longer members of the gentry but men with technical skills practicing a trade.Jeffersonian ideas, which came into practice with his election as President in 1800, were the ideology of Republicanism. His words appear throughout the book and helped me understand his genius and its effect on the country.The Federalists worked for a strong central government and a strong army and navy. Jefferson feared the takeover of the country by the military and opposed a standing army in peacetime. He preferred to use embargoes instead of building a navy to oppose the restrictions on American trade imposed by the British and French. He almost ruined the American overseas trade and damaged the economy of the northeast to the point they considered secession.While Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves and ran a big plantation his ideal for America was the yeoman farmer. With the Louisiana Purchase Jefferson felt he had gained for the country land adequate for thousands of generations. At the same time he felt that it was unconstitutional.Madison's administration was dominated by the War of 1812. The author skimps on the military aspect of the war but does an excellent job on the changes it bro
Schmerguls on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a big book and I will not pretend I found it unfailingly absorbing. There is lots of analytic history and not less narrative history, and so much was not the kind of history I like to read. But the treatment of, e.g., the early days of the Supreme Court, and of the Louisiana Purchase, and of the War of 1812 are wll done. The War of 1812 was indeed a strange war. The country was not prepared for war but declared it anyway, then went bankrupt during the war, but got a good treaty because it had great treaty makers--and after the treaty was signed the battle of New Orleans made Americans think they had won the war--as they did, in the final analysis.
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WaldoRWE More than 1 year ago
Gordon S. Wood is the greatest historian alive today!
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Bill-V More than 1 year ago
Very articulate and insightful history of a time and place where people can easily become caricatures rather than real people. Balanced and engaging with a theme and sure touch for those little facts that make history alive.
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outerdog More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed Professor Wood's book. It's immensely informative. I have a few complaints, however, about B&N's Nook version of the book. I have read the book on the new touch-screen Nook. The maps are too small. They are illegible on the Nook's small screen. It should be possible to enlarge the image, but that feature is not available on the Nook. And so, while I have paid for Professor Woods' book, a part of the book has not been delivered. At about 600 pages, this is the longest Nook book I have read. I have discovered that a book of this length loads slowly. It takes about six seconds to load the book when I select it. The time it takes to load the book is nothing, though, compared to the time it takes to search for an word in the book using "find". I must wait at least a full minute for the search to complete. Because the search time is so much longer that the few seconds required to search a book of ordinary length (eg, 250 pages), I would call this a software bug.
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