“It is not only the cause, but our manner of conducting it, that will establish character.”
—John Dickinson, 1773
A nation at war and widespread mistrust of the military. A financial crash and an endless economic crisis. A Congress so divided it barely functioned. Bitter partisan disputes over everything from taxation and the distribution of wealth to the role of banks and corporations in society. Welcome to the world of the Founding Fathers.
According to most narratives of the American Revolution, the founders were united in their quest for independence and steadfast in their efforts to create a stable, effective government. But the birth of our republic was far more complicated than many realize. The Revolution was nearly derailed by extremists who wanted to do too much, too quickly and who refused to rest until they had remade American society. If not for a small circle of conservatives who kept radicalism in check and promoted capitalism, a strong military, and the preservation of tradition, our country would be vastly different today.
In the first book to chronicle the critical role these men played in securing our freedom, David Lefer provides an insightful and gripping account of the birth of modern American conservatism and its impact on the earliest days of our nation.
Among these founding conservatives were men like John Dickinson, who joined George Washington’s troops in a battle against the British on July 4, 1776, and that same week drafted the Articles of Confederation; James Wilson, a staunch free-market capitalist who defended his home against a mob of radicals demanding price controls and in the process averted a bloody American equivalent to Bastille Day; Silas Deane, who mixed patriotism with profit seeking while petitioning France to aid America; and Robert Morris, who financed the American Revolution and founded the first bank and the first modern multinational corporation in the United States.
Drawing on years of archival research, Lefer shows how these and other determined founders championed American freedom while staying faithful to their ideals. In the process, they not only helped defeat the British but also laid the groundwork for American capitalism to thrive.
The Founding Conservatives is an intellectual adventure story, full of gunfights and big ideas. It is also an extraordinary reminder of the punishing battles our predecessors fought to create and maintain the free and prosperous nation we know today.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||5 MB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Court and Country 9
Chapter 2 None Shall Make Them Afraid 20
Chapter 3 The Rise of Radicalism 35
Chapter 4 The View From Above 46
Chapter 5 Delicacy and Caution 56
Chapter 6 The Olive Branch and the Lightning Bolt 68
Chapter 7 Patriotism and Profit 81
Chapter 8 Yielding to the Torrent 95
Chapter 9 The Crucible of Conservatism 108
Chapter 10 The Philosopher in Action 121
Chapter 11 On the Brink of a Precipice 132
Chapter 12 Cool and Do Mischief 146
Chapter 13 The Turning Point 159
Chapter 14 The Playwright and the Merchant 174
Chapter 15 The Seed Time of Glory 188
Chapter 16 The Ruin of Mr. Deane 201
Chapter 17 Fort Wilson 213
Chapter 18 American Dictators 226
Chapter 19 Power, Consequence, and Grandeur 240
Chapter 20 The Pause that Saved the Revolution 256
Chapter 21 Our American Tumults 268
Chapter 22 Capitalist Inducements 281
Chapter 23 Experience Must be our Guide 296
Chapter 24 We the People 310
What People are Saying About This
“David Lefer’s narrative is readable, engrossing, and fair-minded, and it presents an aspect of America’s origins that enriches our understanding of the nation’s past and of its present.”
“David Lefer has done a wonderful service by focusing attention on the conservatives among our founders, such as John Dickinson. In doing so, he shows that American conservatism has deep historical roots and that some of today’s ideological disputes were being waged in the early days of our republic. The lessons he draws are relevant not just to conservatives but to all Americans.”
—WALTER ISAACSON, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin
“David Lefer’s The Founding Conservatives is a tirelessly researched and superbly written account of how America’s first conservatives endowed our revolution with ballast and vision, often in surprising ways that resonate to this day. A timely reminder that extremism in the defense of liberty is no virtue, moderation in the pursuit of justice no vice.”
—KEVIN BAKER, author of America: The Story of Us
“David Lefer has done a civic service in unearthing a largely forgotten group of revolutionary patriots who not only played key roles in achieving American independence but, in advance of Burke and the French Revolution, laid the groundwork for a distinctively New World version of conservatism.”
—FRED SIEGEL, author of The Prince of the City; senior fellow, Manhattan Institute
“This lively, erudite book frees the founders from currently popular anachronistic categorizations and in the process provides a fresh new perspective on American conservatism. That there is something in this book to annoy just about everyone is its great and inestimable virtue.”
—SUSAN JACOBY, author of Freethinkers
“As a historian, David Lefer is a terrific storyteller. The Founding Conservatives takes us on a fun and unique ride through the birth of the United States while building a case for the real DNA of American conservatism.”
—KEVIN MANEY, author of The Maverick and His Machine
“A compelling argument for a new appreciation of America’s founding conservatives. Lefer shows how these men, far from obstructing change or opposing the Revolution, sought to channel and direct our nation’s development so it could succeed for centuries to come. This book reminds us that conservatives have never been the ‘party of no’ but rather the voice of reason and an idealism tempered by the practical.”
—LARRY SCHWEIKART, coauthor of A Patriot’s History of the Modern World, vols. 1 and 2
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is history at its best. With great insight, David Lefer brings to life what he calls the "unsung heroes" of the American Revolution, their political philosophy and personalities. These are the men who are almost footnotes in other histories -- John Dickinson, Silas Deane, Robert Morris, Gouverneur Morris, Philip Schuyler, John and Edward Rutledge, James Wilson and others -- names from American History classes but about whom we never knew much. There is so much in this book -- uniquely American development of conservatism and capitalism, the disagreements, the uncertainty, and sometimes the violence, etc. The combination of Lefer's thorough research, deep insights and lively writing (some have called it elegant) makes this an informative and fun book to read.
This is an aspect of the American revolution that I didn't know about, and wasn't even aware of in the slightest. However, I now feel like a gap in my knowledge has been filled. Lefer's prose is precise, provocative and pointed, and humorous at the right times. A must read for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of the roots of the USA.