Shelves: history I dont really know very much about American History I know some of the cliches, of course, it would be very hard not to have picked those up over the years, but the details are all a bit vague. The fact that it was written by Gore Vidal was certainly an appealing consideration. This was anything but a dry history. The letters between Adams and his wife sound like a joy to read if I can ever track them down looks like they will be available at the library when I start uni next month. There were also many little asides that I found very amusing and are the chief joy in reading any history — my favourite was the person who advised the young men working for him to masturbate before coming to work as it would mean that, for the morning at least, they would be able to give their full attention to their work. Surprisingly enough, this advice was not given by an American, but rather a Frenchman.
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By Gore Vidal Dec. Majestically, he had refused any salary from the revolutionary American government so seldom in useful Congress assembled. Now the General was retired to his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon. Despite one hundred slaves, Mount Vernon yielded insufficient revenue, while various western lands on the Ohio River were costing the General more than they brought in. He was an indulgent host; unfortunately, neither his wealth nor that of his wife, Martha Custis, could pay for so royal a way of life.
At one point, he seriously considered retreating north to Niagara; if that did not keep his admirers at bay, he was willing to flee even farther into Canada in order to escape his expensive fame. But a few trips away from Mount Vernon made it clear that there was to be no escape for him anywhere; he was to be famous for life and, probably, for all he knew or suspected, thereafter. Glumly he wrote, "My living under the best economy I can use must unavoidably be expensive.
Bad soil. Too little fertilizer. He needed to be, he complained, Midas-like, "one who can convert everything he touches into manure as the first transmutation towards gold.
In early Washington was offered valuable shares in the company for himself and his heirs. He accepted only with the proviso that he might give whatever dividends that came his way to charities. When word spread that he had refused the kingship of the newly founded American Union, an astonished King George III noted that if this story was true, "He will be the greatest man in the world.
Others felt that he had been tempted but for two things: for George III to be succeeded by George IV or even I had a slightly surreal, even retrogressive ring to it: finally, there was no heir, no Prince of Virginia plotting in Tidewater, prey to chiggers. Before the thirteen former British colonies were held uneasily together by certain fraying Articles of Confederation.
Like the squire of Mount Vernon, most of the States were now broke, and it seemed impossible for the weak Confederation to raise sufficient revenues to pay off the interest and principal of the debt incurred during eight years of war. What to do? Washington knew that something would have to be done more soon than late to strengthen the Articles of Confederation: others agreed.
Immediately, there was a division between those eager for a new centralized federal arrangement and those who wanted the States to be only loosely affiliated. The first were mostly men who had made their mark in the Revolution; they were young; they tended to be lawyers, a new aristocracy-at least that was how they were regarded in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The Republicans were often rural magnates like Patrick Henry of Virginia. Washington, the embodiment of Federalism, was also first among the rural magnates, while the author of the Declaration of Independence, the former governor of Virginia Thomas Jefferson, was-with his famous pursuit of happiness for all but slaves and other untidy human fractions-a focal point for future Republicanism. One can imagine a tabloid of today telling its readers, on page six, how fifteen American "peasants" had been bought by President Chirac.
On May 18, , Washington wrote John Jay, "That it is necessary to revise and amend the Articles of Confederation, I entertain no doubt; but what may be the consequences of such an attempt is doubtful yet something must be done, or the fabric must fall, for it certainly is tottering.
They were instructed to report on "the trade and commerce of the United States" and nothing more. But a New York delegate, the thirty-two-year-old lawyer Alexander Hamilton, arrived with a three-year-old draft of a constitution in his pocket. Undismayed, Hamilton kept busy.
He allied himself with the other brilliant delegate, the thirty-five-year-old James Madison of Virginia. Madison and Hamilton were more or less as one for a strong federal government.
But it was Madison who had fought in the Virginia legislature for interstate conventions, and now the one at Annapolis proved to be the key. Meanwhile, the rickety Confederation was appalled when Massachusetts was revolutionized by one Captain Daniel Shays, a revolutionary hero whom Lafayette himself had presented with an expensive sword.
But by September of Shays was obliged to sell the sword. Massachusetts was in a general depression. Worse, its Commonwealth taxes were more onerous than those so recently paid to the faraway King George.
When new signs of rebellion in Rhode Island were reported, Madison, the future Republican, was now very much in Federalist mode. He wrote Jefferson in Paris: "Many gentlemen, both within and without Congress, wish to make this meeting subservient to a plenipotentiary Convention for amending the Confederation.
With an army of veterans, he prepared to seize the national armory at Springfield. En route, jails were broken into and debtors freed. The rhetoric of the Shaysites was calculated to terrify the merchant class: "That the property of the United States has been protected from confiscation of Britain by the joint exertion of all , and ought to be the common property of all. Most, by now, wanted to create a strong new nation where no revolt like that of Daniel Shays could ever again happen and where tranquillity, if not happiness, was the common pursuit.
In February Washington was officially notified that Congress, in response to the efforts of Hamilton and Madison, had named the second Monday in May for a convention to meet in Philadelphia "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. I know not where that influence is to be found and, if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for our disorders Influence is no government. On November 5 Washington made his moves.
He wrote to James Madison, now a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, "Without some alteration in our political creed, the superstructure we have been seven years raising at the expense of so much blood and treasure, must fall.
We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion. Madison had been for biding their time until Washington was reluctant, as always, to go. This time he had a new sort of excuse. He had been expected to attend the triennial meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati in May at Philadelphia.
But due to rheumatism and long-neglected business affairs, he had said that he could not be present. The Society was made up of those officers who had served with him in the Revolution. It had also been founded as a hereditary affair of knightly men. For Jefferson it was too aristocratic by half.
Washington agonized to his friends over the hurt feelings of the Cincinnati once they realized that he preferred making a new constitution to further bonding with them.
Madison played the General delicately. Perhaps little Jemmy five-foot-six already understood that it was necessary for Big George six-foot-three to imitate such classical heroes as Cincinnatus himself, who, after winning victories for Rome, gave up his dictatorship and went home to raise cabbages in manly obscurity.
During this time of anguish, trapped between two sets of duty, Washington had a row with his mother, a woman as strong-minded as he.
She asked him to send her fifteen guineas. He did so-reluctantly, as it was all the cash that he had on hand: "It is really hard upon me when you have taken everything you wanted from the plantation, by which money could be raised, when I have not received one farthing directly nor indirectly from the place for more than twelve years if ever, and when in that time, I have paid As Washington-perhaps sensing that the biographer Parson Weems would one day immortalize him as "the boy who could not tell a lie"-continued to fret about what the Cincinnati might think of him if they knew he had chosen to ignore them in order to birth a new nation.
By mid-March, he said he would remain home, true to his word to them. Apparently, the rheumatism was indeed so bad that he could not turn over in bed without pain; he also wore one arm in a sling. Pressure to go to the Constitutional Convention came from Madison. From Knox, dire warnings that the convention without him would be as irrelevant as Annapolis. Simultaneously, Washington was worried about what his non -attendance might be attributed to. Finally, day after day, those ten newspapers reported to him that every state seemed to be sending its most illustrious sons.
Yet had he not vowed, upon retirement, to never more "intermeddle in public matters"? How could the people ever again trust him if he? On April 9 he crossed the Rubicon. He would go to the Constitutional Convention even though "under the peculiar circumstances of my case [it] would place me in a more disagreeable situation than any other member would stand in, as I have yielded, however, to what appeared to be the earnest wishes of my friends, I will hope for the best.
Worse, Mother was seriously ill. He hurried to her home in Fredericksburg. Mother was better. He also visited one of his farms, and investigated a new method of growing potatoes. Excerpted by permission.
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Inventing a Nation
Early life[ edit ] Eugene Louis Vidal was born in the cadet hospital of the U. Gore — The middle name, Louis, was a mistake on the part of his father, "who could not remember, for certain, whether his own name was Eugene Louis or Eugene Luther". Albans school, where Vidal attended preparatory school.
Inventing a Nation
Full text Gore vidal inventing a nation pdf The nation splits not East and West but North and South, and the river becomes a boundary between warring sides in the Civil War. Return to Book Page. But when events in Massachusetts escalated out of control after the Boston Tea Party, they were swept up in the crisis, their private lives suddenly transformed into public careers. Rakove uses the stories of these famous and not so famous men to show how their views of politics, war, diplomacy, and society shaped the emerging idea of an American nation. Madison, through which he empowered the Supreme Court and transformed the idea of the separation of powers into a working blueprint for our modern state. If you would like to talk at length about how the Bush administration has ruined America, go for it I think it makes me feel better that we as a nation will survive the current silliness.
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Gore Vidal Inventing A Nation Pdf