Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries

Lorri Glover. Yale Univ, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-0-300-17860-9
With an inventive twist on the “founding fathers” moniker, historian Glover (The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown) probes the link between family and politics, but limits her focus to the lives of wealthy Virginians. Men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Glover persuasively argues, became the founders of a new country precisely because of their views on fatherhood and family and because they were family men. She moves briskly from the imperial crisis of the 1760s through the generation that followed the creation of the Constitution, demonstrating the importance of familial words and ideas to the launch of a new country, always keeping tight rein on her argument. It’s a sophisticated history peppered with tidbits from the private sphere: of particular interest is the chapter on the Virginians’ wrestle with the institution of slavery, especially because it benefited their own families and fortunes even while clashing with enlightened principles of freedom and independence. As a social historian, Glover covers gender as well as racial issues, exploring women’s roles in the family and the nation, and explaining how the founders viewed the inequality of women as part of the world’s natural order. Fans of these influential men should delight in this inventive addition to the historical literature. Illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
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