Founding Brothers is a non-fiction novel about American Revolution political figures, primarily focusing on Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Adams, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson and roots of American Revolution and the interactions between the political figures. The author, Joseph J. Ellis is the author of several American history books and was educated at the College of William and Mary and Yale University .
Joseph J. Ellis’s main points throughout the book is not only to describe the historical perspective and success of the founding fathers but also the personal emotions, joys, regrets, familiar tragedies and ultimately the final judgments they make about each other and the Revolution. “I wanted to write a modest-sized account in American history without tripping over the dead bodies of my many scholarly predecessors, hoped to render human and accessible that generation of political leaders customarily deified and capitalized as Founding Fathers”(ix).
The first chapter of the novel pertains to the battle between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton and is the only chapter that is not in chronological order. Joseph J. Ellis does this to catch the reader’s attention. In detail Ellis describes the setting and mood between these two key players in American History. Although the true events of the duel can never be recovered, Joseph J. Ellis depicts both sides of the conflict. The result is the death of Hamilton and the political and social exile of Burr. Although Burrs version was most likely correct, Hamilton’s story was popularly chosen as the truth “The overwhelming popular consensus was that Burr had murdered Hamilton in cold blood”(26).
The novels second chapter goes back to 18th century, before the events of the preceding chapter. Ellis tells Thomas Jefferson’s account of a dinner he held at his home in mid-June of 1790. The dinner led to a compromise between Madison and Hamilton in Madison would not oppose Hamilton’s financial plan in exchange for Hamilton’s support for the capital’s future location to be along the Potomac River, in order to placate the southern states. However, Ellis proposes that this compromise was not just the result of the single dinner but rather several discussions. Ultimately, George Washington decided that America’s capital would be established east of Georgetown, on the mouth of the Potomac, and was named Washington D.C. after Washington himself. Having originally promised it would be in proximity of the Pennsylvania border, the central street was named Pennsylvania Avenue in order to appease disappointed Pennsylvanians.
The third chapter of the novel has a fitting title “the Silence” in which it saved the foundation and future of the new nation. This argument was a result of petitions presented to the House of Representatives a few months prior to Jefferson’s dinner by two Quaker delegations calling for the end of the Africa slave trade. No one in the House took the initiative...