How does Ellis address the concept of "American exceptionalism"?
What were the key insights acknowledged (in varying degrees) by the revolutionary generation?
What were the assets and liabilities of the men in New York in 1789 as they began to govern under the new Constitution?
What are the two interpretations of the revolution?
According to Ellis, why were the Founding Brothers successful? (He offers 4 reasons.)
Why does Ellis refer to the individuals as Founding Brothers NOT Founding Fathers?
Chapter 1 “The Duel” July 11, 1804
Why did the Burr-Hamilton duel become legendary?
How were Hamilton’s and Burr’s personalities similar?
Describe the 15 year relationship between Hamilton and Burr. Cite specific examples of the conflict between the two.
Why does Hamilton call Burr the “Catiline of America”?
What conspiracy was hatched by New Englanders?
Why was Hamilton justified in his fears of Burr?
Chapter 2 “The Dinner” June 20, 1790 1. Describe the members and agenda of “the dinner.”
2. What was the issue of assumption?
3. What was Hamilton’s plan for debt reconciliation?
4. List Madison’s objections to assumption.
5. Describe the “residency question” and how it is finally resolved.
6. What compromise was made at the dinner? What was the formal name of
7. What was the economic status of the fledging United States?
8. Whose approval did Madison and Jefferson seek for moving the capitol to
the Potomac? (Hint they wanted it to look like moving the capitol was his idea)
Chapter 3 “The Silence” February 11, 1790
What occurred in the House of Representatives on February 11, 1790?
Describe the arguments presented by James Jackson (GA) and William Loughton Smith (SC) in support of slavery.
Describe the counterargument presented by John Laurance (NY) and Eldridge Gerry (MA) in response to Jackson and Smith’s justification of slavery.
What were the proposals for gradual emancipation?
What was Benjamin Franklin’s role in the 1790 debate over slavery?
What does Ellis mean when he says that “Madison’s position on slavery captured the essence of what might be called ‘the Virginia straddle’”?
Who proposed emancipation? What was his religion?
What tragedy happened as a result of the Founding Father’s refusal to end slavery in 1790?
What was included in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence? Why wasn’t it included?
Who did the founding father’s blame for starting slavery?
What were the two main reasons why emancipation did not work?
Chapter 4 “The Farewell”
Why did Washington decide to retire? Consider private, public, and political concerns.
Why is Jay’s Treaty considered a “landmark in the shaping of American foreign policy?” Explain the controversy/issues surrounding the treaty including the opinions of the parties, Jefferson, Madison, and the majority of Americans.
What caused the rift that developed between Jefferson and Washington?
What amendment affirmed the two-term presidency that Washington had made a precedent?
What did Thomas Paine say about Washington that amounted to political suicide?
What was the paradox of the early Republic that was embodied by Washington?
What were the three main themes of Washington’s Farewell Address?
What attempted plot did Washington’s officers devise?
What provision did Washington make for his slaves in his will?
What was the “one path” that Washington advised Indians in the west to take?
Chapter 5 “The Collaborators”
What were the strengths and weaknesses of John Adams as a presidential candidate?
A rift developed between Jefferson and Washington. What were the issues surrounding the rift? How does the rift reflect a greater rift amongst the revolutionary generation (especially between Republicans and Federalists)?
Why didn’t Jefferson join his friend Adams in bipartisan cooperation?
How did Adams respond to the XYZ Affair?
Why did Adams negotiate a diplomatic end to the Quasi-War with France which he knew would alienate him from his own political party?
What was the primary function of the collaboration between Jefferson and Madison? What was their response to the Alien and Sedition Acts?
What were the two main criticisms of John Adams that were untrue?
What happened when the presidential electoral votes ended in a tie?
Why didn’t Jefferson partner with Adams even though he was Adams’ vice-president?
What was Adams’ biggest blunder as president?
To whom did Adams’ turn for advice rather than his cabinet?
What were some of the measures that Jefferson took to discredit Adams? How did one of these measure backfire on Jefferson?
What was Hamilton’s grandiose plan?
Why did Jefferson and Madison believe Adams and the Federalists were capturing the government from the American people?
Chapter 6 “The Friendship”
What was the significance of the “midnight judges”?
What were Jefferson’s misguided propositions about European affairs?
What does the correspondence between Adams and Jefferson reveal about their different views of government?
How did the dialogue, as it unfolded from 1812 – 1826 illuminate issues critical to the early republic?