The founders' fortunes How money shaped the birth of America

Willard Sterne Randall

Book - 2022

"In 1776, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers concluded America's most consequential document with a curious note, pledging 'our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.' Lives and honor did indeed hang in the balance, yet just what were their fortunes? How much did the Founders stand to gain or lose through independence? And what lingering consequences did their respective financial stakes have on liberty, justice, and the fate of the ...fledgling United States of America?"--Provided by the publisher.

Saved in:

2nd Floor New Shelf Show me where

973.30922/Randall
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 973.30922/Randall (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Subjects
Published
[New York, New York] : Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2022]
Language
English
Physical Description
x, 325 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 299-305) and index.
ISBN
9781524745929
1524745928
Main Author
Willard Sterne Randall (author)
  • Prologue
  • "The way to wealth". "A penny saved" ; "My constant gain every day" ; "Join, or die" ; "Who would have thought it?" ; "Tribune of the people" ; "Between two fires" ; "The child independence is born" ; "An ill-judged measure" ; "What more can they desire?" ; "Half of England is now land-mad"
  • Breaking away. "Bone of our bone" ; "The prime conductor" ; "Improving our fortunes" ; "'Tis time to part" ; "Unpardonable rebellion" ; "Independence like a torrent" ; "A free and independent people" ; "Very useful here & much esteemed" ; "For a little revenge"
  • "The crisis is arrived". "Discordant parts" ; "The pests of society" ; "For want of pay" ; "The most sordid interest" ; "Heaven was silent" ; "I shall not rest" ; "The impending storm" ; "Plain, honest men" ; "The dinner table bargain" ; "Clintonia borealis" ; "The best room in this house".
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In his twelfth book, colonial history scholar and former award-winning reporter Randall re-examines progressive historian Charles Beard's hypothesis that economic forces played an outsized role in shaping the U.S. Constitution. Using sources not available to Beard, Randall shows how the Founders' finances influenced their economic and political decisions, from the French and Indian War to John Adams' presidency. Randall asserts that America's richest colonials were not a monolithic class, describing shifting alliances and rivalries during colonial times and the early days of the republic. Despite substantial riches, the fortunes of many Founders tanked or nearly tanked, Randall reveals, after the revolution. If the revolution had failed, he observes, the British would have hanged, drawn, and quartered the Founders as traitors. The book's strong organization, the conversion of colonial financial sums to modern dollars, and well-paced and lively writing make for an outstanding work of American history and a joy to read. Alongside the financial history, Randall's account of the Founders' world is compelling and highly readable, while his description of French aid during the revolution suggests that FDR got the Lend-Lease idea from Louis XVI. Randall's dry wit drives the true stories of French police searching Ben Franklin's underwear and Sam Adams' beer career. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In his twelfth book, colonial history scholar and former award-winning reporter Randall re-examines progressive historian Charles Beard's hypothesis that economic forces played an outsized role in shaping the U.S. Constitution. Using sources not available to Beard, Randall shows how the Founders' finances influenced their economic and political decisions, from the French and Indian War to John Adams' presidency. Randall asserts that America's richest colonials were not a monolithic class, describing shifting alliances and rivalries during colonial times and the early days of the republic. Despite substantial riches, the fortunes of many Founders tanked or nearly tanked, Randall reveals, after the revolution. If the revolution had failed, he observes, the British would have hanged, drawn, and quartered the Founders as traitors. The book's strong organization, the conversion of colonial financial sums to modern dollars, and well-paced and lively writing make for an outstanding work of American history and a joy to read. Alongside the financial history, Randall's account of the Founders' world is compelling and highly readable, while his description of French aid during the revolution suggests that FDR got the Lend-Lease idea from Louis XVI. Randall's dry wit drives the true stories of French police searching Ben Franklin's underwear and Sam Adams' beer career. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In Lincoln and the Fight for Peace, CNN anchor Avlon addresses President Abraham Lincoln's conciliatory vision regarding the post-Civil War era, aiming to show how it influenced activists from Nelson Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. (75,000-copy first printing). The New York Times best-selling Baime's White Lies profiles Black civil rights activist Walter F. White, who figured largely in the Harlem Renaissance and the NAACP while leading a dual life as a reporter investigating racial violence in the South because he could pass for white (40,000-copy first printing). Chapin, The President's Man, here recalls his years as personal aide, special assistant, and finally deputy assistant to President Richard Nixon as the 50th anniversary of Watergate looms. In African Founders, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fischer shows that enslaved Africans brought with them skills ranging from animal husbandry to ethics that profoundly shaped colonial and early U.S. society (100,000-copy first printing). A conservative gay reporter who has received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Kirchick dug through multitudinous declassified documents and interviewed over 100 people to write Secret City, which profiles the impact of the LGBTQ+ community on Washington, DC, politics since Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. A multi-award-winning journalist and professor emeritus at Champlain College, Randall intends to show that not only were The Founders' Fortunes pledged in support of the Revolutionary War but that concerns about their fortunes helped prompt it. A professor of art crime at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Thompson is an acknowledged expert in the national debate surrounding Smashing Statues—should controversial public monuments be pulled down or allowed to stand? Journalist/author Thompson ( Kickflip Boys) uses newly released records to tell the story of Patrick and Bridget Kennedy, who fled Ireland's Great Famine for Boston, MA, and became The First Kennedys, founders of a political dynasty. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Randall, award-winning biographer of several Founding Fathers, re-assesses Charles Beard's argument regarding the economic objectives of wealthy elites in designing the Constitution. Drawing on material unavailable to Beard, Randall examines the financial successes, failures, and motives of key figures, all prominent businessmen, whose monetary health was affected by British mercantile policies. Most were involved in risky land speculation and other schemes to expand their wealth, and fortunes fluctuated significantly pre- and post-Revolution, leaving many of them in debt. The war resulted in grave financial hardships manifested in increased trade restrictions, lack of a dependable currency, conflicts and policy constraints in the "West," unemployment, rioting, discord among the states, and lack of capital and credit. The Constitution's defenders argued that only a stable, unified national government could address grievous threats to political and economic independence. In an engaging style, Randall skillfully compiles material from extensive research regarding the compelling impact of the Founders' personal financial interests on their political decision-making—from rebelling against Britain through ratifying the Constitution—but contends that they were not driven exclusively by personal gain. VERDICT This accessible, concise, yet informative work would benefit from a conclusion summarizing Randall's observations. It will appeal to general readers and academics.—Margaret Kappanadze Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Historian Randall (Unshackling America) explores in this intriguing yet unsatisfying survey how the founding fathers' personal financial circumstances helped chart the course of the American Revolution. Delving into the business interests and economic considerations of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others, Randall notes that almost all of Connecticut's delegation to the Second Continental Congress in 1775 were land speculators, motivated in no small part by King George III's decree barring them from profiting from the fur trade. He also points out that the resistance movement in Massachusetts was bankrolled by John Hancock, whose merchant empire was threatened by English taxes, and that Benjamin Franklin, contrary to his "Poor Richard" persona, became wealthy by investing the profits from his printing and publishing business in Philadelphia real estate. Unfortunately, Randall downplays other political and cultural factors behind the revolution and risks oversimplifying the motivations and considerations of his subjects, as when he suggests that George Washington's diminished financial circumstances were behind his acceptance of the presidency and its annual salary of $25,000 ($750,000 in today's money). Readers will find Tom Shachtman's The Founding Fortunes to be a more thoughtful and nuanced treatment of the same subject. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group. (Feb.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In this landmark account, a noted historian investigates the private financial affairs of the Founding Fathers, revealing how and why the Revolution came about and providing a new understanding of the nation's bedrock values.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In this landmark account, a noted historian investigates the private financial affairs of the Founding Fathers, revealing how and why the Revolution came about and providing a new understanding of our nation’s bedrock values. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An illuminating financial history of the Founding Fathers, revealing how their personal finances shaped the Constitution and the new nationIn 1776, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers concluded America’s most consequential document with a curious note, pledging “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Lives and honor did indeed hang in the balance, yet just what were their fortunes? How much did the Founders stand to gain or lose through independence? And what lingering consequences did their respective financial stakes have on liberty, justice, and the fate of the fledgling United States of America?In this landmark account, historian Willard Sterne Randall investigates the private financial affairs of the Founders, illuminating like never before how and why the Revolution came about. The Founders’ Fortunes uncovers how these leaders waged war, crafted a constitution, and forged a new nation influenced in part by their own financial interests. In an era where these very issues have become daily national questions, the result is a remarkable and insightful new understanding of our nation’s bedrock values.