Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Books on the Founding Fathers

Next semester (spring 2013), I will be teaching a course entitled, "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers." I have in mind to use Frank Lambert's book, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America as well as Thomas Kidd's and Matthew Harris's The Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in America (I came back around on this documentary reader. As I finished up Lambert's book, I noticed that many of the readings in Kidd and Harris coincided nicely). I am also fairly sure that I will use Brooke Allen's Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. What I am not sure about is what other books I should use.

I am considering having the whole class read the three books listed above, and then three other books on the religion of George Washington (Mary Thompson's "In the Hands of Good Providence"), Benjamin Franklin (Kerry Walter's Benjamin Franklin and His Gods), and Thomas Jefferson (Edwin Gaustad's Sworn on the Altar of God). Each student would then choose one other book on a Founding Father to write a book review. At the end of the course, students would write a comparative paper on the religions of the three Founding Fathers above plus the additional book that they read.

I was surprised that there are not all that many current books on the Founding Fathers beyond Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The list below are the books that I have found. Would anyone be willing to weigh in on the books below? Are there other books I should consider for students to read? Can anyone recommend some journal articles to consult?

Abigail Adams
            Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams. Free Press, 2009.
Levin, Phyllis Lee. Abigail Adams: A Biography. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.
Withey, Lynne. Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams. Touchstone, 2002.

John Adams
            Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. Oxford, 2010.
McCullough, David. John Adams. Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Samuel Adams
            Alexander, John. Samuel Adams: The Life of an American Revolutionary. Rowman &
                        Littlefield, 2011
Fowler, William M., Jr. Samuel Adams: Radical Puritan. Longman, 1997.
            Stoll, Ira. Samuel Adams: A Life. Free Press, 2008.

Ethan Allen
            Randall, Willard Sterne. Ethan Allen: His Life and Times. W. W. Norton, 2011.

Aaron Burr, Jr.
Isenberg, Nancy. Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. Penguin, 2008.
Stewart, David O. American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America.
            Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Charles Carroll
            Birzer, Bradley J. American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll. Intercollegiate Studies,
            McDermott, Scott. Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary. Scepter, 2001.

John Dickinson
            Flower, Milton E. John Dickinson: Conservative Revolutionary. University of Virginia,

Benjamin Franklin
            Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon & Schuster, 2003.
            Wood, Gordon. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. Penguin, 2004.

Alexander Hamilton
            Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin, 2005.
            McDonald, Forrest. Alexander Hamilton: A Biography. W. W. Norton, 1982.
            Randall, Willard Sterne. Alexander Hamilton: A Life. Harper, 2003.

Patrick Henry
            Kidd, Thomas S. Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. Basic Books, 2011.

John Jay
            Stahr, Walter. John Jay, Founding Father. Hambledon and London, 2005.

Thomas Jefferson
            Bernstein, R. B. Thomas Jefferson. Oxford, 2005.
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. Vintage, 1998.
Dolley Madison
            Allgor, Catherine. A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American
                        Nation. Holt, 2007.           
            Cote, Richard N. Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Maison. Corinthian, 2004.

James Madison
            Broadwater, Jeff. James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation. UNC,                          2012.
Brookhiser, Richard. James Madison. Basic Books, 2011.
            Gutzman, Kevin R. C. James Madison and the Making of America. St. Martin’s Press,
            Labunski, Richard. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights. Oxford, 2008.
            McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republic Legacy.
                        Cambridge, 1991.

Gouverneur Morris
            Adams, William Howard. Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life. Yale, 2003.

Thomas Paine
            Kaye, Harvey J. Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. Hill and Wang, 2006.
Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern                                     Nations. Penguin, 2007.          

Benjamin Rush
            Brodsky, Alyn. Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician. Truman Talley, 2004.
            Hawke, David Freeman. Benjamin Rush: Revolutionary Gadfly. Bobbs Merrill, 1971.

Roger Sherman
            Hall, Mark David. Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic. Oxford,

George Washington
            Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. Vintage, 2005.
            Longman, Paul K. The Invention of George Washington. University of Virginia, 1999.
            Novak, Michael and Jana. Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our
                        Country. Basic Books, 2006.

John Witherspoon
            Tait, Gordon L. The Piety of John Witherspoon: Pew, Pulpit, and Public Forum. Geneva
                        Press, 2001.

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