The American Revolution was most likely the greatest accomplishment in the history of the United States of America. Joseph J. Ellis wrote “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” to demonstrate the way that Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington interacted. The main events Ellis focuses on are the duel between Burr and Hamilton, the secret dinner between Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison, Benjamin Franklin’s petition to end slavery, Washington’s farewell address, Adams’ difficulties throughout becoming the second president, and discusses Adams and Jefferson’s different views about the Revolution during the end of their lives. He focuses mainly on those six events so the reader knows what really may have happened instead of what we learn is the truth. It gives a different perspective of history overall and makes them question things that they normally wouldn’t. Joseph J. Ellis wrote this book and chose these specific people because although they shared different thoughts and opinions, the seven founding brothers collaborated when they needed to by accepting each other’s ideas.
They weren’t perfect and had flaws, but they knew importance of the choices they needed to make, even when they disagreed on thing. Most importantly they were intelligent and knew what they needed to do to get things done. Each moment was crucial to the way that America is today. Ellis’s argument is that the American Revolution was the most important event in history. “No event in American history which was so improbable at the time has seemed so inevitable in retrospect as the American Revolution” (Ellis 3). He spends a lot of time explaining this in the preface of the book. He explains how most people thought that breaking away from Britain would be quite simple, however, many things could have gone wrong. The founding brothers knew that it would be difficult. Most of the things that these men did were not legal, constitutional, and morally correct, and it shows the different values they had and the way that these values were all brought together in one way or another. The founding brothers knew that they were important and would be well known in the future.
One example of this is the fact that Jefferson wrote his letters in a way that would make him look better because he knew that one day people would end up reading them and judge his character. Another example of this is that John Adams told his wife to file and keep all of his records. It’s almost as if they went into the future and saw that they have a large impact on the way the government is run. Even though America was at a disadvantage to Great Britain in the beginning of the war, they were sure that they would succeed. It makes one wonder how they knew that they would be important and how they knew they would succeed. Ellis states “Men make history, and the leading member of the revolutionary generation realized they were doing so, but they can never know the history they are making.” (4).
The outcome could have gone either way, positive or negative, however America won because of the politicians who put together the foundation of America. Without them, the country could have still been under the rule of Britain today and have a different type of government. There wouldn’t be a republic and the people wouldn’t be able to elect their leader. This is why Joseph J. Ellis chooses these seven men and keeps explaining why they are so important. They did whatever it took to accomplish what they did even though sometimes it was dangerous, such as the duel between Hamilton and Burr that resulted in Hamilton’s death the next day. This duel became on of the most well known duels in American history. It was the events leading up to that made it so interesting and well known.
“Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” changes the way people think about the American evolution and history in general. What we see and hear might not always be the truth. It is pretty evident why Joseph J. Ellis wrote this book and he states this himself many times throughout it. The choices made by the seven founding brothers were very important and made America the country that it is today. Although winning the American Revolution seemed nearly impossible at the beginning, in the end the ideas of Hamilton, Franklin, Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson and Burr all influenced the outcome of the Revolution and the great years to come after it.