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The Presidency of George Washington (American Presidency (Univ of Kansas Paperback)) Paperback – February 22, 1974


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A deeply provocative and exciting book." -- Journal of American History

"Intelligent, knowledgeable, incisive, lucid . . . [and] entertaining." -- Journal of Southern History

"Lucid, pungent, and convincing. Likely to become the standard brief account of Washington's administration." -- Historian

"McDonald brings such zest and imaginative reconstruction that the narrative is shot through with new meaning." -- Presidential Studies Quarterly

"One of the most imaginative and suggestive works on the Washington years." -- History: Reviews of New Books

About the Author

Forrest McDonald is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama and the author of fifteen books including States' Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, 1776-1876; The American Presidency: An Intellectual History; Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution; "We the People": Economic Origins of the Constitution; E Pluribus Unum: The Foundation of the American Republic, 1776-1790; and The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. He was named by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the sixteenth Jefferson Lecturer, the nation's highest honor in the humanities.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Presidency (Univ of Kansas Paperback)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; New edition edition (February 22, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070060359X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700603596
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I've read several books by him and they've all been very good to excellent, and this book is right up there with them.
CJ
I especially liked the discussion of Hamilton's system of monetizing the debt incurred during the revolution and using this as the basis for a currency system.
Metallurgist
The nation that he led was still very fragile and every action by Washington or congress that was not explicit in the constitution would establish a precedent.
Charles Ashbacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

The general consensus is that the two greatest US presidents were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I firmly believe that and in my opinion, Washington was the greatest. Before he became president he did something very rare in the history of the human race. After the victory in the war of independence, his stature was such that he could have been "elected" king. However, his honor was such that he had to be persuaded to run for president and then re-persuaded to run for a second term. He then thoroughly rejected any thought of a third term.
The nation that he led was still very fragile and every action by Washington or congress that was not explicit in the constitution would establish a precedent. Furthermore, the world was still a dangerous place, with the French revolution and subsequent European war creating a dangerous environment for the new nation. His actions in building the new government and keeping it out of foreign entanglements fully justify the admiration that he receives.
This book kept my attention from the first page as the early years of the new government are described. For this is a book about the Washington administration rather than Washington the man. So many legends in the annals of history were there and setting the tone for over 200 years of continuous government. You also learn of the emergence of political parties, as Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and Adams among others vie for power and influence. Alexander Hamilton is the most interesting of these giants, as he successfully creates the financial institutions that made the country fiscally sound.
The more I read about Washington and that period of history, the more I am impressed by him.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on October 27, 2000
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Forrest McDonald is an excellent writer. He produced a wonderful full length bio of Alexander Hamilton that I recommend to anyone interested learning about our government's start and the role played by the man second only to Washington in ensuring that these United States succeeded in laying a firm foundation for self government.
This book is one of McDonald's two contributions to the Univ. of KA's "Presidency Series." It is splendid.
McDonald concisely explores the challenges presenting themselves and issues demanding attention from our new and untested government. In just under two hundred pages, the author does an excellent job of boiling down the topics to their essentials and describing how the nascent government struggled to define its role, the meaning of it's constitutional structure, the balance of factions and America's relation to warring European giants.
His book accomplishes this with brevity, clear and concise writing and in an interesting manner. Along the way are fascinating tidbits. For example, neither Washington nor the Senate knew what "advise and consent" meant regarding treaties. About to send negotiators to several indian tribes, Washington walked down to the Senate to seek their advice on instructions for his agents. As the Senate sat dumbfounded, and then finally began to debate the seven points Washington sought advice on, it became clear how impractical legislative micro management of treaty making would be. Washington turned on his heels and left in disgust when it became obvious the Senate could not give him clear and definative advice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CJ on August 26, 2008
Forrest McDonald is one of the best academic historians of early American political, intellectual, and economic history. I've read several books by him and they've all been very good to excellent, and this book is right up there with them.

One thing to keep in mind: This is NOT a biography. One could even argue that Washington himself is -- in McDonald's narrative -- not really the "star" at all, and that in fact others (such as Madison, Hamilton, & Jefferson) are far more important to driving the events of the early Republic. However, this depiction seems appropriate given Washington's reserved leadership style as President. In McDonald's words, "George Washington was indispensable, but only for what he was [ie, a figurehead everyone respected], not for what he did."

What this book is, is a very good chronicle of the political history of our first presidential administration, covering all the important issues you would expect from the period. It is particularly strong at chronicling the emergence of the United States' first real national political parties.

Though I thought this book was quite good overall, I rated it four rather than five stars for the following reasons:
1. McDonald sometimes throws in a few too many extraneous details which can dilute his points.

2. As he himself admits, some of McDonald's narrative is based on conjecture -- particularly when he describes a trip Jefferson and Madison took together to Lake Champlain. On that trip, McDonald supposes, Madison had an epileptic seizure that Jefferson witnessed, and this revelation of Madison's hidden personal weakness cemented their friendship and alliance.
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The Presidency of George Washington (American Presidency (Univ of Kansas Paperback))
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