The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic

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9780873281744: The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic
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To most Americans, George Washington is a remote figure encased in myth, more a monument than a man. This new book brings him vividly to life once again -- a man who was born a loyal subject of the British crown and became the leader of a radical revolution, a victorious military leader who relinquished the trappings of power to return to farming, a reluctant statesman who forged the institutions of a popular government that have endured for two centuries. John Rhodehamel examines the mingled destinies of Washington and the new American republic, illuminating both the man and his times. He traces Washington's life before the Revolution and during the war years, the drafting and ratification of the US Constitution, and the Washington presidency, arguing that the key to Washington's extraordinary stature in the eyes of his contemporaries was his scrupulous obedience to civilian authority and, most of all, his resignation at the end of the Revolution. The text is enhanced by numerous illustrations that reproduce an array of original documents, contemporary portraits, artifacts, and personal memorabilia of Washington and his family.

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Review:

A catalog for a traveling exhibition of art and artifacts from the life of George Washington, this elegant volume also provides an excellent overview history of Washington's life. The biography of Washington is, as would be expected, positive, yet the author, John Rhodehamel, a curator of American History at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, does not ignore some often overlooked aspects of Washington's personality, specifically his temper, pride, and ambition. Indeed, the "Great Experiment" of the title applies as much to Washington's efforts to transform his own personality as to his enormous contributions to the founding of the United States. Rhodehamel documents how Washington, as he matured, subjugated the fierce ambition that had brought him to international repute during the French and Indian War and eventually made perhaps his greatest contribution to the newly independent colonies by modestly emphasizing the primacy of civilian rule. The text presents Washington's story, up through his stormy second term as president and his death soon after, in readable and often entertaining terms, and the visual component of the book deserves special mention. Besides the many photographs of Washington artifacts and contemporaneous artistic depictions of him, the fine photographic reproduction of letters and journal entries in Washington's own hand does much to humanize a person all too often regarded as a distant and incomprehensible icon. --Robert McNamara

About the Author:

John Rhodehamel is Norris Foundation Curator of American History at the Huntington Library. He is the editor of the award-winning book George Washington, Writings.

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John H. Rhodehamel
Published by Huntington Library Pr (1998)
ISBN 10: 0873281748 ISBN 13: 9780873281744
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Rhodehamel, John H.
Published by Huntington Library Pr (1998)
ISBN 10: 0873281748 ISBN 13: 9780873281744
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