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Founding Brothers (Essay Sample)

ASSIGNMENT: This is not a book review, but a detailed critique of the negative and positive aspects of the book. Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers is an examination of the founding years of the American Republic. The American Revolution is already over, and now the newly-independent 13 states face the task of actually governing themselves.. You are being asked to critically examine the book. You are being asked to craft a thesis – an argument – about the book, and then support your thesis with examples. For example, a sample thesis might be: “In Joseph Ellis's The Founding Brothers, the author shows that many of the founding fathers acted not out of principle, but out of greed and avarice.” Then you would proceed to argue that thesis by providing supporting examples from the book. You will be graded on your summary, your critical evaluation of the book, the paper's organization and grammar, and the quality of your writing. STRUCTURE: 1. Introduction A strong introduction with a clear, strong, & direct thesis is key to the success of the paper. Identify Ellis's general message, and introduce your argument here – what is your thesis & what is your argument about his book? I gave a sample thesis above. You may feel after reading the book that it was the complexity of the friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that symbolized the early years of the United States. You may feel that Ellis is particular capable of showing how the founding generation completely forgot about their own personal interests and were dedicated to the patriot cause. You may feel that Ellis shows how the various founding fathers were deeply contradictory in their beliefs and actions. Whatever the case, it is in your organization where the thesis should be. 2. Summary This should be approximately 2 pages. Discuss the main events in the book – the events, relationships, and political changes that took place in the early years of the United States of America. You want to be brief and concise. I realize it's impossible to recount the entire book here, so you're looking to highlight the primary points. 3. Analysis Approximately 3-4 pages. Here is where your critical voice emerges. The questions that follow do not constitute a list of what you “must” answer, but are a guideline to help you write your paper. It's impossible to critically examine each part of the book, so it is extremely important that you craft a strong and clearly defined thesis, and then support it. As you read and think about the book, ask yourself some of these questions: What were some of the motivations of the men of the revolutionary generation? What were some of the competing interests that had to be reconciled? What were some of the major contradictions in the members of this generation? How necessary were some of the compromises that were made? Who made the most admirable political decisions, and why? Who made the most brilliant/clever political maneuvers, and why? Those are some questions to consider as you initially craft your thesis/argument. Your analysis is where you will provide support for your thesis. 4. Conclusion A strong conclusion, summing up your argument, is vital. GRAMMAR & CITATIONS & PARAPHRASING: This is a formal paper – grammar is important. As is correct citation. As college students, you know that getting your message across in a persuasive, rational and understandable fashion is extremely important to the success of any written work. You also must cite paraphrased material from Ellis's book or from notes you've taken from class. Paraphrased material means ideas that you've taken from Ellis or me in lecture, and then rephrased in your own words. Anything that isn't your idea must be cited – it must be footnoted! If you quote directly from Ellis's book, or from class, you must cite. History papers generally follow the Chicago Manual of Style: ( You can also find links to the Chicago Manual of Style on the Feinberg Library website. If you need help, seek me out. You also must cite paraphrased material from the book or notes you've taken from class. A general rule – when in doubt, cite. Do not cheat. My policy regarding plagiarism is outlined in the syllabus. If there is any sort of academic dishonesty evident, at the very least the paper will receive an ‘E' for the assignment and you'll face referral to the academic dean and the administration. Refer to the syllabus and Plattsburgh State's policy regarding academic dishonesty if you have any questions. I reserve the right to use any plagiarism detection software or websites if I believe plagiarism suspected. OUTSIDE SOURCES No outside sources, other than what I've listed above – no Wikipedia, no encyclopedias, etc… You don't need them and I don't want to see them. this is a sample essay The “Spirits” of Independence: A Review of The Alcoholic Republic by W. J. Rorabaugh In the early years of the United States, after our brave, patriotic forefathers had fought with such fervor to cut the tethers restraining the colonies to Mother England, the stresses of building a new nation in America were enormous. It should be of no surprise to contemporary Americans that our ancestors turned to alcohol in all forms to help them deal with such a daunting task, in the face of crippling uncertainty. The book The Alcoholic Republic, by W. J. Rorabaugh chronicles the evolving, ever present role of alcohol in the early years of our nation from a “Good Creature” to “Demon Rum.”[1] Rorabaugh shows fairly effectively how alcohol use in America was an essential artifact in our history, and that it was beneficial to our collective psychological health, early agricultural success, and eventually the source of moral unification in our nation. The book begins with a chapter that serves the purpose of showing contemporary readers the outrageous level of alcohol use in America in our early years. One of the most staggering statistics he gives that is the average consumption of distilled spirits between 1800 and 1830 exceeded 5 gallons per capita[2]. In comparison to modern alcohol use where the average American consumes roughly 2 gallons[3], the amount our forefathers imbibed was incredible. Early Americans also consumed large amounts of fermented beverages including beer, wine, and hard cider. Cider was the most popular of these, with an annual consumption of over 15 gallons[4]. These statistics are skewed by the fact that not all Americans drank. In the 1820s, the American Temperance Society gave an estimate saying that the 3 million men who drank regularly consumed 60 million gallons of distilled alcohol, or around a half pint per day[5]. Women and children also drank around 30 million gallons during this time period[6]. Children were often given alcohol at an early age so that they would become comfortable with the taste and customs of drinking. Rorabaugh states “Many a proud father glowed when his son became old enough to accompany him to the tavern where they could drink as equals from the same glass.”[7] This type of behavior in child rearing at the time perpetuated the cycle of alcohol use from one generation to the next. Women also drank, sometimes heavily, and consumed as much as a quarter of the annual consumption of liquor.[8] Women often avoided public drinking, instead choosing to drink in the home, in order to maintain an air of feminine delicacy.[9] In the early years of America, pubs and taverns played an important role in daily life, often serving as meeting places or makeshift courtrooms.[10] These taverns were monitored by the wealthy elite including judges and clergy members and they were often built next to a church or near the homes of these men so that they could observe and maintain some form of order while the common man drank.[11] This control by the elite fell away following the revolution. Many patriots met in taverns to drink, talk, organize, and encourage the growth of the revolutionary spirit.[12] Rorabaugh writes that “liberty from the Crown [was] somehow related to the freedom to down a few glasses of rum” and liberty poles were often erected in front of taverns.[13] Rorabaugh calls whiskey one of the “spirits of independence” because it allowed many early Americans to survive and make a living.[14] When American settlers began to move to the west, many of them farmed corn. They could then survive as self-sustaining farmers this way by eating mainly corn-based foods. However a farmer in the west could feed his family easily and have a major surplus of corn.[15] This surplus could then be distilled by the farmers to make whiskey. The whiskey they made could then be transported easily to the east, where the market was very good for that particular spirit.[16] These small distilleries began to die out and were replaced by larger, more efficient distilleries, though they continued to make use of the corn surplus and even small farmers saw some profits from this. [17] It was clear very early on that whisky would be one of the greatest and most widely imbibed alcoholic beverage in America. The impact of whiskey on early American life was incredible and in the book Rorabaugh focuses and entire chapter on it. He talks about different forms of alcohol that competed with whiskey, though none was nearly as popular. The very wealthy, including Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, Chief Justice John Marshall and Aaron Burr, drank imported wines such as the potent Madeira variety, though many viewed it as an elite drink which was counter to revolutionary ideals.[18] Many efforts were made to persuade American drinkers to make a switch to beer. Beer was, like whiskey, a product that could be properly made in the United States, and also like whiskey, it created a purpose for surplus agricultural products; in this case barley.[19] However beer didn't catch on until much later in history. Cider was the only drink that truly rivaled whiskey as far as the amount that the population consumed regularly. Chapters 5 and 6 of Rorabaugh's book are intriguing because he attempts to rationalize the alcoholism that became so interwoven into the lives of early 19th century Americans. The United States was still so very young during the time period that Rorabaugh focuses on and the instability of society at the time led to a high stress level. It was not uncommon for increasingly discouraged laborers or farm-hands to drink through the entire workday, though it was looked down upon.[20] Wealthy southern gentlemen, most of whom had recently come into their wealth through the emergence of the cotton industry, drank heavily as a result of their recent good fortunes coupled with a lack of knowledge about the manners associated with traditional elite.[21] Other Americans who were under great stress turned to the bottle such as college students, doctors, ministers, lumberjacks, and stage-coach drivers.[22] Rorabaugh quotes Edward Bourne in saying that the way that Americans drank alcohol “grew out of the anxieties of their condition.”[23] Americans eventually began to grow into patterns of drinking that involved heavy bingeing. This sort of drinking, called “communal bingeing,” usually occurred at events such as holidays, election days, hangings, or simply to achieve a sense of solidarity with members of a man's community.[24] Men also entered into patterns of drinking called “sprees” or “frolics” characterized by periods of bingeing, followed by a period of abstinence.[25] These types of behaviors led to health problems such as delirium tremens, which is a condition involving muscle spasms, hallucinations, anxiety, and potentially death.[26] The final chapter of Rorabraugh's book is a culmination of the evolving nature of American drinking habits over the fifty years since the revolution. During the 1820s, the temperance movement began to grow in popularity, due in part to the growth of religious interest in America during this time.[27] Temperance supporters treated their movement as a continuation o the revolutionary actions taken by the founding fathers. They released propaganda, encouraged people to sign a pledge against drinking, and read versions of the Declaration of Independence that replaced the name of King George III with “Prince Alcohol.”[28] Rorabaugh writes that the temperance movement, though unsuccessful, created a link between the religious, intellectual part of America, and the new, capitalism driven parts of the American psyche.[29] Rorabaugh's main idea in the book is that alcohol is symbolic of the American consciousness following the revolution. The turmoil and uncertainty that permeated everyday life in the period between roughly 1790 and 1830[30] caused an immense level of stress in the nation, and the drinking habits of the people during this time reflects this. As the nation grew and the way that Americans lived changed, so did the way they used alcohol. This all came to a head with the rise of the temperance movement, which brought the country into a new consciousness. I feel that the author was able to prove this idea of alcohol and its use as a symbol of the American mindset very well. The notion that America was just getting its feet wet in international politics while her citizens remained equally wet with drink brings this time period into perspective in a new way. The strongest parts of the book were the comparisons between the way that Americans were feeling and living with the way they were drinking. The descriptions of Americans distilling their own whiskey on the frontier[31] is a fantastic image of the unpolished, malleable America that had recently gained independence and was shaping its own destiny. The chapter on the anxiety and stress that Americans were feeling, which in turn led to a high level of alcohol use, shows the correlation between the crushing level of adversity many people felt and the absurd amount of alcohol consumed. I think that how he described the American consciousness as an evolving entity and how the temperance movement became a unifying part of our culture between the future and the past. I did feel that the book had a few weak points, though mainly because of some aspects of America that were left out or that did not receive enough discussion. One important group that was barely mentioned was the Native American population. We talked in class about the interactions between Americans and Indians, yet the book barely talks about them or any effects alcohol may have had on their culture. Rorabaugh also portrays America as a nation completely full of drunkards. He states that “half the adult males- one-eighth of the total population- were drinking two-thirds of all the distilled spirits consumed,”[32] though the rest of the book portrays the nation as if the entire nation was drinking this heavily. The number of Americans who were drinking to extreme excess was not actually as high as some parts of the book make it sound. His use of alcohol use by Americans as a symbol of the way that they felt and how the stresses of life were effecting them works well though and it seems that the ones who were drinking heavily provide a more interesting look at the way that society was forming in the new nation. Rorabaugh is successful in The Alcoholic Republic in examining the early generations of Americans following the revolution through the lens of their alcoholism. He proves that the excessive use of alcohol by Americans in the early 19th century was in correlation with the instability and hardships of life in the new United States. He displays the way that our use of alcohol evolved as our collective consciousness matured and our nation advanced into a future full of change and growth. © All information copyrighted to author of this essay -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 24,186 [2] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 8 [3] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 8 [4] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 9 [5] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 11 [6] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 11 [7] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 14 [8] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 12 [9] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 12 [10] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 27 [11] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 27 [12] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 35 [13] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 35 [14] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 92 [15] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 78 [16] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 80 [17] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 87 [18] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, pp. 102-104 [19] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 107 [20] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 132 [21] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 135 [22] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, pp.137-140 [23] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 146 [24] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 149-155 [25] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 163 [26] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 170 [27] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 191 [28] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, pp. 195-198 [29] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 220 [30] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 145 [31] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 76 [32] Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, p. 11 source..

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(29, March, 2011)
Founding Brothers
In the books Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis, he analyzes and focuses on the eight United State of America revolution political figures namely Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Adams, George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. He talks of how they struggled to overcome controversial issues and to ensure that they form the nation. By the use of a narrative, he is capable of capturing the objective that he wants to put forward about the revolution that occurred in the country during its birth. Eventually, he is able to attain his goals by use of every perspective and enough evidence to illustrate the American story in its totality.
Throughout the novel, he is able to convey conflicts that appeared among the political leaders and how this was interconnected in their personal relationship. Through the conflict that they brought in the country, the country that is now known as America came into existence. He wrote of the battle between Burr and Hamilton that emerges from their political rivalry.
This book discusses sets of remarkable events defining how America was to turn and how it will overcome the turbulent beginning that has been brought by the act of revolution. According to the book, the men who have been portrayed as the main characters and one woman, Abigal Adam are brought about very close to each other. This brings a sense of friendship on them, yet they only recognize themselves as political figures. They are also in search of history that will be ever remembered for years. They really know the importance that they have with some forcing it out through posterity.
Several events are discussed in the book. The first event that has been brought out is the duel. This event discusses the political violence that befallen the America as a state in its pursuit to revolution. The duel is about the famous pistol where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr have been used to show the kind of conflict that historical America passed through. The duel event shows the way revolution turns to an inevitable bloodbath looking at the way Hamilton was killed by Burr due to differences that are not well understood. This shows the state of martyrdom that the political leaders went through in their pursuit to liberate America and makes it an independent state.
The second event is a dinner. This crucial dinner was held by Thomas Jefferson that Hamilton and Madison had agreed to cut a deal that saved the union. According to the dinner, one of the most important things that were being discussed was that federal government was supposed to assume all the debts that were incurred during the revolution war of America. Hamilton suggested this. Through this, he wanted to ensure that this strengthen the national government by making the state be tied by paying the taxes back to the national government. His Federalist political Party co...
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