Late last week I received in the mail a package containing the books your see above. This is James Thomas Flexner’s four-volume biography of George Washington, which the author published from the mid-1960s into the early-1970s. I won’t go too much into the details here and now but reading Flexner’s history of the first president will be part of some projects I have planned for 2019. I am already making a list of various interpretive possibilities. It may seem like a marked digression from my previous endeavors but that would be less accurate than it might seem; one of the major themes of my book manuscript, Incorporating New York, is that the Civil War generation was a bridge from the years of the Early Republic to the modern city and nation. That is one of the reasons I was so keyed up to see the Schuyler family plot in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery last week. Just as one example of such threads: Eliza Hamilton Schuyler was the granddaughter of both Philip Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, John Jay and Isaac Roosevelt were three of the delegates who voted in favor of the adoption of the United States Constitution in Poughkeepsie in 1788.
I intend to start volume one of Flexner’s series after the holidays. I am a tabula rasa with the Founding Fathers. I started building a foundation by reading James McGregor Burns’s and Susan Dunn’s slim George Washington, part pf the late Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s The American Presidents series, and am continuing now with Harlow Giles Unger’s “Mr. President” George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office.” These historians have extensive experience already on the presidents; Burns wrote two authoritative volumes on Franklin D. Roosevelt and Unger penned the authoritative modern biography of John Quincy Adams.
Enjoy- some great reading ahead!! Let us know what you think of the book!
Keith Muchowski said:
Hans, thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely share what I learn along the way. BTW, earlier this afternoon I went in to St. Paul’s Chapel on Lower Broadway for a few minutes. Washington attended services at St. Paul’s while president. I am hoping to put New York City and State within the larger context of American history by telling stories like these. I think people too often forget about the Empire State’s outsized role in American history.
I love those big reading projects- I recently started the 4 volume biography on Robert E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman… I agree with you about NY.. I wonder how many American’s could identify where the first Capital of the US was located? NY played a big role in US History.
Keith Muchowski said:
Freeman also wrote a seven volume biography of Washington.