From the age of six to ninety-six, Alexander Hamilton’s story is now being told to a lot of people in the US every day. This is thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton: An American Musical. Miranda moved and shaked things up with his ideas. But Hamilton isn’t the only founding father who had an important role in the birth of the United States. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were also important.
From John Adams, a self-proclaimed misanthrope, to Benjamin Franklin, a virtuous polymath, each founding father has a story that should be told. If you’re hungry for American history, we’ve found nine books about these important men that will do the trick. Who knows? You might be inspired to write the next big hit musical about John Jay.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin By Benjamin Franklin
In his autobiography, which was written between the years of 1771 and 1790, Benjamin Franklin talks about everything that happened in his life. His childhood, when he moved from Boston to Philadelphia, is covered in the four sections. They also include his work as a printer’s apprentice and his scientific experiments. Finally, he was a good adult. As Franklin writes, he shows how he tried to improve both his morals and his writing. In the book, Franklin’s wise words come to life. We all love Franklin.
Washington By James Thomas Flexner
This four-volume biography was given a special Pulitzer Prize citation, won the National Book Award for its last volume, and has become a classic in the United States. Washington was a very complicated person, and Flexner spent a lot of time talking about him. Though he was a good husband, Washington had feelings for his best friend’s wife. As an amateur soldier, he bought books on military strategy from Philadelphia bookshops in preparation for his role as the Continental Army’s commander in chief. As the first president of the United States, he set many rules that still apply today, including the two-term limit on the office. The book Flexner wrote is very detailed about all of these parts of Washington’s life.
The Wisdom of Thomas Jefferson By Thomas Jefferson, edited by Kees De Mooy
Alexander Hamilton was not the only one who was both a “hero and a scholar.” Jefferson was a diplomat, a statesman, an inventor, an architect, and the third president of the United States, but he was also a lot of other things. It’s called The Wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, and it’s a collection of quotes from Jefferson’s letters, official communications, and other writings. It gives people an idea of Jefferson’s dynamism, intelligence, and unparalleled curiosity. The collection is a good picture of Jefferson as an enlightened person who wrote about a lot of different things, like Native American rights and freedom, the French political climate, his architectural tastes, and even his money problems.
John Adams By David McCullough
In David McCullough’s John Adams, John Adams is often called one of the best biographies of Adams ever written. That’s because it is so good. This best-selling biography won the Pulitzer Prize. It was used as the basis for the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries of the same name, which won three Emmy Awards.
Adams’ unique traits, from his irascible personality to his unwavering honesty, are shown in great detail. Adams was a smart, independent person who gave everything up to make the American Revolution work. As time went on, he rose to become the second president of the United States, and he kept his country safe from war. McCullough’s biography of John Adams is a fascinating, all-encompassing account of every part of Adams’ life, from his love for Abigail Adams to his political career. When you read “John Adams,” you don’t just read about politics and social issues. It’s also a story about human nature and how people can be good or bad.
James Madison and the Making of America By Kevin R. C. Gutzman
Gutzman looks past James Madison’s title as “The Father of the Constitution.” Instead, he focuses on the founding father’s many different sides. In the biography, Madison isn’t made into a hero. Instead, Gutzman tells us a real-life story about how Madison played many different roles in his life. He was a drafter of the Bill of Rights and Constitution, a co-founder of the first American political party, Secretary of State, President, and more. Usually, when people talk about Madison’s legacy, they don’t talk about how he broke up the state church in Virginia and made the Statute for Religious Freedom law. Gutzman, on the other hand, makes sure to put these accomplishments in front of the reader. James Madison and the Making of America is going to be the book that everyone reads about the fourth president of the United States.
What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States By James F. Simon
President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall fought for a long time, but their fight helped set the rules for how the executive and judicial branches of the United States government work together. Jefferson was a strong supporter of the rights of each state, while Marshall wanted a strong central government. In American politics, this feud is still going on more than 100 years after it began.
This book by James F. Simon tells the early history of our country and shows us how hard it was to balance the federal government’s power with the rights of the states. In What Kind of Nation, an easy-to-read double biography of Jefferson and Marshall, both of whom were great statesmen and skilled politicians, we learn about the men’s long-term impact on American government.
John Jay By Walter Stahr
John Jay, who is often forgotten, was one of the most important founding fathers and a key figure in the early days of the American Republic. His picture comes to life because Stahr has a lot of information that previous biographers didn’t have. Since nearly 70 years, Stahr’s book about John Jay is the first one about him.
When you read this book, you will learn about both Jay’s private and public lives. While Jay is the star of the show, Stahr also tells the story of Jay’s wife, Sarah, who was always there for him when he went on diplomatic missions during the war. To put it another way: Even though Jay has been forgotten by history, this biography brings him back into the spotlight.
The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers By Thomas Fleming
They were truly great men, but why don’t we hear about the women who helped them every step of the way?
In Thomas Fleming’s book, Intimate Lives, he talks about how important women were in the lives of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, and how important they were to their lives. Hamilton tells the story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and how she had a big impact on every part of Hamilton’s life, but most of the other founding fathers’ wives stay out of the way, too. Fleming tries to solve this problem by taking readers on a journey through the early days of the United States, when the founding fathers and their wives had a hard time meeting the needs of both their public and private lives.
Alexander Hamilton By Ron Chernow
Last but not least, Ron Chernow has written the definitive biography of Alexander Hamilton, which is a New York Times bestseller by this Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Ron Chernow. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, which was inspired by Chernow’s biography, will become an American classic. If it isn’t already, it will be. Miranda, after reading the bio, noticed that Hamilton’s life had a lyrical flow that was a lot like hip-hop. It might be because Chernow tells the story of the founding father so quickly.
Hamilton’s life, when you think about it, is really the perfect example of hip-hop. He inspired, galvanized, shocked, and beat all the odds against him. He wrote his way out of a bad situation by writing about how to get out of it. In many ways, we owe our country’s current political and economic strength to Hamilton. He made many sacrifices to push forward ideas that were not popular at the time. Chernow’s Hamilton is not a person who only thinks about himself. He also has a lot of patriotism and a strong desire to see the United States do well. Chernow says that “to deny his legacy is, in many ways, to deny the world we live in today.”