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This book covers the span of years between the end of the War and Washington’s presidency. This period is hardly mentioned by biographers or just called the wilderness years. The author said he felt these years helped Washington understand the weakness and problems facing the emerging country that helped him later as President. Larson writes about the Virginia planters putting his estate in order. When Washington traveled to check his frontier tracts in Pennsylvania and western Virginia he became worried. He found the inhabitants increasingly fractious and only sketchily loyal to the new nation. He worried that the western settlers may turn to Spain who controlled the mouth of the Mississippi river and the Western lands beyond.
The author said Washington believed that only a common interest supported by a vigorous central government and nourished commercial ties, could prevent the fragmentation of the large country. He recommends the building of canals which would benefit both private investors and the Nation as a whole. Larson reveals Washington writing to Henry Knox saying “Good God! There are combustibles in every State, which a spark may set fire to!”
When Congress called the Constitutional Convention in 1787 they wanted Washington to come and give stature to the proceedings. Washington was initially ambivalent about returning to politics. Washington sensed that division among the States threatened national liberty caused him to join the Constitutional convention in 1787. I really enjoyed Larson’s account by John Adams “John Adams groused, all anybody was likely to remember about the Revolution was “that Dr. Franklin’s electric rod smote the earth and out sprang George Washington. That Franklin electrified him and thence forward those two conducted all the policy, negotiations, legislation and War”
Larson describes Washington’s medical and dental problems and the pressure for Washington to be the president. The author brings to life the founders daily struggles to draw up a document that would preserve individual liberty while ensuring the new government’s supreme power and sovereignty. Larson identifies Washington’s three goals—“respect abroad, prosperity at home and development westward.” Larson did a lot of research and then wrote a readable history of a little discussed period of Washington’s life.
Edward J. Larson is a historian and legal scholar at Pepperdine University. He received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for history for his book “Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion.” Mark Bramhall did a good job narrating the book.
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Having secured victory and surrendered power, Washington looked to returning to his beloved home at Mount Vernon. Yet, the new nation was not finished with him -- nor he with it. Edward Larson magnificently tells the story of Washington's central role in creating a new government and ensuring it's establishment, a role that has too often been overlooked and under appreciated. Mark Bramhall's narration is perfect in every way, making this a great audiobok. Highly recommended!
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