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The Founding Conservatives

How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution

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Description

“It is not only the cause, but our manner of conducting it, that will establish character.”
—John Dickinson, 1773
 
A nation at war and widespread mistrust of the mil­itary. A financial crash and an endless economic crisis. A Congress so divided it barely functioned. Bitter partisan disputes over everything from taxa­tion and the distribution of wealth to the role of banks and corporations in society. Welcome to the world of the Founding Fathers.
 
According to most narratives of the American Revolution, the founders were united in their quest for independence and steadfast in their efforts to create a stable, effective government. But the birth of our republic was far more complicated than many realize. The Revolution was nearly derailed by extremists who wanted to do too much, too quickly and who refused to rest until they had remade American society. If not for a small circle of conservatives who kept radicalism in check and promoted capitalism, a strong military, and the preservation of tradition, our country would be vastly different today.
 
In the first book to chronicle the critical role these men played in securing our freedom, David Lefer provides an insightful and gripping account of the birth of modern American conservatism and its impact on the earliest days of our nation.
 
Among these founding conservatives were men like John Dickinson, who joined George Washington’s troops in a battle against the British on July 4, 1776, and that same week drafted the Articles of Confederation; James Wilson, a staunch free-market capitalist who defended his home against a mob of radicals demanding price controls and in the process averted a bloody American equivalent to Bastille Day; Silas Deane, who mixed patriotism with profit seeking while petitioning France to aid America; and Robert Morris, who financed the American Revolution and founded the first bank and the first modern multinational corporation in the United States.
 
Drawing on years of archival research, Lefer shows how these and other determined founders cham­pioned American freedom while staying faithful to their ideals. In the process, they not only helped defeat the British but also laid the groundwork for American capitalism to thrive.
 
The Founding Conservatives is an intellectual adven­ture story, full of gunfights and big ideas. It is also an extraordinary reminder of the punishing battles our predecessors fought to create and maintain the free and prosperous nation we know today.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 29, 2013 – The American Revolution’s more conservative members get a second look in this solid new history. Lefer, a professor of engineering at N.Y.U.’s Polytechnic University, argues that American conservatism began not with the writings of Irish politician Edmund Burke, but with a handful of revolutionaries who’ve been overshadowed by their better-known founding brothers. The author focuses heavily on James Dickinson, whom Voltaire dubbed the “American Cicero” for his Farmer’s Letters newspaper column in The Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser, which in the 1760s rallied support against British taxes by encouraging colonists to boycott goods from England and publicly protest. Lefer also profiles Silas Deane, America’s first representative to France; Philip Schuyler, a major general who fought against the British; and Robert Morris, the merchant who helped fund the revolution. Again and again, the author emphasizes the moderation of his subjects (“The only time Dickinson seemed to lack moderation was when he was extolling its virtues”) as opposed to the “radicals” agitating for grander changes. Lefer does a great service by shedding new light on these “other” revolutionaries. But even though he acknowledges the dissimilarities between these men, as well as the fact that they did not form a political party, his modern labeling of them as “conservatives” feels forced, and it oversimplifies the complexities of the political discourse that was raging in the colonies.
The Founding Conservatives
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Jun 13, 2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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