The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers (The Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – 25 Sep 2009
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About the Author
BRION MCCLANAHAN is a history professor at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and a faculty member at Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom. He has written for humanevents.com, townhall.com, lewrockwell.com, and tenthamendmentcenter.com.
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The book is divided into two parts with the first touching on several contemporary myths about the Founders. Here you will find excellent dismissals of the myths surrounding the Founding generation's supposed egalitarianism and support for democracy. McClanahan demonstrates what any honest and knowledgeable historian of the period knows; the Founders did not believe in equality as it is presently conceived and they certainly were not unreserved advocates for democratic government. In doing this McClanahan reminds us that the Founders created a Federal Republic, not a mass, egalitarian democracy, and an appreciation of the differences between these forms of government is an essential starting point to understanding the history of the early American Republic.
Other myths exposed include Benjamin Franklin's legendary brood of illegitimate children, Alexander Hamilton's homosexuality and George Washington's alleged affair with Sally Fairfax, his neighbor's wife. And, of course, what expose' of founding myths would be complete without a discussion of Thomas Jefferson's supposed affair with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, the evidence for which is circumstantial and inconclusive although it is often asserted as fact these days.
McClanahan also does an excellent job of demonstrating just how conservative the American Revolution actually was in that American Patriots were not asserting radical new doctrines inspired by Enlightenment philosophers but principles grounded in the traditions of English liberty and American colonial experience. This was the key feature of the American Revolution and why it differed so remarkably from that of the French.
Also on offer are brief but thought-provoking discussions of several important contemporary issues like gun control, the role of religion in American life, federalism, and monetary policy, all in relation to what the Founders would have thought about these issues if they were alive today.
As good as the first part of the book is, however, the best is probably the brief biographical sketches of the Founding Fathers themselves. The "Big Six" are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. McClanahan delves into each man's life with an eye to expose the modern, presentistic mythology that has encased these men in the popular imagination, and we find that while the names are familiar much of who these men really were has been lost or willfully forgotten. McClanahan uncovers them for everyone to see.
In addition to the "Big Six," McClanahan rediscovers 14 "forgotten founders" that every American should know about. These include names such as Elbridge Gerry, from whom we get the term "gerrymander," the great partisan warrior Francis Marion, inspiration of Mel Gibson's The Patriot and John Taylor of Caroline. We are also treated to very iconoclastic and revealing reappraisal of John Marshall as both a member of the Founding generation and early American jurist.
In all, this is an outstanding introduction to the Founders, one that is an antidote to the indoctrination so many Americans receive in school and the popular media when the topic is the beginnings of the United States. It is highly recommended and makes for the perfect gift for yourself or someone with a yearning to know more about the Founding Fathers.
For all those fans of the Jay Leno television Walking Tours who were constantly shocked of the level of ignorance in the general public as demonstrated by his perfectly normal appearing tourists that Jay asked simple questions to at "Universal City," this book answers many of the questions that none of Jay's clueless average American tourists could answer even after he gave them clues. You know, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb" or "Who is Washington D.C. named after?" This book is a long overdue correction of the media and educational record. The honor of the title of the "Greatest Generation" belongs to "the Founders, the men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of liberty and independence...The Founding generation has no equal, and it deserves to be rescued from politically correct textbooks, teachers, and professors who want to dismiss the Founder as cadre of dead, white, sexist, slave-holding males."
"De-emphasizing, or disparaging, men like Washington, Jefferson, and Henry serves a purpose. It is meant to sever our attachment to, and our respect for, the Founders and their principles and to replace them with the Left's own ideal of a living' Constitution that better reflects our increasing diverse nation and the interests..."
"The irony is that the Founders had a better understanding of the problems we face today than do our own members of Congress." This book will help explain why all of this is true and why the myths and falsehoods about the Founding Fathers have purposely been perpetrated by the educational system and the liberal media.
This volume tries to correct these myths such as the Founders "created a democracy." They created a republic and greatly feared a pure democracy. In addition to correcting the widely held myths, the first part of the book also explains "A Conservative Revolution" that is what "The Declaration of Independence," "The U.S. Constitution" together with its "Bill of Rights" really was. The third section of the book's First Part spells out the issues facing us today, but that were foreseen by the Founders and how they devised a way to handle them centuries into the future.
Part II gives great biographical sketches of the "The Big Six" of the Founding Fathers--Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Franklin. It then discusses several of the almost completely forgotten and ignored Founders--Adams, Carroll, Clinton (George not our Bill), Hancock and others most Americans have never heard have. The conclusion of the book is entitled "What the Founding Fathers Would Do" if they were here now. That includes radical ideas such as "Follow the Constitution," "Cut Federal Spending and Reduce the Public Debt," "Eliminate Taxes...," "Reassert State Control over State Issues," and "Preserve the Bill of Rights." The book also explains why the author can say this without actually having spoken to the individual "Founders." It is possible to read and study their own thoughts and words on all these subjects and to then study their actions. Unlike today, the Founders seldom said one thing and then did exactly the opposite. And because of their personal experiences, they predicted many of the current problems facing American and tried to set up a system to avoid, or later, correct them. The book includes a excellent index and bibliography to help the reader double-check anything he might find difficult to believe or understand.
While this review may seem too much like an outline, the book is actually quite fascinating, especially the biographies and the events surrounding the people in those biographical portraits. This is what is never taught in American Schools anymore. This is why Americans are so ignorant of what their government is doing to them. This is why they don't know how to correct what their elected, and now many non-elected and unanswerable officials are doing to them. This book should be required reading in every high school and college in America. It's pretty interesting and even the students in our poorest public schools could comprehend it. After all, one of the few good results of all the texting, tweeting, computering going on today is that the users have to both read and write. The social websites are helping to correct the deficits in learning to read, write and understand that aren't being taught in most American schools. They are actually becoming a wonderful media that opens the whole world to the users of these personal communication devices.
This book is the latest in a series of "Politically Incorrect Guides" and for people who wish to better understand Capitalism and The Great Depression and the New Deal, and other important subjects, these guides are a wonderful starting point.
Dr. McClanahan should be breaking down every difficult subject for Americans into 'politically incorrect' guides, he's great at it!!! this is my two cents!!
things i didn't like stopping points to read the fun facts were far and few in between.