The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in the newest volume in the series, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812.
As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life-in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. The leaders also hope to see the end of slavery; instead, despite the release of many slaves and the end of slavery in the North, slavery was stronger in 1815 than it had been in 1789. Many wanted to avoid entanglements with Europe, but instead the country became involved in Europe's wars and ended up waging another war with the former mother country. Still, with a new generation emerging by 1815, most Americans were confident and optimistic about the future of their country.
Named a New York Times Notable Book, Empire of Liberty offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation.
Take a Look Inside the Empire of Liberty [Click on Images to Enlarge]
George Washington (1732–1799): This portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1797 was the one rescued by Dolley Madison in 1814 when the British burned the White House.
(Library of Congress)
Lyon-Griswold Brawl (1798): Outraged by this brawl on the floor of the House of Representatives, many concluded that Congress had become contemptible in the eyes of all “polite or genteel” societies. (Library of Congress)
Washington, D.C. in 1801: The nation’s capital remained for years primitive and desolate, with muddy streets, a swampy climate, and unfinished government buildings that stood like Greek temples in a deserted ancient city. (Library of Congress)
Capture of the City of Washington: In 1814 the British army set fire to many public buildings here. Although this was considered a violation of the laws of war, they were probably retaliating for the Americans’ burning of buildings in the Canadian capital, York (Toronto). (Library of Congress)
Shakers: The name “Shakers” was originally pejorative, mocking the religious group’s rituals of trembling, dancing, and shaking. Their commitment to celibacy kept a rigid separation of the sexes, even in dancing, as this illustration shows. (Library of Congress)