Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Last Founding Father - Harlow Unger

Sub-title: James Monroe and a Nations Call To Greatness

My expectations were low. For some reason I have always thought Monroe was a bit of a dud. Perhaps I was absent during my high school class when he was discussed, or had a teacher who didn't like him.  This book reversed my opinion and then some. It portrayed James Monroe as a dynamic and capable executive who has been often overlooked. He was indeed a powerful influence among the many Founding Fathers. After serving as a Congressman, Senator, Ambassador to France, Ambassador to Britain, Minister to Spain, Governor of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of War, and finally, America's fifth President, he was an eminently qualified political leader. Early in the book this sentence stood out: 

"Washington's three successors - John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, were mere caretaker presidents who left the nation  bankrupt, it's people deeply divided, it's borders under attack, and it's capital city in ashes".

The book begins in 1754 and the author writes convincingly, in strong language, the details of his career. Consider these sentences for example: 

"Monroe's presidency made poor men rich, turned politicaql allies into friends, and united a divided people as no president had done since Washington". 

"He created an era never seen before or since in American history . . . that propelled the nation and it's people to greatness".

It turned out to be an excellent book. It ably corrects the general belief that James Monroe belongs in the second row of our Founding Fathers. The author does  very good kob of describing his remarkable life of achievement and accomplishment. 

All Americans should read and enjoy this book.


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