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First principles : what our first four presidents learned from the Greeks and Romans, and how that shaped early America

by Ricks, Thomas E. (Author)

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Summary

Examines how the educations of America's first four presidents, and in particular their scholarly devotion to ancient Greek and Roman classics, informed the beliefs and ideals that shaped the nation's constitution and government. Full description

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Table of Contents:
  • The power of colonial classicism
  • Washington studies how to rise in colonial society
  • John Adams aims to become an American Cicero
  • Jefferson blooms at William & Mary
  • Madison breaks away to Princeton
  • Adams and the fuse of rebellion
  • Jefferson's declaration of the "American mind"
  • Washington: the noblest Roman of them all
  • The war strains the classical model
  • From a difficult war to an uneasy peace
  • Madison and the Constitution: balancing vice with vice
  • The Classical vision smashes into American reality
  • The revolution of 1800: the people, not the plebes
  • The end of American classicism
  • Epilogue: what we can do.
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