37 pages 1 hour read

Joseph J. Ellis

American Creation

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2007

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Foreword-Chapter 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Foreword Summary

In his brief Foreword, Joseph Ellis explains that the origins of this book lie in the 2000 presidential election, in which George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore but still won the presidency through Electoral College votes. People asked Ellis why the country’s founders instituted such a system, and why the candidates for president in 2000 seemed so inferior to statesmen like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Seeking to explain the latter question, Ellis put together stories of both successes and failures from the last 25 years of the 18th century, which became this book.

Prologue Summary: “The Founding”

The Prologue summarizes the important accomplishments of the last quarter of the 18th century. Simply put, the US created a new form of government that, over the next two centuries, would outlast competing forms to become the norm worldwide. George Washington argued that this success was the result of both timing and geography. First, the new nation formed at the height of the Enlightenment, which championed revolutionarily liberal ideas about government. Second, America had large amounts of valuable natural resources, allowing it to more easily become independent—advantages that still had to be managed well.