Tuesday, January 12, 2016

George Washington's Journey by T.H. Breen

book cover
George Washington's Journey:
by T.H. Breen

ISBN-13: 9781451675429
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
T.H. Breen introduces us to a George Washington we rarely meet. During his first term as president, he decided that the only way to fulfill the Revolution was to take the new federal government directly to the people. He organized an extraordinary journey carrying him to all thirteen states. It transformed American political culture.

For Washington, the stakes were high. If the nation fragmented, as it had almost done after the war, it could never become the strong, independent nation for which he had fought. In scores of communities, he communicated a powerful and enduring message—that America was now a nation, not a loose collection of states. And the people responded to his invitation in ways that he could never have predicted.

My Review:
George Washington's Journey described President Washington's efforts to unite the 13 states into a nation by personally visiting each state. Washington realized that winning a war for freedom doesn't guarantee the formation a stable and prosperous nation. Americans were thinking in terms of state and local interests, but they needed to think of national interests if the new government was going to succeed. Washington visited each of the original 13 states in an effort to unite the people behind a strong federal government and to hear their concerns.

The author described Washington's inaugural journey (from home to the capital) and his tour of the states. Washington toured the northern states in 1789 and the southern states in 1791. The author didn't give a day-by-day description of the travels but instead grouped similar incidents and analyzed what was going on. He described various things that Washington and the people did that helped define how the president should be addressed, treated, and how he should interact with the people who elected him.

There were many quotes from Washington's diary, various letters, and newspaper accounts. These quotes helped to show how people at the time viewed the events. The author also gave the context of what was happening so we could understand Washington's motives or the significance of various interactions. The author did a good job of showing events within the context of the time period rather than purely through hindsight.

I found the book to be an interesting, easy read that brought that period in history alive for me. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy learning about early American history.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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