The George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards.


The winner of the 2016 George Washington Book Prize Is

The Washingtons: George and Martha, “Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love.”

by Flora Fraser

A full-scale portrait of the marriage of the father and mother of our country, George and Martha Washington, "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love".

This brilliant account of the Washingtons' long union follows their public and domestic life from the early days in colonial Virginia 1759 through the struggle for independence, the presidency, and finally their return home to Mount Vernon.

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About the Author

A noted biographer whose work has focused on the women behind the great men of history has won the 2016 George Washington Prize. Flora Fraser was awarded the $50,000 prize for her book The Washingtons: George and Martha, “Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love.”

“I feel greatly the honor that has been accorded The Washingtons,” Fraser said. “George and Martha’s marriage was an inspiring partnership to chart. The George Washington Prize, fruit of another partnership among three distinguished homes of learning, Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is an accolade which I shall long treasure.”

“Flora Fraser’s book The Washingtons opens a whole new vista on Martha and George Washington’s married life,” said James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. “Through Fraser’s stylish prose, this iconic couple becomes more human and accessible. The result is a wonderful read.”

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Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

by Mary Sarah Bilder

James Madison's Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution's creation. No document provides a more complete record of the deliberations in Philadelphia or depicts the Convention's charismatic figures, crushing disappointments, and miraculous triumphs with such narrative force.

But, this investigation that draws on digital technologies and traditional textual analysis to trace Madison's composition reveals that Madison revised the Notes to a far greater extent than previously recognized. The Notes began as a diary of the Convention's proceedings, but were abandoned for seven years. He did not return to finish them until several years later, largely for Thomas Jefferson. By the time he returned to finish, Madison's views were influenced by the new government's challenges and Thomas Jefferson's political ideas. Madison's evolving vision of republican government, his Virginia allegiances, his openness to constitutional protection for slavery, his fascination with the finer points of political jockeying, and his depictions of Alexander Hamilton and Charles Pinckney shifted during the writing and rewriting of his account. When the Notes were finally published in 1840, the layers of revision were invisible.

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

by Kathleen DuVal

In the Revolutionary Era, while citizens of the thirteen rebelling colonies came to blows with the British Empire over tariffs and parliamentary representation, the situation on the rest of the continent was even more fraught.

Mobile slave Petit Jean organized militias to fight the British at sea; Chickasaw diplomat Payamataha worked to keep his people out of war; New Orleans merchant Oliver Pollock and his wife, Margaret O'Brien Pollock, risked their own wealth to organize funds and garner Spanish support for the American Revolution and half-Scottish-Creek leader Alexander McGillivray fought to protect indigenous interests from European imperial encroachment; Cajun refugee Amand Broussard, spent a lifetime in conflict with the British.

All these activities by people living outside the colonies were of critical importance to the war's outcome.

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Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader

by Robert Middlekauff

A vivid and insightful account of George Washington's growth in confidence and experience as a young soldier, businessman, and Virginia gentleman and his transformation into a patriot by the revolutionary ferment of the 1760's and 70's.

In taking command of an army in constant and dire need of adequate food, weapons and often clothing, Washington displayed incredible persistence and resourcefulness as he became a leader who both understood and defined the crucial role of the army in the formation of a new American society.

Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World

by Janet Polasky

This expansive history explores how the revolutionary ideas that spurred the American and French revolutions reverberated far and wide, connecting European, North American, African, and Caribbean peoples more closely than ever before.

Nation-based histories cannot do justice to the rowdy, radical interchange of ideas around the Atlantic world during the tumultuous years from 1776 to 1804 while national borders were powerless to restrict the flow of enticing new visions of human rights and universal freedom. Eighteenth-century travelers spread new notions of liberty and equality long before the days of instant communications and social media or even an international postal system.

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Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

by David L. Preston

On July 9, 1755, British regulars and American colonial troops under the command of General Edward Braddock, commander in chief of the British Army in North America, were attacked by French and Native American forces shortly after crossing the Monongahela River and while making their way to besiege Fort Duquesne in the Ohio Valley, a few miles from what is now Pittsburgh.

The long line of red-coated troops struggled to maintain cohesion and discipline as Indian warriors quickly outflanked them and used the dense cover of the woods to masterful and lethal effect. Within hours, a powerful British army was routed, its commander mortally wounded, and two-thirds of its forces casualties in one the worst disasters in military history which altered the balance of power in America, and escalated the fighting into a global conflict known as the Seven Years' War.

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War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation

by John Sedgwick

In the summer of 1804, two of America's most eminent statesmen squared off, pistols raised, on a bluff along the Hudson River. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr, had been compatriots, colleagues, and even friends, but above all they were rivals.

Matching each other's ambition and skill as lawyers in New York, they battled for power along political fault lines that would not only decide the future of the United States, but define it.

About the George Washington Book Prize

The George Washington Book Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards. Now in its tenth year, the $50,000 George Washington Book Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on early American history. The prize ranks among the largest and most prestigious honors in the publishing industry.

The three institutions that sponsor the prize — Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon — are devoted to furthering historical scholarship that contributes to the public understanding of the American past.

Beyond merely promoting new scholarly works and research developments, the award pays special attention to works that have the potential to inspire the public at large to learn more about American history.

Browse our collection of previous winners and nominees of the George Washington Book Prize.

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Past Winners

2016
Flora Fraser,
The Washingtons: George and Martha, “Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love.” (Knopf)
2015
Nick Bunker,
An Empire on Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf)
2014
Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy,
The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale)
2013
Stephen Brumwell,
George Washington: Gentleman Warrior (Quercus)
2012
Maya Jasanoff,
Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf)
2011
Pauline Maier,
Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1789 (Simon & Schuster)
2010
Richard Beeman, 
Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House)
2009
Annette Gordon-Reed, 
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton)
2008
Marcus Rediker,
The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking)
2007
Charles Rappleye,
Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution (Simon & Schuster)
2006
Stacy Schiff,
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (Henry Holt)
2005
Ron Chernow,
Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press)

 

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