About the Books
This provocative new biography looks to the 1780s—the Age of the Constitution—to investigate the rise of a radical new idea in the English-speaking world: female genius.
The perfect exemplar of this phenomenon was Eliza Harriot Barons O’Connor, a path-breaking female educator who delivered a University of Pennsylvania lecture attended by George Washington as he and other Constitutional Convention delegates gathered in Philadelphia. As the first such public female lecturer, her courageous performance likely inspired the gender-neutral language of the Constitution.
Female Genius reconstructs Eliza Harriot’s transatlantic life, inspiring countless young American women to consider a college education and a role in the political forum. In recovering this pioneering life, this richly-illustrated book makes clear that America’s framing moment did not belong solely to white men and offers an inspirational transatlantic history of women who believed in education as a political right. Buy the Book
This unique biography emphasizes Thomas Jefferson’s genius with language and his ability to use the power of words to inspire and shape a nation. A man renowned for many talents, writing was one of the major activities of his life. All of his works—from his earliest correspondence; his essays and proclamations, his religious and scientific writings; his inaugural addresses; his addresses to Indian nations; and his exchanges with Washington, Madison, Hamilton, John and Abigail Adams, demonstrate his remarkable intelligence, prescient wisdom, and literary flair and reveal the man in all his complex and controversial brilliance.
Here readers will find a new appreciation of Jefferson as a whole, of his strengths and weaknesses, and particularly of the degree to which his writing skills are key to his personality and public career. Though Jefferson could wield his pen with unrivaled power, he was also a master of using words to both reveal and conceal from others and himself the complications, the inconsistencies, and the contradictions between his principles and his policies, between his head and his heart, and between his optimistic view of human nature and the realities of his personal situation and the world he lived in.
With high-minded ideals and bare-knuckle tactics, Samuel Adams led what could be called the greatest campaign of civil resistance in American history.
The Revolutionary returns Adams to his seat of glory, introducing us to the shrewd, eloquent, and intensely disciplined man who supplied the moral backbone of the American Revolution. A singular figure at a singular moment, he packaged and amplified the Boston Massacre. He helped to mastermind the Boston Tea Party. He employed every tool in an innovative arsenal to rally a town, a colony, and eventually a band of colonies behind him, creating the cause that created a country. For his efforts he became the most wanted man in America: When Paul Revere rode to Lexington in 1775, it was to warn Samuel Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason.
Here we see the transformation of Adams’s improbable life, from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, beguiling radical who mobilized the colonies. Arresting, original, and deliriously dramatic, this is a long-overdue chapter in the history of our nation.
George Washington died in 1799 and the myth-making began immediately thereafter. But what do we really know about him as an upper-class man?
Washington is frequently portrayed as tall, shrewd, determined, resilient, stalwart, and tremendously effective in action. But this aggressive and muscular version of Washington is largely a creation of the nineteenth century. Eighteenth-century ideals of upper-class masculinity preferred a man with refined aesthetic tastes, graceful and elegant movements, and the ability and willingness to clearly articulate his emotions. Valsania considers Washington's complexity and apparent contradictions in three main areas: his physical life, his emotional world, and his social persona. In each, he notes, the reality diverges from the legend quite drastically.
Here is the fascinating story of a living and breathing person who loved, suffered, moved, gestured, dressed, ate, and drank in ways that may be surprising to many Americans. In this accessible, detailed narrative, Valsania presents a full, complete portrait of Washington as readers have rarely seen him before: as a man, a son, a father, and a friend.