Washington: A Life

Ron Chernow

Language: English

Pages: 928

ISBN: 0143119966

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub



A gripping portrait of the first president of the United States from the author of Alexander Hamilton, the New York Times bestselling biography that inspired the musical.

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

“Truly magnificent… [a] well-researched, well-written and absolutely definitive biography” –Andrew Roberts, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb… the best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.” –Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books

“A truly gripping biography of George Washington... I can’t recommend it highly enough—as history, as epic, and, not least, as entertainment. It’s as luxuriantly pleasurable as one of those great big sprawling, sweeping Victorian novels.”  –Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical Hamilton has sparked new interest in the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers. In addition to Alexander Hamilton, the production also features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Aaron Burr, Lafayette, and many more.

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clapped them into jails with common criminals, Washington flew into a rage. He was furious that American prisoners were being mistreated and that officers were being mingled with other prisoners. He protested that Gage had shown “no consideration . . . for those of the most respectable rank when languishing with wounds and sickness.” In demanding better treatment, Washington appealed to “the rights of humanity and claims of rank” and threatened to retaliate against British captives.36 Two days

Washington was shocked to meet these fifty Virginians and learn that they had exchanged fire with Hessian sentries, raising the appalling specter that the Hessians had been alerted to the Continental Army’s advent. Under questioning, Captain George Wallis told Washington they had acted under instructions from Stephen. Washington summarily hauled the latter into his presence. “You, sir!” Washington scolded him. “You, sir, may have ruined all my plans by having put them on their guard.”26 Those

from Virginia, North Carolina, and other parts and seizing upon their slaves in the streets of New York or even dragging them out of their beds.”21 Carleton claimed that the British had pledged not to carry off slaves but never promised to restore them to owners. He left open the possibility of compensating the owners of slaves who had fled after hostilities ended and claimed to be keeping a register of former slaves for this purpose. Washington insisted that slaves would give false names and

with all due speed. In a touching farewell, George Washington Lafayette wrote to his godfather how grateful he was for his efforts to rescue his real father and how happy he had been to form a temporary part of his family. Washington fully reciprocated the feeling. When young Lafayette was reunited with his father, he handed him a letter from Washington, who said that young Lafayette was “highly deserving of such parents as you and your amiable Lady.”56 The boy’s family were astonished at how

2:56. “Address to Charles Thomson,” April 14, 1789. 10. WWR,730. Diary entry for April 16, 1789. 11. Fields, “Worthy Partner,” 213. 12. Freeman, George Washington, 6:166. 13. PWP, 2:78. “To the Delaware Society for Promoting Domestic Manufacturers,” April 19-20, 1789. 14. Wood, Revolutionary Characters, 50. 15. Kaminski and McCaughan, Great and Good Man, 104. 16. Ibid., 109. 17. PWP, 2:102. 18. Freeman, George Washington, 6:175. 19. PWP, 2:108. “To the Ladies of Trenton,” April 21,

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