Tag Archives: American history

Book Review – American Gospel

American Gospel book coverAmerican Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham tells the story of how the Founding Fathers viewed faith and politics and their delicate balancing act creating a nation where religion can shape public life without controlling it. Meacham uses historical context and the Founding Fathers own words to successfully argue that America is neither a Christian nation nor a completely secular one. Succinctly and well written, Meacham provides a balanced look at American history through the lens of religion. “It is, rather, a habit of mind and heart that enables Americans to be at once tolerant and reverent—two virtues of relevance to all, for the Founders’ public religion is consummately democratic. When a president says “God bless America” or when we sing “America! America! God shed his grace on thee,” each American is free to define God in whatever way he chooses. A Christian’s mind may summon God the Father; a Jew’s, Yahweh; a Muslim’s, Allah; an atheist’s, no one, or no thing. Such diversity is not a prescription for dissension. It is part of the reality of creation.” I recommend this reading this book, especially in such a time of divisiveness because it reminds us that the United States was founded on the unity we find through our Creator (whoever or whatever that might be) endowing all humans with the same inalienable rights.

Book Review – The Quartet

The Quartet book coverThe Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis’ new book looks at what he terms “the second American Revolution,” bringing thirteen disparate states into one United States through the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Ellis postulates that it was four men, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, who were instrumental in bringing about the Constitutional Convention and subsequent ratification of American nationhood. Ellis paints a profound picture of the obstacles that “the quartet” faced in turning states very much focused on their own issues and just finished fighting a strong central government structure into accepting a national republic. Just as in his previous book, Revolutionary Summer, which detailed the incredible circumstances surrounding the beginning of the war for independence, Ellis uses straightforward prose to discuss a dramatic, complicated and precarious time in American history. By all accounts, the fact that the United States just celebrated its 240th birthday is astonishing and truly impressive.