Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers Study Guide

Founding Brothers, by Joseph J. Ellis, was published in 2000 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House Inc. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2001.

Through a series of six defining events from U.S. history, the author deftly explores the challenges faced by the Founding Fathers as they formed the new government of the United States after the Revolutionary War. He focuses his narrative around the most prominent members of the Revolutionary generation, whom he dubs, “Founding Brothers," a shift from their more commonly-used moniker of "Founding Fathers." They are: George Washington; John and Abigail Adams; Thomas Jefferson; Alexander Hamilton; James Madison; Benjamin Franklin; and Aaron Burr.

The book is split into seven sections, each of which focuses on either an event or an issue. Ellis attempts to examine the time not from a particular perspective, but from both foresight and hindsight. He attempts to impart both the "sense of urgency" felt at the time, and the improved perspective afforded by centuries of hindsight. His aim is to explore the relationships and conflicts that these particular men had, and the extent to which those personalities either shaped or were shaped by the turbulent period in which they lived and secured their historical reputations.