Founding Brothers

Why did Ellis choose the characters that he did?

The main characters

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Ellis wanted to extend his work in "Founding Fathers" to consider why some historical narratives persist, while others do not. It isn't merely the men he chose to write about but rather the collaboration of these men that would define America's social and political world (like slavery, posterity, truth...) All these men played a part in how most Americans view their world today. Ellis considers collaboration central to the success of the early Union, and he examines the ways in which it both worked and failed. Many noted collaborations appear within Founding Brothers, including: Washington’s reliance on Hamilton during the first days of the republic; Jefferson and Madison’s creation of the Republican party in opposition to the Federalists; the agreement brokered during the famed dinner Jefferson held for Madison and Hamilton; and most notably, Adams’ and Jefferson’s joint effort to secure a peace treaty from France to end the Revolutionary War. Although the author spends a considerable amount of time on the collaboration, and subsequent lack thereof, between Adams and Jefferson, it is the collaboration between Adams and his wife Abigail that is truly unique. When politics tore former allies apart, Adams found solace in a relationship unsullied by such concerns. In trying to understand why the Revolution and early republic were successful, Ellis examines the ways in which people work together, or fail to do so.