HISTORY

The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation

Viking. Sept. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9781101980040. $36. HIST
COPY ISBN
As Cheney (James Madison) reminds readers, Virginians and Founding Fathers—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe—were four of the first five presidents of the United States, presiding for 32 of the nation’s first 36 years. It wasn’t a lockstep progression, however. Washington was a Federalist even before the nation had political parties; Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were Republicans, their positions defined in opposition to Federalist goals. Nor did the four, or any two among them, always get along, although the tensions were set aside once all were out of office. The realities of governing a new country led the three Republicans to reverse positions on key issues at times: Jefferson achieved the Louisiana Purchase, Madison supported reestablishment of a national bank after the War of 1812, and Monroe purchased Florida. Cheney effectively describes how, in these instances, purity of position proved less important than advancing the nation’s interests.
VERDICT Bringing these men together as a group draws attention to how their thought and action unfolded in response to new challenges and dispels any illusion that they were a monolithic bloc. Cheney is an adept writer who makes no wrong steps. Perfect for history buffs, though little new ground is tread.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month