Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle

Scribner. Feb. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781501154232. $30. BIOG
Former White House speechwriter Horn (The Man Who Would Not Be Washington) examines the last two years (1797-1799) of George Washington’s life, providing a portrait of a figure who still held political influence upon leaving office. The author is at his best when revealing the political dynamics of the Federalists as well as the Democratic-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s. Bitterness and intrigue developed between political factions, which Washington warned about in his notable 1796 farewell address, and the former president’s stance of neutrality towards the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte only added to the divide. Horn details the politician’s efforts to return to private life at Mount Vernon, and considers the role of slavery and Washington’s views on the institution. Of note is a fascinating section on how Washington influenced the development of his namesake city: Washington, DC.
VERDICT An outstanding biographical work on one of America’s most prominent leaders. Highly recommended for those who want to better understand the early republic.

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