The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

by Joseph J. Ellis


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From Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis, the unexpected story of why the thirteen colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, would decide to subordinate themselves anew.

We all know the famous opening phrase of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this Continent a new Nation.” The truth is different. In 1776, thirteen American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states.

The Quartet is the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. These men, with the help of Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation, manipulating the political process to force the calling of the Constitutional Convention, conspiring to set the agenda in Philadelphia, orchestrating the debate in the state ratifying conventions, and, finally, drafting the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.

Ellis has given us a gripping and dramatic portrait of one of the most crucial and misconstrued periods in American history: the years between the end of the Revolution and the formation of the federal government. The Quartet unmasks a myth, and in its place presents an even more compelling truth—one that lies at the heart of understanding the creation of the United States of America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594720560
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

JOSEPH J. ELLIS is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Founding Brothers. His portrait of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, won the National Book Award. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, Ellen, his youngest son, three dogs, and a cat.

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Preface: Pluribus to Unum

Excerpted from "The Quartet"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Joseph J. Ellis.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface: Pluribus to Unum ix

Chapter 1 The Articles and the Vision 3

Chapter 2 The Financier and the Prodigy 29

Chapter 3 The Domain 65

Chapter 4 The Courting 85

Chapter 5 Madison's Moment 121

Chapter 6 The Great Debate 155

Chapter 7 Final Pieces 193

Appendix A The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union 221

Appendix B Constitution of the United States 233

Appendix C The Bill of Rights 247

Acknowledgments 249

Notes 251

Index 279

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The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating as the author explained who and how the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were completed. A must read if you enjoy history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Learned a lot about the early days of the nation and the writing of the Constitution. Started slow, but very good account of the various framers of the constitution.
Vanguard-06 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book, and recommend it for anyone looking to learn more about this time in US History. The author starts out with the advisory that you should never judge people from another time period by the standards of today. Good advice, which he sometimes fails to follow himself. The “Catch-22” with all historic pieces is no matter how deeply and well researched, the work is always filtered through the lens that the writer sees the world though. Here Mr. Ellis is very much in favor of the strong central government, with little truck for “the people”. He needlessly interjects current political issues on a couple of occasions, which jar you out of the flow. Despite that it was a fun, light quick read, which shows that the problems we have today are nothing new, nor is political infighting and self-interested dealing, on all sides. Keep your skeptics hat on and your enjoy yourself.
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