Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
If you are looking for a book that dives into early American political history from a different viewpoint than you get with most books, then you might be interested in Joanne B. Freemanís Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. Through this book, Ms. Freeman explores the relationship of the first American politicians and how American shaped itself politically from the beginning.
America was a testing ground for a new form of government in the 18th century. This was the first time a nation had shrugged off the rule of a larger empire and turned to a more democratic reign. A monarchy had been pushed aside, and the people stepped up to rule a nation. There was no precedent for this. Everything was new. Everything was being entered into with no guide map to take the young nation down the path they had chosen.
In Affairs of Honor, Ms. Freeman uses letters, diaries, and minutes of meetings in the new government to explore the intricate relationship between each man chosen to lead the nation and how they stumbled about trying to find the right way to successfully carry the new nation of The United Stated of America forward into a whole new world.
Ms. Freeman takes two sections and explores the uniqueness of the early American political stage and what the nation had to lose if it did not work out right. She then dives into how the tongue became one of the biggest forces that shaped today political culture. Slander, rumors, and downright gossip were the driving forces of early America and created a unique political culture that many other nations had trouble understanding including those within the American political world.
She then goes into the importance of correspondence and diaries in developing political relationships. The detailed writings of many of the first congressmen were overlooked for decades, but Ms. Freeman uses them to show how the early Congress interacted and the political stage evolved.
There is even a section discussing the importance of duels and the difference in how they were used in America compared to the rest of the European world. So much shaped early America and eventually the political world we live in today that the average person is unaware of. They have no idea how duals, newspapers, leaked letters, and gossip created America today.
This is a very interesting book that anyone who is interested in deep American history will enjoy and find educational. You might even find yourself referencing it more than you would have imagined.
Note: This book was used in an American history class taken by the author.