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Historical Background

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Suggested Reading

Founders and Frontiersmen
Suggested Reading

General Works

CUNLIFFE, MARCUS. The Nation Takes Shape, 1789-1837 (The Chicago History of American Civilization Series). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959; available in paperback. A concise and readable analysis of the development and nature of the American character by a noted English historian.

DE TOCQUEVILLE, ALEXIS. Democracy in America. The Henry Rowe text as revised by Francis Bowen; edited by Phillips Bradley, 2 vols. New York: Knopf, 1945; available in paperback. This classic work, originally published in 1835, records the highly perceptive impressions of the Frenchman de Tocqueville during his visit to the United States, in 1831-32.

HOFSTADTER, RICHARD. The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It. New York: Knopf, 1948; available in paperback. Consists of 12 essays that offer a provocative interpretation of the political philosophies and contributions of statesmen from the Founding Fathers to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

KROUT, JOHN A. and DIXON R. FOX. The Completion of Independence, 1790-1830 (Volume V of the History of American Life Series). New York: Macmillan, 1944. Contains much excellent factual information. Emphasizes social history.

MORISON, SAMUEL E. An Hour of American History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1960; paperback; first published by J. B. Lippincott Co., 1929. More than an hour is required to read this brief volume, but it provides an excellent introduction to U.S. history.

NYE, RUSSELL B. The Cultural Life of the New Nation, 1776-1830 (The New American Nation Series). New York: Harper, 1960; available in paperback. A valuable account of the diverse cultural activities of Americans during the formative years.

WILTSE, CHARLES M. The New Nation, 1800-1845. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961; available in paperback. One of the best introductions to the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian period. Includes an extensive bibliographical essay.

The Formative Years

ADAMS, HENRY. The History of the United States during the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison. Abridged, 2 vols.; introduction by George Dangerfield and Otley M. Scruggs. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963; available in paperback. One of the best of several abridgements of Adams' classic 9-volume study.

______. The United States in 1800. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press; paperback. A reprint of the first six chapters of Adams' History, cited above. These chapters are noted for their superb description of the United States at the dawn of the 19th century.

BURNETT, EDMUND C. The Continental Congress. New York: Macmillan, 1941; available in paperback. The last seven chapters trace activities of the Congress from the peace treaty ending the War for Independence to the inauguration of the Government under the Constitution.

FARRAND, MAX. The Framing of the Constitution of the United States. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1913; available in paperback. An older work that is still useful, interesting, and easy to read.

FREEMAN, DOUGLAS S. George Washington—A Biography. Seven vols., New York: Scribner's, 1948-54. Volume VI of this classic study, and Volume VII, completed after Freeman's death by John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth, treat Washington's years as a statesman after the War for Independence. One of many fine biographies of the Founding Fathers and other early national leaders.

HAMILTON, ALEXANDER, JOHN JAY, and JAMES MADISON. The Federalist; A Commentary of the Constitution of the United States: Being a Collection of Essays Written in Support of the Constitution Agreed Upon September 17, 1787, by the Federal Convention. Available in many complete and abridged editions, including paperback. This series of 18th-century newspaper essays is still one of the most penetrating analyses of politics and representative government ever written.

JENSEN, MERRILL. The New Nation. New York: Knopf, 1950; available in paperback. Suggests that what 19th-century historian John Fiske called the "Critical Period,"—the years immediately afte the War for Independence, when the movement for change in the national government produced the Constitution—was not really so critical.

MILLER, JOHN C. The Federalist Era, 1789-1801 (The New American Nation Series). New York: Harper, 1960; available in paperback. A readable and scholarly synthesis of recent scholarship, including that of the author, on the years from the launching of the Government under the Constitution to the election of Jefferson.

PETERSON, MERRILL D. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960; available in paperback. Traces the changing image of Jefferson in the minds of succeeding generations of Americans.

RUTLAND, ROBERT A. The Birth of the Bill of Rights, 1776-1791. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1955; available in paperback. Studies the origins and structure of the 18th-century concept of individual liberties and the process by which they were incorporated into the Constitution.

The War of 1812

BEIRNE, FRANCIS F. The War of 1812. New York: Dutton, 1949. One of the best balanced general accounts of the war.

COLES, HARRY L. The War of 1812 (The Chicago History of American Civilization Series). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965. A concise and readable account of the war. Emphasizes the military campaigns, but also contrasts the Canadian and American points of view on the war.

PERKINS, BRADFORD, ed. The Causes of the War of 1812—National Honor or National Interest? (The American Problem Series). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1962; paperback. Contains representative samples of the various interpretations of the causes of the war.

An Emergent Nationalism

DANGERFIELD, GEORGE. The Awakening of American Nationalism, 1815-1828 (The New American Nation Series). New York: Harper and Row, 1965; available in paperback. Synthesizes recent studies of the principal themes and personalities of the period. Dangerfield is an expert on the diplomacy of the era.

JAMES, MARQUIS. Andrew Jackson, Border Captain. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1933; available in paperback. A Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography that describes Jackson's military exploits. Concludes with Jackson's return to The Hermitage after he concluded his service in Florida.

PERKINS, DEXTER. A History of the Monroe Doctrine. Boston: Little, Brown, rev. ed. 1955; available in paperback. Summarizes in a readable manner the history of the Monroe Doctrine and its diplomatic applications from its beginnings to the 20th century.

SYDNOR, CHARLES S. The Development of Southern Sectionalism, 1819-1848 (Volume V of the History of the South Series). Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1948. Surveys the development of a distinct Southern civilization in the ante bellum years.

TAYLOR, GEORGE R. The Transportation Revolution, 1815-1860 (Volume IV of the Economic History of the United States series). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1951. A readable book about a difficult subject.

The Westward Movement

BILLINGTON, RAY A. Westward Expansion. New York: Macmillan, 1949. A readable and comprehensive work on the westward movement.

SMITH, HENRY N. Virgin Land—The American West as Symbol and Myth. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950; available in paperback. A pioneering study that deals with the influence of the West on the national mind and imagination.

TURNER, FREDERICK J. Rise of the New West. New York: Macmillan 1906; available in paperback. A classic study by the founder of the "frontier thesis" in U.S. history.

VAN EVERY, DALE. Ark of Empire—the American Frontier, 1784-1803. New York: Morrow, 1963; available in paperback. A popular account of the early westward movement. Discusses the part played by the first three Presidents in westward expansion. Other volumes in this series on the frontier are also of interest.

WADE, RICHARD C. The Urban Frontier. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959; available in paperback. Provides a fresh approach to interpreting the frontier process. Stresses the importance of western towns as points of defense and as agents for the spread of civilization.

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Last Updated: 29-Aug-2005