The Great Experiment

George Washington and the American Republic

John Rhodehamel; Foreword by Gordon S. Wood

View Inside Price: $50.00


September 10, 1998
198 pages, 8 x 10
96 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300076141
Hardcover

Copublished with the Huntington Library

To most Americans, George Washington is a remote figure encased in myth, more a monument than a man. This new book brings him vividly to life once again, a man who was born a loyal subject of the British crown and became the leader of a radical revolution, a victorious military leader who relinquished the trappings of power to return to farming, a reluctant statesman who forged the institutions of a popular government that have endured for two centuries.
John Rhodehamel examines the mingled destinies of Washington and the new American republic, illuminating both the man and his times. He traces Washington’s life before the Revolution and during the war years, the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and the Washington presidency, arguing that the key to Washington’s extraordinary stature in the eyes of his contemporaries was his scrupulous obedience to civilian authority and, most of all, his resignation at the end of the Revolution. The text is enhanced by numerous illustrations that reproduce an array of original documents, contemporary portraits, artifacts, and personal memorabilia of Washington and his family.

John Rhodehamel is Norris Foundation Curator of American History at the Huntington Library. He is the editor of the award-winning book George Washington, Writings.

A selection of the History Book Club


"[Rhodehamel] comes close to the heart of Washington’s genius in this compact but important biographical sketch. With wonderful insight, Rhodehamel focuses on Washington’s great moral strength, which included self-discipline and restraint."—Booklist



"Beautiful 200-page hardcover, with more than 100 color illustrations and rarely seen Washington memorabilia from the Gilder Lehrman Collection and the Pierpont Morgan Museum."—Don Denevi, Palo Alto Daily News





"[This] work will likely bring Washington to life for many people who have previously thought of him only in mythic terms. It is an insightful, brief biography by a well-qualified scholar, and its scores of fine illustrations are sure to hold any reader’s interest. . . . Highly recommended for public libraries and students from secondary school through undergraduate level."—Choice


The Great Experiment concisely aims at reinvigorating Washington’s image for late 20th century readers. . . . [The] book helps to bring us closer to Washington the man.”—William W. Starr, The State


"[Rhodehamel] presents a concise narrative of Washington’s public life, concentrating on the symbolic founder’s outward energies and rise to fame. But it is the assembly of dramatic images—especially the many reprinted letters—that carries a text which highlights politics and personality. . . . A monumental story."—Andrew Burstein, Journal of the Early Republic

“[A] superbly produced book. . . . [Rhodehamel’s] sketch of Washington’s life and career is admiring without being worshipful. It is concise, vivid, and judicious.”—Paul K. Longmore, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science


“Elegant and insightful. . . . Rhodehamel’s book chronicles Washington’s life, bringing in maps, portraits, and objects. In brief but extraordinary text, Rhodehamel . . . provides a definitive account of Washington’s life, masterfully exploring Washington’s many competing interests: western development, agricultural improvement, military glory, republican liberty. The maps, portraits, surveying tools, and military accruements bring us closer to Washington, who is brought to life without diminishing his larger-than-life character.”—Robert J. Allison, Reviews in American History