The Blood of Washington

April 17th, 2013

Today, we hold vaunted views of the Founding generation as these pristine and noble men who aspired to great ideals. Alas, they were no angels. If they were, we wouldn’t have needed a government in the first place. #MadisonPun.

My friend Logan Beirne has authored a new book that delves into the nitty-gritty of the founding generation titled, quite appropriately, Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency.

Here is a summary:

Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers’ approach to government and this history’s impact on today. Delving into the forgotten—and often lurid—facts of the Revolutionary War, Logan Beirne focuses on the nation’s first commander in chief, George Washington, as he shaped the very meaning of the United States Constitution in the heat of battle.

Key episodes illustrate how the Founders dealt with thorny wartime issues: Who decides war strategy? When should we use military tribunals over civilian trials? Should we inflict harsh treatment on enemy captives if it means saving American lives? How do we protect citizens’ rights when the nation is struggling to defend itself? Beirne finds evidence in previously-unexplored documents such as General Washington’s letters debating torture, an eyewitness account of the military tribunal that executed a British prisoner, Founders’ letters warning against government debt, and communications pointing to a power struggle between Washington and the Continental Congress.

Vivid stories from the Revolution frame Washington’s pivotal role in the drafting of the Constitution. The Founders saw the first American commander in chief as the template for all future presidents: a leader who would fiercely defend Americans’ rights and liberties against all forms of aggression.

Blood of Tyrants pulls the reader directly into the scenes, filling the void in our understanding of the presidency and our ingenious Founders’ pragmatic approach to issues we still face today.

Logan gave a talk about it in C-SPAN last week. Definitely worth a read.