What would the Founders do? How many times have we asked that very question?
What would the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, and the Adams cousins say to our current problems, challenges and crises? Joe Connor, my good friend and a true patriot, along with Mike Duncan, have taken a great stab at unraveling the mystery. In their novel, The New Founders, Joe and Mike bring them back to life in 2012 and record their reactions as they address the growth of the federal government, our overly partisan political environment, our massive national debt, and our economic malaise. How do Joe and Mike know what they would say were they here? They asked them! Each of these magnificent men left a lengthy written record of their opinions on almost everything. By rummaging around original historical sources — their letters (often to one another), documents, speeches, and writings — they provide the answer to the key question: What would they say?
As he surveys the delicate web of international relations with the U.S. at the center, would Washington stand on his warning against “entangling alliances?” When Jefferson and Madison see what the political party they spawned is advocating, would they remain on board? How would Hamilton — the apostle of a strong central government — react to the modern American nation with its Washington-centric system? And what would the first Secretary of the Treasury say about our staggering debt and the freedom with which we print money, debasing our currency?
No need to wonder. Just check it out. That’s what Connor and Duncan have done, and we all owe them a great debt for doing so.
I got to know Joe when terrorists who killed his father, Frank, in the Fraunces Tavern bombing were granted presidential clemency. Ever since, Joe has been a staunch crusader against terrorism and a stand-up advocate for American values and ideals. But, as an historian, he may have found his true calling. Joe and Mike have not merely written history, they invented a new genre. By bringing these great men back to life and re-writing their own words in the modern context, they have done a real service to our understanding of democracy.
I can only hope that this is the beginning of a type of historical writing which will catch on.
The Founders have so very much to teach us, if we just listen to them.
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