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The Virginia Dynasty
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Publication Date: September 29, 2020

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The Virginia Dynasty

Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation

By Lynne Cheney

A vivid account of leadership focusing on the first four Virginia presidents--George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe--from the bestselling historian and author of James Madison.

From a small expanse of land on the North American continent came four of the nation's first five presidents--a geographic dynasty whose members led a revolution, created a nation, and ultimately changed the world. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were born, grew to manhood, and made their homes within a sixty-mile circle east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Friends and rivals, they hammered out the United States Constitution, built a working republic, and established the Bill of Rights. Acting together, they doubled the territory of the United States. From their disputes came American political parties and the weaponizing of newspapers, the media of the day. In this elegantly conceived and insightful new book from bestselling author Lynne Cheney, the four Virginians are not marble icons, but vital figures deeply intent on building a nation where citizens could be free.

Focusing on a series of key episodes in the intersecting roles these men played as warriors, intellectuals, and statesmen, Cheney takes us back to an exhilarating time when the Enlightenment opened new vistas for humankind. But even as the Virginians advanced liberty, equality, and human possibility, they held slaves. They saw the contradiction, knew that slavery was wrong--and were slave owners when they died. The transcendent principles that they advanced endured, even through bloody civil war. They inspired Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and today undergird the freest nation on earth.

Taking full measure of strengths and failures in the personal as well as the political lives of the men at the center of this book, Cheney offers a concise and original exploration of how the United States came to be.

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