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Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers

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Published by Ian Koll

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Published by: Ian Koll on Jul 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ian KollAPUSH Summer Reading Assessment Instructor Undetermined8/9/09Question #2Ellis has said, "We have no mental pictures that make the revolutionary generation fullyhuman in ways that link up with our own time . . . These great patriarchs have becomeFounding Fathers, and it is psychologically quite difficult for children to reach a realisticunderstanding of their parents, who always loom larger-than-life as icons we either love orhate." How does Founding Brothers address this problem, and how does it manage tohumanize our image of the founders? How does the book's title relate to this issue?Children, or all modern day Americans in general have a very difficult time graspingjust how influential and important the Founding Fathers are, mainly due to the lack of suchfigures in the world we are all so familiar with. The individuals responsible for making thisgreat country the way it today were, at the time, looked at in many different ways- Madmenby some, Heroe
s by most, but visionaries by all. There just isn’t such an individual around
today who can compare in stature to the founders of such a prosperous nation. In the eyesof a child, the Founding Fathers are in no way human- just from their appearance in booksand pictures, they carry a sense of unprecedented might and resourcefulness, no matter if the illustration in question depicts them in their study, or, in a more dramatic example,fighting the bitter cold crossing the Delaware, majestically standing on one knee whilebroken men valiantly push a small wooden boat through treacherous icy waters. Thesesorts of examples are very difficult for children to relate to, and gives the Founding Fathersan almost Superhero like quality; one that alienates them from other historical figures. Ellishelps the reader identify with the Founding Fathers through his inclusion of important details surrounding their lives- not as stately political figures, but human beings. Men whowork to provide for both themselves, and their families, while upholding their good nameand honor- much like any man would do nowadays. This tactic helps readers better
understand the problems and situations the Founding Fathers had to face in their time. It’s
also useful, in response to the title,
to refer to them as “Brothers”
- men who have bondedtogether to form the United States, and strove to accomplish a common goal. By making theFounding Fathers more personable through the use of the more reassuring and non-domineering
heading of “Brothers”
Question #3What was really at stake in the disagreement and duel between Aaron Burr and AlexanderHamilton? If Hamilton felt that the disparaging statements he had made about Burr were true,should he have lied in order to save his life? Was this merely a war over words? Did words havemore significance then than they do now? What role did newspapers play in the drama, and howis the media's role different or similar today?
In the eyes of two honor-bound individuals who have a large public presence, inboth their political and social lives, everything was at stake in the duel, which would
ultimately claim Hamilton’s life. Honor, in the days when the country was being founded,
 was not something that could be, or was, easily dealt with. If someone (in this case,Hamilton) made disparaging remarks about someone publicly, as to ruin their image, thenthe socially acceptable thing to do was to take matters into your own hands, tempt fate, andcall forth a duel. This was by no means a war over words- rather, a war over character andthe societal norms found within the early stages of the foundation of the United States. If Hamilton had not taken up the offer on the duel, he would have been marked as a cowardthrough the eyes of the public. This was, at the time, social suicide, and could easily
terminate one’s chances of maintaining political power.The newspapers, at the time, were the only source of “reputable” information for the
 general public, aside from word of mouth. No telecommunications had been invented, andthe journalists held a monopoly on the spread and transmission of information. Therefore,what was put down on paper in the news was considered to be more or less accurate,although much of the news in those times was fabricated truth. Today, such fabricationsstill run rampant in the media, and one must be very careful in believing things that arepublicized, no matter what their source may be. In the case of Burr and Hamilton, thenewspapers falsified many of the important facts dealing with the duel, and Burr, in theend, was made to look like a bloodthirsty fool, socially and politically stigmatizing him as
“the man who killed Alexander Hamilton”. This, while true,
was in the opinions of Burr andHamilton a perfectly acceptable truth, as the duel was mutually accepted. No rules werebroken, and the honor of both Burr and Hamilton remained theoretically intact.

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