About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s conversation with David O. Stewart about his new book chronicling the political rise of George Washington.

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about two programs coming up next month on our YouTube channel.

On Thursday, February 17, at 1 p.m., Diana Schaub will tell us about her new book, His Greatest Speeches: How Lincoln Moved the Nation. Schaub analyzes Abraham Lincoln’s three most powerful speeches, placing them in historical context and explaining the brilliance behind their rhetoric.

And on Wednesday, February 23, at 5 p.m., Jonathan White will discuss A House Built by Slaves, his new book about how President Abraham Lincoln welcomed African Americans of every background into the White House, from ex-slaves to champions of abolitionism.

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In researching the life of George Washington for his new book, David O. Stewart relied heavily on the correspondence between Washington and his contemporaries.

Those letters and other writings have been preserved by the Founding Father papers projects, supported by the National Archives through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. By visiting the Founders Online website, anyone can search through and read the writings of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.

In George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father, Stewart chronicles the growth of Washington from a young man with few prospects to hero of the Revolution and near-mythic national leader. Throughout this transformation, Washington exhibited skill and political acumen. As David Stewart says in chapter one of his book, “Washington’s story is not one of effortless superiority, but one of excellence achieved with great effort.”

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, reviewer Barton Swaim says, “Mr. Stewart has written an outstanding biography that both avoids hagiography and acknowledges the greatness of Washington’s character, all while paying close attention to his rarely voiced but no less fierce political ambitions.”

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After many years as a trial and appellate lawyer, David O. Stewart became a bestselling writer of history and historical fiction. His books include The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father; The Summer of 1787; Madison's Gift; American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America; and Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a senior fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, and a professorial lecturer at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. She is the author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

Now let’s hear from David Stewart and Lindsay Chervinsky. Thank you for joining us today.