2015 Press Releases

National Archives Welcomes Historian Joseph Ellis on May 12 at 7 p.m.
Press Release · Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

Washington, DC

Book Launch of “The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution”

Washington, DC…On Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m., the National Archives welcomes back Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Joseph J. Ellis for the launch of his new book: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution. In The Quartet, Ellis tells the story of the men most responsible for creating the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the creation of the United States of America. A book signing will follow the program.

This event is free and open to the public and will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum and on YouTube. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution at 9th Street NW.

In The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, Ellis shares the unexpected story of why the thirteen colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, would decide to subordinate themselves anew.

President Abraham Lincoln started his Gettysburg Address with the reflection: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this Continent a new Nation.” However, Ellis presents a different story. In 1776, thirteen American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states.

The Quartet is the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. These men, with the help of Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris, shaped American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation, manipulating the political process to force the calling of the Constitutional Convention, conspiring to set the agenda in Philadelphia, orchestrating the debate in the state ratifying conventions, and, finally, drafting the Bill of Rights to assure state compliance with the constitutional settlement.

Joseph J. Ellis is one of the nation's leading scholars of American history. The author of eight books, Ellis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation and won the National Book Award for American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His in-depth chronicle of the life of our first President, His Excellency: George Washington, was a New York Times bestseller. Ellis' essays and book reviews appear regularly in national publications, such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Ellis’s commentaries have been featured on CBS, CSPAN, CNN, and the PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

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