U.S. History in the Constitution period 1789-1809. Free online books. Includes Federalist System of Government, Barbary Pirates, Lewis & Clark Expedition, Trial of Aaron Burr, Washington and his Slaves, Early American Republic, John Adams Administration, the Whiskey Rebellion, more.
Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Sometimes they have two or more copies.
About 60 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “United States – Politics & Government – 1783-1865”. Be patient as the page loads. Some books: How the Constitution was Created, The Founding of America, The Papers of John Marshall, Calendar of the Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, Fifty Years of Party Warfare 1789-1837, The Origins of American Presidential Politics, The Portable Thomas Jefferson, Selected Writings of James Madison, Tenche Coxe and the Early Republic, The Washington Community 1800-1828, many more books on U.S. Politics and Government.
About 30 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “United States – Social Life & Customs – 1783-1865”. Some books: The Young United States 1783-1830, A Year’s Residence in the USA, America in the Time of Lewis and Clark, The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840, The Craft Apprentice from Franklin to the Machine Age, Notions of the Americans picked up by a traveling Bachelor, Views of Society and Manners in America, American Notes for General Circulation, The Stranger in America 1793-1806, many more books on U.S. Social Life and Customs.
You may also like our collection of podcasts and videos on U.S. history before 1800.
NY Scribner’s Sons 1889-90 Dewey Dec. 973.4
This work traces the formative period of American nationality from the rise of Thomas Jefferson’s Republican party through the War of 1812. “Jefferson’s optimistic laissez-faire principles – designed to prevent American government from becoming a militaristic European ‘tyranny’ – clash with the realities of European war and American security.” -Publisher.
Henry Adams is generally considered one of America’s greatest 19th century historians.
Titles of volumes are:
Volume 1 – 1st Administration of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1805): Vol 1
Volume 2 – 1st Administration of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1805): Vol 2
Volume 3 – 2nd Administration of Thomas Jefferson (1805-1809): Vol 1
Volume 4 – 2nd Administration of Thomas Jefferson (1805-1809): Vol 2
Volume 5 – 1st Administration of James Madison (1809-1813): Vol 1
Volume 6 – 1st Administration of James Madison (1809-1813): Vol 2
Volume 7 – 2nd Administration of James Madison (1813-1817): Vol 1
Volume 8 – 2nd Administration of James Madison (1813-1817): Vol 2
Volume 9 – 2nd Administration of James Madison (1813-1817): Vol 3
Ambrose, Stephen E.
Pocket 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.4
‘This was much more than a bunch of guys out on an exploring and collecting expedition. This was a military expedition into hostile territory’. In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a pioneering voyage across the Great Plains and into the Rockies. It was completely uncharted territory; a wild, vast land ruled by the Indians. Charismatic and brave, Lewis was the perfect choice and he experienced the savage North American continent before any other white man. UNDAUNTED COURAGE is the tale of a hero, but it is also a tragedy. Lewis may have received a hero’s welcome on his return to Washington in 1806, but his discoveries did not match the president’s fantasies of sweeping, fertile plains ripe for the taking. Feeling the expedition had been a failure, Lewis took to drink and piled up debts. Full of colourful characters – Jefferson, the president obsessed with conquering the west; William Clark, the rugged frontiersman; Sacagawea, the Indian girl who accompanied the expedition; Drouillard, the French-Indian hunter – this is one of the great adventure stories of all time and it shot to the top of the US bestseller charts. Drama, suspense, danger and diplomacy combine with romance and personal tragedy making UNDAUNTED COURAGE an outstanding work of scholarship and a thrilling adventure.
Knopf 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.4
“With these character sketches of key figures of the American Revolution and illuminating probes of its circumstances, Bernard Bailyn reveals the ambiguities, complexities, and uncertainties of the founding generation as well as their achievements. Using visual documentation—portraits, architecture, allegorical engravings—as well as written sources, Bailyn, one of our most esteemed historians, paints a complex picture of that distant but still remarkably relevant world… Bailyn shows, too, why it is that the Federalist papers—polemical documents thrown together frantically, helter-skelter, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in a fierce political battle two hundred years ago—have attained canonical status, not only as a penetrating analysis of the American Constitution but as a timeless commentary on the nature of politics and constitutionalism”. -Publisher
Bassett, John Spencer
1906 Dewey Dec. 973.4
An excellent presentation of the problems of the nation in its early days, including the establishment of a party system, a stable financial system, and an international policy. Maps and bibliography. – Standard Catalog 1929
Contents: 1. Launching the New Government (1789-1791) 2. Hamilton’s Financial System (1789-1791) 3. Founding the Republican Party (1790-1792) 4. England and the Northwest (1789-1794) 5. Spain and the Southwest (1789-1795) 6. Neutrality and the Mission of Genet (1793) 7. The Whiskey Insurrection (1793-1795) 8. The Perplexing Problem of British Trade (1793-1796) 9. Washington as a Party President (1795-1797) 10. The Republican Court (1789-1800) 11. The State of Society (1789-1800) 12. The First Victories of Anti-Slavery (1777-1804) 13. Economic Conditions (1789-1800) 14. Political Affairs Early in Adams’s Administration (1797-1798) 15. The Quarrel with France (1796-1797) 16. War or Peace (1797-1798) 17. Alien and Sedition Acts (1797-1798) 18. Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (1798-1800) 19. Downfall of the Federalists (1798-1801) 20. Critical Essay on Authorities
Beard, Charles A.
NY: Macmillan 1915 Dewey Dec. 973.4
“Charles Austin Beard (1874 – 1948) was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. For a while he was a history professor at Columbia University but his influence came from hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science. His works included a radical re-evaluation of the founding fathers of the United States, who he believed were motivated more by economics than by philosophical principles.” -Wikipedia
Contents: The federalist-Republican antagonism and the conflict over the Constitution – The party affiliations of the members of the convention – The personnel of the first administration – The Constitution in operation – Hamilton’s system before Congress – Security holding and politics – The economic conflict as reflected in Republican literature – The Federalist analysis of the party conflict – Anti-Federalist resistance to taxation – The economics of the Jay Treaty – The political economy of John Adams – The politics of agrarianism – The great battle of 1800 – Jefferson’s economics and politics
Free Press 2002 Dewey Dec. 973.4
In America’s First Dynasty, Brookhiser tells the story of America’s longest and still greatest dynasty — the Adamses, the only family in our history to play a leading role in American affairs for nearly two centuries. From John, the self-made, tough-minded lawyer who rose to the highest office in the government he helped create; to John Quincy, the child prodigy who grew up amid foreign royalty, followed his father to the White House, and later reinvented himself as a champion of liberty in Congress; to politician and writer Charles Francis, the only well-balanced Adams; to Henry, brilliant scholar and journalist — the Adamses achieved longer-lasting greatness than any other American family.
As with any family, there was a darker side to the Adams story: many of its members were abject failures. Alcoholism was a familiar specter, and suicide was not unknown. Only one of the four great Adamses was a kind man and father; the others set standards so impossibly high that few of their children could meet them. Yet despite more than a century of difference from John to Henry, certain Adams traits remained the same. In the story of our first and still-greatest family, we can all see something of our own struggles with family, fate, and history.
1906 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Clear and orderly presentation of a complicated period on which a vast amount of literature has been written. – Standard Catalog 1929
Contents: 1. Organization of Jefferson’s Administration (1801-1805) 2. Republican Reformations (1801-1802) 3. The Tripolitan War (1801-1804) 4. La Louisiane (1684-1800) 5. The Louisiana Purchase (1801-1803) 6. The Administration of Louisiana (1803-1812) 7. The Exploration of the West (1803-1806) 8. Slavery and the Slave-Trade (1801-1808) 9. The Chase Impeachment (1804-1805) 10. John Randolph and the Yazoo Men (1801-1813) 11. The End of the Harvest Season (1803-1805) 12. The Burr Expedition (1805-1807) 13. Foreign Relations (1805) 14. The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair (1801-1807) 15. The Belligerents and Neutral Commerce (1801-1807) 16. The Embargo (1807-1808) 17. Jefferson’s Failure and Flight (1808-1809) 18. International Complications (1809-1810) 19. Madison and the Belligerents (1810-1811) 20. Approach of War (1809-1812) 21. Critical Essay on Authorities
Ferris, Robert G., ed.
U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service 1975 Dewey Dec. 973.91
This is a volume in the series, “The National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings”. “Lewis and Clark were heralds of national destiny. Numerous organizations and individuals have expended commendable efforts in marking the expedition’s route and preserving associated sites. I recommend this book to all those who wish to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail and learn more about one of the most fascinating expeditions in our history.” – Secretary of the Interior
Part I: Lewis and Clark: Historical Background (250 pages). Part II: Lewis and Clark: Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. Approximately 40 sites are profiled, often including photos.
Ferris, Robert G., ed.
U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service 1976 Dewey Dec. 973
This is a volume in the series, “The National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings”. Part I: Signers of the Constitution: Historical Background. Part II: Signers of the Constitution: Biographical Sketches. Part III: Signers of the Constitution: Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. Part III has profiles for approximately 30 buildings and sites identified with the signers. There appears to be a photo or other illustration included for almost every site.
Ford, Henry Jones
New Haven: Yale University Press 1918 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Contents: An imitation court – Great decisions – The master builder – Alarums and excursions – Tribute to the Algerines – French designs on America – A settlement with England – Party violence – The personal rule of John Adams
The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty
Scribner 2006 Dewey Dec. 973.4
A tale of violence, alcohol, and taxes, this story pits President George Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton against angry, armed settlers across the Appalachians. Unearthing a pungent segment of early American history, journalist and popular historian Hogeland brings to life the rebellion that decisively contributed to the establishment of federal authority. In 1791, frontier gangs with blackened faces began to attack federal officials, beating and torturing the collectors who plagued them with the first federal tax ever laid on an American product–whiskey. In only a few years, those attacks snowballed into an organized regional movement dedicated to resisting the fledgling government’s power and threatening secession, even civil war.
Contents: Over the Mountains — The Curse of Pulp — Spirits Distilled Within the United States — Herman Husband — The Neville Connection — Tom the Tinker — The Hills Give Light to the Vales — A New Sodom — Talking — The General Goes West — That So-Called Whiskey Rebellion.
Kennedy, Roger G.
Oxford Univ. 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Thomas Jefferson advocated a republic of small farmers–free and independent yeomen. And yet as president he presided over a massive expansion of the slaveholding plantation system, particularly with the Louisiana Purchase, squeezing the yeomanry to the fringes and to less desirable farmland. Now Roger G. Kennedy conducts an eye-opening examination of the gap between Jefferson’s stated aspirations and what actually happened.
Kennedy reveals how the Louisiana Purchase had a major impact on land use and the growth of slavery. He examines the great financial interests (such as the powerful land companies that speculated in new territories and the British textile interests) that beat down slavery’s many opponents in the South itself (Native Americans, African Americans, Appalachian farmers, and conscientious opponents of slavery). He describes how slaveholders’ cash crops–first tobacco, then cotton–sickened the soil and how the planters moved from one desolated tract to the next. Soon the dominant culture of the entire region–from Maryland to Florida, from Carolina to Texas–was that of owners and slaves producing staple crops for international markets. The earth itself was impoverished, in many places beyond redemption.
None of this, Kennedy argues, was inevitable. He focuses on the character, ideas, and ambitions of Thomas Jefferson to show how he and other Southerners struggled with the moral dilemmas presented by the presence of Indian farmers on land they coveted, by the enslavement of their workforce, by the betrayal of their stated hopes, and by the manifest damage being done to the earth itself. Jefferson emerges as a tragic figure in a tragic period.
Link, Eugene P.
NY: Columbia University 1942 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Contents: The Appearance of Popular Societies – Popular Societies as Social Forces – The Democratic Spirit of ’76 Awakens – The Analysis of Membership – The Social Philosophy of the Democratic Clubs – The Program and Activities of the Clubs – Schools of Political Knowledge – The Attack upon Democracy – The Achievements and Influence of the Societies
Miller, John Chester
Harper & Row 1963 Dewey Dec. 973.4
A chronicle of the administrations of George Washington and John Adams, concentrating on the politics and diplomacy. “A lively, intelligent, strikingly informed account of the political faction that came to be called Federalist, and came to behave something like a political party.” -NY Times Book Rev.
Contents: Launching of the “Great Experiment” — More perfect union in action — Hamilton takes command; the report on the public credit — Bank of the United States and the report on manufactures — Thomas Jefferson and the philosophy of agrarianism — Quarrel between Hamilton and Jefferson — Emergence of political parties — Genet and the French alliance — Crisis of 1794 — Whisky rebellion and Jay’s treaty — Western conspiracy and Washington’s farewell address — Foreign affairs and domestic politics — Federalist reaction — Election of 1800.
Reports on the Trials of Colonel Aaron Burr (Late Vice President of the United States), for Treason and for a Misdemeanor …
in preparing the means of a Military Expedition against Mexico, a territory of the King of Spain, with whom the United States were at peace, …
Robertson, David K.
Philadelphia: Hopkins & Earle 1808 Dewey Dec. 973.4
[continuation of title page] … “in the circuit court of the United States, held at the city of Richmond, in the district of Virginia, in the Summer Term of the year 1807. To which is added, an appendix, containing the arguments and evidence in support and defence of the motion afterwards made by the counsel for the United States, to commit A. Burr, H. Blannerhassett and I. Smith, to be sent for trial to the State of Kentucky, for Treason or Misdemeanor, alleged to be committed there.”
Harvard Univ. 2005 Dewey Dec. 973.4
“Slave Country tells the tragic story of the expansion of slavery in the new United States. In the wake of the American Revolution, slavery gradually disappeared from the northern states and the importation of captive Africans was prohibited. Yet, at the same time, the country’s slave population grew, new plantation crops appeared, and several new slave states joined the Union. Adam Rothman explores how slavery flourished in a new nation dedicated to the principle of equality among free men, and reveals the enormous consequences of U.S. expansion into the region that became the Deep South.” -Publisher
“Rothman challenges us to consider how and why slavery expanded into newly acquired territory in the Old Southwest. Thoughtful, provocative, and innovative, ‘Slave Country’ illuminates the rise of the Cotton Kingdom with all its tragic consequences.” author Randy Sparks.
Contents: Jefferson’s horizon — Civilizing the cotton frontier — Commerce and slavery in lower Louisiana — The wartime challenge — Fulfilling the slave country.
Hill and Wang 2005 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Where The Ideas for which We Stand came from. In this incisively drawn book, Darren Staloff forcefully reminds us that America owes its guiding political traditions to three Founding Fathers whose lives embodied the collision of Europe’s grand Enlightenment project with the birth of the nation. Alexander Hamilton, the worldly New Yorker; John Adams, the curmudgeonly Yankee; Thomas Jefferson, the visionary Virginia squire — each governed their public lives by Enlightenment principles, and for each their relationship to the politics of Enlightenment was transformed by the struggle for American independence. Repeated humiliation on America’s battlefields banished Hamilton’s youthful idealism, leaving him a disciple of Enlightened realpolitik and the nation’s leading exponent of modern statecraft. After ten years in Europe’s diplomatic trenches, Adams’s embrace of the politics of Enlightenment became increasingly skeptical in spirit, and his public posture became increasingly that of the gadfly of his country. And Jefferson’s frustrations as a Revolutionary governor in Virginia led him to go beyond his Enlightened worldview, and articulate a new and radical Romantic politics of principle. As a consequence, Americans demand a government that is both modern, constrained by checks and balances, and capable of appealing to our loftiest aspirations while adhering to decidedly pragmatic policies.
Contents: The background of the enlightenment — The features of the enlightenment — The forms of the enlightenment — The politics of enlightenment — 1: Alexander Hamilton: the enlightenment fulfilled — The enigma of Hamilton — The turning — The Hamiltonian vision: the enlightenment fulfilled — The practice of Hamiltoniamism — “Mine is an odd destiny”–the legacy of Alexander Hamilton — 2: John Adams: the enlightenment transcended — An American curmudgeon — The turning — The Adamsian vision: the enlightenment transcended — The Adamsian practice — “Monuments will never be erected to me” — the legacy of John Adams — 3: Thomas Jefferson: romantic America — The statesman as artist — The turning — The Jeffersonian vision: romantic America — The practice of Jeffersonianism — “Take care of me when dead” — the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.
Yale Univ. 2003 Dewey Dec. 973.4
Gore Vidal, one of the master stylists of American literature and one of the most acute observers of American life and history, turns his immense literary and historiographic talent to a portrait of the formidable trio of George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
In Inventing a Nation, Vidal transports the reader into the minds, the living rooms (and bedrooms), the convention halls, and the salons of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and others. We come to know these men, through Vidal’s splendid and percipient prose, in ways we have not up to now—their opinions of each other, their worries about money, their concerns about creating a viable democracy. Vidal brings them to life at the key moments of decision in the birthing of our nation. He also illuminates the force and weight of the documents they wrote, the speeches they delivered, and the institutions of government by which we still live. More than two centuries later, America is still largely governed by the ideas championed by this triumvirate.
Thorndike 2004 Dewey Dec. 973.4
When George Washington wrote his will, he made the startling decision to set his slaves free; earlier he had said that holding slaves was his “only unavoidable subject of regret.” In this groundbreaking work, Henry Wiencek explores the founding father’s engagement with slavery at every stage of his life–as a Virginia planter, soldier, politician, president and statesman. Wiencek’s revelatory narrative, based on a meticulous examination of private papers, court records, and the voluminous Washington archives, documents for the first time the moral transformation culminating in Washington’s determination to emancipate his slaves. He acted too late to keep the new republic from perpetuating slavery, but his repentance was genuine. And it was perhaps related to the possibility–as the oral history of Mount Vernon’s slave descendants has long asserted–that a slave named West Ford was the son of George and a woman named Venus; Wiencek has new evidence that this could indeed have been true.”
Houghton Mifflin 2005 Dewey Dec. 973.4
In Henry Adams and the Making of America, Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills makes a compelling argument for a reassessment of Henry Adams as our nation’s greatest historian and his History as the “nonfiction prose masterpiece of the nineteenth century in America.” Adams drew on his own southern fixation, his extensive foreign travel, his political service in the Lincoln administration, and much more to invent the study of history as we know it. His nine-volume chronicle of America from 1800 to 1816 established new standards for employing archival sources, firsthand reportage, eyewitness accounts, and other techniques that have become the essence of modern history.
Ambitious in scope, nuanced in detail, Henry Adams and the Making of America throws brilliant light on the historian and the making of history.
Wood, Gordon S.
Oxford Univ. 2009 Dewey Dec. 973.4
one of America’s most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812. As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life–in politics, society, economy, and culture. The men who founded the new government had high hopes for the future, but few of their hopes and dreams worked out quite as they expected. They hated political parties but parties nonetheless emerged. Some wanted the United States to become a great fiscal-military state like those of Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from the European states. Instead, by 1815 the United States became something neither group anticipated. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. The leaders also hope to see the end of slavery; instead, despite the release of many slaves and the end of slavery in the North, slavery was stronger in 1815 than it had been in 1789. Many wanted to avoid entanglements with Europe, but instead the country became involved in Europe’s wars and ended up waging another war with the former mother country. Still, with a new generation emerging by 1815, most Americans were confident and optimistic about the future of their country. Integrating all aspects of life, from politics and law to the economy and culture, Empire of Liberty offers a marvelous account of this pivotal era when America took its first unsteady steps as a new and rapidly expanding nation. A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History, A New York Times Bestseller. “On every page of this book, Wood’s subtlety and erudition show. Grand in scope and a landmark achievement of scholarship, Empire of Liberty is a tour de force, the culmination of a lifetime of brilliant thinking and writing.” –The New York Times Book Review.
Contents: Rip Van Winkle’s America — Experiment in republicanism — A monarchical republic — The Federalist program — The emergence of the Jeffersonian Republican party — The French Revolution in America — John Adams and the few and the many — The crisis of 1798-1799 — The Jeffersonian revolution of 1800 — Republican society — The Jeffersonian West — Law and an independent judiciary — Chief Justice John Marshall and the origins of judicial review — Republican reforms — Between slavery and freedom — The rising glory of America — Republican religion — Republican diplomacy — The War of 1812 — A world within themselves.
NY: 1802 Dewey Dec. 973.4
A fairly detailed contemporary account of the Adams administration, published only one year after it ended.
Hyperion 2005 Dewey Dec. 973.4
In an attempt to stop the legendary Barbary Pirates of North Africa from hijacking American ships, William Eaton set out on a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. The operation was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who at the last moment grew wary of “intermeddling” in a foreign government and sent Eaton off without proper national support. Short on supplies, given very little money and only a few men, Eaton and his mission seemed doomed from the start. He triumphed against all odds, recruited a band of European mercenaries in Alexandria, and led them on a march across the Libyan Desert. Once in Tripoli, the ragtag army defeated the local troops and successfully captured Derne, laying the groundwork for the demise of the Barbary Pirates. Now, Richard Zacks brings this important story of America’s first overseas covert op to life.
Contents: Tripoli — Washington City — American slaves in Tripoli City — Home : New England roots — Tripoli : Decatur’s raid — Alone at sea — Yussef — The mission : Eaton unleashed — Hunting Hamet in Egypt — White Christmas in Tripoli — Reeling in Hamet — Preparing for war : fresh enemies and money, money, money — The desert — Tobias Lear : peace at any cost — An American flag on foreign soil — Malta : diseased liver and cold feet — Tripoli : fear — Tripoli Harbor : Lear to the rescue — Derne : defiance — Tripoli : Peace? Freedom? Honor? — Derne : from a kingdom to a beggary? — Tripoli : Lear pays — Wounded and restless — Homecoming — Jefferson vs. Eaton — Burr, bottle, and six feet under.