(Pulitzer Prize Finalist; Winner of the New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize; New York Times Notable Book) In this brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from the beginning of the national government in 1789 to the end of the War of 1812, Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winner Gordon Wood examines an era marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life. 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 Britain and France; others wanted the country to remain a rural agricultural state very different from Europe. Many leaders expected American culture to flourish and surpass that of Europe; instead it became popularized and vulgarized. They also hoped to see the end of slavery; instead 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.
"Told with enormous insight.... 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 ... the culmination of a lifetime of brilliant thinking and writing."—NYTBR
"This work by the dean of Federalist scholars, and the newest title in the splendid Oxford History of the United States, has been widely hailed as the definitive history of the era."—American Heritage Magazine