H. W. Brands, Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History and Government at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses his book, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (2000). He argues that Franklin as the first person in the British colonies in the 1770s to view himself as an American rather than an Englishman. He focuses particularly on how Franklin shaped his reputation in France to encourage that nation to support the Revolution.
Richard Brookhiser, senior editor at National Review, discusses his book, Alexander Hamilton, American. Brookhiser recounts Alexander Hamilton's great successes and tragic failures as Revolutionary, bovernment-shaper, financial genius, and American visionary. He explores Hamilton's impoverished upringing in the Caribbean and describes how Hamilton went on to give birth to American capitalism by developing the country's financial system.
An independent scholar, Ron Chernow won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for Washington: A Life and the National Book Award in 1990 for his first book, The House of Morgan. In Alexander Hamilton, which won the George Washington Book Prize in 2005, he presents the full sweep of the founder's dramatic life and achievements. In this lecture, Chernow addresses the question, "Why did Alexander Hamilton never become President?" and makes the case that Alexander Hamilton was the most influential American who never attained the presidency. Detailing Hamilton's early life and meteoric career, Chernow then offers his educated guesses as to why Hamilton never achieved the ultimate American office.