We are pleased to host historian Tom Shachtman as he sits down to discuss his new book, The Founding Fortunes, with our own Jon Grand
In The Founding Fortunes, historian Tom Shachtman offers an in-depth look at a time when money became as vital as guns in securing victory on the Revolutionary War's battlefields, and how some of America's wealthiest men risked their fortunes to aid the new country even as they reaped benefits from its independence. While history teaches that successful revolutions depend on participation by the common man, the establishment of a stable and independent United States first required wealthy colonials uniting to disrupt the very system that had enriched them, and then funding a very long war. While some fortunes were made during the war at the expense of the poor, many of the wealthy embraced the goal of obtaining for their poorer countrymen an unprecedented equality of opportunity, along with independence. Tom Shachtman tells this story through tracing the lives of a dozen men who made and lost fortunes, and deeply affected the finances of the new country. In addition to nuanced views of the well-known wealthy such as Robert Morris and John Hancock, and of the less wealthy but influential Alexander Hamilton, The Founding Fortunes offers insight into the contributions of those often overlooked by popular history: Henry Laurens, the plantation owner who replaced Hancock as President of Congress; pioneering businessmen William Bingham, Jeremiah Wadsworth, and Stephen Girard; privateer magnate Elias Hasket Derby; and Hamilton's successors at Treasury, Oliver Wolcott, Jr. and Albert Gallatin. Revelatory and insightful, The Founding Fortunes provides a riveting history of economic patriotism that still resonates today.
Tom Shachtman is an author, filmmaker, and educator. He has written or co-authored more than thirty books, including Rumspringa, Airlift to America, and Terrors and Marvels, as well documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, and has taught at major universities. Publishers Weekly lauded his book Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish as "not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move." He has written articles for The New York Times, Newsday, Smithsonian, and environmental monthlies, and writes a column for The Lakeville Journal (CT).
In The Founding Fortunes, historian Tom Shachtman reveals the ways in which a dozen notable Revolutionaries deeply affected the finances and birth of the new country while making and losing their fortunes.