Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
In his new book, The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Edward Larson focuses on George Washington’s life — post-Revolutionary War, pre-Presidency — bringing elegant prose and exacting research to Washington’s indispensable role in rescuing the nation. Under the confederation, the states (beginning with Pennsylvania) were clever enough to figure out how they could solve their financial problems by printing money backed by the confederation's own debt — and by doing so, supplant the confederation as the center of political power. More than any single thing, this threat to central authority — a pure financial contrivance — drove nationalists like Washington, Hamilton and Madison to push for a new constitution consolidating power, including the power to print money, raise revenue and pay debts. It was the forerunner to Hamilton's brilliant plan to have the new central government assume the states' revolutionary war debt, and thus demote the states.
About the Author
Edward J. Larson is University Professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. Larson is also an inaugural Library Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in Mount Vernon, VA, and a Gay Hart Gaines Distinguished Visiting Lecturer of American History for 2013-2014. He received the Pulitzer Prize for History for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. His other books include A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign; An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory; Evolution's Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands; and Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution. Larson also co-authored (with Michael P. Winship) The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison, published by Modern Library Classics. He lives in California.