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Sue Bush
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Pulitzer Prize Winner Joseph J. Ellis At Williams

09:54PM / Sunday, April 08, 2007

Williamstown - Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, widely praised for his ability to bring fresh insight to the well-known lives of the leaders of the American Revolution, will deliver a lecture is titled "The Founders and Us," at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in Griffin Hall, room 6, on the Williams College campus.

In his recent book, "Founding Brothers," Ellis presents a revelatory study of the entwined lives of the founders of the American republic -- John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.

He elucidates their setting the course for the American nation, without overlooking ways in which these greatly gifted figures were also deeply flawed. By revisiting the old-fashioned idea that character matters, "Founding Brothers" offers a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.

Ellis writes that the checks and balances which permitted the infant American republic to endure were not primarily legal, constitutional, or institutional, but intensely personal, rooted in the dynamic interaction of the aforementioned leaders with quite different visions and values.

In a New York Times Book Review of "Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation," Benson Bobrick wrote, "This is a splendid book -- humane, learned, written with flair and radiant with a calm intelligence and wit. Even those familiar with 'the Revolutionary generation' will…find much in its pages to captivate and enlarge their understanding of our nation's fledgling years."

Ellis became the subject of controversy in 1996 with the publication of his book, "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson," in which he suggests that the evidence for an affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Heming is "inconclusive." The book won the 1997 National Book Award.

He is also the author of "Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams"(1993) and "After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture" (1979), "School for Soldiers: West Point and the Profession of Arms"(1974) and "The New England Mind in Transition"(1973), among others.

Ellis is the Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. Educated at the College of William and Mary and Yale University, he served as a captain in the army and taught at West Point before joining the Mount Holyoke faculty in 1972.



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