Sex and the Founding Fathers: The American Quest for a Relatable Past- Thomas A. Foster
non fiction, history
An academic text examining the ways that the American public redefines the Founding Fathers to be in accord with the morals and ideas of the time.
So, you're a typical student in the USA, what do you learn about the Founding Fathers? Oh, they were impeachable men-good in every way and by the way, you should trust politicians, they know better. You hit middle school and there's schoolkid giggling over Jefferson's potential mistress but you know what, Washington remains impeccable and Adams was silly in love and by the time you hit high school, you don't even care anymore because you've heard it all before (or at least, that's my story). This is a book about why that is true. Foster exposes all the fiction in the narratives we're taught because let's face it, the Founding Fathers were actual human beings who wrote things and lived full lives. But now, centuries after their victories, they had to be rewritten, never doubted and this is what Foster is really considering. To be proper heroes, they have to be purely masculine ideals so Washington becomes muscular (instead of "awkwardly put together") while also skirting around the American tendency to prudishness (unless it happened in France, like in the case of Franklin who had a lot of sex for a 70-80 year old, but you know, the French). If you want to actually know about the sex lives of the Founding Fathers, you're welcome to try to read between the lines of their correspondence and come to your own conclusions (inevitably colored by your own perceptions) just like every previous biographer has done as Foster points out in each chapter dedicated to an individual Founding Father including one you may not remember (Morris).