John Adams was a key figure in the American Revolution who went on to be the second president of the United States. Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, Adams attended Harvard and held a variety of jobs… read analysis of John Adams
George Washington, for whom the nation’s capital was named, was a military hero during the Revolution and the first president of the United States. He was born in Virginia to a family of planters and… read analysis of George Washington
Aaron Burr was a politician from New Jersey who served as Thomas Jefferson’s vice president for one term. He had an antagonistic relationship with Alexander Hamilton, whom he blamed for his loss in… read analysis of Aaron Burr
Benjamin Franklin was the oldest member of the Founding Fathers. Aside from serving as a politician, Franklin was also an author, publisher, scientist, and activist. In the period that the book covers, Franklin was already… read analysis of Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Jefferson was a member of the Founding Fathers and the author of the Declaration of Independence. He was Governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War and went on to be the third president… read analysis of Thomas Jefferson
James Madison was a member of the Founding Fathers and the fourth president of the United States, though the book does not cover his presidency. Madison was born into a wealthy slaveholding family in Virginia… read analysis of James Madison
Abigail Adams was John Adams’ wife and John Quincy’s mother. Despite not having received a full education, she was intelligent and keenly interested in politics. While her husband was president, Abigail made sure… read analysis of Abigail Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy was John Adams and Abigail Adams’ son. His father appointed him as Minister to Prussia during his presidency, despite the fact that John Quincy worried this would look nepotistic. It turned out… read analysis of John Quincy Adams
James Monroe was Thomas Jefferson’s “loyal […] disciple.” Like Jefferson, Monroe was a Virginian, and attempted to persuade Jefferson out of agreeing to the Compromise of 1790 on the grounds that it was not… read analysis of James Monroe
Benjamin Rush was an American political leader and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. During the period when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were not speaking, Rush had a prophetic dream… read analysis of Benjamin Rush
William Van Ness
William Van Ness was Aaron Burr’s protégé. He attended the duel in which Alexander Hamilton was killed, and hurried Burr away after seeing that Hamilton was injured in order to protect Burr from legal trouble.
Nathaniel Pendleton was Alexander Hamilton’s “loyal associate,” who also attended the duel at which Aaron Burr killed Hamilton.
John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the United States. He coauthored The Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
James Jackson was a representative from Georgia who gave a long proslavery speech in Congress after Quakers and members of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society delivered antislavery petitions in 1790.
William Loughton Smith
William Loughton Smith was another representative from Georgia who gave a proslavery speech in Congress in 1790.
Elbridge Gerry was a representative from Massachusetts who expressed sympathy with slaveholders during the debate on slavery in 1790.
Thomas Pinckney was a politician from South Carolina who came third in the first contested American presidential election. The possibility of losing to Pinckney infuriated John Adams, who called him a “nobody.”
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and thereafter became the French Emperor. He sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803, doubling the size of the republic.