© 2023 WYPR
20th Anniversary Background
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

"The Cause": Historian Joseph Ellis on our Revolution's complex legacy

EllisJoseph wBookCover_JEllis photo by EllenEllis.png
Joseph J. Ellis is a leading scholar of American history whose prolific writings focus on the lives and times of the nation's founders. He won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for "Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation," and "American Sphinx," his biography of Thomas Jefferson, won the 1997 National Book Award for Nonfiction. (Joseph Ellis photo by Ellen Ellis; book jacket courtesy Liveright/W.W.Norton Publishers)

Tom's guest today is the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Joseph Ellis, whose latest book - his 13th - examines the American revolution and its two abiding legacies: independence and slavery.

Many participants in the fight for independence worried that the central challenge was not winning the war, but surviving its aftermath. Ellis observes that at the time, there was no such thing as an American identity, and that a cohesive consensus about nationhood and the institutions of democracy remained elusive following the war. In our time, events since the last Presidential election would indicate that consensus remains elusive to this day.

The book is called The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773-1783. 

Joseph Ellis joined us on Zoom from Woodstock, Vermont.

Tom's conversation with Joseph Ellis was recorded earlier, so we can’t take any calls or comments today.

Stay Connected
Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.
Rob is Midday's senior producer.