In 1776, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers concluded America's most consequential document with a curious note, pledging "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." Lives and honor did indeed hang in the balance, yet just what were their fortunes?
The book’s strong organization, the conversion of colonial financial sums to modern dollars, and well-paced and lively writing make for an outstanding work of American history and a joy to read. Alongside the financial history, Randall’s account of the Founders’ world is compelling and highly readable, while his description of French aid during the revolution suggests that FDR got the Lend-Lease idea from Louis XVI. Randall’s dry wit drives the true stories of French police searching Ben Franklin’s underwear and Sam Adams’ beer career.
In an engaging style, Randall skillfully compiles material from extensive research regarding the compelling impact of the Founders’ personal financial interests on their political decision-making—from rebelling against Britain through ratifying the Constitution—but contends that they were not driven exclusively by personal gain ... This accessible, concise, yet informative work would benefit from a conclusion summarizing Randall’s observations. It will appeal to general readers and academics.
...superb ... historian and biographer Willard Sterne Randall explores in extensive detail the economic circumstances of the budding republic ... The personal stories of the Founding Fathers’ wealth are especially interesting ... Randall is a biographer of Washington, Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, so he knows his territory well. The Founders’ Fortunes will hold readers’ interests with its carefully drawn portraits of personalities and insightful analyses of events.