- Gordon S. Wood has written many magnificent books on the American Revolution, including The Radicalism of the American Revolution and The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (called "One of the half dozen most important books ever written about the American Revolution"). His new book is outside the boundaries of this site, but nonetheless, for anyone who wants to know how colonial ideals became American democracy, read Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815. It has received superlative reviews.
More Creation — The Empire of Liberty
As in the case of his career as commander-in-chief, Washington’s most important act as president was his giving up the office. The significance of his retirement from the presidency is easily overlooked today, but his contemporaries knew what it meant. Most people assumed that Washington might be president as long as he lived, that he would be a kind of elected monarch like the king of Poland. Hence his retirement from the presidency enhanced his moral authority and set a precedent for future presidents.