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An Imperfect God

From: With Good Reason
Length: 29:25

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George Washington’s changing attitudes about slavery, from raffling off slave children to prevent his family’s financial collapse to later setting all of his slaves free in his will, are discussed by author Henry Wiencek, followed by historian Phillip Hamilton on the attempts to avoid financial ruin by one elite family in Revolutionary America. Read the full description.

Imperfectgodcover_small Early biographers of the nation’s first president left out the part where a young George Washington raffled off slave children to prevent his family’s financial collapse. But Washington began to see the moral evil of slavery during the Revolutionary War, and he set all of his slaves free in his will. Henry Wiencek’s recent book An Imperfect God traces Washington’s attitudes about slavery over the course of his life. Also featured: The birth of the United States was not kind to many of Virginia’s elite, but St. George Tucker managed to keep his family solvent. The story of Tucker’s rise and his attempts to avoid financial ruin is the subject of a recent book by historian Phillip Hamilton, The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752-1830.

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Piece Description

Early biographers of the nation’s first president left out the part where a young George Washington raffled off slave children to prevent his family’s financial collapse. But Washington began to see the moral evil of slavery during the Revolutionary War, and he set all of his slaves free in his will. Henry Wiencek’s recent book An Imperfect God traces Washington’s attitudes about slavery over the course of his life. Also featured: The birth of the United States was not kind to many of Virginia’s elite, but St. George Tucker managed to keep his family solvent. The story of Tucker’s rise and his attempts to avoid financial ruin is the subject of a recent book by historian Phillip Hamilton, The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752-1830.

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Review of An Imperfect God

With Good Reason may be a series produced in Virgina featuring Virginian academics, but this episode would be worth a listen by anyone with an interest in US history. Both segments in the interview-format program deal with the issue of slavery during the Revolutionary period - first through Henry Wiencek's biography of George Washington and then Phillip Hamilton's book about the lesser known Tucker family of Virginia. The engaging and well prepared host seems almost friends with the authors as they talk about the subjects of their books. A lot of interesting and not so famous anectdotes about Washington are revealed. And though historians are not fond of speculating beyond primary sources and actual documentation (which can sometimes make them rather frustrating to interview), we're given at least a hint that Washington's reasons for giving freedom to his slaves upon his death may have been personal as well as political. This program would certainly be ideal for lazy afternoon or evening listening during 4th of July weekend.

Timing and Cues

IN CUE: (Music)
OUTCUE: “. . . I’m Sarah McConnell. Thanks for listening.”
FOLLOWED BY :22 music bed out

Related Website

http://www.withgoodreasonradio.org