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Revisiting A Republic of Scoundrels' On Wednesday's Access Utah

Simon & Schuster
Pegasus Books

Today we talk with the editors of the book A Republic of Scoundrels: The Schemers, Intriguers, and Adventurers Who Created a New American Nation.

Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton are often considered American saints, revered for their wisdom and self-sacrificing service to the nation. However, within the Founding Generation lurked many unscrupulous figures—men who violated the era’s expectation of public virtue and advanced their own interests at the expense of others.

They were turncoats and traitors, opportunists and con artists, spies, and foreign intriguers. Some of their names are well known: Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr. Others are less notorious now but were no less threatening. There was Charles Lee, the Continental Army general who offered to tell the British how to defeat the Americans, and James Wilkinson, who served fifteen years as a commanding general in the US Army, despite rumors that he spied for Spain and conspired with traitors.

The early years of the republic were full of self-interested individuals, sometimes succeeding in their plots, sometimes failing, but always shaping the young nation. A Republic of Scoundrels seeks to re-examine the Founding Generation and replace the hagiography of the Founding Fathers with something more realistic: a picture that embraces the many facets of our nation’s origins

David Head (editor) is an associate lecturer of history at the University of Central Florida and a distinguished faculty fellow in history at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He is the author of Privateers of the Americas: Spanish American Privateering from the United States in the Early Republic and A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution, which was a finalist for the 2020 George Washington Prize.

Timothy Hemmis (editor) is an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. He graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi. Timothy's teaching focuses on Early American History and American Military History. He serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Southwest for the Society for Military History and is the History Book Review editor for The Presidential Studies Quarterly. Hemmis has written opinion pieces for the Washington Post and has delivered speeches at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC, the War and Society Working Group at Texas A&M University College Station, and the US Army III Corps Senior Command at Fort Hood.

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Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.