Leslie Harris writes:
“Tonight, the George Washington Book Prize of $50,000 will be awarded to Kevin J. Hayes for his book “George Washington, a Life in Books,” one of seven finalists selected as “the past year’s best-written works on the nation’s founding era.” Although over four decades of research on the history of slavery, race and gender have rejuvenated the history of the late-colonial and revolutionary periods, the list of finalists was notable for neglecting books on the place of women and nonwhites in expanding the white male founders’ vision of freedom.
“This is disappointing but unfortunately not surprising. It reflects the persistent struggle to complicate the history of our founding era. We still strive to craft an understanding that both acknowledges the prominent role that white men had in shaping the rightly celebrated documents of that era — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — and the ways in which many others worked to expand the possibilities of those documents for themselves and for the nation…”
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