Sex and the Founding Fathers

The American Quest for a Relatable Past

Thomas A. Foster
Book Cover

PB: $23.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1103-7
Publication: Oct 16

HC: $28.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1102-0
Publication: Jan 14

Ebook: $28.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1104-4

232 pages
6 x 9
15 halftones

Now in Paperback! How public curiosity about the "real" Founders has influenced the stories we tell and remember

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Biographers, journalists, and satirists have long used the subject of sex to define the masculine character and political authority of America's Founding Fathers. Tracing these commentaries on the Revolutionary Era's major political figures in Sex and the Founding Fathers, Thomas Foster shows how continual attempts to reveal the true character of these men instead exposes much more about Americans and American culture than about the Founders themselves.

Sex and the Founding Fathers examines the remarkable and varied assessments of the intimate lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris from their own time to ours. Interpretations can change radically; consider how Jefferson has been variously idealized as a chaste widower, condemned as a child molester, and recently celebrated as a multicultural hero.

Foster considers the public and private images of these generally romanticized leaders to show how each generation uses them to reshape and reinforce American civic and national identity.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Remembering the Founders: Sex and the American Quest for a Relatable Past 1 George Washington 2 Thomas Jefferson 3 John Adams 4 Benjamin Franklin 5 Alexander Hamilton 6 Gouverneur Morris Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author(s)

Thomas A. Foster is a Professor in the History Department at Howard University. He is the author of Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America and the editor of four books, most recently Women in Early America.


In the Series

  • Sexuality Studies edited by Janice M. Irvine and Regina G. Kunzel

    Sexuality Studies, edited by Janice Irvine and Regina Kunzel, features work in sexuality studies broadly construed, in its social, cultural, and political dimensions, and in both historical and contemporary formations. The series includes titles located within disciplinary and interdisciplinary frames that combine theoretical methodologies with empirical research.