In The Shaping of America, Page Smith presents an in-depth portrait of America's formative years, the turbulent first half-century of its independence, and of the development of the American character. Standard histories tend to depict this era as a glorious period of progress and expansion. It was also, however, a time of turmoil and disorder, of violent rhetoric, and of class, regional, and philosophical conflicts that threatened to destroy the young government.
Dr. Smith provides superbly revealing chapters on the Indians, on religion and education, on science and the arts, on business, on life in the cities and life on the farms - all enriched by firsthand accounts that bring the nation and its people vibrantly to life.
The book closes with the deaths on the same day - July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence - of two great patriots, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, leaders of the two opposing philosophies that shaped the nation.