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 new book An Imperfect God traces Washington’s attitudes about slavery over the course of his life. Before he died, he wrote that his ownership of other human beings was his “only unavoidable subject of regret.”

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 new book by historian Phillip Hamilton (CNU), The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752-1830.

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