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Available NowTo Rescue the Constitution

George Washington and the Fragile American Experiment

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Bret Baier, the #1 New York Times bestselling author and Fox News Channel’s Chief Political Anchor, presents To Rescue the Constitution.

George Washington rescued the nation and the Constitution three times: first by winning the Revolutionary War, second by presiding over the Constitutional Convention and ushering the Constitution through a fractious ratification process, and third by leading the nation as president in its first years. There is no doubt that the struggling new nation needed to be rescued.

After the victorious war, when a spirit of unity and patriotism might have been expected, instead the nation was broken. The states were no more than a loosely knit and contentious confederation, with no strong central union. They were in constant conflict. A frustrated Washington wrote to James Madison, “We are either a united people, or we are not… If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it…” It was an urgent matter, and led to the calling of a Constitutional Convention.

Setting aside his plan to retire to Mount Vernon, where he had a happy family life and was fully engaged in his farming enterprises, Washington agreed to be a delegate at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. There he was unanimously elected president of the convention. After successfully bringing the Constitution into being, Washington then sacrificed any hope of returning to private life by accepting the unanimous election to be the nation’s first president. Washington was not known for brilliant oratory or prose, but his quiet, steady leadership gave life to the Constitution by showing how it should be enacted. He not only helped write the nation’s blueprint; he lived it.

In this colorful and moving portrait of America’s early struggles, when the fight for survival was constant, Baier captures the dramatic moments when Washington’s leadership brought the nation from the brink of collapse. Baier exposes an early America that is grittier and far more divided than it is often portrayed—one we can see reflected in today’s conflicts.

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Peek Inside The Book


The site of Washington’s Virginia birthplace signifying the beauty and promise of the new world.

Artist: J.G. Chapman. The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


Washington had a difficult but ultimately loving relationship with his mother, Mary Ball Washington. She lived to see him become president but died soon after in August 1789. This illustration depicts Washington’s last visit before her death.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


Beautiful, vivacious, and intelligent, Martha Dandridge first caught the eye of the wealthy Daniel Parke Custis, who would suffer an early death. A widow with two children, she was courted by many before she and Washington found each other.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


The wedding of George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis. Martha’s children are also pictured.

Artist: Junius B. Stearns. The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


Washington, Martha and the children at Mount Vernon. Although Washington never had children of his own, he became a loving stepfather to Jacky and Patsy.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


This illustration depicts General George Washington standing on a bluff above the Hudson River, with his enslaved valet William Lee on horseback to his right. Lee remained with Washington for life, and Washington freed him with an annuity in his will.

Artist: John Trumbull. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Charles Allen Munn, 1924.


Whenever she could, Martha visited Washington at his headquarters, spreading welcome warmth and support to his men. Other officers’ wives sometimes joined her. This illustration depicts her arriving at Washington’s headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.

Nathanael Greene

The Quaker patriot Nathanael Greene became one of Washington’s most skilled officers, and a strong bond formed between the two men.

Artist: Valentine Green. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.


On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented a draft of the Declaration of Independence to John Hancock at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.

Artist: John Trumbull. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation.


On Christmas Eve 1776, Washington prepared to lead his men across the Delaware River. The campaign was a desperate effort by a beleaguered army to gain an advantage. Washington’s call sign for the campaign was “Victory or Death.”

Artist: After John Cameron. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Adele S. Colgate.


“Hour of Victory”: The march to Trenton.

Artist: Edward Percy Moran. Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.


During a brutal winter at Valley Forge, as Washington struggled to restore the strength of his exhausted force, he welcomed the arrival of a young French officer the Marquis de Lafayette, who would become a valuable officer and a devoted friend.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


Washington and his staff at Valley Forge. The officers on horseback are the Marquis de Lafayette, Nathaniel Greene, Anthony Wayne, and Henry Knox. Standing in the background on the right is Col. John Brooks.

Artist: Vernon Fletcher. Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University Art Gallery.


The British surrender their arms to Washington. Among those shown are Benjamin Lincoln, Lafayette and British General Charles Cornwallis—although Cornwallis had refused to attend the ceremony and was not present.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


On December 4, 1783, Washington resigned his commission and bid farewell to his men “with a heart full of love and gratitude.”

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


A replica of the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House where the Constitution was debated in 1787.

National Park Service.


The Rising Sun chair. The mahogany armchair with a carved sun in the top crest rail was made by John Folwell for the Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly. During the Constitutional Convention it became Washington’s seat as he served as the convention president.

National Park Service.


James Madison, known as the chief architect of the Constitution, was a dedicated federalist who would become the nation’s fourth president.

Library of Congress.


The signing of the Constitution was a somber occasion. In this depiction Washington presides over the process. Benjamin Franklin, seated in front, had reservations about the Constitution, but he urged everyone to sign for the sake of unity.

By Howard Chandler Christy, 1940. House Wing, East Stairway, U.S. Capitol Building. Architect of the Capitol.


On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the presidential oath of office for the first time. The location was Federal Hall in New York City.

National Park Service.


Vice President John Adams. Adams’s contribution to the birth of the nation is without parallel. After serving two terms as Washington’s vice president, he would become the nation’s second president.

Library of Congress


Alexander Hamilton.

Artist: John Trumbull. Gift of Henry G. Marquand, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The first cabinet (l to r) Henry Knox, Secretary of War, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, Attorney General, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, and President Washington.

The Miriam and Ira Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.


The plan of the city of Washington in the territory of Columbia, which was ceded by Virginia and Maryland to the United States to become the seat of its government.

Library of Congress


The west front of Mount Vernon.

Artist: Edward Savage. Mount Vernon Ladies Association.


George Washington’s autograph.

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.


Photo of Bret and Doug Bradburn, President & CEO of George Washington’s Mt. Vernon


“Bret Baier gives us a stylish and sensible portrait of the Foundingest Father of them all. At a time when a serious political dialogue has become virtually impossible, it is refreshing to be transported to a time when argument itself was the answer, and one man understood that surrendering power was the ultimate measure of leadership.”

Joseph J. Ellis

Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian; Author of His Excellency: George Washington

“Bret Baier has done it again! To Rescue The Constitution is a masterful exploration of the electrifying struggle to unite a young United States. Meticulously researched and powerfully written, in these pages Baier presents riveting portraits of the era’s key leaders and above all of George Washington himself. This book should be required reading in Washington, DC and the rest of the nation. With To Rescue The Constitution, Baier clearly takes his place as the country’s most significant journalist-historian. What a tour de force!”

Jay Winik

New York Times bestselling author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

“Bret Baier’s narrative–careful, detailed, and evocative–captures what is arguably the most interesting (and in our schools often largely ignored) periods of American history. George Washington’s times were more divisive than today’s, but Baier clearly demonstrates how our first president brought the country together, largely by force of his character and example. To Rescue the Constitution fills the gaps in all readers minds; it informs, illuminates and deepens understanding. And gives us perspective from which hope might arise. It is very much worth reading.”

Bill Bennett

United States Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan

“Once again Bret Baier has taken readers on a journey into American history, dramatizing the suspenseful years around the birth of our nation. The scenes have striking relevance in today’s fractured political climate, underscoring the need for constant vigilance to protect the values of our republic.”

Mark Levin

Lawyer, author, and host of syndicated radio show The Mark Levin Show and Life, Liberty & Levin on Fox News

“All students of American history should read Bret Baier’s compelling new book on George Washington – a great look at our indispensable Founding Father.”

David Rubenstein

Chairman of the Council of Foreign Relations, bestselling author, and Host of PBS’s The David Rubenstein Show

“In “To Rescue the Constitution”, Bret Baier adds another important volume to his now-extraordinary series of five books written about key moments of transition in American politics and history. As with his other books, Bret Baier combines the journalist’s instinct for narrative with a flair for writing history and biography which now places him in the ranks of America’s best and most important historians. “To Rescue the Constitution ” doubles as a personal, political and military portrait of Washington and -by far- the most readable and cogent account of America’s war of independence and rise to nationhood, As Baier shows, America’s birth as a free nation owed much – almost everything– to Washington who is profiled from birth to death as America’s founding father, indisputably “First in War, First in Peace.” Additionally, this has become my favorite book on the Revolutionary war, on the Constitutional Convention, on the ratification debates and on Washington’s two precedent-setting terms as president, all of which fulfilled Washington’s personal goals while completing the American revolution. It should be added that “To Rescue the Constitution” is written for our troubled times. The story it tells is a powerful reminder that for America, the road to consensus and progress has always brought forth differences, differences inherent in our makeup as free people and in our great political, social and economic diversity. The story it tells shows that with statesmanship and a renewed commitment to citizenship, no major problem confronting Americans is ultimately is beyond resolution. Like Bret Baier’s other four books, this book is fun, readable and inspiring. Like the others, it is my favorite book of 2023.”

David Eisenhower

Director, Institute of Public Service, Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Eisenhower: At War

“In this timely study of the early, halting, fragile launch of the American experiment in self-governance, Bret Baier provides an antidote to the anxiety of our own times. Straddling the political reality of two eras, the division of twenty-first century America and the “internal conflicts of an emerging nation.” Baier proves a perfect guide to the violent, acrimonious, compromise-laden creation of our political system. He finds hope for the future in this study of the past—our “dissent was baked into the cake,” he notes, “but so was union.” In his continuation of an examination of Presidential leadership, Bret Baier returns to the beginning—the role played by George Washington in the creation of our system of government. He ultimately finds Washington’s contribution to be without parallel. Exploring the challenges Washington faced in winning American independence and driving the story through the creation of the Constitution and the Presidency, Baier powerfully places Washington’s signature acumen for leadership at the center of the remarkable creation of our shared revolutionary experiment in self-government. Rejecting simplistic and romantic notions of America’s extraordinary Founding, Baier writes from the experience of years covering contemporary politics and revels in bringing the violence, selfishness, ignorance, and extreme partisanship into full conversation with the inspiration, dignity, and compromise which has characterized American political history from the beginning. Washington emerges as a real, bold, visionary, and effective politician whose unique perspective and experience provided steady guidance in the midst of the maelstrom of revolution. This study could be an essential introduction to the extraordinary story of the birth of the United States and a great refresher for many who have forgotten the sheer will and brilliance of our shared Founding and ongoing effort to find a more perfect Union.”

Douglas Bradburn

PhD., President and CEO, George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

“It is not possible for one book to do justice to George Washington. But it is possible, and long overdue, for one book to put Washington’s role in the framing our our Constitution center stage. Without these critical months as the presiding officer of the Constitutional convention —“Washington gave no speech. He maintained his reserve to the end” as Bret Baier writes in To Rescue The Constitution—all the strength, endurance, courage and victory Washington displayed in the Revolutionary War would have been wasted as the union dissolved after the peace was secured. Without that Convention and its blueprint, Washington’s two terms as president would not have provided the bedrock example of selfless service on which the Republic would depend until Lincoln and Grant arrived to guide it through its greatest storm. Washington is the indispensable man in our nation’s story, and his role at the Constitutional Convention his greatest moment of leadership for the new nation. More than as its Commander-in-Chief during the war, more than his record as its first president, without Washington presiding over its deliberations the Convention of 1787 would have come to naught. Kudos to Bret Baier for resurrecting these critical months in Washington’s life, putting them exactly in the middle of that most amazing life, and reminding the reader, again, that along with “No Washington, no country” and “No Washington, no presidency,” there is surely a third absolute: “No Washington, no Constitution.” A book that could not be more timely as the country again seeks leaders of dignity and courage, resolve and restraint.”

Hugh Hewitt

Radio Talk Show Host: The Hugh Hewitt Show, Former Director of the United States Office of Personnel Management

“Bret Baier’s To Rescue the Constitution is the epic saga of how George Washington emerged as the indispensable leader of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787. Written with historical exactness, dramatic flare, and reader-friendly prose, Baier once again proves that he is a first-rate popular historian. The George Washington that emerges from these pages is a decorated Revolutionary War hero whose personality strengths are pragmatic risk-taking, philosophical wisdom, good judgment, and unwavering patriotism. As Baier makes clear, our first president was duty-bound to build a durable United States of America. Highly recommended!”

Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University. He is the author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.

“Bret has done it again- bringing to life the real life drama and brilliance of our founding fathers in constructing our Constitution and recounting the remarkable leadership of George Washington. I can see him covering it all in the 1789 version of Special Report!”

Brian Kilmeade

Co-Anchor, Fox and Friends, Host of the Brian Kilmeade Radio Show, and bestselling author.

“Baier offers a reminder both useful and poignant of a truth we’ve forgotten: our republic has often felt fragile before. The tale of Washington, who chose not to run when he could, rings down the decades.”

Amity Shlaes

Author, author, Great Society and Forgotten Man

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