Chris DeRose is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and American historian.
His works include “The Presidents’ War: Six American Presidents and the Civil War That Divided Them” (Rowman & Littlefield/Lyons Press 2014), “Congressman Lincoln: The Making of America’s Greatest President” (Simon & Schuster/Threshold 2013) and “Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation” (Regnery History 2011). DeRose is also the author of “Clash of Titans,” the cover story for the official magazine of “The History Channel,” in support of their “Men Who Built America Series,” as well as “Lincoln’s Other War,” a Sunday Washington Post lead op-ed.
DeRose’s writing on American political history is firmly grounded in his 20 years of electoral experience across five different states. He has always been struck by how politics–and people–have remained the same over time.
DeRose currently serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General, litigating complex and Constitutional cases, prosecuting serious crimes on appeal, and enforcing public corruption laws. He was formerly a law professor, teaching Constitutional Law, Election Law, and International Law, among other classes. He was named “Professor of the Year” by students for the 2014-2015 school year.
DeRose has been highlighted in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Christian Science Monitor, Human Events, and four installments of C-SPAN “BookTV.”
DeRose is a featured speaker at venues throughout the United States, having recently addressed members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol and spoken to a capacity crowd in New York’s Bryant Park. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Scholarly Advisors for President Lincoln’s Cottage, the first presidential retreat. A native of Chicago, DeRose lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
For the first time, readers will experience America’s gravest crisis through the eyes of the five former presidents who lived it. Author and historian Chris DeRose chronicles history’s most epic Presidential Royal Rumble, which culminated in a multi-front effort against Lincoln’s reelection bid, but not before:
* John Tyler engaged in shuttle diplomacy between President Buchanan and the new Confederate Government. He chaired the Peace Convention of 1861, the last great hope for a political resolution to the crisis. When it failed, Tyler joined the Virginia Secession Convention, voted to leave the Union, and won election to the Confederate Congress.
* Van Buren, who had schemed to deny Lincoln the presidency, supported him in his efforts after Fort Sumter, and thwarted Franklin Pierce’s attempt at a meeting of the ex-Presidents to undermine Lincoln.
* Millard Fillmore hosted Lincoln and Mary Todd on their way to Washington, initially supported the war effort, offered critical advice to keep Britain at bay, but turned on Lincoln over emancipation.
* Franklin Pierce, talked about as a Democratic candidate in 1860 and ’64, was openly hostile to Lincoln and supportive of the South, an outspoken critic of Lincoln especially on civil liberties. After Vicksburg, when Jefferson Davis’s home was raided, a secret correspondence between Pierce and the Confederate President was revealed.
* James Buchanan, who had left office as seven states had broken away from the Union, engaged in a frantic attempt to vindicate his administration, in part by tying himself to Lincoln and supporting the war, arguing that his successor had simply followed his policies.
How Abraham Lincoln battled against his predecessors to preserve the Union and later to put an end to slavery is a thrilling tale of war waged at the top level of power.
A biography of the early years and personal struggles of the famous frontier politician who led the United States during its darkest hours, centering on his little-known congressional years. This the story of an Abraham Lincoln many Americans aren’t at all familiar with. Lincoln as a reluctant husband in an abusive relationship; Lincoln who came within moments of fighting a duel with a political adversary; the first and only president to patent an invention; the first future president to argue before the Supreme Court.
Though remembered as a Republican, and even more as a figure that transcended partisan politics, Congressman Lincoln reveals Abraham Lincoln as a master political strategist and member of the Whig Party, the one to which he belonged for the majority of his career. Before he appealed to the America’s purest instincts, he argued “The Whigs have fought long enough for principle and ought to begin to fight for success.” Before “malice toward none,” Lincoln bragged of his opponent “I’ve got the preacher by the balls.” Lincoln the policymaker is remembered for his conduct of the Civil War, and his handling of slavery. But even during his Presidency, Lincoln was concerned with a broad array of issues. As a party leader, candidate for Congress, and member of the House, Lincoln worked on stimulus spending, international trade, banking, and even the Post Office. And it would be in the Thirtieth Congress that Lincoln would first move to halt the expansion of slavery, carefully crafting a bill for gradual emancipation in the District of Columbia.
This is the story of America at a critical time. The tale of a Congress that ended a conflict, unsure of what they had gained aside from a seat strapped to a powderkeg, of a party aiming to win the Presidency at all costs, paving the path for its own extinction, and of a country charting an irreversible course toward Civil War. Moreover, it is the story of the man who lead the United States during its darkest hours and his role at the center of this gathering storm. This is the story of Congressman Abraham Lincoln.
Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and The Election that Saved a Nation
In 1789, James Madison and James Monroe ran against each other for Congress—the only time that two future presidents have contested a congressional seat.
But what was at stake, as author Chris DeRose reveals in Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation, was more than personal ambition. This was a race that determined the future of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very definition of the United States of America.
Friends and political allies for most of their lives, Madison was the Constitution’s principal author, Monroe one of its leading opponents. Monroe thought the Constitution gave the federal government too much power and failed to guarantee fundamental rights. Madison believed that without the Constitution, the United States would not survive.
It was the most important congressional race in American history, more important than all but a few presidential elections, and yet it is one that historians have virtually ignored. In Founding Rivals, DeRose, himself a political strategist who has fought campaigns in Madison and Monroe’s district, relives the campaign, retraces the candidates’ footsteps, and offers the first insightful, comprehensive history of this high-stakes political battle.
How Madison’s election ensured the passage of a Bill of Rights—and how
Monroe’s election would have ensured its failure
How Madison came from behind to win a narrow victory (by a margin of only 336 votes) in a district gerrymandered against him
How the Bill of Rights emerged as a campaign promise to Virginia’s evangelical Christians
Why Madison’s defeat might have led to a new Constitutional Convention—and the breakup of the United States
Founding Rivals tells the extraordinary, neglected story of two of America’s most important Founding Fathers. Brought to life by unparalleled research, it is one of the most provocative books of American political history you will read this year.