Much like earlier generations, Generation Y is certainly proving that they have aspirations too. There’s no better example, than Logan Beirne, whose most recent accomplishment is the soon-to-be published book on our nation’s founding titled: Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency.
Sitting in a mid-town café, Logan describes the genesis of the book. In 2005, as a first- year law student at Yale Law School, he was tasked with writing what’s referred to at Yale as a SAW (Supervised Analytical Writing). Under the direction of his Constitutional law professor, Bill Eskridge, Logan chose to write about George Washington with a focus on Washington as the nation’s first Commander in Chief. Eskridge was great inspiration for the subject given the fact that Eskridge’s family in the 18th century took in George Washinton’s orphaned mother, who later named her son after George Eskridge. And Logan has long been fascinated with our Founding Fathers: “My dad was always taking us as kids to Revolutionary War battle sites and I’m related to James Madison on my mother’s side.”
Logan loved his time as a student at Yale and is currently back again as an Olin Scholar. He has fond memories of a number of his professors at the school. In addition to Eskridge, he mentions Amy Chua, most noted for her parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, who taught him international business transactions and John Macey who teaches business organizations at the school.
But for all of Logan’s links to Yale, his route there was indirect and certainly serendipitous. Growing up in Connecticut the youngest of four, Logan initially wanted to be a doctor but after enrolling at Fairfield University decided to study finance. After graduation Logan studied as a Fulbright Scholar at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Logan’s Fulbright paper analyzed the cost of prescription drugs and their reimportation from Puerto Rico (where they’re made) to Canada and ultimately to the U.S. For U.S. consumers this process has significant consequences. As Logan notes, “Prescription drugs are approximately 80% cheaper in Canada.” His paper concluded that legalized reimportation from Canada would be safe for consumers but also represented a $954 million hit to the pharmaceutical industry’s bottom line.
On completing his Fulbright, Logan continued on a finance path, working for the private equity arm of GE Capital. “I had never considered law school but started to feel as if I needed to round out my experience. I saw the law as a means to complete my tool kit.” After taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), Logan applied to Harvard, Yale, Columbia and New York University. Accepted at all four, Logan decided to attend Yale. He spent his summers in between law school working first at the prestigious New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell and then at J.P. Morgan.
Looking for the right “marriage” between business and creativity, Logan joined Sullivan & Cromwell as an associate in their private client group, spending about a third of his time doing not-for-profit work for his clients. If you’re getting the sense by now that Logan is the ultimate over-achiever, you’re right. As he modestly puts it while sipping a cappuccino, “I had this opportunity to return to Yale Law as a fellow and write a book.” Taking action, Logan decided to pick up on his SAW from his law school days and delve deeper into a subject he admired: George Washington.
His book on Washington which is coming out in February, “in time for Presidents’ Day,” focuses on not only Washington’s achievements on the battlefield but also as a person and as a leader governing an America at war. “As I researched and studied Washington, I found myself admiring him even more.” Logan explains by pointing out that Washington was “amazingly principled, never wavering in his convictions and always holding himself to the highest standards.” The book focuses in particular on George Washington’s actions as the nation’s first commander in chief, who set enduring precedents while he forged the meaning of the U.S. Constitution in the midst of the Revolutionary War. The Founding Fathers saw the first commander in chief as the template for all his successors and a leader who would defend American citizens’ rights and liberties against all forms of aggression.
In researching the book, Logan drew on the archives at Yale Law School and the papers of George Washington housed at the University of Virginia. In his research he discovered that a trunk filled with letters Washington wrote was uncovered in his own ancestors’ home. These documents were mostly relating to Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon. Washington loved his estate and while Jefferson is often credited for his architectural acumen at Monticello, Logan points out that Washington also had a real knack for architecture as best demonstrated in the design and layout of Mount Vernon.
It’s hard to resist comparisons between our first and third presidents. “Washington unlike Jefferson lacked a formal education and never spent time in Europe.” Logan argues that what Washington may have lacked in traditional education he made up for in personal attributes. He opines that Washington and his wife, Martha “were really in love. Washington married well.” Historians still debate Jefferson’s romantic life, but suffice it to say, he did not have the same nuptial experience as Washington. But perhaps in the ultimate compliment to Jefferson, Logan uses Jefferson’s “blood of tyrants” quote in the title of his book.
Logan says that among the Founding Fathers, Washington was probably closest to Alexander Hamilton, treating him almost like a son – one he scolded on more than one occasion. Washington never had children of his own and most historians opine that he was likely sterile, the result of a bout with smallpox as a young man.
When I ask Logan what would surprise people most about Washington, Logan mentions his fun side. For example, while having a strong sense of decorum, Washington loved parties and the graceful athleticism that served him so well on horseback also made him an incredible dancer. Physically, Washington at 6’3” cut an impressive figure, with big hands but narrow shoulders.
Much like Churchill, Washington often spoke of Divine Providence and the Hand of Destiny. This sense of destiny was instrumental in Washington’s outlook as he served first in the French and Indian War and then the Revolutionary War. Faith was also important to Washington and extended itself ecumenically. In addition to Protestant clergy, Washington ensured that the troops were also ministered to by Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis.
All of this is not to imply that Washington had no imperfections. “He was insecure about his education and his dearth of formal military training and was probably more ambitious than some historians admit, but overall the most salient characteristic about Washington was his focus on doing what was best for the country.” As Logan sums it up, “The key point of Blood of Tyrants is showing the connection between the past and the present and what we need to continue to do to protect and uphold the Constitution.” Washington set the example that still resonates today.
So with the publication of his book on Washington, I ask Logan what’s next? “ At this point, I am just trying to survive the all nighters I am going to have to pull in order to meet my publisher’s deadline for final edits. I want this book to be perfect.”
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: Il Mulino
Favorite Place to Shop: I don’t. I delegate it to someone with a better fashion sense than me.
Favorite New York Sight: Jogging down by Battery Park with the view of the water and the Statute of Liberty.
Favorite New York Moment: Running into people I know.
What You Love About New York: It’s invigorating. There’s always something happening. People work harder here to change the world.
What You Hate About New York: The smells.