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Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776by Richard R Beeman
Synopses & Reviews
In 1768, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush stood before the empty throne of King George III, overcome with emotion as he gazed at the symbol of Americas connection with England. Eight years later, he became one of the fifty-six men to sign the Declaration of Independence, severing America forever from its mother country. Rush was not alone in his radical decision—many of those casting their votes in favor of independence did so with a combination of fear, reluctance, and even sadness.
In Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor, acclaimed historian Richard R. Beeman examines the grueling twenty-two-month period between the meeting of the Continental Congress on September 5, 1774 and the audacious decision for independence in July of 1776. As late as 1774, American independence was hardly inevitable—indeed, most Americans found it neither desirable nor likely. When delegates from the thirteen colonies gathered in September, they were, in the words of John Adams, a gathering of strangers.” Yet over the next two years, military, political, and diplomatic events catalyzed a change of unprecedented magnitude: the colonists rejection of their British identities in favor of American ones. In arresting detail, Beeman brings to life a cast of characters, including the relentless and passionate John Adams, Adams much-misunderstood foil John Dickinson, the fiery political activist Samuel Adams, and the relative political neophyte Thomas Jefferson, and with profound insight reveals their path from subjects of England to citizens of a new nation.
A vibrant narrative, Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor tells the remarkable story of how the delegates to the Continental Congress, through courage and compromise, came to dedicate themselves to the forging of American independence.
"In this comprehensive account, Beeman examines the American colonists' transition from 'loyal' subjects of the British Crown in 1774 to the 'radical' rebels of 1776. The University of Pennsylvania history professor argues that the journey along the revolutionary path was a slow one, and freedom was never the guaranteed endpoint. His take on the matter is full of fascinating details, like the Sons of Liberty footing the bill for a pack of tailors to dress up the 'notoriously' scruffy Samuel Adams for the First Continental Congress, as well as Patrick Henry's metamorphosis from failed merchant to lawyer to the Virginian 'son of thunder.' Beeman also profiles lesser known figures like Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, who burned all of his secret notes on the revolution in order to preserve the myth of the 'supposed wisdom and valor' of America's foremost liberators. But fascinating particulars aside, the narrative contains little new analysis — Beeman's Founding Fathers are the familiar ones. It's clear that the National Book Award finalist (for Patrick Henry) knows his stuff, but unnecessarily stodgy prose ('there was no shortage of places in which they could find opportunities for the convivial consumption of alcohol') will likely deter casual readers. Illus. Agent: John Wright, John W. Wright Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In 1774 American independence was hardly inevitable—indeed, most Americans found it neither desirable nor likely. When delegates from the thirteen colonies gathered in September 1774, they were, in the words of John Adams, a gathering of strangers.” With their differing interests and cultural perspectives, perhaps the only thing that bound them together was their common identity as subjects of the British Crown. But as they confronted the array of political, diplomatic, and military challenges facing them during the twenty-two months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they gradually shed both their provincial and their British identities and became leaders of an American cause. With narrative verve and deep historical understanding, Richard R. Beeman tells the remarkable story of how the delegates to the Continental Congress, through courage and compromise, came to dedicate their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the forging of American independence.
About the Author
Richard R. Beeman is the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. The author of six books on the American Revolution and the Constitution, Beeman was a National Book Award finalist for Patrick Henry and winner of the George Washington Book Prize for Plain, Honest Men. He lives in Media, Pennsylvania.
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