Synopses & Reviews
Friends of Liberty tells the remarkable story of three men whose lives were braided together by issues of liberty and race that fueled revolutions across two continents. Thomas Jefferson wrote the founding documents of the United States. Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a hero of the American Revolution and later led a spectacular but failed uprising in Poland, his homeland. Agrippa Hull, a freeborn black New Englander, volunteered at eighteen to join the Continental Army. During the Revolution, Hull served Kosciuszko as an orderly, and the two became fast friends. Kosciuszkos abhorrence of bondage shaped histhinking about the oppression in his own land. When Kosciuszko returned to America in the 1790s, bearing the wounds of his own failed revolution, he and Jefferson forged an intense friendship based on their shared dreams for the global expansion of human freedom. They sealed their bond with a blood compact whereby Jefferson would liberate his slaves upon Kosciuszkos death. But Jefferson died without fulfilling the promise he had made to Kosciuszko-and to a fledgling nation founded on the principle of liberty and justice for all.
"Thomas Jefferson's betrayal of a loyal friend, the great Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko, is at the center of this book by Nash (The Unknown American Revolution) and Hodges (Anna May Wong). Jefferson had promised to use Kosciuszko's American estate to free some of his slaves. He reneged on that pledge, torn as always between his principles, his benefits from slavery and his debts. Kosciuszko, a skilled engineer who greatly contributed to the American military in the Revolution and was more deeply opposed to slavery than most Americans (it was a free African-American from Massachusetts who proved to the Pole the worth and humanity of black people) could not move his friend to free his slaves. Agrippa Hull the third man in this fascinating story was an army orderly who served Kosciuszko and the nation of his birth. Hull seems somewhat peripheral to the main story line, but the authors' telling of his life puts yet another man previously lost to history onto the historical record. All in all, this is a wonderful book, an outstanding example of how a scholarly monograph can be readable, moving and sobering all at once." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Thomas Jefferson, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull
The tragic history of an African-American soldier, a Polish revolutionary, and a flawed statesman who betrayed a friend and failed a nation
About the Author
Gary B. Nash is professor of history at UCLA and director of the National Center for History in the Schools. He is the former president of the Organization of American Historians, co-chair of the National History Standards Project, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Graham Russell Gao Hodges is George Dorland Langdon Jr. Professor of History at Colgate University, and author of six books including Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863 and Taxi!