Review by Choice Review
So much of the American founding era is shrouded in myth, legend, and outright hagiography that the true course of events becomes obscured. In an effort to strip away this luminescent facade, independent historian Hogeland (The Whiskey Rebellion, CH, Jul'07, 44-6422) examines the tumultuous nine weeks leading up to the vote on independence and Jefferson's subsequent declaration. Employing a conversational style, Hogeland's fast-paced narrative is concerned with behind-the-scenes maneuvers by the "Adams-Lee Junto" to bring down Pennsylvania's reconcilist Colonial government led by John Dickinson. Along the way, Hogeland introduces a myriad of lesser-known participants such as Dr. Thomas Young and James Cannon, who dominated local committees and orchestrated collective radicalism. While the book is an engaging read, it is clearly written with a popular audience in mind, with much of the narrative composed of biographical sketches and attempts at historical analysis so simplistic that they sometimes border on fictionalization. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. B. C. Odom Jefferson State Community College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Although the story of the Declaration of Independence has been told many times, imprecise historical sources encourage its retelling. Hogeland expounds upon one gray area, the furtive activity of Samuel Adams, John Adams, and radical cohorts to overturn the Pennsylvania government. Its lack of enthusiasm for independence was their motive; its leader, John Dickinson, was their target; and exploitation of class animosities was their means. Hogeland opens his history with one of their planning meetings, then dispatches them to various precincts of revolutionary Philadelphia on their missions to influence events. Thwarted by a May 1776 election won by the Dickinson forces, the Adams cousins adopted a dual-track strategy: to get the Continental Congress to advise the colonies to form new state governments and to engineer one for Pennsylvania. Congress, of which both Adams were members, enacted their desired resolution, and extralegal popular committees of artisans and mechanics brought about a new state constitution and the eclipse of Dickinson. Readers of Hogeland's The Whiskey Rebellion (2006) will be ready for the author's independent, bottom-up narrative of July 4, 1776.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Hogeland (The Whiskey Rebellion) pre-sents the array of plots, counterplots, resolutions, and declarations out of which came the new American nation. The Declaration of Independence we know today is different from Jefferson's original version, which did not mention God, an idea inserted in the final days before passage by self-described rhetoricians who also eliminated his denunciation of the slave trade. Heroic men met in Philadelphia, and Hogeland concentrates on John and Samuel Adams, the cousins whose labors were decisive. British troops landed on Staten Island on July 3, and a British fleet was in New York Bay, but independence had in fact been declared by July 2 (though it would become unanimous only on July 19 with New York State's vote). Thomas Paine's celebratory words end the book. John Adams despised Paine, for Adams believed in property as the bulwark of democracy, Paine in untrammeled democracy. Their difference informs the dynamic tension attendant upon our country's birth. This brief, fair study provides a sound analysis of events and a revelatory portrayal of the men who made America free. 16 pages of b&w illus. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Journalist Hogeland (Inventing American History, 2009, etc.) forges a compelling narrative from the dozens of intricate political imbroglios that culminated with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.By casting a light on the daily interests of colonial Americans, particularly those whose homes and businesses patterned the spaces of bustling 18th-century Philadelphia, the author animates the discontents of the soon-to-be independent citizenry. With charming detail, the narrative brings together the diverse political players working during the nine weeks prior to the signing of the Declaration. These included rural militias, landed aristocrats, city merchants and immigrants, all of whom found a voice in Philadelphia. In Hogeland's account, the political and cultural differences among these groups often appear far greater than the differences between any one group and England, and it is therefore all the more miraculous that the desire to be free of English rule was so strong as to be able to unify an otherwise truly factious land. The author demonstrates that this factiousness is as much a legacy of our nation's founding as independence itself, and he reminds readers that our forefathers were far more flawed than present-day idolatry suggests. These were men who, by and large, were not in favor of universal suffrage, practiced a class-based and racist economics and were driven by personal reputation and the bottom line. As Hogeland illuminates, what is so remarkable about the founders is that populist radicals, merchant-class moderates and conservatives came together and couched their compromises in the fortunate language of freedom and equality.A brief but astute, well-focused study.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.