Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free
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No event in American history was more pivotal-or more furiously contested-than Congress's decision to declare independence in July 1776. Even months after American blood had been shed at Lexington and Concord, many colonists remained loyal to Britain. John Adams, a leader of the revolutionary effort, said bringing the fractious colonies together was like getting "thirteen clocks to strike at once."
Other books have been written about the Declaration, but no author has traced the political journey from protest to Revolution with the narrative scope and flair of John Ferling. Independence takes readers from the cobblestones of Philadelphia into the halls of Parliament, where many sympathized with the Americans and furious debate erupted over how to deal with the rebellion. Independence is not only the story of how freedom was won, but how an empire was lost.
At this remarkable moment in history, high-stakes politics was intertwined with a profound debate about democracy, governance, and justice. John Ferling, drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, brings this passionate struggle to life as no other historian could. Independence will be hailed as the finest work yet from the author Michael Beschloss calls "a national resource."
selected a slate of Manhattan-only delegates that did not include Sears. When elected, the delegates announced that “at present” they favored an embargo. New York was backing a continental congress, but reluctantly, and largely as its merchants believed that such a meeting offered the last best hope for reaching an accommodation with the mother country and avoiding rebellion and social upheaval.15 Pennsylvania’s merchants were no more enthralled with the prospect of a congress and the loss of
Nothing can be done but by forceable Means.” He also said that the rebellion was not confined to Massachusetts. Even Pennsylvanians “talk … of taking [up] Arms with an Indifference, as if it were a Matter of little Importance,” the general wrote. Nevertheless, Gage stressed that New England, and especially Massachusetts, was the cockpit of the American rebellion. If the Yankees could be brought to submission, he counseled, the American rebellion would be over. However, Gage cautioned that the
“that can restore America to our bosom: you must repeal her fears and her resentments; and you may then hope for her love and gratitude.” Parliament must understand that “taxation is theirs, commercial regulation is ours.” Parliament “must recognize … the Americans … supreme unalienable right in their property.”30 North spoke the following day for two hours. He largely ignored what Chatham had said. Instead, he unveiled a portion of the government’s planned response to events in America.
winter. In its first month of operation, before the bugs were ironed out, the New York City committee seized and sold imports that brought only 350 pounds in auctions. A few months later a royal official in the colony lamented that the boycott was ironclad and “ever rigidly maintained in this place.”42 Occasionally, a congressman served on an Association committee. John Adams, for instance, was already a member of the Board of Selectmen in Braintree, Massachusetts, which was given responsibility
collapsed following his tension-laced visit to Lexington soon after the war’s first battle, was still ill when he reached Philadelphia two weeks later. In letter after letter to Abigail that spring, he complained that he was “completely miserable,” “not well,” “quite infirm,” “wasted and exhausted,” and “weak in health.” “I am always unwell,” he despaired in the early weeks of Congress. He suffered with “smarting Eyes” and dim vision. He was afflicted with a skin disorder, night sweats, insomnia,