From Publishers Weekly
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)
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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. --Gilbert Taylor