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Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 1, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416584099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416584094
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,613,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Halverson on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of William Hogeland's other books and was thus prepared to like this one too, but "like" doesn't begin to express my enthusiasm. I felt that I wasn't reading history but experiencing it, and it wasn't at all the history of the Declaration of Independence that I'd been taught. Rather, I was in the middle of a tumultuous cliffhanger, with the outcome of independence for the colonies in doubt right down to the last hours. Ken Burns and Hollywood, take note of this book! Here are vivid portraits of our forefathers--John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and many others who have somehow not had their crucial roles emphasized in most histories--and these are very dramatic renderings, the shortcomings and foibles as well as the amazing talent and courage.

Yes, this is a page-turner that reads almost like fiction, but Hogeland has certainly not used poetic license in his presentation. There's none of the guesswork that you get in some popularizations of history--"John Adams must have been feeling..." or "Perhaps he was encouraged by...." In fact, there are nearly sixty pages of notes at the end explaining not just which sources Hogeland used for nearly every paragraph of the text but also why he chose this particular version when two or more sources disagree. Add to that almost ten pages of the sources he consulted and you realize that while this book reads like a novel, it is a work of real scholarship.

What a wonderful way to relearn--actually unlearn and then relearn--American history. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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Format: Hardcover
If you have never thought about the fact that it is a miracle that independence was declared at all, you will after reading `Declaration'. The confusion of those days before liberty was declared is shown; even by May of 1776 the Continental Congress had no real plans to break from England. William Hogeland takes a different approach than most accounts of those weeks leading to July 4th 1776. There are descriptions of many of the founding fathers such as; Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and John Adams who is normally given the credit as the driving force of the Continental Congress. However, Hogeland makes a real case for Samuel Adams being the primary figure guiding the colonies to independence. The feuds and disagreements are included, those between John Dickenson. Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and even Thomas Paine.
He brings out some little realized facts such as - George Washington really as not a very successful general in the spring and summer of 1776. The politics, religion and history of the time are explained and analyzed, as well as the importance of Pennsylvania and its' stand on independence.

For some the structure of the book will be confusing. Chapters have the dates as they progress toward July 4; but there are many digressions to convey previous history . For example the chapter labeled May 20th goes into John Adam's rest cure in 1772. Admittedly the digressions are interesting and little known: Richard Henry Lee's loss of the fingers on his left hand because of an exploding gun barrel. He kept it wrapped in black silk which he used to gesture as he spoke - mesmerizing his audiences; but it is sometimes disconcerting to jump back and forth in time so often in the narrative.
The text is a short 187 pages with 8 pages of pictures, 57 pages of notes, 10 pages of sources and a detailed index. It is a book of interest to readers of history and those who wish to know the men who proclaimed America's independence.
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Format: Hardcover
Pennsylvania said "No" to independence. On May 1, 1776, voters turned out and in the nearest thing to a referendum on independence, voted it down. In reality, they voted for a form of state government that in and of itself precluded support of the colony's representatives to the continental congress for independence. It had been a long and difficult battle for John Dickerson. It marked the beginning of a series of behind-the-scenes meetings and actions by Samuel Adams that could be considered nothing short of a conspiracy to declare independence.

Two hundred thirty-four years later, we're still struggling with some of the same issues that delayed the union of the colonies right up until the final vote on July 2, 1776. Yeah, it was July 2, not the 4th that we declared independence. Voting rights, racism, slavery, dramatic differences in economic levels, roots of labor unions, back-room deals, and petty bickering amongst the elite, rich ruling class made me check today's calendar against the setting of the absorbing and eye-opening Declaration by William Hogeland. Before Hogeland's educational romp through the last nine weeks before July 2, 1776, I thought that Huey P. Long, Louisiana, and New Jersey politics took the cake. True to the old adage about newness under the sun and FDR's comment on conspiracies, our forefathers set the pace for interesting politics in the years to come for the new republic.

Read the entire review at: [...]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating, beautiful, eloquent and timely ... this is how men accomplish greatness when ambitions rise above greed and the shared good of the common all replaces privileges for an elite few.

Hogeland outlines the clash between two great ideas; the Tory, or conservative, commitment to the status quo of banks, business and property; and the Whig, or democratic, rights of workers, farmers and the militias. The focus is on one topic -- the right to be independent of a government that ignored the best interests of the people and instead supported an old and unresponsive Establishment.

Hogeland deftly outlines two powerful forces for independence; the Southern aristocratic desire for a kingless state and the Northern quest for virtuous and least corruptible government based on town meetings. The differences, resolved from May 1 to July 2, 1776, overcame the Virginia opposition to independence which otherwise would have doomed the colonies.

Without union, the British could have pitted colonies against each other to crush the conflict which had begun the spring of 1775. Delegates who debated independence or reconciliation met under the immediate threat of a British invasion fleet carrying at least 13,000 Hessian mercenaries.

In contrast to much of today's anti-government greed, the men who advocated independence included Benjamin Rush, who later became the chief doctor of the Continental Army, and who wanted "to improve diet and reduce drinking among the American poor, to help them rise from squalor by bettering themselves."

Pennsylvania's new constitution "... regulated monopolies ... refused to charter a bank they believed served the rich at the expense of the poor ...
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