Jul 11, 11
I own a copy
I have read two books by this author and I have two to go. He is a professor emeritus which means to me that he is a wise old man. He has an excellent command of the material which produces a fluid detailed narrative. It was a pleasant way to learn about a very interesting topic. The break between the British and the Americans began with the British attempting to impose their authority on the Americans. The Americans were used to being on their own and pushed back instead of submitting. There were taxes and tea parties and the Intolerable Acts. The author explained the escalating actions and reactions between them in a way I found easy to understand. Then in April of 1775 there was Lexington and Concord and the British closed the port of Boston.
This led to the political struggle for "independency". That word was used in the book as if it were a word used during the 2nd Continental Congress. John Adams is portrayed by the author as one of the prime movers for independence. He was kind of grumpy and fussy not at all the personality of a leader. He led through hard work, intelligence and persistence. Adams studied and wrote extensively about government. He was respected for these qualities and was able to exert significant influence on the decision making process.
Ferling does a lengthy biographic sketch on Thomas Jefferson. He did write the document that the book is about. Physically Jefferson was a bit of a misfit. He slouched when he sat in a chair and he had an awkward gait when he walked. He was very curious about a lot of things, he was very intelligent and a creative thinker. There was a committee of five that was selected to write the declaration of independence but it is generally ascribed to Jefferson, most of it at least.
There was a significant group in favor of reconciliation with the British. There were some good reasons to have them as a friend rather than an enemy. To many the idea of the Americans defeating England was a long shot.
What it came down to was that the Americans and the British had distinctly different ideas about what their relationship should be. I enjoyed learning about the British leadership. Many of them were just telling King George III what he wanted to hear so they could keep their job. They were not realistic about what it would take to defeat the Americans. The British had significant casualties at Bunker Hill and they were shocked. The author makes a point of the fact that the Americans were independent long before July 4, 1776. There were signs in the early 1700's that the Americans considered themselves apart from England. Fine writing, lots of interesting people and facts, intelligent analysis. I recommend it highly as good history on this topic and as a good book.