No event in the American history was more pivotal—or more furiously contested--than Congress' 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. And those in Congress who pushed for independence knew that any vote for it must carry all 13 colonies: a disunited opposition would be doomed in a war against the British Empire. John Adams, a leader of the effort, said bringing the fractious Congress together was like getting "thirteen clocks to strike at once."
For all the books that have been written about the Revolutionary era, none has ever concentrated on the dramatic struggle in the Continental Congress that led to the Declaration of Independence. The cast of characters is astonishing: John and Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and others all took part in the struggle in Congress. But Independence tells the other side of the story, too, taking readers to London where ministers--many in sympathy with the Americans--agonized over how to deal with a rebellion that threatened the Empire. Independencereminds us of the fateful decision points where history might easily have taken a different path.
At this remarkable moment in history, high-stakes, life-and-death politics was intertwined with an intense philosophical debate about democracy, governance, and justice. John Ferling, drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, brings the passionate contest to life as no other historian could. Independencewill be hailed as the finest work yet from the author Michael Beschloss calls "a national resource."
Subgenre: United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)