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Mallie Jane Kim
The Founding Fathers deserve their credit, but their canon should also include some everyday farmers
Before Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, everyday farmers were already banding together, ready to take on tyranny. These lost heroes, their stories scattered among letters and diaries for more than 200 years, come to life in American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People by historian T. H. Breen.
The book weaves together tales of ordinary Americans who sacrificed quiet lives to stand together and resist injustices by a far-off
Parliament, setting the stage for the American Revolution. Breen, a history professor at
Who were the real heroes of the American Revolution?
Of course, the Founding Fathers, George Washington in particular, were marvelous leaders and deserve a great deal of credit. But they get a lot of credit. The people that go missing from the story are often anonymous, the kinds of people that showed up in
How did these people come together?
Without newspapers or weekly journals, there would have been no revolution. Little communities published reports of their own revolutionary activities that were picked up and reprinted in distant places. And the effect of this was to give individuals a sense of solidarity with distant strangers, largely without the help or even the interest of the famous Founding Fathers.
What relationship did these "founding farmers" have with the Founding Fathers?
The Founding Fathers went to the Congress that first met in 1774, and they passed statutes that affected these little communities, the most famous being the [Continental] Association. What this did was to invite every community to create a local
What did the founders think of this result?
By and large, the Founding Fathers were a little uneasy that perhaps they had released popular democracy in ways they feared occasionally would get out of control.
Are there any key figures who should be added to the canon of Founding Fathers?
I suspect these people would be embarrassed to be put in the same group as the Founding Fathers, but one was Samuel Thompson, who lived in
What drew the Americans into rebellion?
After the destruction of the tea in
To what extent does today's
What do you hope readers will take from your book?
Some of my readers have said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have leaders like they had in the Revolutionary times?" To them, I say, "If you want leaders of that standing and those qualities, it's up to you to find them." In a sense, this nostalgia for the past paralyzes the ability of ordinary people today to create a just and equitable society for all. Waiting for a George Washington is simply an excuse for inaction.
Available at Amazon.com:
The American Revolution's Ordinary Heroes