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.
"The shot heard 'round the world" was fired in Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, a full year before the election in Pennsylvania that started the dominoes falling. Pennsylvania's leader was against independence but was an officer in the militia and an enthusiastic soldier. John Adams wanted the emerging country to be run by an elite ruling class of the wealthy with only those who owned enough property to be allowed to vote. Very few of the fighting men owned any property unless they moved to Vermont. Just as today, our country's character is filled with interesting and important paradoxes that have led to many ironies. Reading these sometimes humorous and always interesting stories proved to me that history does in fact repeat itself, for good or bad and politics do in fact make strange bedfellows. We have to make the most of it in our own generations.
Also included are eight slick pages of high gloss black and white photos and illustrations. Hogeland tells us the back stories of the famous like the Adams cousins and John Hancock. We are also introduced to the renegade pharmacist, the math teacher who wanted to provide for the poor, eliminate slums, and help farmers, and the self-taught medical doctor who established Vermont. Who is that flamboyant purple-dressed character with an equally flamboyant signature? Where is "Poor Richard" when you need him, and who is that Southerner with the three names? How does Richard Henry Lee become such an important piece in Samuel Adam's puzzle? As if there wasn't enough pressure to finally decide on independence, the largest fleet in history (prior to June 6, 1944) is under sail toward the colonies to intensify the fighting begun in Concord.
Would I buy Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1 – July 4, 1776? Yes — faster then you can put your "John Hancock" on a personal check! It makes great reading for the second of July.