Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:
- Because it’s worth reading again: The Declaration of Independence – view high-resolution images of the original. (This is a part of the “Charters of Freedom”, an exhibit of the National Archives, on the documents that shaped our history.
- Catholic Sources and the Declaration of Independence by Rev. John C. Rager. The Catholic Mind XXVIII, no. 13 (July 8, 1930), looks at synergies between the thought of Aquinas and Bellarmine and that expressed in the Declaration, asking: “Did Jefferson know of Bellarmine?”? (In How Catholic is the Declaration of Independence?, Commonweal takes a look at the “Scholastic-roots-of-democracy theory”; and CatholicHistory.net provides a bibliography on Catholics and the American Founding).
- Learn about Charles Carroll — America’s Catholic Founding Father (Against The Grain).
- What do Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI think about the American Founding?.
- Discover the riches of The Federalist Papers – by way of a commentary by Paul Zummo (The Cranky Conservative), who maintains: “I absolutely believe that an understanding of the Federalist Papers is essential for understanding the U.S. Constitution and, therefore, understanding America.”
- Listen to Johnny Cash recite “I am the Nation”.
Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers.
Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution, by Benson Bobrick.
Overwhelmed with debt following its victory in the French and Indian Wars, England began imposing harsh new tariffs and taxes on the colonies in the I760s. When it did, the independence movement grew in strength until protest and rebellion eventually erupted into war.
But despite the charismatic leadership of the independence movement, more than half the colonists remained loyal to England. Benson Bobrick casts light on such important, often overlooked aspects of the American Revolution, and offers compelling portraits of the major figures, as well as some illuminating observations by some of their lesser-known contemporaries.
He thrillingly describes the major battles, from Lexington and Concord to Bunker Hill, Trenton, Saratoga, Camden, and Kings Mountain, and then the climactic siege of Yorktown when the British flag of empire was finally lowered before patriot guns. At the same time, Angel in the Whirlwind weaves together the social and political as well as the military history of the struggle into one epic tale. A variety of voices is represented: English and American, patriot and loyalist, soldier and civilian, foreign adventurer having come to aid the Revolution and German mercenary hired to serve in the army of the king. Their vivid presence brings life to every page.
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph J. Ellis.
The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers–re-examined here as Founding Brothers–combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes–Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence–Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.
No doubt our readers have their favorites — any others you would like to recommend?